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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-06-2010, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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planted tank substrate

currently i have a very low tech 29 gallon planted tank.
20 watts light, play sand with root tabs as substrate and diy co2. all plants are doing good but i wonder if they would benefit from a better substrate or if i should leave it the way it is.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-06-2010, 11:34 PM
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I do not like the local play sand.
Too fine, compacts in the tank, leading to anaerobic pockets.
No CEC.

I would (and have) replaced almost all the substrate in my tanks with Soil Master Select or Turface. Some tanks have other substrate, but only a couple have an area of sand. No more sand as a growing media.

Cationic exchange capacity means the substrate can accept fertilizer in a special way and hold it until the plants need it.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-07-2010, 03:23 AM
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I would change the sand to a better substrate the plants will benafit from it.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-07-2010, 05:08 AM
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I would (and have) replaced almost all the substrate in my tanks with Soil Master Select or Turface.
Cationic exchange capacity means the substrate can accept fertilizer in a special way and hold it until the plants need it.
Is the CEC of Soil Master Select or Turface such that it will/could build up over time to be as productive as soil? Assuming you would need to add more fertilizer than your plants were using. And if so, how long might this take?

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-07-2010, 03:03 PM
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Is the CEC of Soil Master Select or Turface such that it will/could build up over time to be as productive as soil? Assuming you would need to add more fertilizer than your plants were using. And if so, how long might this take?
You could try pre-soaking it for a while before using it, in a solution of water and dry ferts, if you want to speed up the process a little. Or use root tabs in the tank until the fertilizer levels get built up.

I second the recommendation for Turface, though. It's a wonderful thing - not messy, holds nutrients, and looks nice.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-07-2010, 03:39 PM
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Where can u find turface soil any links ?
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-07-2010, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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not sure i can get turface locally. any websites that sell it?
does it have to be pro league? all i can find is mvp.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-07-2010, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Diana View Post
I would (and have) replaced almost all the substrate in my tanks with Soil Master Select or Turface.
What type of store carries this?

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-07-2010, 07:05 PM
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I believe the John Deer stores carry Turface. Aquarium plants . com has their own substrate that is similar to these products and works very good. They have free shipping on their substrate and it is pretty cheap.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-07-2010, 07:18 PM
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You can go to Turface.com and enter your zipcode to find a local distributer. I got mine at an outdoor supply store. So far I'm really pleased with the looks and functionality of it. I would recommend dosing EI or 2x EI for the first bit as it will abosrb everything you toss in the tank. Mine does. Between the Turface and all the plants they are uptaking everything I've been throwing in the tank so I've started to dose 2x EI. You experiences may vary but this is what I have seen from mine so far.

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 03:15 PM
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I have had Soil Master select in my tanks for several years, and yes, by being consistent with the fertilizer for a while it does build up a reserve. Depends on how much extra fertilizer you are adding compared to how much the plants are using for how fast it builds up. If the plants are pretty much using it all up as you add it then very little is going into the reserve.

However, these materials do remove the KH from the water, and this is easily tested and remedied. I added baking soda to one tank for about a year before it slowed down in removing it from the water. This suggests to me that these materials have a very high CEC and you could (if you wanted to) add LOTS of fertilizer, perhaps while doing a fishless cycle, and turn it into a very rich substrate. Another possibility might be to add some powdered ferts at the bottom of the tank during set up, then being very careful not to disturb them. As they get wet they will dissolve and the fertilizer will get picked up by the substrate at first, then by any roots that have made it down that far. In a new set up of course there are not that many roots so widespread, so the substrate will have first claim on the fertilizers. By keeping the ferts on the bottom of the tank there is very little water movement to lift the ferts up into the water column. I think I would still be conservative about adding too much ferts this way. Maybe a month's worth of EI?? Too much and the roots could burn if the substrate cannot adsorb it.

Then there is the removal side: If you have a lot of heavy root feeders they will be removing the fertilizers really fast, so again, the substrate will not be holding it very long, if at all, even if you are feeding pretty heavily.

In another tank I mixed coral sand with Turface and the KH never dropped in that tank. This suggests that when the elements or molecules are closer to the substrate the substrate will take in those, and more or less ignore the material that is in the water column. Another clue that perhaps pre-fertilizing a high CEC material may be a good way to go.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-08-2010, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
In another tank I mixed coral sand with Turface and the KH never dropped in that tank. This suggests that when the elements or molecules are closer to the substrate the substrate will take in those, and more or less ignore the material that is in the water column. Another clue that perhaps pre-fertilizing a high CEC material may be a good way to go.
Would you say that one more time differently? And why would it cause the KH to drop?

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