Blending Substrate Methods? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-23-2011, 02:38 AM Thread Starter
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Blending Substrate Methods?

Hello Everyone,

I am new here and still in the planning stages of my first planted tank. You can check out my overall plans here: http://https://www.plantedtank.net/fo...-opinions.html
Recently, I have been reading about the Walstad method, and am very interested. Personally, I like the "jungle" look, and think it would work well for my S.Am. "biotope," and the lower maintenance is a plus. However, I read that it is a somewhat dated method, and more modern substrates like Flourite may work better. It was my intention to use a 20oz box of laterite as a base with 2" of Flourite on top of that with home depot sand to fill in the pore space. Then a 1-2 inch layer of a mix of Flourite, Home Depot sand, and peagravel on top. Now, I'm wondering if it would be more beneficial to merge these two substrate approaches (Walstad with modern ingredients). My new plan is to skip the laterite altogether, use a 2" layer of laterite filled in with potting soil (Miracle gro organic or something similar), and top it off with a 1-2" layer of a mix of laterite, a few sizes of peagravel, and sand.

Does this seem reasonable? Is there any problem trying to blend two schools of thought on substrate, or is it better to go one way or the other since my tank plans are to go med. tech (~1.8 wpg and hopefully no CO2 or artificial ferts)?

I'd love to hear what y'all think!

-rdelrio
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-23-2011, 04:24 AM
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You gain nothing by mixing in pea gravel and play sand with other substrate materials. In fact, other than having a nutrient rich mineralized top soil as a base for a commercial substrate, I don't see any advantage to mixing in anything else. You can get Flourite in various colors, and in 3 grain sizes, or you can get other commercial substrates with still other grain/color variations. So, why play around with pea gravel and playsand, neither of which is a good planting medium?

Hoppy
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-23-2011, 05:07 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your input Hoppy. To be honest I am not the biggest fan of the look of flourite. I have done a mixed substrate of sand and peagravel inpast tanks and really liked the natural look of it so I was thinking that mixing Flourite into that would lend a little nutrition. I also wanted to cap the deep layer of soil/Flourite with something to keep the soil mess down, and to be easier on the bellies and barbels of the cories I am planning on putting in there. However, I didn't know Flourite came in different grain sizes. I should investigate this because if I can cap the main layer with smaller/safer Flourite i will go that route. Do you know of any suppliers offhand?
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-23-2011, 07:51 PM
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Regular Flourite is the coarsest material. Black Flourite is a finer grain material, and Black sand Flourite is the finest. Then there is Flourite Dark, which I like, which seems a little finer than regular (red) Flourite. I'm lucky in having a very good LFS here who has most of the Flourites in stock.

I'm using Fluval Stratum now, which is a very dark gray material, with fairly fine particle size, and easy to plant in. And, of course, there is ADA Aquasoil Amazonia, which is also very dark gray-black, very nutrient loaded, but releases ammonia for a month after you set up the tank. And, there are still other commercial substrates.

Flourite is not a source of nutrients for plants. It is high CEC material, so it helps hold nutrient ions from other sources so plant roots can get to them easily. If you want sand, pool filter sand is ideal, because it has the right range of particle sizes, is clean, and has little or no effect on the water parameters. Pool filter sand color depends on where the sand was quarried locally. It is far superior to play sand.

Hoppy
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-25-2011, 12:34 AM Thread Starter
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This seems to be a hot topic right now. I noticed a few other threads on this recently. It seems to me that it might be the best approach to mix soil and flourite. The soil microbes can generate the nutrients while the Flourite can make keep the nutrients in the substrate and make them more easily available to plant roots. I went by my LFS and they agreed to add a couple bags of dark Flourite to their next order. The only real issue for me is how to cap the substrate. I have been researching the natural habitat of the GBRs I am planning to keep in the aquarium and saw pictures that showed a sandy bottom. Although I like the look and it fits in with the "biotope" theme, I was reading that a sandy cap might act as a barrier for nutrients to enter/exit the substrate. So now I'm thinking maybe just cap the soil/Flourite mixture with just more Flourite to allow the mulm and excess fish food to penetrate the substrate easier.
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