Help - My First Planted Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 06:49 AM Thread Starter
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Help - My First Planted Tank

Hi everyone,
I have recently purchased a used 75 gallon tank which I want to make my first planted tank. I've had aquariums before but not planted. The tank sizes are 48"x19"x19". I have found a specific aquascape online which I want to mimic in my tank. I have attached a picture of the aquascape to this post. The plants I am planning to use are: Dwarf Hairgrass, Valisneria Nana, Anubias Nana, Amazon Sword, Java Moss and maybe some other plants.
My dilema is I can't decide what king of substrate/soil to put in the tank. I want the tank to be low tech and to last a longer time, maybe up to 5 years?

I was initially thinking to put as bottom layer a mix of EcoComplete, ADA AquaSoil and Crushed Lava Rock (especially for the hilly parts), then the top layer just clean EcoComplete substrate and sand for the foreground and middle ground.

What do you guys think will suit better considering my tank and plants? I am really afraid to fail and waste a lot of money. 😞
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post #2 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 08:37 AM
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Welcome!

That is a lovely aquascape to emulate!

To my eye the substrate in that aquascape is some kind of coarse sand. With bits of rock mixed in plus larger rocks making up the hills.

If you were to replace the sand with ecocomplete and ada aquasoil you would definitely be looking at hundreds of dollars in substrate. You could go that route but a more cost effective way would be to use some kind of coarse sand. Find a landscaping supplier near you and go looking. You should be able to pick up rocks there as well. Ecocomplete is an inert substrate so it's no different than sand. The ada aquasoil is an active substrate so it has nutrients in it but those will be gone in 1-2 years in a tank planted like the one you wish to emulate. Most people here dose fertilizer into the water and use inert substrate especially for larger aquariums with elevations. The cost is too prohibited otherwise and it's easier to control what plants get that way.

Definitely watch a bunch of aquascaping videos on YouTube before starting as that will really help you figure out how to proceed.

The only other thing that jumps out at me about your plant list is the Anubis Nana. The scape you want to emulate has a decent amount of it and it's probably the priciest plant on your list. It doesn't grow quickly so you would basically need to buy a lot of it. Everything else you could buy a little and propagate or is relatively cheap. I would recommend buying only a little of the Nana to start off, see how it does and buy more a little at a time to fill in places you want it. It is all tied or glued to stone pieces most likely so you could do that later and add it in wherever.

Just my two cents.
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post #3 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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Hi minorhero,
Thank you for your reply. Looks like you didn't fully understand what I am trying to do regarding the substrate.
I am planning to buy about 2 bags 20lb each of EcoComplete which goes for about 20$ on Amazon, then I am going to buy one bag of lava rock from HomeDeopot which is only 5$ and one bag of ADA Amazonia which is about 30$. I am planning to make the two hills in the hardscape out of two mesh bags filled with lava rock then I am going to crush the remaining lava rock into small rocks about 1/2" and mix it with one bag of EcoComplete and one bag of ADA and make the bottom substrate out of it. Then I am going to take the remaining EcoComplete bag and put it on top of the previous layer, then I am going to cap it all with sand like you see in the picture.
The sand alone doesn't have any nutrients but the EcoComplete is supposed to have some nutrients and minerals good for plants. The ADA bag is supposed to add nutrients to the substrate, at least in the beginning for plants to settle. I also want to add ADA because it leaches Ammonia in the beginning so it will help to kick start the Nitrogen cycle. The lava rock in the mix is more for filling, to add some CEC value to the substrate and it is also good for bacteria.

Do you see any problems with my planned substrate?
 
post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 03:43 PM
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Do you see any problems with my planned substrate?
I see lots "on the go" with that plan.

1) Eco-Complete is virtually crushed lava rock. Eco-complete does not contain any significant amounts of plant available nutrients. Eco-complete does not have a high CEC.
2) Lava rock does not have a high CEC. It has deep pores capable of de-nitrification (anoxic zones).
3) ADA soil will buffer your waters pH, and should be used with gH boosted 100% RO or 100% distilled water. It does have higher CEC and contains nutrients, but that is no excuse to skip a water column dosing regime.
4) All these layers will mix eventually, and the sand will work its way to the bottom. It will be a real mess after a few months.
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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 03:46 PM Thread Starter
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I see your point about the sand sinking to the bottom.

What would you recommend then?

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post #6 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 04:57 PM
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Buceplant has a really nice sand called "Natural Sand" that would be very close to the look in that aquascape design.

https://buceplant.com/products/natur...=3582364647464

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #7 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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So, you guys suggest using sand alone? Are plants Ok with sand? Sand doesn't have any nutrients for plants what will they feed onto?
How will I make up the hills out of sand?

This completely blows me away.


What if I do something like this? : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyJDgMFcaBQ
Potting soil capped with sand?


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Last edited by [email protected]; 05-30-2019 at 05:28 PM. Reason: update
post #8 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 05:58 PM
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So, you guys suggest using sand alone? Are plants Ok with sand? Sand doesn't have any nutrients for plants what will they feed onto?
How will I make up the hills out of sand?

This completely blows me away.


What if I do something like this? : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyJDgMFcaBQ
Potting soil capped with sand?


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Potting soil / Backyard soil or ADA style active substrates are the only nutrient rich substrates. Eco-Complete / Flourite etc. contain no nutrients. They will eventually mix.... and pulling up any plant will result in a mess of soil / organics being brought up into the water column.

Many of the most successful tanks you will see on here use 100% inert sand / Eco-Cmplete / Fluorite and dose the water column only.


My vote, 100% sand or a finer inert gravel.

Black DIamond Blasting sand, pool filter sand, silica sand, quartz sand etc. are the most popular options.

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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 06:09 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, I am fine with sand. Sand is not very expesive and it looks good, especially considering my aquascape is mostly sand. I just thought there is some sort of soil under that sand. It will be tricky to do the hills but I will come up with something.

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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Considering I have a 100% sand substrate, what fertilizers would you guys recommend me? For start up and then for maintaining the plants.

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post #11 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 06:35 PM
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Considering I have a 100% sand substrate, what fertilizers would you guys recommend me? For start up and then for maintaining the plants.

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Us substrate supports (google them) to build hills with sand.

I suggest DIY fertilizers.

KNO3 - For NO3 and K
KH2PO4 - For PO4 and K
K2SO4 - For additional K (may not be required)

CSM+B for micro's
DTPA 11% Iron if your pH is above 7.0

You can use Flourish Comprehensive + Flourish Trace for micro's as well. No additional Iron needed.

You might also want to pick up some CaSo4 and MgSO4 for Ca and Mg if your gH is low...

Or, skip all that and use Thrive - But you are limited to the quantities / ratios of Thrive.

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post #12 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
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Quagulator,

Huh, this looks like Chinese to me right now. I guess I will stick with Thrive for now.

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Last edited by [email protected]; 05-30-2019 at 08:25 PM. Reason: update
post #13 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 07:56 PM
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Huh, this looks like Chinese to me right now. I guess I will stick with Thrive for now.

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The fertilizer stuff gets super deep super quick. I have been very regular on this forum for the past couple of months and I am almost completely lost with what to do and when.

Since this will be a low tech tank you might want to try NilocG Aquatics ThriveC. The "C" is for carbon because it has a liquid carbon component. (I am assuming you do not plan to run CO2?)

What do you plan to do for filtration and lights? Lights can end up being its own crazy rabbit hole. But it doesn't have to be if you use an off the shelf option. Since you want a dwarf hairgrass carpet you will need a decent lighting solution and of course a timer.
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post #14 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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The fertilizer stuff gets super deep super quick. I have been very regular on this forum for the past couple of months and I am almost completely lost with what to do and when.



Since this will be a low tech tank you might want to try NilocG Aquatics ThriveC. The "C" is for carbon because it has a liquid carbon component. (I am assuming you do not plan to run CO2?)



What do you plan to do for filtration and lights? Lights can end up being its own crazy rabbit hole. But it doesn't have to be if you use an off the shelf option. Since you want a dwarf hairgrass carpet you will need a decent lighting solution and of course a timer.
Minorhero,

For filtration I bought two (2) SunSun 402B https://www.teich-tip.de/sunsun-aqua...w-uv-402b.html

For lighting I am planing to buy the Koval 45" LED light fixture and a timer. https://kovalinc.com/products/led-aq...nt=48626845958

Filter media: Lava Rock only

I don't plan to add CO2 in the beginning but I might consider a DIY CO2 system based on Citric Acid and Baking soda in the future.

How about adding some CEC value to my sand substrate? Can I mix the bottom layer with other substrate that has a higher CEC value? Will it add any benefits? If Yes, what should I use?

Last edited by [email protected]; 05-30-2019 at 11:33 PM. Reason: update
post #15 of 44 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 08:17 PM
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Huh, this looks like Chinese to me right now. I guess I will stick with Thrive for now.

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Lol! So true! That still looks like Chinese to me after a year of having a low-tech set-up with plants myself.

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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