AquariumPlants.Com 's Substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 12:40 AM Thread Starter
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AquariumPlants.Com 's Substrate?

I am going to tear-down my 125g and start-over with new substrate.
I expect that I will be rooting around in it at some point, so basic soil it not something I would consider for this re-do.
I've had great success with Flourite Black Sand in my 29g, but that would be very expensive to buy 3" or more for the 125g; 18" x 72".

What are your experiances with or opinions about (state which):
AquariumPlants.com's own: Freshwater Planted Aquarium Substrate

Thanks for your feedback.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 12:59 AM
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Im using it in my 75g.

Cons

Very light. Reminds me on non-byoant Styrofoam. It can easily get blown around by filter output and digging fish can me a quick trip to the bottom of the tank.

It played havoc with GH/KH. Took over a month to stabilize.

You can grow HC in it if you don't mind replanting it twice a day. MTS and shrimp keep pulling mine up.

Pros

Cheap. Cant beat it for the price.

Its the easiest medium I have worked with for planting (except for HC). It holds regular stem plants nicely.

Relatively clean, but you still need to wash it.

Did I mention cheap?

I would use it again for any tank that would need over 6 bags of the more expensive media.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 01:30 AM
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When Soil Master Select was still available I was part of a group that re-did a tank using the red buckets of substrate.
Looks and acts just like Soil Master Select.

Now, Turface is a similar product as SMS. These are a clay product that is used in sports fields. They have a high cationic exchange capacity, so are very beneficial to the plants in the tank.
Many of my tanks have SMS, a few have Turface.
These products remove the carbonates (KH) from the water, but IME do not touch the GH (Ca or Mg). The pH can drop when the KH is removed.
In one tank I mixed coral sand and Turface. There were no KH or pH problems in that tank. It was for fish from Lake Tanganyika.

For the least expensive way to get that sort of material look for John Deere or Lesco stores, probably on line. John Deere supplies irrigation and other landscape materials. Lesco is more fertilizer oriented, but has a wide product line.

I like the looks of the darker materials. I used SMS charcoal in my tanks. I saw the Turface equivalent a month or so ago, in a friend's tank. It is a bit lighter in color, not really black, but dark grey. I have a sort of tan colored Turface, and it is not that great looking IMO.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 02:37 AM
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i have used it in several tanks, then i tried ECO Complete. The comments about light are correct. Getting plants to stay put in it can be a challenge. heaver substrates like Eco are sooooo much easier to work with. But if you have the time and patients then the aquariumplants.com substrate works great.


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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 02:47 AM
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I researched this one back when I was first putting together my 90gal and decided that Soil Master Select (now replaced by Turface) or OilDri would give exactly the same results for much cheaper.

I ended up going with Flourite, though since I liked the weight and color better.





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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 03:38 AM
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Like others have said, it is just like Turface or SMS....Some on other forums beleive it is exactly the same, just packaged by Aquariumplants.com

IMO, getting Turface from a store will be much cheaper than buying from aquariumplants.com

Only advantage to aquariumplants.com is that they have black which is hard to find in sotes (If you can even find it) and it comes in a red bucket.

I bought from aquariumplants just for the black color. It seems to work well.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-21-2011, 06:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiances.

I do not particarly care the idea of it being very light, extra easy to move, maybe having to replant. Or the news that they maybe buying another similar or identical product in bulk, repackaging and relabeling it, understanding that is retail business. I am more inclined to buy from the source or closer to the source, wholesale if possbile.

I found we have a Lesco distributor in the Denver Metro area, and 3 John Deere landscaping supply stores, one of which I have been to. According to the J.D. site, they distribute Turface and Lesco products.

As far as substrate throwing the water parameters off, I don't mind if it is something I can counteract, even if it takes some time & effort to get the parameters, as long as there is an end state at some reasonable point, being able to call that issue put to rest.

Appearance. I want it to look natural. I will remove the noraml aquarium gravel, lighter in color, river-somthing look. I really like the appearnce of the black Floruite Sand in my 29g, with a blue background, lush greeen plants, and tanis tainted watet color from driftwood. Thinking more about some of the suggestions not being black but more of a dark grey, I started thinking, I don't even have a planting plan yet. Once I have one, plant it, and get it established, I may not evern see the substrate, if so the color would not matter. If I do want a few areas unplanted, I could top dress just the exposed areas with something acceptable looking.

Before I hurry an spent $150-$250 or more on something I may not like, or does not perform as I would like it to, I am going to rethink and come up with an overall plan. Meanwhile check out John Deere, Lesco and thier products.

Thanks,
Jeff
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-22-2011, 12:13 AM
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A single 50 lb bag of SMS was plenty to do a decent substrate in 125 gallon tank (6' x 18").
At that time the bag was $10.00 or so.

Sure it removes the KH, and the pH can then drop. My fish are not complaining. If I want to, I can add some baking soda to correct this. It takes time, a little baking soda each week, and keep up the water changes (my tap water has 4-5 degrees KH).

Or use coral sand or oyster shell grit in the filter. A nylon stocking makes a good media bag.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 08:48 AM
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you also get use to planting int as well. might want to go with 2 bags in my 120 i did 50 pounds of sms with a cap of eco. also have several other tanks with sms. just wash what ever you get really well since it is dusty.

In SoCali? Looking for fish plants equipment? want to learn something about the hobby?

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 09:19 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
A single 50 lb bag of SMS was plenty to do a decent substrate in 125 gallon tank (6' x 18").
At that time the bag was $10.00 or so.

Sure it removes the KH, and the pH can then drop. My fish are not complaining. If I want to, I can add some baking soda to correct this. It takes time, a little baking soda each week, and keep up the water changes (my tap water has 4-5 degrees KH).

Or use coral sand or oyster shell grit in the filter. A nylon stocking makes a good media bag.
That's what I have 125g, 6' x 18". Ten bucks sounds great, or whatever the current price is for Truface, as SMS is no more.

Envisioning a bag of garden soil 50 lbs alone doesn't sound like one would have any depth to the substrate. Did you add other stuff, sand or whatever for filler?
I suppose it depends on how dense the material is. At the garden centers a 50 lb bag of sand, does not have near the volume as say 50 lbs of Miralce Grow or 50 lbs of peat. Noted peat is usely sold in bale or bag measured in cu ft and absent of moisture.

I'm thinking I want 3" minimum of substrate, and more in some places, with some countours, hills & valleys, or terrances.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2011, 08:19 AM Thread Starter
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Update. I talked to John Deere Landscapes. Their company bought Lesco. The sales person I spoke with really did not know which product I was looking for. He said they have a few J.D. soil ammendment products but did not know which one would be suitable for aquatic plant purposes. In the Turface line, he said their are maybe 20 or more soil types. They don't stock a large variety of those. He can order whatever I ask for, trouble is I don't know the differences in the products or which one I want, or more so will work.

I am sort of re-thinking what I am going to use. I am thinking about blending or layering my own with OilDri as a primary compent. Maybe some peat on the bottom, a layer of Seachems Pond Matrix, Miracle Grow, OilDri and caping any non-planted exposed areas with Flouirte Black or Flourite black sand. Capping at some later point after the plants have time to root and get established. But first i want to read and research more.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2011, 01:50 PM
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You won't want to add a cap after plants have gotten established- you'll just bury them and it might even rot stems.

You do have lots of good options, though- any of those will work, so it really boils down to the positives and negatives of each one (all substrates have positives and negatives) and which you like best.

Personally I'm not a big fan of layering since layers almost always end up getting mixed over time anyways. Only time I layer in my tanks is when there's a very lightweight substrate that really does need to be "held down" with a cap, like Mineralized Topsoil or Miracle Gro. Otherwise, I go ahead and just mix everything all together from the getgo, so you get a more uniform appearance in the tank.





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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2011, 03:09 PM
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Hi Jeff (Dacotah7),

I use both Soilmaster Select (SMS) Charcoal and Turface Pro League Grey and can tell you that they are basically identical in weight, color, grain size, and their effect on water chemistery. My plants grow like crazy with either substrate. The weight is about the same or a little heavier than ADA Aquasoil. A 50# bag covers six square feet (6 sq ft) to a depth of about 3.0" and costs about $20 at our local John Deere Landscape location. I have been told by individuals that have used both the Soilmaster Select Charcoal and the Aquariumplants.com Black Diamond, that they are very similar.

Soilmaster Select (SMS) Charcoal in 30 Gallon


Unfortunately SMS is no longer available and Turface has discontinued the "Grey" color in the "Pro League" product line. As a result, I will probably try the Turface Pro League Heritage Red color when I need to buy a new bag.

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2011, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
You won't want to add a cap after plants have gotten established- you'll just bury them and it might even rot stems.

You do have lots of good options, though- any of those will work, so it really boils down to the positives and negatives of each one (all substrates have positives and negatives) and which you like best.

Personally I'm not a big fan of layering since layers almost always end up getting mixed over time anyways. Only time I layer in my tanks is when there's a very lightweight substrate that really does need to be "held down" with a cap, like Mineralized Topsoil or Miracle Gro. Otherwise, I go ahead and just mix everything all together from the getgo, so you get a more uniform appearance in the tank.
I understand. My purpose for capping with Flourite Black or Black Sand "after" the plants have had time to get established is primarly for appearance sake, wanting that look. I realize overtime, layers will get mixed up, with the finer materials settling and the courser materials surfacing. Also the finest of particles end up in the water column, hopefully in some short time, either settling out, doing so faster without water flow which tend to keep them in a suspended state, or removed with mechanical filtration with water flow. If, or more accurately "when", the Flourite ends up in the layered mix, great, or so what, it is an acceptable to great substrate by itself.

Capping, in this case, is a way to stretch the dollars spent on subtrate.
Not having a master plan, the substrate could end up having little surface exposure or none at all. Meaning natural rocks, natural driftwood and live plants, including maybe carpet plants might cover most if not all of the substrate. What the substate looks like than, doesn't matter if it is covered by something. Capping would not hinder established plants, only applying it to bare and exposed substrate, between natural decorations and between plants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi Jeff (Dacotah7),

I use both Soilmaster Select (SMS) Charcoal and Turface Pro League Grey and can tell you that they are basically identical in weight, color, grain size, and their effect on water chemistery. My plants grow like crazy with either substrate. The weight is about the same or a little heavier than ADA Aquasoil. A 50# bag covers six square feet (6 sq ft) to a depth of about 3.0" and costs about $20 at our local John Deere Landscape location. I have been told by individuals that have used both the Soilmaster Select Charcoal and the Aquariumplants.com Black Diamond, that they are very similar.

Soilmaster Select (SMS) Charcoal in 30 Gallon


Unfortunately SMS is no longer available and Turface has discontinued the "Grey" color in the "Pro League" product line. As a result, I will probably try the Turface Pro League Heritage Red color when I need to buy a new bag.
That sounds great. Well, except the discontinued products and the resulting search for available equivilents.

The John Deere Landscapes' salesman, got all wrapped up with the aquatic aspect. I told him, forget that I will be growing plants submerged. For the sake of this converstation plants are plants. They all need macro (NPK) and micro nutrients, (iron & minerals) and of course light, water, O2 & CO2. He got hung up with, or was focused on my "wet" plants, while my questions related to his dry "dirt". LOL! ...a bit of a communication disconnect.
Further compounded by their companies' focus is on sports applications and the problems it eliminates or solves on the sports playing fields, with little or no data on the material composition, or its suitabilty for plant growth. A well groomed baseball field has no plants where many of their products were designed for.

I really don't need the data sheet of the chemical composition. What I need I am finding on this forum and in this thread from others with experience:
- It grows plants like crazy, (with proof in the photos)...
- The pros and cons of the material - particle size and weight...
- Works great, no longer available; But this other product is a suitable replacement with the same characteristics... etc.

$20 for 50lbs, covering 6 sf at a 3" depth is most desireable. My tank is 9 sq ft (1.5' x 6'). Two bags, or one bag plus some other inexpensive yet desireable material, should provide enough depth. Anything leftover can go in the vegetable, herb or flower garden.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-25-2011, 06:21 PM
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Here is my tank using aquariumplants.com black diamond. I did dust the bottom with pure laterite, but mainly just because I had a box of it on hand.



The "potted" plants at the water line also use it.

Only other "cheap" option I know of is Schultz Aquatic Soil. Its about the same consistency and price, but very ugly.
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