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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-05-2012, 01:25 AM Thread Starter
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Wanting to try something new

I have been a member for about a year. In this last year, I have set up and broken down many different tanks and have had several types of substrate. I am currently going to increase a tank size, that currently has a flourite, pfs, kitty litter clumps, and mts that had been added via capsules, all capped by eco complete. The tank hasn't been set up long enough to know exactly how well this combination is working. The bottom mixture came from a friend's existing tank that had been broken down, but I capped with eco complete since I decided that I wanted a black cap.

Moving forward, this 29 set up is going to be converted to a 40B, and I cannot decide what I want to use, so I thought I would ask for some suggestions.
I do not wish to use soil, I have a tank with soil and though I love love love the results, it is very messy when i moved my plants around, and I tend to do that more than I thought I would, so I make a lot of messes and I want to avoid that.

I want something that will have some CEC, I am dosing the water via the EI method, so I would like to have that absorption ability, for the substrate. However, I want to have a black cap. I'm not super sure that I want to go all out with eco complete. I have a bag of kitty litter, and was thinking of adding a thin layer of this some where in there.
I know that I don't want to use sand blasting material, as I have dwarf cories and I do not want them to get damage from that glass like material.

Does anyone have any suggestions?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-05-2012, 02:21 AM
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I would stick with your friend's substrate and give it a chance. It seems like he knows what he is doing.

When you say "some CEC," how much does that translate into? You will need a layer of something iron rich, and that would be the kitty litter. The rest is up to you. MTS works great, and all substrates end up getting about equally "messy." You could try Aquasoil, but that eventually will break down as well and get messy/sludgy. You could do a layer of kitty litter, a layer of laterite, and cap it with Eco or Tahitian moon sand.

This might help, too! http://www.aquabotanic.com/?cat=4

Last edited by crazydaz; 12-05-2012 at 03:52 AM. Reason: Words
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-05-2012, 02:39 AM
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Just use dirt with a deeper cap. I have mad problems with an inch thick cap, but with 2.5 inches... The banjo can can burrow without kicking up silt. It might take an extra day for plants to root well, but at the same time i don't think i would be comfortable blending a salsa substrate.

If you must; dirt, gravel, then sand. It helps create a barier while allowing plants to take up what they need.


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-05-2012, 03:43 AM
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Also, all that nonsense about blasting grit hurting fish is absolute bs. My banjo burrows in grit and every cory but the julii(seem to hang out midwater in the plants) have damn near buried themselves when introduced to the substrate. 20/40 and 30/60....

For the record, crushed walnut and baking soda are also used as blasting grit... It doesnt have much to do with texture as much as size and weight...


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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-05-2012, 03:57 AM Thread Starter
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Agreed, we all have different experiences with it I suppose. I have ran my hands through that sand blasting material and it is scratchy on my skin. No big deal for me, however, I watch my peppered corydora sift sand through their gills, and would not want to be the one that causes inner cuts on them because I chose to use something that I knew had rough edges. Maybe I am being a little over kill on my reasoning, but I want my fish to be as healthy as the plants that they live with.

On a subject note, I thank you for your suggestion. I have one tank capped with MTS now, I would say roughly a 2" cap and it has been a bit less messy. I may go the route you suggested and go heavy with the cap to eliminate that large of a mess when I want to re arrange things.
What are your thoughts on capping eco complete with black sand? I would like to have a sandy soft substrate, as I have cherry shrimp in there as well and like that the black makes them very noticeable, hence the reason for the black cap..


Crazydaz, I think you are right about the friend knowing what he was doing. His tank was massive and beautiful. What I do not care for is that when I move things around, that bottom substrate comes up too, leaving spots of whiteish sand on the black eco, with bits of fluorite here and there being surfaced as well. Could that only be because the cap is not thick enough?
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-05-2012, 12:48 PM
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It all ends up getting mixed together eventually. May not to the extent of the mix that you received, but a mix all the same. This is due to several factors, like gravity, current, fish activity, vacuuming, moving things around in the tank, re-planting, etc. Adding thicker sand caps can be done, to an extent, but the thicker the sand cap, the higher the chances start becoming to get anaerobic issues in the substrate.

So, I would recommend using thin layer of kitty litter, a half inch of Aquasoil, and cap that by an inch and a half of black Tahitian moon sand or Eco. The kitty litter should stick to the bottom, and should not mix appreciably with the rest of the substrate. If there is mixing, which there will be over time, between the sand cap and the Aquasoil, at least it will all be the same color.

Or, you could just let the plants grow and carpet the substrate....not much use worrying about substrate mixing if there are plants covering it anyways. Bear in mind that you are worried about an occasional aesthetic issue....is it a huge problem? If so, than go with the option above. I think that all substrates can and will get messy with the accumulation of bacteria, mulm, dust, poop, etc. that will create a cloud in the water column. It is usually filtered away within an hour or two....or overnight in really heavy re-scapes.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-05-2012, 01:07 PM
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You might find this an interesting read.....not sure how "practical" it will be , but it's a neat thread:

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...ernatives.html
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