Planted tank substrate and fish compatability - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-03-2019, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Planted tank substrate and fish compatability

I could use some advice on the substrate for my upcoming planted tank/aquascape. I want for my tank to be heavily planted with roots, rocks and perhaps some carpeting. The sand I have now is extremely fine, and I've been advised to change to gravel. However, I have some very sand-loving fish, such as kuhli, horseface loach and corydoras. I don't wanna throw them under the bus, but the plants are struggling pretty hard with this sand. I've been considering placing sand in the front and gravel in the back and using substrate supports to prevent them from mixing, but I don't know if that would actually work.

I've also read a lot of good things about putting soil beneath the gravel in the tank. Can I use normal organic soil from the flower shop, or does it have to be a special type?
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-04-2019, 04:59 PM
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I'm not an expert on plants at all, but what makes you say that the plants may be better with gravel? Both substrates are inert, so there shouldn't be a difference in nutrient content, and your plants shouldn't be floating up out of the sand unless you have a very thin layer.

Some people do keep bottom dwelling fish with gravel and are absolutely fine, but the gravel needs to be as small as possible and rounded, with no jagged edges. It also needs to be kept scrupulously clean, although your sand shouldn't be overly dirty anyway. One issue though, is that many bottom dwellers will sift sand through their gills while searching for food in the substrate. With gravel you run the risk of them not being able to do this, or worse, attempting to do it anyway and damaging their gills.

Separate sections could work, but you may find that it mixes despite the supports. I'm also not sure on whether the fish will learn to stay in one area, although they could well do.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-04-2019, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your response. After a bit more research I'm planning to go with a coarser sand at 0.4-0.8mm. The one I have now is so fine that it seems to be suffocating my plant roots. I hope this new sand should prove to please both the plants and bottomdwellers =)
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