Low Budget Substrates - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-01-2010, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Question Low Budget Substrates

Hello everyone, so I am planning my 20 gallon community tank (small community lol) and I am pretty much settled on everything that will go into it except the substrate. It needs to be low budget but also want plants to be able to grow in it relatively well. I was thinking Home Depot sand and a thin layer of gravel substrate ontop of that. Would this work? Open to any and all suggestions. Substrate is the one area of this where I have been a little overwhelmed. Thanks to all of you!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-01-2010, 09:28 PM
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my current favorite substrate is Turface its about 15$ for 50 lbs and seems to work very well.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-01-2010, 09:39 PM
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Making your own mineralized topsoil is going to be one of the best substrates you can get on the cheap. See the sticky at the top of this forum.





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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-01-2010, 10:17 PM
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you can just go with sand if you want but ill 2nd the mineralized topsoil. there even people who sell it on the forum to make it even easier.

In SoCali? Looking for fish plants equipment? want to learn something about the hobby?

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-01-2010, 11:30 PM
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turface for sure. high cec rate. just needs fert tabbed and you will be fine.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-01-2010, 11:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StaleyDaBear View Post
turface for sure. high cec rate. just needs fert tabbed and you will be fine.
one thing i didnt mention is that i put mineralizes soil under my turface.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-02-2010, 12:45 AM
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+1 on mineralized topsoil, topped with sand or something, that stuff is awesome, it made my dwarf hairgrass groooooooooow.


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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-02-2010, 01:34 AM Thread Starter
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hey thx for all the input. Sounds like I will end up making the topsoil. I wanted to know what kind of results I should expect if I ONLY used eco complete in the tank though. thanks again. (I am ok with slow growth as long as it will live and be healthy)
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-02-2010, 01:54 AM
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Eco-Complete is alright, but I don't really like it because of how loose it is, you have to plant the plants really deep, or else it'll float away. You'll get good results with just Eco, but better with mineralized, also I think mineralized will last you longer.


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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-02-2010, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
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ok, well i walked into my lfs and saw flourite just sitting there. bought it because of my need for instant gratification. doing a layer of flourite and then a layer of eco complete. thanks for all of your help. I will definately make my own topsoil though when i build a bigger tank. thx!
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-02-2010, 11:21 PM
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No matter what substrate you use, you will be dosing fertilizer. As the plants use what is in the soil it is good to replace it as you go, rather than waiting until it is all used up.
Substrate with a high CEC is really good that way. Acts like a buffer so that fertilizer availability is more stable than with a gravel or sand substrate.

Dividing the cost of the substrate over the years of its use, and factoring something for your time and effort to add fertilizers I would give a big vote to any substrate that can become part of the whole system, and help with fertilizing the plants.
Start with a substrate with no fertilizer, but high CEC, and you will be adding a lot of fertilizer. Then it will get better with time, and be part of the system.
Start with a substrate with some fertilizer, and you may pay more up front, but have less fertilizer worries in the early stages of set up. You will still need to add fertilizer over time, though.
No substrate lasts forever in its amount of fertilizer or minerals that is offers to the plants.

Last edited by Diana; 05-03-2010 at 05:03 AM.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-03-2010, 01:24 AM Thread Starter
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Thx Diana. Thats good info that I didn't know. Btw, i loved contra costa county when i lived there.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-03-2010, 05:05 AM
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CoCoCo is all right, and close enough to a lot of other places that are really great:
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Muir Woods
Mount Diablo
the Delta
and the many botanical gardens: Strybing, Tilden, Berkely...
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