Advantages to commercial substrates other than buffering - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
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Advantages to commercial substrates other than buffering

Hello, been reading and learning alot from this site for the past few months but have some questions I haven't found a clear answer to. Currently I have a low-tech 10 gallon and a higher tech 29 gallon with pressurized CO2 and medium light. Both of these tanks have BDBS as the substrate with root tabs and I have been very pleased with the results. I was recently given a new 7 gallon tank and am in the process of planning it out. It will run pressurized CO2 and have medium to high light. In my other tanks I have dwarf sag but want to try a more challenging carpet plant such as dwarf hair grass or monte carlo. Fauna will be a betta and maybe some amano or cherry shrimp to help keep things clean (my 10 gallon low tech has a thriving cherry colony already).

I keep vacillating on the substrate. I am considering pool filter sand and controsoil. The PFS is cheap, seems to be well liked and has a different look from the blasting sand I have in my current tanks. Controsoil is also well liked and I wouldn't mind giving commercial soil a shot just to see for myself how well it works. I am not to concerned about the cost, what does worry me is the buffering function of the soil. I have very hard water, PH runs between 8 and 8.2 with KH 8, and GH 14. My understanding is that with this tap water the buffering capabilities of controsoil will be exhausted rather quickly since I don't really want to mess with RO water. Since the focus of this tank is going to be the plants and am not planning on raising any of the more challenging shrimp species does the quickly depleted buffering capabilities even matter? In other words are still advantages in controlsoil over PFS other than buffering that will make it worth while, especially with the goal of a nice carpet. Or should I just stick with sand and root tabs?

Thank-you, I really appreciate your thoughts.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 01:30 PM
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Controlsoil is larger granules - which I dont prefer in nano tanks... over 20 gallons, sure.

Pool sand to me takes much longer to cycle and can get 'compacted' more IMO. Also some of it has calcium, which would in fact impact your already high pH.

Personally I like the Eco Complete as the granules are different sizes (small to medium) so it blends better with my nano appropriate fish and plants (fissidens, mosses, riccia, hairgrass, baby tears, anubias, monte carlo, sgitaria).

That said, I use sand (Stoney River White Aquatic Sand) AND eco complete AND gravel in most of my tanks in different layouts.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 01:41 PM
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I use Aquatic plant soil ,like ADA or Tropica because a really don't want to spend a lot of time wasted on trying to make up on substrate that needs work to get plants growing at top form. That is not part of the hobby that I find "Fun" I don't like give plants slow starts that cause issues in my aquariums.

I know a lot of people like to use sand or "blasting" sand but there is not advantage other that cheap. I have a wife that loves looking at planted aquariums an if she is seeing algae and other issues going on and she finds out it could be avoided if I bought a bag of ADA. Well I would be in trouble. An after 30 years of marriage I have learned to not be in trouble.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by EdWiser View Post
I use Aquatic plant soil ,like ADA or Tropica because a really don't want to spend a lot of time wasted on trying to make up on substrate that needs work to get plants growing at top form. That is not part of the hobby that I find "Fun" I don't like give plants slow starts that cause issues in my aquariums.

I know a lot of people like to use sand or "blasting" sand but there is not advantage other that cheap. I have a wife that loves looking at planted aquariums an if she is seeing algae and other issues going on and she finds out it could be avoided if I bought a bag of ADA. Well I would be in trouble. An after 30 years of marriage I have learned to not be in trouble.

Blasting sand is heavier (holds plants better) doesn't wear out or turn to mush, doesn't produce ammonia in your tank, is much more readily available locally, I think it looks better....I wouldn't say price is the only advantage.
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