Substrate suggestions please! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-16-2017, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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Question Substrate suggestions please!

Hi everyone

Just hoping to get some advice on choice of substrate. I'm upgrading my current 70L tank to a 175L one, and will be moving across my plants and probably adding some others. The small tank I got as an established set up, and its current substrate is some sort of soil-based one. I currently have low care plants (anubias and amazon swords i think) but may want to expand a bit in the bigger tank. My stock includes loaches and pygmy cories, so I need something fine and soft for them. My aesthetic preference would be dark or black.

Any suggestions that will be nice on the little barb faces, but good for the plants?
Even a good substrate for the plants underneath and fine sand on top?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-16-2017, 01:47 PM
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Amazonia from ada seems to be popular for a while now. My plants did great and the fish didn't mind. But so was fluorite although that's red. The price on ada products is disgusting! You would think they are selling black gold.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-16-2017, 02:47 PM
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Hello

If you do not want red Flourite, there is also black Flourite sand available. I would definitely suggest some form of sand for your bottom dwellers! One thing to note about ADA Amazonia is that it will temporarily leech some ammonia, so I would be very vigilant of your water parameters if you go that route.

Good luck and congrats on your new and improved tank!
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 12:03 AM
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Soil/Miracle-Gro capped with black blasting sand!


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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 01:10 AM
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Are you going to stay low tech?

How much are you willing to spend? The ADA system is expensive. You could go with Eco Complete and cap it with black sand. Its cheaper and you can get it at any large pet store.
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Last edited by Darkblade48; 09-17-2017 at 07:56 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 12:41 PM
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Are you going to stay low tech?

How much are you willing to spend? The ADA system is expensive. You could go with Eco Complete and cap it with black sand. Its cheaper and you can get it at any large pet store.
No need to use the additives or even Powersand. AS is good to go all alone.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 12:52 PM
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Soil/Miracle-Gro capped with black blasting sand!
You can't go wrong with this set-up! Plants grow well, looks good and the best part, cheap!

The only negative is if you plan on pulling up plants and moving them around often, it will get messy.


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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 02:25 PM
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The only negative is if you plan on pulling up plants and moving them around often, it will get messy.
I sometimes uproot 25% of the tank @ a time with no mess.
The key is soaking all soil products and removing all matter that can float before it goes in your tank.
I breach the capped sand all the time. With the filter off it just falls to the substrate.
Quick little vacuum of the 25% area and all is well.

My problem that I see coming in the future is the loss of the soil.
Some plants come out with a lot of roots and soil.
The vac removes a lot of soil I can never put back under the cap.

Hoping for the 1 year mark before I breakdown/recap soil.

Having read where people just dump soil products right in the tank and then cap, any uprooting could release floating debris everywhere.

BTW plants really like soil!
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 02:36 PM
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Are you going to stay low tech?

How much are you willing to spend? The ADA system is expensive. You could go with Eco Complete and cap it with black sand. Its cheaper and you can get it at any large pet store.

I don't understand why I keep seeing this suggestion. EC is inert with a lousy CEC. Just use the black sand. It'll make your planting a lot easier and save a lot of money.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 06:15 PM
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I have used eco-complete and it works great for plants. Not as good as soil substrates but still better than sand.
Eco-complete and Flourite have high CEC so that's why it's recommended over just using sand. It will not breakdown and yes you do need to dose the water column, you need to do that with any substrate unless your substrate is made with organic material like dirt/potting mix. AS you can do without dosing for a while, however, this is all contingent on your use of co2. Without a sufficient amount of carbon, the plants uptake of nutrients will be much slower, and will not exhaust your substrate as quickly. Another factor is your plant selection.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 07:17 PM
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Flourite is at the bottom of CEC rating, might as well be inert.
Don't know about Ecocomplete.

Seems that Eco Complete may be inert too.
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Last edited by Maryland Guppy; 09-17-2017 at 07:33 PM. Reason: Edit
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 11:13 PM
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I don't understand why I keep seeing this suggestion. EC is inert with a lousy CEC. Just use the black sand. It'll make your planting a lot easier and save a lot of money.
this

just get black diamond (cheap) or go with ADA / soil based stuff ($$$). avoid eco complete


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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 06:08 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the ideas everyone! I'll have to look up the cost of ADA here, otherwise I may go with soil-based again. I dont do too much remodelling once the plants are in, so I wont have to worry too much if I end up capping with sand
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 07:24 AM
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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Is plain sand (such as black blasting sand) with root tabs another option?
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