Using "seasoned" gravel for plants? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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Question Using "seasoned" gravel for plants?

Ok...I realize there are hundreds of threads involving substrate, but I couldn't find one relating to my question. One more can't hurt right?

So I have had a Fish-Only tank running flawlessly for about 14 months. I am going to fully planted. I have a good understanding of what to do but....I'm still wishy-washy on a few things.

In the 55 gallon I have a "river pebble" style gravel. I was wondering if it is possible to keep the gravel I have and just use ferts and tabs? or is it better in the long run to go with a full substrate change?

This is the point I am stuck at. I can't go forward until I make a decision. Help? My fish will love you.

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 05:48 PM
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You should be fine. While plant specific substrates can be nice, I've seen tons of beautiful planted tanks with just gravel or sand as a substrate. Root tabs and or water column ferts will help.

Always curious.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-24-2012, 06:49 PM
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Yep, quartz pea gravel & root tabs works fine . . . I did that for quite a while. The only issue, there will be a bit more water moving through the substrate. That means 'root tab nutrients' will leach into the water column. Not a biggie. The other issue is with smaller "carpet" plants (dwarf hair grass and the like), they will be happier in sand / black diamond / dirt / etc.

If you're going to be serious about growing plants. I'd encourage you to go for pool sand, black diamond, or commercially available "planted tank substrate". If growing plants is more of an experiment to try your hand at . . . then gravel is plenty.

For myself, I kind of "migrated" to sand. I did a complete tank tear down, then poured sand into the bottom and flattened it out. Then I put the old gravel on top of it and gave it a few months to let the sand grow beneficial bacteria. . . After those few months, I netted out all the fish, pulled the plants, then used a sieve to sift out the gravel. It was a lot of work, but it's an effective way to keep the nitrogen cycle going.

I'm just not brave enough to try dirt. I've read a few too many threads about struggling with cloudy water / murky water; black worms can get in and stir up the substrate, fish burrowing around, the cap layer may not get done right, you need to be super careful if you re-scape the tank, etc, etc, etc . . . Too much hassle for me.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-25-2012, 04:52 PM
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I use sand successfully in a high light/CO2 tank. As an alternative, if you raise your light significantly you can probably get away without the CO2.

Always curious.
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