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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-11-2010, 04:27 AM Thread Starter
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Confused as to where to start

This is a lot tougher hobby than what I thought it'd ever be. I just picked up my new tank, brand new to the aquascaping world, practically brand new to aquariums. I bought a 20 gallon tank and hope to get some plants in there and thriving before I decide to throw some fish in there. I'm going for a simplistic look, nothing too overboard. I wanted a black soil with dark gray rocks with a very lush green carpeting. My question is, where do I start with the substrate? What's the easiest way to get this going? Any recommendations for something simple and easy?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-11-2010, 04:38 AM
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ADA aquasoil is probably your best bet. It works well in high-tech and low-tech aquariums. I see that ADGshop.com is out of stock at the moment of type I black. It's not cheap, but I don't think you'll find many people that regret getting it.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-11-2010, 05:05 AM Thread Starter
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ADA aquasoil is probably your best bet. It works well in high-tech and low-tech aquariums. I see that ADGshop.com is out of stock at the moment of type I black. It's not cheap, but I don't think you'll find many people that regret getting it.
That does seem awfully expensive, how long does this stay good for? Approximately how much to cover a 20 gallon tank?
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-11-2010, 05:27 AM Thread Starter
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I've been reading around and it sounds like a lot of people are saying that just plain old play sand from the hardware store would work? I know it's not black, but it'd be a much cheaper alternative for someone who doesn't even know what they are doing. I'm not expecting too much from this go around, just a learning experience

I found some Tahitian Moon Sand locally, sounds like it might be a little bit better option than the play sand. Any experience with this?
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-11-2010, 06:14 AM
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id go for eco complete. drfosterandsmith sells them for 23 bucks a bag i think. and im guessing you will be only needing 1 maybe 2 bags.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-11-2010, 09:21 PM
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Tahetian moon sand would work but the caribsea stuff is expensive, at least at my local pet shop. Nearly as much so as the aquasoil when you compare the volume/price ratio. Regular innert sand will work just fine with proper fertilization, light, and co2, it just takes longer. One thing you cannot skimp on will be the co2 for a lush, thick carpet.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-12-2010, 12:55 AM
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Tahetian moon sand would work but the caribsea stuff is expensive, at least at my local pet shop. Nearly as much so as the aquasoil when you compare the volume/price ratio. Regular innert sand will work just fine with proper fertilization, light, and co2, it just takes longer. One thing you cannot skimp on will be the co2 for a lush, thick carpet.
yeah carpets want some co2. You may be able to get away with DIY co2 though. Look at all your options and your budget.

Plain silica sand is the sand to get in the hardware stores (fish stores sell it for 3x the amount) and it costs about 4 bucks for a 50 pound bag.

The only down side is that if you have a thick layer like 2 or more inches of sand then it packs itself down and later will release bad pockets of bacteria. And silica sand is only in a whitish color.
silica sand also have no ferts or anything to help plants.
Some people use soil then top it off with silica sand (thinner layer) and that works pretty good.

I think aquasoil lasts from a year to 3 years. In my new tank I been talking to legoman and going with soil mix with some flourite.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 03:04 AM
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If you want black, skip the play sand. It is white or off white, and has too many other problems.
I would go with EC. Good product, plants do well in it, and you won't be redoing it. 1 bag will barely be enough, but OK if you will have some large rocks to take up some space, or you can add just a small bag of TMS to make it fill the tank better.

Finer substrates will hold the fertilizers near the roots so the plants benefit both when you dose the water, and later, when the substrate has attracted the fertilizers. Acts like a cushion so that the plants are not going to miss some fertilizers if you need to skip a few days' dosing. Sands (any color) will not do this. Go with a specialty aquatic plant substrate.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 03:21 AM
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I've been using play sand for a long time now, and I have had no issues planting in it. All you have to do is add some root tabs and plants grow like weeds. All 3 of my planted tanks are sand only, and unless I have a particular 'scape in mind, I have no reason to switch for now.

A $3 bag of play sand will be way more than you need for a 20 gallon. If you're just trying to learn and figure out if the hobby is going to work for you, then maybe it's a good idea to try sand before dishing out $100 for expensive substrate (shipping is expensive, too).

The only issue with sand is that if you have too deep a layer and you don't 'mix' it every once in awhile (every 3-4 weeks or so), anaerobic pockets may form (anaerobic bacteria proliferate and produce toxic gas). Those are bad, because once the bubbles rise to the surface, the toxic gas can kill your fish. That being said, I only have 2" of substrate and I've never seen any anaerobic pockets. The deeper the sand, the more serious the issue though.

The type of sand you get really doesn't matter though. I guess it depends on what look you prefer. Just make sure to rinse until the water runs clear :-)

Edit: if you don't want to stir the substrate yourself, just get some malaysian trumpet snails. They'll do all the hard work for you :-)
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