Substrate for a beginner - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 04:52 AM Thread Starter
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Substrate for a beginner

I was wondering if someone could give me some tips on setting up a substrate for planting. Right now I have 25lb of CaribSea Super Naturals sand in my 30g tank. I bought 15lb of CaribSea Floramax yesterday, figuring that it had nutrients for growing plants but from what I've recently read, it apparently doesn't.



Is Mineralized Top Soil the way to go? Would it be possible for me to mix some mineralized top soil with some of the Floramax I bought and then put a 2" layer of my sand over it? I've already washed the Floramax, so if there's a way to put it to use, that would be great.

Also, I don't have any sort of advanced set-up with CO2 or anything like that. I just have a heater, a filter, and an air pump. Does that make any difference in what kind of substrate I can use for planting?
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 04:57 AM Thread Starter
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Oh, wait a second....

Are you supposed to make your own mineralized top soil? >.>
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 05:50 AM
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Oh, wait a second....

Are you supposed to make your own mineralized top soil? >.>
you don't have to, the floramax would work well for you. I am using something very similar.


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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 06:21 AM Thread Starter
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you don't have to, the floramax would work well for you. I am using something very similar.
So I can use Floramax instead of a top soil? I thought it didn't have any nutrients.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 06:26 AM
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I belive it is a nutrient rich substrate. It is sold by the same company that makes Eco-complete which is most certainly good for plants and is full of nutrients. All of my rooted plants are doing great in it. you do not need soil or the mineralized soils for a planted tank, although it is a path that you could take if you wish. I am using two types of this substrate for my plants, I have 1 1/2" of their small grain sand, and 1 1/2" of the red substrate, the sand helps hold down the stems, and I at the time liked the look of the red substrate.


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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 06:45 AM
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Floramax doesn't have nutrients, and you do have to make your own mineralized top soil.

My advice, the same advice that I ignored when I started and wished that I hadn't, is buy some ADA Amazonia I Aquasoil. The stuff is amazing, it's not that (comparatively) expensive, and it will give you lots of leeway with growing healthy plants.
There are some other good alternatives, but you won't find any of them in Petsmart or most LFS
. Fluval stratum, Mr. Aqua planted tank/shrimp soil, Azoo plant grower bed are all supposed to be good, and are around the same price.

The great thing about these substrates is that the nutrients are already where they need to be, and you don't have to worry so much about fertilizing in the beginning. Not having ferts in the water column will also give you more lee-way with algae problems, at least for a while.
Mineralized top soil will do the same thing, but it is definitely not a quick easy DIY. If you're on a budget, MTS could be your best route.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 06:53 AM
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Noahma - Eco-complete and it's like (floramax, flourite) doesn't have any real nutrients to speak of. It has a very limited amount of trace elements, and if you get a bad batch, a huge spike of calcium carbonate(not the best thing for planted tanks, but not harmful.). Thats it. It has a good CEC rating, so it will absorb and retain any nutrients you add to the tank, but it doesn't have any of it's own. No matter what the bag says.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 01:58 PM
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Another option for you since you do already have the Floramax is to use it as a cap over about 1" of Miracle Gro organic potting soil.





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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
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Another option for you since you do already have the Floramax is to use it as a cap over about 1" of Miracle Gro organic potting soil.
So should I do 1" of Miracle Gro Organic Potting Soil on the bottom, 1" of Floramax over that, and then 2" of sand over the Floramax? Or should I do more of the Miracle Gro? Or I could also mix the Miracle Gro with the Floramax.. The Floramax looked the same as the Flourite at the store, as far as the size and texture of the gravel.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-19-2011, 09:04 PM
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So should I do 1" of Miracle Gro Organic Potting Soil on the bottom, 1" of Floramax over that, and then 2" of sand over the Floramax? Or should I do more of the Miracle Gro? Or I could also mix the Miracle Gro with the Floramax.. The Floramax looked the same as the Flourite at the store, as far as the size and texture of the gravel.
There is no reason to have 3 layers of substrate. Use the Miracle Gro Organic soil on the bottom, topped only with the Floramax, or with Flourite, or with Eco Complete, or with pool filter sand, etc. The bottom layer provides nutrients, the top layer holds the plants in place, helps to keep the bottom layer out of the water, may provide good CEC to help the plants use the nutrients in the bottom layer. If you want a particular appearance of the substrate, pick the one that gives that appearance for the entire top layer.

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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-20-2011, 01:17 AM
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Hoppy,

How many inches of sand do you recommend? I just purchased some Pool Filter sand and it was a solid grey color (like crushed quarts?!).

My plan is put sand over Amazonia AS. I've been told that sand will "crush" the aquasoil?!

Matt

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-20-2011, 02:06 AM Thread Starter
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There is no reason to have 3 layers of substrate. Use the Miracle Gro Organic soil on the bottom, topped only with the Floramax, or with Flourite, or with Eco Complete, or with pool filter sand, etc. The bottom layer provides nutrients, the top layer holds the plants in place, helps to keep the bottom layer out of the water, may provide good CEC to help the plants use the nutrients in the bottom layer. If you want a particular appearance of the substrate, pick the one that gives that appearance for the entire top layer.
Well I definitely want my sand to be the visible substrate if possible. Is there anyway I can use the Floramax since I've already bought and opened it? Also, how much potting soil should I buy for a 30g tank?
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-20-2011, 02:35 AM
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Just one small bag of the Miracle Gro should be more than enough. One big bag was enough for me to do both my 46 and 90gals (I'd bought 3... oops! guess I'll be using them in my container gardens in a few months though...)





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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 08:21 PM
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I just bit the bullet and bought a lot of Fluval Stratum for plants. Are there any disadvantages to using it over mineralized topsoil? I don't think the MTS is necessary, but it will certainly increase the depth of the substrate at a lower price. (And, I already have the MTS too.)

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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-13-2011, 08:52 PM
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if you want to get a co2 generator, than just check out my forum, "how to make your own diy co2 generator"

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/di...n-diy-co2.html

Happy plantkeeping!
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check it out!!!! -->

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