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Old 11-08-2013, 05:42 AM   #1
DaveFish
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What is your favorite substrate? Custom/Retail


I am just bored and sick of YouTube. Thought I would check out the forum and share the little wisdom that I do have pertaining to substrates and my personal experience. Comment with your favorite combo. If it be a single substrate, layers, custom-DIY or retail-Aquasoil etc... Defend your experience and conclusions!

1.Custom organic dirt- I don't care for it. Not worth the mess, what is the point.
2.Mineralized topsoil- I feel a little better about it considering there are less organics. But it is still dirt. What is the point. I do not like the mess.
3. ADA-Aquasoil- Now this is a lot better. Compounding agent seems to be used to hold the dirt together in the form of pellets-if someone could please explain how this is done. Less mess, but for me, unless you get the powder form, is hard to plant in. The plants don't stick down in the hole as easily and it seems too spongy making them want to rise back out. And of course it is expensive when taking shipping into consideration. And I have had the biggest and longest lasting algae outbreaks using Aquasoil. I don't think the plant growth really outweighs the cons.


4. Substrate-EcoComplete/rootabs- Now for me this is the winner. It isn't messy, the plants can easily be planted and will stay put. It is very inexpensive, for me, I live close to the LFS. Now it isn't that great all on its own, but with the use of Osmocote+ or DynamitePlantfood DIY root tabs it is outstanding! I can get even better plant growth using this combo than I can with Aquasoil. I don't understand why more people don't use it. Slow release chemically balanced pellets. Who wouldn't want that in their substrate. I don't ever get huge gigantic algae outbreaks. I was even doing huge water changes and still had major algae issues. I am still having some algae issues with my Aquasoil tank. Now this all could be from the fact that I am used to Eco/root tabs so I know how to manage my dosing and what not. If that be the case then I will continue with what I know. Now I am not saying my Aquasoil tank doesn't grow plants remarkably well because it does. I am just saying that Aquasoils pros don't outweigh the cons and Eco/root tabs is easier to manage in my experience. I do my own custom perpetual dosing schedule not EI method. This is what works for me. Share what works for you and what you like. Don't start any subjective or what you may think objective arguments. This is just for fun.
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Old 11-08-2013, 03:52 PM   #2
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Glad to see another YouTuber off the videos for a bit. I haven't posted a video in awhile since I needed a bit of a break too.
I don't have the same amount of experience as you do, but I have been pondering the same. I will offer a slightly different perspective since I haven't tried anything other than mineralized topsoil and safe t sorb.
The only complaints I have about safe t sorb are that it is dusty and can make a mess. That and it is lightweight and can get blown around the tank until you learn how to work around that.
In terms of aesthetics, I like the look of the Aquasoil, but given the price, I would probably opt for ecocomplete.
But I have also heard decent things about Fluval stratum and I really like the way it looks. So I might try that at some point.
Another idea I have been toying around with is capping one of the above substrates with sand since I think it would be easy to plant in--and I think it works well with a lot of different catfishes that I have been interested in keeping. From the best I can tell, all of the inert substrates (eco, flourite, stratum, etc) are about the same, so I think at some point it is just about whether you like the look of it or not-- or other factors like you mentioned i.e. how well it holds down plants.
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Old 11-08-2013, 05:13 PM   #3
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It depends.

For low tech, I like 1/4 of Miracle Grow Potting soil. It doesn't matter what you cap it with but I like Petco black sand. The sand is attractive but still fairly course for sand.

I have never had luck with dirt in a high tech tank. I have use Flourish with great results but I have moved away from it, especially the Black Sand as I seem to scratch the glass with it, no matter how careful I am.

Right now, I am going to say AS but I haven't used it enough to really qualify it as such. It is pretty amazing how quickly roots seem to grow in plants that I am not used to seeing heavy roots in. It clouds pretty easily but not to the point of being bothersome.
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Old 11-08-2013, 06:23 PM   #4
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Presently Seachem Flourite mixed with sand and with a little top soil below.

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Old 11-08-2013, 07:27 PM   #5
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im using arena sand in my tank currently. its basically a mix of course sand and very fine gravel (1/8th minus). looks nice and natural, and it holds plants very well. for fertz i use some custom root tabs that i tweeked from a youtube recipe. only have a small algae bloom if i get carried away with the root tabs. i also dose with flourish twice a week.

Last edited by jmsaltfish797; 11-08-2013 at 07:29 PM.. Reason: forgot something
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Old 11-09-2013, 02:56 AM   #6
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"2.Mineralized topsoil- I feel a little better about it considering there are less organics. But it is still dirt. What is the point."

For me the point is plants grow in dirt in nature.
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Old 11-09-2013, 03:03 AM   #7
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Good point Frank!

I use ADA AS, Eco, Flourite, Clay, and MTS all mixed together. I get all the pros and alot less of the cons
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Old 11-10-2013, 12:11 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
"2.Mineralized topsoil- I feel a little better about it considering there are less organics. But it is still dirt. What is the point."

For me the point is plants grow in dirt in nature.
Haha, very true, great point. They also grow under sunlight and not in a glass box. LOL

Too messy. I don't need to use it to get amazing plant growth.
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Old 11-10-2013, 12:12 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chad320 View Post
Good point Frank!

I use ADA AS, Eco, Flourite, Clay, and MTS all mixed together. I get all the pros and alot less of the cons
Now that sounds like a good idea. I have done Eco and Aquasoil in the past. And I have tried Eco with MTS, but never all of them at the same time.
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Old 11-10-2013, 12:19 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickMach007 View Post
Glad to see another YouTuber off the videos for a bit. I haven't posted a video in awhile since I needed a bit of a break too.
I don't have the same amount of experience as you do, but I have been pondering the same. I will offer a slightly different perspective since I haven't tried anything other than mineralized topsoil and safe t sorb.
The only complaints I have about safe t sorb are that it is dusty and can make a mess. That and it is lightweight and can get blown around the tank until you learn how to work around that.
In terms of aesthetics, I like the look of the Aquasoil, but given the price, I would probably opt for ecocomplete.
But I have also heard decent things about Fluval stratum and I really like the way it looks. So I might try that at some point.
Another idea I have been toying around with is capping one of the above substrates with sand since I think it would be easy to plant in--and I think it works well with a lot of different catfishes that I have been interested in keeping. From the best I can tell, all of the inert substrates (eco, flourite, stratum, etc) are about the same, so I think at some point it is just about whether you like the look of it or not-- or other factors like you mentioned i.e. how well it holds down plants.
I haven't tried the Stratum. I have done Eco with MTS and I have done Aquasoil with Eco. I have used Flourite in the past and don't like the overall texture, it is a lot more flat and it is super dirty. You can see that for me I can't handle mess and the reason isn't OCD it is because I am constantly rescaping little section here and there to get it just right. And slow release pellets are going to provide way more balanced nutrients than even MTS. I know you are using it right now which is fine. It is always nice to find your own method. But I am done with all that jazz. The more you get into it the easier you want it to be. That's why people turn to Neptune Apex controllers and what not. For me Eco with Osmocote+ and Aquavitro grows plants amazingly well and I don't have to work as hard and I do very little water changes. Now Aquasoil works just as good I just don't think plants root very well in it. I know everyone would probably disagree, but my plants do way better in Eco than in Aquasoil. And with shipping it IS more expensive.
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Old 11-10-2013, 01:12 AM   #11
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Hello the crew,
I'm new to this forum and have yet to take in all of it so no surprise if I seem out of sync here.
Had tanks as a teenager but been absent since then until early 2012. I'm lease locked to 10 g or less so I cheat on it
a little. They didn't mention a limit on the number of tanks now did they ? And then you all have a tank in the living
room and one in your bedroom right ?
I used plain fine gravel at first but then got some API First Layer "Pure Laterite". Put that at about well two 20 oz boxes
in a ten g tank and then topped it with Eco complete. I've not had long term exp. so evaluating this is without anything to
compare it to but the plain gravel. Seems to grow a bit better but then also grows BGA better too. I should mention that
this tank is semi-low tech. Gets Excel every few days and Leaf Zone every water change along/w Tetra Pride. Has 2 T8
bulbs of Zoo Med Tropical sun. One T8 is poor and 2 good ones is excess so I'm trying to do something of a balancing act here.
Don't know how odd this is but I don't want "amazing" plant growth. I just want healthy looking full plants. Have not looked
at many of them but the 100% low tech pictures don't look full enough for me...look a bit starved. So some kind of balance is
key for me. Just been replanted so need to give it 60 days or so to get a better idea of how it's doing.
The other Ten g has just had new sub put in. That API Laterite mixed/w Sea Chem Original Flourite. Just been replanted also
and having a bit of trouble getting it started well because I over did the lights. Bought a T5 2 bulb fixture for it.
Hair algae exploded in it at first when the bulbs were a 6500K and a True Lumen Flora.
We'll see cause it may be a while before I balance these bulbs. Was going for some red plants and know I needed more light
but got a bit carried away/w it. The lady at my mom & pop LFS got me some Rotala Magenta I'm trying to get to grow.
Having quite a bit of trouble/w it. But I told here recently that this tank has so much iron in it I'm surprised the water don't
rust...LOL... The original Flourite was picked due to having the highest iron content and it gets Tetra Pride at water changes.
The two bulbs are both Flora bulbs and one was labeled "Roseated" so it looks too red in there right now but the hair algae
died off when I put in an actinic plus the Roseated. So letting it be red for a while till I see how this works on the Rotala.
Going back to 1 6500K bulb would bring back the hair algae so what's next ? I've become very consistent/w daily using
of Excel so that played in it too.
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Old 11-10-2013, 05:15 AM   #12
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A bit off-topic here, but:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raymond S. View Post
Had tanks as a teenager but been absent since then until early 2012. I'm lease locked to 10 g or less so I cheat on it
a little. They didn't mention a limit on the number of tanks now did they ?
it might be worth requesting (in writing) permission from your landlord to have a bigger tank. -Put in something about your prior experience with fishkeeping, and if you plan on making some sort of leak containment basin or something, add that too. My lease also had a 10-gallon fish tank limit, but I got permission (in writing) to go bigger. I think it's part of a standard form-letter all-purpose lease that a lot of landlords/agencies adopt, when they may not care about the issue at all (or they may, who knows...)

All depends on how your landlord is though...
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Old 11-10-2013, 11:13 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lochaber View Post
A bit off-topic here, but:



it might be worth requesting (in writing) permission from your landlord to have a bigger tank. -Put in something about your prior experience with fishkeeping, and if you plan on making some sort of leak containment basin or something, add that too. My lease also had a 10-gallon fish tank limit, but I got permission (in writing) to go bigger. I think it's part of a standard form-letter all-purpose lease that a lot of landlords/agencies adopt, when they may not care about the issue at all (or they may, who knows...)

All depends on how your landlord is though...
Thanks but tried already/ corporate owned bull fertilizer stuff...thanks again though.
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Old 11-10-2013, 11:16 AM   #14
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Quote:
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....They also grow under sunlight and not in a glass box....Too messy....
~True about Natural sun light. Also add to your list, many plants live in fast moving streams or muddy water, there is seldom more that one sp. in a given area, plants are not neatly pruned and usually they are chewed on, and covered with dirty bio-film. Temperature swings up & down as much as degrees a day/night cycle. Actually many of our plants are aquatic weeds that come from 3rd world drainage ditches and are fertilized by water buffalo poop.

~ Messy is on the hobbyist....you can't blame the dirt for your impatience/lack of skill in planting/removal

Not unlike the people that are against acylic tanks because they can scratch. Then don't be a klutz The acrylic doesn't scratch itself.
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Old 11-10-2013, 11:43 AM   #15
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And speaking of, I had a vision...more like a nightmare..that I would go to my cousins farm, collect some horse poop, dry it
and mix it with plain fine gravel as a substrate to simulate the decaying plant matter in/on the bottom of a pond.
Has anyone ever tried this successfully ? Bet I'm asking for mega algae at the least.

BTW: I cultivate hair algae and green spot algae. It's "natural", uses ammonia/nitrates and I'm actually starting to learn to limit it...sort of...LOL...
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