Substrate Questions - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 07:40 PM Thread Starter
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Substrate Questions

Hi all,

I currently have a 20 gallon tank and have regular aquarium gravel in it with a few hardy live plants for beginners. I am hesitant to move to something like Eco complete or dirt because of the change over being tedious. As in I don't have a place for my fish (8 black neon tetra, Betta, and ghost shrimp) and also I have been changing quite a few things (i.e rearranging my plants in my tank and so forth). What can i do to increase my live plant growth while keeping my standard aquarium gravel?


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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 08:24 PM
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Root tabs.
Or cycle the new substrate in a Rubbermaid tote (larger surface area and shallower depth than a bucket). Once the cycle is complete, put the fish with some of the original water in a bucket while you remove the old gravel. Put the new gravel in and let everything settle, set up the plants, then re-introduce the fish. I'd save as much of the original water as possible and drain the tank as much as possible to minimize how much crud gets kicked up and circulated around the aquarium. You might even want to partially fill the tank after removing the original gravel so you can vacuum up what ever is sitting on the bottom.
You may want to put the filter media in the bucket with the fish and use new filter pad and a bunch of filter floss right after you refill the tank to clear the water before planting or returning the fish

Of course, if you like the look of your current gravel, root tabs would be the easiest option.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 08:28 PM
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There are a few easy things:
Use a tablet of slow release fertilizer deep in the substrate, near each of the plants that have roots in the substrate.
Use water column fertilizers for those plants that prefer taking in nutrients through the leaves. Most plants do both, unless they are like Java Fern, and grow stuck to a branch, or floating on the surface.

Use some form of carbon supplement. CO2 is best, but the liquid supplements are good for many plants. Something like Excel.

If you do decide to switch to a better substrate for the plants something like Eco Complete is easy to use. If you rinse it ahead of time the change goes quickly. Fish can be kept in a storage container or bucket during the swap.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys, I am new to planted tanks altogether any other advice you can give me?
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