What's a good substrate to plant for a beginner? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 07:51 PM Thread Starter
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What's a good substrate to plant for a beginner?

Since I'm new to this hobby I've gone the route of fake plants + gravel. I really like the look of gravel, but I don't think most plants are going to grow in it. Is it possible to do a dirt underneath of gravel? I don't see any issues, but I don't want to get started on the wrong foot.

I'm going to be setting up a simple 10g and try my luck at a bunch of plants/grass and maybe some mosses. There are just so many substrate choices that I'm lost.

Any advice is much appreciated.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 07:54 PM
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If you like the looks of it, then go with it. Any pool filter sand would do, and gravel on top of that I think would suffice. You will eventually need to add some type of ferts to the substrate. I'd stick with some smaller gravel, though.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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Sand huh... I think I'm really confused with this stuff for some reason. I have no problem mineralizing it. The thing I really didn't want to do was use Co2. I realllly don't want to keep spending a lot of money on this. I'm not at that point yet.

I think I'll have to look into adding minerals. Is it the same kind of deal as the "plant food". That's what my LFS suggested for keeping a few live plants in my other tank.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 08:02 PM
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You'll have better luck with finer-grained gravel than thicker stuff. But by "gravel", do you mean actual rock or epoxy-coated neon stuff they sell at big chain pet stores (which you will assuredly see referred to as "clown puke")?

As for adding dirt, yes, you can add dirt (look up "Walstad tank"), though Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix might be a better bet as a bottom layer. Mineralized TopSoil (check the MTS sticky in the substrate forum) would be ideal, but that takes time and preparation. No matter what you do, though, it will be difficult to add a bottom layer without completely removing whatever you have now, first. I'm not sure, from your post, if you'd be starting from scratch or not.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Kevmo - first and foremost - awesome picture .

I am going to start brand spanking new. I'm buying a new filter/heater/substrate/plants fish and whatever else. I just want to stay away from super high maintenance stuff. I'm going to check out that sticky right now.

As far as this tank goes I want all natural. My wife loves the clown puke and since that's who allowed me to get the 36g - that's what went in there.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 11:19 PM
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You can always put the healthy stuff on the bottom and the fruity pebbles gravel on top. Get some finer grain stuff, as it will eventually sink to the bottom where it should be if you already set up your gravel. It'll look pretty for the wife and your plants can still grow

Ecocomplete is pretty low maintenance but it is pretty expensive. You can also check out "soil-less" mixes at your local nursery. You can go with simple dirt but you have to go through all that mineralizing or wait until it mineralizes in the tank, which is a pain in the butt. If you want something cheap with no maintenance, pool sand as has been suggested before is a good option. But anything that is sand-like or has small grain will suffice. I think ultimately though, your choice of plants will be what determines their health. Anubias doesn't even require substrate

I have a second tank that was the very first one I bought. It's full of cheap feeder fish I bought a year ago and it's full of random plants I just dumped in. In it are some pea gravel I bought from home depot and some builder's sand. I honestly half expected this thing to just die on me as I haven't done a water change in 5 months and my only light source is some specks of sunlight and my chandelier. As of now, it is a veritable jungle full of plants, the majority of my fish are still alive, and there is zero algae.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-09-2011, 11:35 PM
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How much do you need?

Surely, someone here can give you a great deal on some buckets of stuff sitting around.

I would , but i am in Michigan Haha!

But i just got directions to a place in Naples Florida and will be moving south tomorrow !


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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-10-2011, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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All I need is enough for a 10g tank. I don't think she's getting her fruity pebbles in this one! I've got my eye on some black sand at the LFS that I want to use as a cap.

As far as plants go - I really want some of those fine hair looking grasses for the front - I think it's called Chainsword for the middle - and I haven't decided on a background plant yet. I have seen a lot of people attaching Anubias to drift wood and I like that also. I'm probably just going to dump a nice looking beta with some cardinals in the tank as fish. Maybe some shrimp or Oto's also (not sure if you need algae eaters for this type of set up).

I like the idea of pool filter sand a lot, but I'm not sure if I cap it with this black sand if it will end up mixing... I also need to look into the addition of ferts. I have no problem dosing - I just really dont want to do the Co2 set ups. That's just one more thing I'd need to have hooked up. And where it's going in my house - I don't have a lot of place to hide wire and stuff like that.
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