can i avoid plant substrates? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 04:27 PM Thread Starter
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Question can i avoid plant substrates?

I am starting a new 75 gallon tank soon and I am wondering if I can grow plants well in non plant substrate gravel?

The gravel I want is a natural looking gravel that has very small pebbles, but is larger than sand. I dont know what its called but the peices are rounded and looks very nice in my opinion.

Could I get away with using root tabs or should i do a bottom layer of some type (laterite)? Or is this a bad idea and I should just use a plant substrate?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 04:53 PM
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You could use a plant substrate and top with that gravel if you just want the look of the gravel. It might mix some over time though, depending on the two substrates. I think using plain gravel would depend on what types of plants you want to keep, and if you intend on dosing ferts.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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I plan on dosing ferts, root tabs, or root fert injection, i also will be doing co2 injection.

If I were to get a plant substrate I will likely go with flourite black, or regular flourite.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 05:24 PM
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I have some small brown pebble gravel mixed with regular flourite in my tank now. I thought I would like it for a natural look, but it seems too light to me sometimes because alot of the pebbles are almost white. I don't really have a good dosing regimen yet, and have not started co2 yet either (Just Flourish and Excel). Most of my plants have done ok though. They're not dying. They grow, but don't look as good as other members tanks here. I'm sure it can be done better than mine is if you know what your doing, but I don't I'm personally planning to switch to MTS soon, because I think it would be easier to maintain than a dosing schedule. I don't want to worry about it if I'm too busy with work to attend to the tank for a while.

If you stick with the easier plants you should be ok. I have an Amazon sword that grows well with a root tab by it. Doesn't grow fast, but looks good and did give me three baby swords last month. Wysteria has grown fast for me, but always gets black algea on the older leaves. The apongenton bulbs they sell at the store grow really fast and reproduce like rabbits once they sprout from the bulb in there. Java fern has grown slowly, as they usually do, but appears healthy. A Jungle Val kind of died of (probly from the excel) but has bounced back and looks better now. That's what I've experienced so far, but I'm still learning alot. Like I said, better dosing and CO2 will probably give nicer results.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 05:26 PM
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You have lots of options if you don't want to shell out for the more expensive commercial plant substrates.

Check out the Mineralized Topsoil sticky at the top of this forum.

Another cheap but good alternative that I recently switched to and am enjoying is a layer of Miracle Gro Organic Choice potting mix underneath my Flourite (or any other substrate cap).





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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by AdamP. View Post
I am starting a new 75 gallon tank soon and I am wondering if I can grow plants well in non plant substrate gravel?

The gravel I want is a natural looking gravel that has very small pebbles, but is larger than sand. I dont know what its called but the peices are rounded and looks very nice in my opinion.

Could I get away with using root tabs or should i do a bottom layer of some type (laterite)? Or is this a bad idea and I should just use a plant substrate?
In the past, I have used the approach you suggested; i.e., using root tabs (I used the Seachem brand) underneath "nonplant substrate gravel," and it worked quite well. At the same time, I added appropriate nutrients to the water column, for the rhizome-type plants that were not planted in the tank's gravel. Good luck with your new tank!
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 06:04 PM
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I think if you are planning to shell out the money for a CO2 system, you should atleast look at the mineralized topsoil sticky. Yes, plants will grow in gravel with CO2 and ferts, but its like getting a racecar and using crappy oil and gas and parts......
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2011, 11:48 PM
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There are many conflicting views on the matter, but there are loads of people out there with nice plants that didn't use "plant" substrates. Root tabs work, as does putting osmocote or minerilized soil under the substrate. Many people have successfully grown swords and other plants touted as being "heavy root feeders" with water column dosing alone. There's no doubt that substrate fertilizers are a good thing however.


My advice would be to use root tabs if you're going with an inert substrate, and dose the water column also.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-21-2011, 12:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamP. View Post
I am starting a new 75 gallon tank soon and I am wondering if I can grow plants well in non plant substrate gravel?

The gravel I want is a natural looking gravel that has very small pebbles, but is larger than sand. I dont know what its called but the peices are rounded and looks very nice in my opinion.

Could I get away with using root tabs or should i do a bottom layer of some type (laterite)? Or is this a bad idea and I should just use a plant substrate?
I tried to do an imitation creek bottom tank because I liked the look and what your describing sort of sounds like what I did. My results were:

Tennelus(sp?) -> barely survived at all, prolly would have died out without root tabs being added later on.
Ludwigia -> survived but didn't look very healthy and root tabs didn't help.
Aponetegon bulbs from petco -> of the half that sprouted they all did great. root tabs helped but weren't necessary
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-21-2011, 12:20 AM Thread Starter
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thanks!

Thanks for the advice everybody. Looks like I am going to use "Flourite Dark". I like the look of it cause its a dark brown and not jet black. It looks pretty much the same as the inert gravel I was checking out.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-21-2011, 12:59 AM
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I'm probably going to re-do my 10gal soon and plan to try the Miracle Gro and Flourite dark together - I think they'd look really nice.





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