Should I use better substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-03-2016, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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Question Should I use better substrate?

Hi, this is my first post here. I set up a 5.5 gallon betta tank a few days ago and am now having second thoughts about the advice I took to use regular aquarium gravel for my live plants. Here are the specs for the tank:

- 14W T8 8000K full-spectrum fluorescent light
- Tetra Whisper 3i filter
- 25W heater, water at 78 (25.5 C)
- standard aquarium gravel (Petco aztec bronze)
- tap water treated with Tetra BettaSafe and SafeStart Plus per directions
- daily water tests with API Master (daily results: pH 7.4, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5)
- two medium narrow-leaf anubias and two large broad-leaf anubias, both rooted in the gravel (rhizome above gravel); three marimo balls
- planning to add a small piece of Malaysian driftwood, which I expect will bring down the pH
- one small male betta

I'm generally happy with the tank (mostly because my betta looks like he's happy), but I'm wondering if the standard gravel was a mistake. I plan to stay very low tech and add a few more easy plants, like java fern and maybe moneywart. Will my gravel suffice, or would something like Eco-Complete or Fluorite have been better for these plants?

Since the tank has been established for only a few days and is doing well, I don't plan to replace the gravel anytime soon unless my current gravel is enough of a setback to warrant it. If it isn't, what other plants do you recommend with this standard gravel? How often should I use fertilizer tabs or liquid for these plants?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-03-2016, 05:56 PM
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I have low tech planted tanks (with java fern, anubias, bacopa, temple plants, vals, pennywort, dwarf water lettuce) and regular gravel works just fine for me.

It takes some time for plants to acclimate and start thriving, so if you see that you're having issues down the line, it's usually something else, not the substrate. I know a lot of people keep beautiful planted tanks with regular aquarium gravel.

Good luck!
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, ShukiAi. Good to know my gravel is okay.

Aquarium #1 - 10 gallon | one male betta | anubias, java fern, crypt | standard gravel | full-spectrum T8 | sponge filter | 50W heater at 77
Aquarium #2 - 5.5 gallon | one male betta | anubias, java fern | standard gravel | full-spectrum T8 | sponge filter | 25W heater at 77
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