Buy enough substrate, or save money? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-04-2010, 11:21 PM Thread Starter
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Buy enough substrate, or save money?

Hey pals, it's your friendly neighborhood Milq here with another question.

I was planning on getting a 10 gallon tank for my first leap into proper tank keeping, but I picked up a 20 long instead. With all the fish and shrimp I wanted to keep, 10g kept looking smaller and smaller, and everyone says 20 is better than 10.

Having the tank suddenly double in size means that I need to find a way to double the recipe for all my tank plans. Everything is getting more expensive.

Right now, I am concerned with substrate. It is quite costly, shipped or bought from the LFS, and I had a hard enough time justifying to the people who care about me and my financial situation that it was something I absolutely needed. But now it looks like I need two bags, and this is going to be up around $100 (Canadian prices are a killer). The only acceptable answer seems to be to mix it with something, so that I have the nutrients and depth that the plants will need.

So I ask you, experienced aquarium tenders, can I mix a 15.4lb (25lb needed) bag of Flourite substrate with some cheapo regular aquarium gravel? They would both be black, so at least it wouldn't be hideous. There would probably be issues of making sure the ratio of flourite to gravel would be equal throughout the bottom of the tank, and I am planning on hooking myself up with some Excel to make up nutrients that would be lacking (I'm not very good at growing plants anyway). I could just buy the second bag another month, but my buddy is concerned with me blowing a ton of money on this tank and getting tired of collecting the hardware for it before I can get it cycling. I really would like to cut down on the costs wherever I can, and I'm hoping this isn't nearly as criminal as filling out ground beef with foreign sources of animal matter.

What do you think, distinguished colleagues? What should this poor poor newbie do?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-04-2010, 11:43 PM
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a 15 pound bag of flourite only runs about 22 bucks.

The black sand stuff you see at some fish stores that are privatly owned is a little sharp. Its ok for fish but for bottom dwellers like cories it may wear down their mouths.

so the substrate you got now, add another bag and call it a day. You want your foundation set now before anything else.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 12:18 AM
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How do you feel about mineralized topsoil?

This would do four things for you - 1) it's cheap 2) supplies nutrients (which neither Flourite nor Excel really do) 3) gives you the depth you are looking for and 4) looks good capped with Flourite.

Plus, making your own substrate could lead to great feelings of accomplishment.


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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 12:23 AM
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You could also look for OilDri (check the automotive section at WalMart). It's a fired clay with similar properties to Flourite, though IMO the colors aren't as nice (I'm personally obsessed with black LOL) and it is light so can be a challenge to get plants to stay down at first. (I'd give plants a while to get established before adding any catfish, for example.)





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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 12:33 AM
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On that kind of budget, skip flourite altogether. How about mineralized soil capped with Turface, OilDri, Colorquartz, or Pool sand?

65 gallon journal:

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 01:11 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by accordztech View Post
a 15 pound bag of flourite only runs about 22 bucks.
Online it is, but then there is shipping, additional freight charges, and taxes. In the end it's about 50 bucks. It's the same price in the store. The guy who runs the store is crrrrrazy about mark-up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest View Post
How do you feel about mineralized topsoil?

This would do four things for you - 1) it's cheap 2) supplies nutrients (which neither Flourite nor Excel really do) 3) gives you the depth you are looking for and 4) looks good capped with Flourite.

Plus, making your own substrate could lead to great feelings of accomplishment.
I was thinking of using some topsoil, but I hear it has some things in it that are unhealthy to shrimp, which I would like very much to have. I suppose it would be okay if I kept it capped? But I wouldn't be able to keep my hands out of the tank, constantly rearranging things. I'll keep it in mind, and it will probably be the route I take. Thanks for your suggestion. (Feeling of accomplishment would be great )

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Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
You could also look for OilDri (check the automotive section at WalMart). It's a fired clay with similar properties to Flourite, though IMO the colors aren't as nice (I'm personally obsessed with black LOL) and it is light so can be a challenge to get plants to stay down at first. (I'd give plants a while to get established before adding any catfish, for example.)
I'll check it out for sure, thanks!

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Originally Posted by kid creole View Post
On that kind of budget, skip flourite altogether. How about mineralized soil capped with Turface, OilDri, Colorquartz, or Pool sand?
I'll think about it after I check out those products. I'm brand new to this, so I didn't know my options, but pool sand seems kinda gross to me. Really looking for that professional black look.

Thanks everyone!

We'll see how it goes when I get my tank cycling and start a journal.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 02:10 AM
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Im actually not using MTS, im just going to use topsoil out of the bag with a couple of ferts and top it off with sand. There are people who done it, they suffer at first with alot of greenwater though.

gee no place local has fourite? that sucks!
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 02:25 AM Thread Starter
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One LFS does, that I know of, and it's the same price as buying online after shipping/taxes/etc. Like I said, the guy who owns the place is crazy about mark-up.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 03:39 AM
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Hey Milq...I can relate. It seems like there are not a lot of good sources for aquarium supplies in Canada, and those who have quality stuff, cost an arm and a leg. Bottom line, flourite is pricey, but it will be good for a long time. I have a 55 and mixed a bag of flourite dark ($27 CDN at Big Al's) with my regular aquarium gravel and capped that over top of plain topsoil. Works fine. I haven't done any major rearranging to this point, so haven't had any issues with the soil under the gravel/flourite. Any time I do move a plant, there is a bit of a cloud, but it settles quickly and doesn't muddy the water. I have a low light set up and dose the water a bit and have some Flourish tabs in the gravel around my swords, lotus and aponogeton, and all the plants seem to be doing really well. I have a bit of melt on my bacopa and vals to start off, but they are coming back nicely. I haven't had any algae issues as of yet and the fish seem happy. Lots of options out there and you don't have to spend big bucks to have a nice tank. Another option I've heard of is to use aquatic plant substrate that you'd get from a pond supply place. But I've never tried that so don't know how it works out price-wise compared to flourite or ADA Aquasoil. Good luck!
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 02:26 PM
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It's not black, but since it's getting close to Pond season again, stores should be stocking Schultz Aquatic Soil soon. It's made to go in pots in ponds. It's yet another fired clay product, and is a variated red/tan in color. Very similar to the regular Flourite, just much cheaper. Check with the pond sections at Home Depot/Lowes, etc.

Only thing is I heard some reports last year of people finding little blue balls in there- apparently they added fertilizers- that were causing ammonia spikes. Shouldn't be a problem if there aren't any fish in the tank yet and you're cycling it, but just throwing that out there just in case. [IDK if the product was permanently changed, or if the manufacturer was just temporarily trying something out, or what.]





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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 03:09 PM
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Espoma's aquatic soil is dark grey, fwiw.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-05-2010, 03:28 PM
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mix a bag of flourite with sand...
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