Many Substrate Questions:
I'm in the process of setting up a six foot, 125G freshwater tank that will be low-tech, at least initially. I will be fully planted and aquascaped. A mountain w/ carpeting plants on the left, a river in the middle and a jungle to the right. I have been studying suitable substrates extensively online and here are my questions:
Some use a thin layer of crushed lavarock directly on the glass before adding a regular substrate, like Amazonia for better water circulation. Is this a good idea? Will it affect PH? The water where I live is very hard, so I don't want to add something that increase PH, like crushed coral.
Amazonia, Tropica & Stratum seems to be the preferred active substrates for professionals as well as serious hobbyists. The price is off-putting though, especially for a large tank, like mine. Also, it is my understanding those substrates compact after a year or two and needs to be replaced. The nutrients will also be depleted by that time.
So it would appear to me, a beginner at planted aquariums, with only a 20G tank that is aquascaped at the moment, that inert media would be ideal for me since I don't want to tear it all down after a year or two and replace all the substrate. I use root tabs and liquid fertilizer in my 20G tank with great success.
Flourite is so filthy that I choose Eco-Complete for my current tank. I know many members here and on other forums don't like it and I would like some feedback on the cons.
Since I will be using carpeting plants on the left side in my 125G tank, I was considering using a thin layer of premium Tropica Soil Powder on top of the Eco-Complete, so the small roots of those plants have something to grab onto. Any objections on using an active substrate on top of an inert one?
I know this was a lengthy post. Thank you for reading and replying.
10 G / 20 G long, low-tech planted / 125 G, working on the aquascape and collecting hardware