Substrate under or over gravel? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-28-2012, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Substrate under or over gravel?

I recently started a planted tank and although things are goin well, I'm considering changing my gravel only bottom, to a natural dark earthy substrate. (poor planning) Can I just take out half my gravel and add the substrate on top? I'm new at planted tanks and would appreciate any advice.



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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-28-2012, 07:54 PM
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Depends on your substrate of choice, what are you planning on using?

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-28-2012, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
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I haven't really decided yet. I want something thats got a smaller gauge than my gravel and thats more natural looking. I saw different varieties at my local aquaria store. I don't know much about them and just want something that will be really good for my plants and fish and give my tank a nice natural look. Right now I've got a mix of brown toned gravel and it looks more like a tank and less like the natural bottom I would like. Is there anything you would recommend? I'm not really huge on the white sand, was thinking darker like blackish brown...peat?

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-28-2012, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
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Or should I stay the chosen course because it been nearly two months and my plants and fish are doing really well...

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-28-2012, 08:19 PM
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It all depends on what you want to do, if you're getting good growth out of inert gravel without dosing (I assume you don't add any ferts) then you'd more than likely get better growth if you replaced it with organic substrate, or began supplementing macro and micro nutrients. Either way your plants will run out of nutrients soon and you'll need to replace them.

Dirted tanks provide a natural look and low-cost nutrients that will last 6-12 months. Whereas sand or gravel tanks have no organics and cannot hold many organics, they are however, cleaner. You can supplement the lack of nutrients with several dosing methods, which can be rather cheap or rather costly depending on what method you use.

All of my planted tanks use Mineralized Top Soil with a gravel or sand cap on top to keep it from flying into the water column. I also supplement by dosing once a week. In my experience I have NEVER had a dirt tank that didn't get murky as hell. I've always needed a cap.

Coincidentally all of my tanks look like riverbeds. Soil, sand, pebbles, driftwood, plants.

I really want to discourage you from using nothing but dirt as a substrate, but it's the most earthy look you can go for. Mainly because you will regret putting the dirt in there without something on top, but also because you'll kick up all the dirt after it settles while planting, hell, even your fish could kick up a nice cloud.

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Last edited by AVN; 10-28-2012 at 08:34 PM. Reason: moar stuff
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-28-2012, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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I think that the mineralized soil with small gravel on top is what i want. I have been supplimenting with flourish comprehensive and iron, but ideally I would like the plants to be able to root in a nice substrate. Is eco-complete a mineralized soil?

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-28-2012, 08:37 PM
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Just remember you might have to commit to tearing down the entire tank and rescaping it! Changing substrates kind of requires you do a full if not substantial rescape!

Don't confuse prepackaged substrates with MTS.

Substrates that come from companies already have nutrients and minerals mixed in, they're good to go. Just wash and dump.

MTS is when you buy your own soil, which has nutrients in it, and you add clay for CEC and other minerals to supplement.

Making your own MTS is much more cost effective than buying bags of substrate, (perhaps even twice as efficient) at least when it comes to larger tanks.

Here are some very informative links.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=153412

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=152027

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-28-2012, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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Ya thats what I'm debating. I don't mind the work but I don't want to stress any of my minions. I think it will be worth it in the long run. Do you know if I have to cycle the water at all before I add my plants and fish again?

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-28-2012, 08:48 PM
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I was hoping you would ask that. I was already thinking of an answer!

There's a trick to skipping the cycling of your tank again, all you need to do is preserve the life of the bacteria in your filter and in your gravel.

When you remove the gravel, try to keep it in a bucket with your tank water, not chlorinated tap water or you'll kill them all.

After you put your substrate of choice, whatever it may be, on the bottom of your tank, you can cap it with your gravel, the bacteria from that will spread slowly into the bottom of your tank again.

Remember, NO CHLORINE!

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-28-2012, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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Awesome. Thx for the help. I'll post new pictures once I've done the work.
I think I'm going to use eco-complete since my tank isn't very big

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-28-2012, 09:08 PM
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Glad I could help. Eco-complete is a good choice!

Post a journal so we can all see your progress.

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-28-2012, 10:43 PM Thread Starter
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I will post it in my tank profile as a journal w pics. I'm confident that this will be best in the long run. Thx again

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-11-2012, 12:53 PM
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Just watching

I like to DIY
Just another Guy that can't spell worth a D#%&^

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-01-2012, 04:49 AM
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Hello Elcaspar, wouldn't use Eco Complete if you plan on having small cory's at any point I have just moved my corydorus hodorus to another tank because they lost there barbels in eco complete.
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