I can't get special substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-20-2011, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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I can't get special substrate?

Hi guys, total newbie here

First question, not on topic: how do I find this thread once I've posted it? :P

Second question, which is long but on topic: here in my city in Australia there is no one at all, and I mean at all, who sells any sort of substrate with magical properties like Eco-complete or that Seachem stuff. I could probably get it ordered in for me but the cost would be prohibitive.
I have a very low-tech planted tank with java moss, dwarf hairgrass, anubias, java fern and something that was sold to me as lilligrass, but looks like microsword. I have no idea what it actually is, but it's doing alright at the moment. I dose the tank daily with Flourish Excel and once a week it gets Flourish. I also give it Iron and Phosphorous when needed. I don't know how many watts per gallon, but I can tell you it's a five gallon tank and everything seems to be doing pretty alright.
I have two guppies and a betta in a tank (long story as to how I got such a dreadful mix) and three or four RCS.
I'm moving everyone to a 60 litre tank as soon as I can get a stand for it and buying more plants. However, I want them to do well - will they be fine with the somewhat large-grained gravel I have with a total lack of magical stuff, or is there some sort of clever substitute I should use?

Thanks for reading this far.
Bomba
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-20-2011, 09:39 PM
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To see your posts, click on the "Quick Links" tab on the blue bar at the top of the page.

If you're having trouble finding specialized substrate, you might consider going with mineralized topsoil (or something like the Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix), capped with pool filter sand.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-20-2011, 10:35 PM
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You can order it here in Australia, but you're quite right about the cost being prohibitive. I'm not sure of the ethics of having a bag of dirt shipped from the other side of the world for your aesthetic edification, either.

If the tank is staying put its entire life, consider using mineralized topsoil as kevmo911 suggests, topped with pool filter sand. It's admittedly a little tricky, but would save you hundreds of dollars for fantastic results.

Personally, I use ONLY pool filter sand in my 90 gallon, except for generous clumps of laterite balls under the root feeders (www.aquagreen.com.au). That's because I need to move house with it soon, and MTS is far too messy. Once a fair bit of mulm accumulated (a few months - spare the gravel vac) I found it to be just as effective as MTS.

There are three significant drawbacks to PFS, however. One is the difficulty of washing it. You really, really need to wash it properly. You also need to fill up the tank at no more than a TRICKLE onto a plate or saucer, or you'll have cloudiness for days. The second problem is that, being inert, it doesn't provide the 'buffer' that nutrient rich topsoils do, so if you screw up your water column fertilization there'll be nothing to help you. If you're running a high light, CO2 injected setup, then that is a very bad thing. With anything more modest, it's not really a problem. Third, there's no denying that carpet plants generally don't spread very well on sand.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-20-2011, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snafuspyramid View Post
If the tank is staying put its entire life, consider using mineralized topsoil as kevmo911 suggests, topped with pool filter sand. It's admittedly a little tricky, but would save you hundreds of dollars for fantastic results.

Once a fair bit of mulm accumulated (a few months - spare the gravel vac) I found it to be just as effective as MTS.

Third, there's no denying that carpet plants generally don't spread very well on sand.
The tank won't be here forever - I'm a student so sooner or later I'll be moving out of home. However, this mineralised topsoil idea does sound nice for long term - tell me more? Where does one find this magic beast? Does it look nice?
What is mulm? Is it good for my fishies? They are, of course, my first priority - I want a planted tank to make them happy rather than for my asthetic desires.
Sadface on the carpet plants - I do love greenery at the bottom of the tank and my RCS do too. Could I get around this by planting really heavily from day one, or would they simply not grow? It would be more expensive, but like I've said, I want this tank to be special.

I've also heard of people having problems with bettas swallowing sand and choking, although I know the cory cats/kuhlis I'd love to get one day would probably prefer it.
That leads me to another question - in a heavily planted tank, how do you stir up the substrate? I've heard you can get gas pockets forming if you don't disturb it in your weekly cleanings. I'd be worried about accidentally stirring it up after weeks of simply leaving it and killing all my fish.

Thanks so much for your advice thus far, guys.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-21-2011, 01:33 AM
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-21-2011, 03:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bombalurina View Post
What is mulm? Is it good for my fishies? They are, of course, my first priority - I want a planted tank to make them happy rather than for my asthetic desires.
Mulm. Google search it. You'll have an answer quicker than waiting for someone to provide an answer. It's not harmful.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bombalurina View Post
That leads me to another question - in a heavily planted tank, how do you stir up the substrate? I've heard you can get gas pockets forming if you don't disturb it in your weekly cleanings. I'd be worried about accidentally stirring it up after weeks of simply leaving it and killing all my fish.
You don't actually stir up the substrate all the way down. Just the very top to remove some of the built up mulm.
Don't worry about your fish. In a heavily planted tank with healthy plants provides an environment that will keep fish healthy. In short emphasis on plant health. Don't over stock the tank with fish.

You might occasionally get a gas bubble, but in all my years of aquatic gardening I've not seen this happening.
Plants via their roots actually create a very slow flow of water and oxygen contained in the water from the tanks main volume down into the substrate preventing anaerobic areas from happening. This process is called guttation.
Long-Distance Water Transport in Aquatic Plants.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12232030


Cheers

Last edited by Steve001; 03-23-2011 at 02:03 PM.
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