Unsure of which substrate to use - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-26-2010, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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Unsure of which substrate to use

I'm planning to set up my first ever planted tank (10g), and I'm lost as to which substrate to use. I keep finding good and bad about everything, and being that I have to order it, I don't get to see it. I'm planning on a low tech tank, but want a decent substrate, and who knows, maybe I'll switch to high tech later on if I'm comfortable enough. I'm torn between Flourite Black Sand, Flourite Black, and Flourite Dark. I really like the look of the Flourite Black Sand, but I've never used sand in a tank before. How is it maintenance wise? How often does it need to be stirred to prevent gases? And wouldn't it be difficult to do that with plant roots in it? I'm clueless as to how to take care of sand really, especially with plants involved. I would be able to use trumpet snails for now, but once my current fish dies I would like to get a puffer. I know they can't be with trumpet snails because their shells are too hard. Flourite Black I thought looked a little too grey, and I might prefer the somewhat more natural look of Flourite Dark over the grey look. So my questions are, what kind of maintenance would the sand need without trumpet snails? And does anyone have any pictures of your tank with either of the three substrates in use so I can get an idea of how they look in a tank with plants?
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-26-2010, 01:31 PM
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There's no perfect substrate but anything in the 1mm-3mm range will work so just pick something you like and give it a try. Any of the Flourite products will work well sand isn't any harder than larger grain gravel you just need to be careful when vacuuming it, use a very light touch.

As long as you stay at three inches you won't have much to worry about with gas pockets and you do not have to stir it just take the fat end of a chopstick and poke all around it once every three to four months and your fine.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-26-2010, 02:50 PM
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I'm by all means a newbie here but I just setup my tank with...

Carib Sea Instant Aquarium Peace River (grain size is 1mm-2mm)

Stuff looks awsome, I have some pics in my threa if you want to take a look.

http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...planted-37934/

I ordered from Dr Foster they have flat rate shipping at 8.99 so it doesn't matter how heavy your shippment is.

http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.co...2&pcatid=21412
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-26-2010, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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I thought sand was a lot more work than that. I was under the impression that it needed a good mixing every month or so. With vacuuming I can probably get away with just swirling any debris up into the water, but with having only one betta in it for a while, I don't think that will really even need to be done much, if at all.

Since saying rates of Dr Foster and Smith are allowed I guess it would be allowed to say the rates of other places... But in case anyone was interested, That Fish Place has flat $5.99 shipping going on right now. I'd like to order before that it's gone.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-26-2010, 03:49 PM
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As long as you stay at or bellow the three inch depth on the sand you should be OK what happens is people tend to put more than that in spots and in compacts which is bad. I've got a couple of sand only tanks that I've only stirred once when I first put the tank together (about a day after it's full of water). I poke them with a chop stick once in awhile when I remember, probably four to five months and I haven't had a problem with them but if your uncomfortable with that you could do it once a month it's not like it would hurt anything.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-06-2010, 05:29 PM
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Sand will limit the amount of plants you can grow. Rule out Crypts or any other plant that is a root feeder. I have had success with Vals, that's about it in sand. Sand cannot compact anymore than it already is, it's not soft and the pressure of the water above it is more than the pressure of more sand on top of itself. The problem is that you will not have any spaces open for water to flow. No matter how well or how often you stir it up, that won't change. Not to mention sand provides zero nutrients as well, completely useless to a plant.

It will be a struggle, trust me. Been there done that. A noob needs to limit obstacles and a solid substrate is as necessary as a decent light. As a beginner I would recommend Eco-complete. It doesn't foul the water, doesn't compact, and doesn't make a mess when replanted like ADA stuff does. If you are uncertain of what you want and know you will be planting new things, removing old things, and moving things around Eco is a safe bet.

Petco has it for $20.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-06-2010, 09:15 PM
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Super Noob,
Sand does compact.
You are right for a plant noob, sand may not be a good choice.
If you are really set get flourite black sand

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2010, 12:33 AM
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Originally Posted by fishsandwitch View Post
Super Noob,
Sand does compact.
You are right for a plant noob, sand may not be a good choice.
If you are really set get flourite black sand
Please explain how sand compacts? It doesn't compact anymore than anything else. It is a rigid substance made out of rock. Are you simply referring to it settling? Everything settles/compacts. The reason sand stinks is because the gaps aren't there for water to circulate, and roots to grow. Settling shouldn't be a surprise for any of us here.

Please reread my post too, I stated that I don't think the extra inch or two of sand affects "compacting" anymore than the 20" of water sitting on top of it. Soil compacts too but it is awesome at growing plants.

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 12:12 AM
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I'm just curious here.

But if you go with a soil substrate topped with sand why can't you just plant root feeding plants in the soil beow the sand line?
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 02:44 AM
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Sand is a finer grain (usually 1mm or smaller) than soil or gravels that are 1mm-3mm in size.

Compacting is exactly what it sounds like, the sand compresses down into what amounts to concrete to plant roots that cannot penetrate the compaction. Over time that compaction does not get enough oxygen and turns toxic and when that substrate is moved the toxin's can and will kill fish.

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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 02:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmelnick View Post
I'm just curious here.

But if you go with a soil substrate topped with sand why can't you just plant root feeding plants in the soil beow the sand line?
thats what im doing=)
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/ta...55-gallon.html

but for a 10 gallon its pretty cheap just to buy 2 bags of flourite, about 45 bucks.

but for what I did I spent like 30 bucks.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 03:39 AM
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You can find Flourite, Eco-Complete, Florabase locally ether at your LFS or at PetCo/PetSmart cheaply instead of ordering something online.

Eco or Flourite will work great and is easy to start with.

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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 03:51 AM Thread Starter
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I did go with pool filter sand, at least for now. Since I will be going low light and the majority of the plants I will probably end up with don't even get planted, I figure for now it doesn't make too much of a difference. Honestly, I don't know if I have the money for plants, let alone another substrate (already had more than enough PFS). If I absolutely hate it and somehow a miracle happens and after almost 2 years of searching I find a job, I'll switch out the substrate this summer. Being unemployed (can't even get a minimum wage retail job), engaged, and in a long distance relationship, money is tight and there's just more important things it needs to go to at the moment.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 04:48 AM
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PFS is a good choice it's a bit larger than other sands, about 1mm so it won't compact as quickly as things like play sand. It just takes some getting used to when you vacuum the crude off of the top. Some people do not like the look of 'dirty' sand, the top will get dirty over time but all substrates do that the darker ones are just hard to see.

I don't plant many of my low-light plants ether I let me Anubias float along with my stems and they do fine. I super glue my java moss to slate 6"x6" floor tiles so I can pull it up an clean it once in awhile and I put my java fern on those little needle point plastic grids so I can pull them up when I need to or put them on driftwood.

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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 12:41 PM Thread Starter
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Since the tank is right near the window I'm guessing the sand is most likely going to turn pretty green? I want to at least take an attempt at a couple snails and maybe try a few otos if my betta doesn't seem too intent on guarding his territory. The tank is currently cycling, but I have to say that I do love the look of sand. I would prefer darker, but maybe one day. I did find a store that carries a few varieties of flourite and eco-complete, however it would probably be cheaper to order since they charged almost $29.
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