Advise on substrate and Scaping of existing planted aquarium - The Planted Tank Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 07-10-2019, 09:54 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
PlantedManFromSA's Avatar
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: South Africa
Posts: 43
Question Advise on substrate and Scaping of existing planted aquarium

I live in South Africa and here planted aquariums aren't really as popular as in the U.S.
I have been into planted aquariums for about 2 years now and a lot of my time are spent on the internet looking for advise
on how to improve my planted aquarium but never find a direct answer to my problems so I thought of giving this forum a try.
Getting the supplies are a real battle and pretty expensive when you do find it therefore I mostly go the DIY route when I can.

My current set-up as follows:
Aquarium Size: 79cm x 41cm x 49cm or 31" x 16" x 18" - 150 liter (40 gallon) high with 50 liter (13 gallon) 3 stage sump system,
Water Test: PH - ranges from 6.8 to 7.0 , KH - 4, Ammonia NH4 - <0,05 ppm, Nitrite NO2 <0.01 ppm and Nitrate NO3 10 ppm
Substrate: JBL Proflora mixed with Sera Floradepot capped with Black diamond sand,
Lighting: 55w LED High Light and 4 x 5w 6500K UG10 LED downlights - (note: these are a second option I recently added to try and get rid of some algae)
Fish: 10 X-Ray tetra's, 4 Cardinal tetra's, 6 Glow Light tetra's, 5 Buenos Aires Tetras, 1 Rainbow shark, 1 YoYo loach and a couple of other tetras one of each species (saved them from LFS where they did not have mates in their tanks lol)
Fish food: Sera Vipagram Tropical Fish Flakes, Sera FD Mixpur Freeze dried treats, Tetra Spirulina Wafers and Tabimin, please not I dont feed all of this at the same time !!
Hardscape: 1 Large piece of drifwood and several smaller pieces, i think these are Mopani wood.
Plants: Egeria Densa, Vallisneria, some Echinodorus species, Java Fern, large Anubias Barteri, 2 x Lilly plants (dont know what kind, not sure if its tiger lilly) and some Rotala Nanjenshan.
Fertilizers: JBL Ferropol when doing water changes, JBL Ferropol 24 every morning 4x drops and DIY CO2 - I use 2x 2l bottles with Brewers yeast/sugar recipe and seems to work ok.
Maintenance: 20% water change every Wednesday and every Saturday. Saturday includes trimming of plants and removing of algae and diatoms (brown algae) and water tests with JBL Combi Set.

I want to redo this tank but my biggest trouble in doing this is the substrate !!! Im not getting much results with the current mix of substrate I have and the Rotala Nanjenshan are really struggling.
I also noticed my Vallis aren't making as many shoots as in previous setups I have had before. Some of my plants are covered in diatoms at the moment and all I do is cut of the leaves containing diatoms. As for the rest of the plants, they are doing fine I guess.

Would it be advisable to go with Organic potting mix as substrate or should I use Organic topsoil ? I have heard that potting soil reduces the PH therefore topsoil is a better option.
Can I add a bit of Canadian Peat Moss with the top soil or will this also alter the PH levels ? Is it OK to use playsand as a cap ? This is usually silica sand which causes diatoms (brown algae) and I already have an issue with this in my aquarium.

Another thing that bothers me is what style of planted aquarium to go with. My sump inlet and outlet are positioned on the left hand at the back of my aquarium. A Dutch style aquarium wont work as the water outflow will ruin the scape on the opposite corner. A Triangle style means I will completely close by filter box and the depth of the aquarium is maybe to small to do a proper Island style layout. Can someone please let me know what they recommend I do regarding the layout ?

How can I reduce the diatoms and the algae in the aquarium ? Maybe use the 4 downlights as described in the info at the top or should I continue using the 55w LED High light ?

Thanks in advance for taking time to read the thread and for any answers.

See photo of my aquarium, please note photo contains the 55w LED light

Last edited by PlantedManFromSA; 10-02-2019 at 11:27 AM.
PlantedManFromSA is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 07-10-2019, 06:46 PM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 641
I don't have a lot of experience in substrate but I have made four tanks in the past year. The only time I saw diatoms was in low light and low or no co2 environments. Your co2 may be a place to staty checking. You'd eed to measure your co2 ppm.

As for subtrate, the easiest route would be inert material like sand and to just continue dosing fertilizers in the water, assuming that is working for you already. Or you could buy some osmocote and put that under plants in your current substrate to see if that helps.

Honestly though if I had to guess, your lighting/ferts/cow ratios are off.
Ddrizzle is offline  
post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 07-10-2019, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
PlantedManFromSA's Avatar
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: South Africa
Posts: 43
Mmm, ok so I should perhaps look at getting pressurised CO2 and go from there.

I have just finished the rescape on the tank, I was a little impatient in getting this done so I left the substrate as is.

Strange thing is all plants has rooted like crazy even the rotala which has been struggling so something is right. Guess either the LED light or the fact that there is not enough CO2 for the plans are the reason they look like that.

Ill post a new photo of the aquarium tomorrow when the murky water has cleared up.

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid" - Albert Einstein
PlantedManFromSA is offline  

algae, co2, landscape, light, substrate

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome