Sand as Substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 12:08 AM Thread Starter
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Sand as Substrate

I use sand as a substrate for all of my tanks with no issues. I just got three Madagascar Lace bulbs to grow in my greenhouse tank. The tank heater keeps it at about 72F. It gets natual sunlight all day, exact same as growing in the wild. I have about 100gph in a 5g tank.

How can I provide my plants with as many nutrients as possible without fueling algae growth? Would nutrient tablets to put under each plant's bulb work? How often do I need to add a new one? Do they fuel algae growth?

Remember this tank is outside, so it is extremely easy to have it take. over by algae. :P
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 12:43 AM
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Fert tablets under the substrate would be best. Read the label to see how often they need to be replaced. Go with less for a lace plant, my understanding is they prefer lean conditions.
If the tablets are well sunk under the sand they should not leach enough nutrients into the water column to trigger algae.

You might start with just one tablet and test every few days for a week or so to see if it is adding anything to the water. Sand has more water movement through it than a plant specific substrate, and no way to absorb fertilizer. Substrate with a high cationic exchange capacity would be better.
Very fine organic matter in the substrate can latch onto some fertilizers and keep them out of the water column, too.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 04:26 AM Thread Starter
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Fert tablets under the substrate would be best. Read the label to see how often they need to be replaced. Go with less for a lace plant, my understanding is they prefer lean conditions.
If the tablets are well sunk under the sand they should not leach enough nutrients into the water column to trigger algae.

You might start with just one tablet and test every few days for a week or so to see if it is adding anything to the water. Sand has more water movement through it than a plant specific substrate, and no way to absorb fertilizer. Substrate with a high cationic exchange capacity would be better.
Very fine organic matter in the substrate can latch onto some fertilizers and keep them out of the water column, too.
Thanks for the reply! The sandbed is maybe 1.5"-2" deep... I guess I should add more, bury fert tabs at the bottom and then place the bulb half way buried in the sand, right? Or do you think they will survive without the ferts since they have natural sunlight at a high intensity?
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-01-2012, 02:28 PM
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Well, can you survive on just caffeine? That is energy.

No, you need vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, fats...

So do plants have their needs:
N, P, K, C, H, O, Ca, Mg, Fe, and so on (16 elements in all)

The water supplies some of these, depending on its source. You need to supply the rest.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-03-2012, 02:39 AM
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The water supplies some of these, depending on its source. You need to supply the rest.
Funny you should say that. I was looking pictures tonight where the guy was trying to use frequent water changes to replenish the micros and was dosing macros every other water change.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-03-2012, 02:50 AM
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Water with high GH (calcium and magnesium) often also has appreciable levels of other minerals.
Well water is often like this, if it passes through any mineral deposits that are at all water soluble.
Water changes might be the only 'fertilizer' a tank like that needs.

Fish food has a reasonable supply of nitrogen, phosphates and trace minerals, but not always enough potassium or iron. Some low tech tanks are fine for most fertilizers and minerals, but need a little K and Fe.

In trying to figure this out you need to think of all possible sources of each element that the plants need, and if there is enough.

Things like H and O are pretty easy. All tanks have an abundance of di-hydrogen monoxide. (unless they are empty)
Carbon is a tricky one.
N, P and most traces come from fish food in enough quantities (if you have a reasonable stocking level) for a low tech tank.
K and Fe might need to be dosed.
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