Help!! Switching Substrate and Want Advice! - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Aclman88 View Post
So would you recommend just sand or fine gravel with tabs and water column dosing?

For sand I’ve read 2-3” is best to avoid anaerobic buildup. I was thinking about sprinkling opened osmocote tablets in a thin layer under the sand/gravel and in the sand to get thinks a little fertilized from the get go.

Along with flourish and root tabs is here anything else you would recommend? I want easy to manage and light-medium light plants.
If you just want light sand a proven winner is pool filter sand (PFS) It's the perfect grain size to hold plants and large enough to not go anaerobic. As mentioned if your fully dosing the water column you don't need root tabs. They won't hurt, but probably redundant in most cases.
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post #17 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice. Do you find sand is hard to keep clean? Does it get dirtier quicker or show up detritus more?
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post #18 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 08:59 PM
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Let me throw in a suggestion that might fit-- or not, as you feel. I've been doing more and more to gradually reduce the drudgery of the hobby. Things like totally tearing down are not my idea of fun.
So when faced with wanting to move from a totally Flourite dark into a lighter color and smaller, more natural look, I did not remove the Flourite but just added more sub, using pool filter sand and gradually letting it mix. Now I never use any specific single item but just adjust whatever is on hand to get more of whatever positive I want at that time for that tank----and without tearing down.
I admit to not being too fussy about growing any "demanding" plants but just go with what grows and does what I want or they move out. So far, it seems fine to just choose the sub for color, grain size and how it works with the fish in that tank. CEC is not one that I worry but just let the plants figure out how to get fed if I put the food in the water!
Big advantage of mixing, as it will all get mixed at some point anyway? I can drain down a bit, add a two liter of the new sub in whatever point that I want and be done in under an hour.
Cutting the bottom off a two liter, filling it with the new and slowly sinking it down into the tank with my thumb over the top, lets me slowly drain the new out in/on the old without much dust storm at all if new is rinsed well. Then I grade it out to the level that feels right and ready to refill the tank. I use almost all pool filter sand for light colors and several different colors of other stuff to get darker. The bottom of the lakes I see are rarely single colors but a mix of lots of differing sizes and colors.
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post #19 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 09:09 PM
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I use the sakrete medium sand (basically a cheap version of PFS from what I can tell or its the same thing) in my 40B. It does tend to take on a darker color as the various grains get algae and stuff on them. When vacing it the whiter underneath does come out on top but gets mixed in well. I like it and so do the cory cats. Shrimps seem to like it as well it seems but then again they seem to like everything. The shrimps will grab a medium sized sand grain and run off with it to clean it up.

The fish poop and stuff will show up some, its not as dark as PlantedRich's substrate.
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post #20 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 01:55 AM
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For what it's worth, I have the Peace River in my 40B and I like the way it looks and find it decently easy to plant in. But then I haven't tried to plant anything too difficult either.
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post #21 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Aclman88 View Post
I was thinking something like this might bridge the gap in particle size between sand and gravel.

Carib Sea ACS00832 Peace River Gravel for Aquarium, 20-Pound

I have this in my tanks (white). It bridges the gap.... I use it to make 'pathways' or 'beaches' on top of Ammazonia. Also look at Stoney River Sand... its bigger than a superfine sand.

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post #22 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for everybody's help with this! I decided on the Caribsea Sunset Gold Sand (one 20lb bag) which gave an average of 1.5 in of depth throughout the tank (slightly more in the back and slightly less up front. I topped the back and sides with peace river gravel for a slightly different look in those areas as well as to add some depth. Left the front completely sandy to give it a beach look while provided some sand only areas for my corys to play around in. I placed root tabs under/next two all my rooted plants and will continue to dose the water column with flourish.

I'm at work now but will send a picture or two once I get home. Thanks again for all the help everyone!
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post #23 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 06:04 PM
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I always use dirt. I have not had ammonia spikes that have been readable. I normally have a filter of some kind on the tank. I keep crushed coral in the filter and use tap water in San Diego. (they publish an online article of what is in the water) My water is really hard and will keep a pH of 8 to 8.1 naturally.

I always have some kind of emerging plant growing out of the system. For me, it seems to make the difference. The properties of dirt change over a 6 week period after it gets wet. Plants grow much better after 6 weeks. You can soak it before moving it to your tank and topping it off with gravel.

I have tried several kinds of dirt. All natural potting soil has not worked for me straight out of the bag. Dirt from my yard has been the good one. It is mostly clay. I would be comfortable just using straight up pottery red clay. I always mix dolomite in my soil in a 1:10 or 1:20 ratio.

I have used gravel ranging in size from 1/4th inch to black sand. I feel like 1/8 or smaller work equally well. A biofilm will form and seal up your top cap. I stay thin with the top cap, less than 1/2 inch. My dirt starts at 1 inch but grows over the years. When I move plants around I kick up dirt and the filter takes out whatever doesn't settle.

I dirt made of organic, (leaf, manure, compost, etc) has different properties than that of clay. I read that it is best to use one or the other. My large tank that carpeted H. Cuba had soil that contained both. It did take months to stabilize and I eventually switched that tank to glossostigma. I now have H Cuba in a three year old dirt tank with black sand top and Neo shrimp. There is not a way I can think of to compare "dirt" to other medium. There are too many kinds of dirt. Soil should recharge its self with food and animal waste. I have read that continued use of co2 can tap out soil.

Massive shrimp populations and emerging plants have consistently fixed my algae issues. OD on flourish has killed hair algae for me as well as up to 1ml per gallon 3%H2O2.

Lighting over 200 PAR seems to give me issues. (emphasis on the word seems) One of my best tanks runs off of a $25 LED 30w outdoor flood light from amazon. It reads about 6000k on my meter. I use Orphek lights on another tank and they are a bit of a disappointment on several levels. I really like the Kessil tuna blue reef lights because of the color and shimmer. I tried their sun lights but it made my tank look really green and couldn't adjust out of it. Both grew plants. I liked my Beamworks lights but it was hard to get the PAR I wanted out of them on my 120 gallon. It is 2 feet deep and I had to cover the entire top of the tank. I would happily use them on a shorter tank.

I occasionally use co2 when starting up my tanks. I use a pH controller to monitor the amount that goes in. I normally develop some kind of issues long term. (My H Cuba grew so thick that the roots choked out) There are many periods of green water, hair algae and random other algae issues in the first 6 months on my tanks. If I do nothing about it, they always go away.

I added a heat mat under my 120 tank that has glosso growing in it. The heat appears to have promoted growth and keeps the glosso growing short and sending out runners. The tank has uncounted number of Neo shrimp, 80 ish cardinal tetras, about 2 Malaysian trumpet snails per inch and 4 siamese algae eaters. I feed pretty heavily and can see it in my plant growth when I cut back. I used floating pond plants from a well established pond in my first set up. It brought in a healthy supply of copepods, daphnia, and scuds. They are a benefit. Daphnia populations bloom with green water blooms and bring things back to normal as well as feed the fish.

Water changes are rare and sporadic after things stabilize. I top off with tap water.

I will always use soil. I can handle the occasional algae or bacterial bloom that happens in the beginning. I love the low maintenance no algae growing on the glass aspects of it. I love the low cost. 3 years is the longest time I have had a dirt tank set up, and I love the long term stability. I have read that High Tech plants like H Cuba cant grow in low tech tanks. My experience is opposite. There is a book on it. Totally worth reading.
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