Substrate choices - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-08-2019, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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Substrate choices

There are so many choices of substrates, could really use some insight on the benefits and drawbacks of the following products: Fluval Stratum, Caribsea Eco Complete and Floramax, and Seachem Flourite Black. I plan to keep pretty basic and hardy plants (anubias, javas, crypts, swords). Also, is there any benefit or drawback of mixing these products with each other or with gravel?

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-10-2019, 07:26 PM
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Aside from the swords, the plants you've mentioned aren't particularly fussy in terms of substrate. Anubias and java ferns don't need any substrate at all - they can attach to hardscape, and draw their nutrients from the water column. Crypts will need to be rooted, but mine has been doing very well in a totally inert substrate for years now - I bought one C. lutea and now have 5 -7, and I have been horribly negligent with fertilizing (aka I haven't done any until this past couple of months, and while it has reacted well to fertilizing, it was doing perfectly well with nothing but what the fish provided).

I have 2 swords in this same substrate and can say they definitely aren't doing as well. They're both still with me after a few years, but haven't grown and in fact are smaller than when I got them..... Since I've been providing root tabs and fertilizing the column, they've put out a ton of new leaves and gotten bigger again. I haven't used any of the substrates you mentioned, but I think with your plant selection you probably don't need to worry too much about them - they'll do well in whatever you pick.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-10-2019, 07:36 PM
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Don't spend money on "planted tank" substrates ... Unless you are going with a Stratum / Aqua soil type substrate.

Eco-Comp is crushed lava rock, nothing of benefit to plants
Flourite is a huge pain to plant into, nothing of benefit to plants

Cheap blasting sand (black magic, black diamond brand) pool filter sand, play sand (it's dirty thougj) or any other aquarium specific sands (that don't alter pH) are good options.

Plain gravel in your choice of color is another cheaper option.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-10-2019, 08:38 PM
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Here is a Sticky of helpful substrate info: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/2...icles-faq.html
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-16-2019, 01:08 PM
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One of the cheapest and messy option is to have a dirted tank. Thats what I have in my both 27 and 72 G tanks. I have about one inch or so organic miracle grow dirt from Lowes, then about another inch of regular gravel to cap it. I have lots of plants, including heavy rootfeeder such as Amazon Sword, and they are doing great.
If you dont want to do that, since the plants that you mentioned, most dont really need substrate anyway. But for Sword and Crypts, you can think about root tabs. Then you can get away with just plain gravel, stick some tabs next to your Sword and Crypts and you are good to go.
Both of these options will be cheap and you can still get what you need.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 05:04 PM
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Demineralized soil is somewhat less apt to pollute your tank with raw ammonia than Miracle Grow organic which uses composted animal manure. Something you want to avoid having in any aquarium even if it's 'buried' under gravel

Starting small, keeping it simple..(?)
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 05:22 PM
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For the sake of not spreading misinformation, the meaning of demineralize is to remove "minerals" from a medium (demineralized water for example).

Mineralizing organic matter (organic potting soil) means to decompose organic materials into inorganic, plant available compounds (organic nitrogen found in earthworm castings being broken down into ammonia - nitrate)
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-19-2019, 12:41 AM
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Controsoil... Cheaper and I think better than Amazonia.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-19-2019, 01:02 AM
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How big is the tank? As the tank size increases, the amount I'm willing to spend per pound decreases

As far as benefits and drawbacks, I personally feel like it's splitting hairs between substrates unless you're going for active substrates. I'd also avoid Eco Complete, I've used it in a few tanks and it's overpriced for what it is, plus it's not that dense and can be annoying to plant certain plants in. They don't always stay put and float off

Going forward, BDBS and pool filter sand are frontrunners for me, depending if I want dark or light color
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-20-2019, 03:11 AM
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I have a 55 gallon with anuabias and crypts and I'm using Flourite black. I really like the look of it. I've used it all floramax Black diamond fluval. I like the look of the black flourite. It's not as dirty as regular flourite. It was pretty easy to clean.
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