Angelfish Tank Dark Substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 04:32 AM Thread Starter
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Angelfish Tank Dark Substrate?

I am going to set my 72 bow front up as an angelfish tank, and I wanted to make it a planted tank. I am new to planted tanks, and didn't have much luck when I tried one years ago. I have spent a good bit of money on the canister filter and lighting, and didn't want to spend a ton on substrate, but I want to do it right. I also want it to last a long time, as I don't plan on moving anytime soon and want this to be a permanent fixture in my home. I have seen black diamond recommended and just dirt. The dirt suggestion scares me a bit because that can refer to a wide range of products and i don't want to add anything that would be harmful to fish. Can you suggest what kind of "dirt" to use? I need a good starter mix suggestion, and what sort of fertilizer to add and how often to add it to maintain fish and plant health. Also, I plan on keeping plecos and clown loaches not sure if that will affect suggestions. Another note, I wanted to use a substrate that would help maintain a slightly acidic tank as that is what Angels prefer (6.5-6.8) Thanks
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 04:37 AM
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dirt can refer to mineralized top soil, MGOCPM (miracle grow organic choice potting soil) or a number of commercial pre-mineralized products, all of which though would require a cap. i would personally go for a cap of black diamond medium grit (20-40) it's what is in my pinoy angel tank and i love it
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 04:51 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, I have used the MGOCPM in my Chameleon enclosures, but wasn't sure if it was safe for aquarium use. Is there any need to add starter fertilizer if I use this suggestion?
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 05:19 AM
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Make sure it is the organic potting mix and NOT garden soil. Orangey browny colored bag.

If you're going low light you shouldn't need to add any fertilizers. Maybe some water column dosing (ex. dry ferts or Seachem Flourish line) but I never had to in my dirted tanks.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 07:28 AM
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pH is not a factor for angels. if you are importing WILD angels then it is a factor-- otherwise ignore pH, no one messes with pH for angels just straight tap regardless of where you live
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 03:08 PM
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Welcome to TPT!

So with the only posts made on the forum to date starting with the opening of this thread WELCOME to the board!

That opening post really looks to parallel my tanking goals almost exactly. Problems here early on with plants was ultimately discovered to be water related (messed up mineral content). I had kept fish only tanks for years without much challenge so failing to grow plants was frustrating. All water sources are not created equal (laughing now after months of whining). The more I learned the more importance I placed on knowing GH, KH and TDS values. pH I have come to ignore except as it relates to dissolved CO2 levels on injected systems. Planted tanking has a few subtle differences to it as opposed to tanking fish only, pH testing is one of those.
Originally Posted by dprais1 View Post
pH is not a factor for angels. if you are importing WILD angels then it is a factor-- otherwise ignore pH, no one messes with pH for angels just straight tap regardless of where you live
Agree with mostly ignoring pH but not just specific to angelfish.
pH concerns are basically last years reference for water quality. Looking at pH as it can be viewed in a planted tank the value is rarely static for a number of reasons (this getting to wordy already)
Having the equipment here I've placed electronic pH controllers on low light NPT (natural planted tank) systems just to see what happens during a 24hr period (used as a monitor). Lighting alone can shift tested pH by a full degree on soft water tanks. Monitoring what the pH reading was in the morning before the photoperiod and again late in the afternoon I recorded a full point shift in value. The only difference was lights on or lights off (more or less CO2 in solution).
Shifts in pH don't really effect our critters, shifts happen naturally all the time. Water is better understood when defined by it's mineral and organic content, that's what the critters are swimming and living in.
Shifts in GH, KH, TDS, (changes in osmotic pressure) that's what effects our critters not a pH value or change in pH per say so yes ignore pH but not the overall mineral content.

Playing around with different parameters plants have since been grown well below the widely stated threshold for minimum light requirements. When using more intense light energy then supplying the full balance of plant nutrients becomes really important or you may find yourself running daily to stay ahead of algae growth. Starting with basic mineral content to eliminate the wide range of deficiency failures then it's easy with the majority of plants. Learning a little water chemistry goes a long way keeping a water box of healthy weeds and fish. Learning how to control light energy goes a long way in in reducing the work to maintain the tank.

First step (imo), know what your source water contains so you can either ignore it or address what needs to be added.
(Most fish stores will do complimentary testing.)

Critters, I have 4 clown loaches that are about 3yrs old kept in a group. They need to be kept in groups because they are a very social fish and get to large for most tanks long term >90g is a good tank size (imo).

Both LFABN and L144 'pleco' kept here and while the adults regularly wipe out the eggs from my angel spawns they don't harm free swimming fish in my experiences with them. Properly fed they don't destroy my plants either.

Miracle Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix is the bagged 'dirt' product I use.

MGOCPM (potting mix) contains soils and a large portion of organic material (55-65% by volume). Sphagnum peat moss, composted bark fines, leaves, twigs, wood chips etc. and "pasteurized poultry litter" (cooked chicken crap). 0.10-0.05-0.05

The contents of the mix can vary obviously to some degree but I've yet to experience real trouble using it and find the results in tank to be very consistent so far. I've tanked this bagged dirt mix a number of different way.

The first tank here using soil was a learning curve but that said,,,
just 1" of the mix capped with Flourite original and flooded 4/29/2009 is still growing a nice crypt garden.
Basically unchanged since the start.

Adding muriate of potash and clay to one of the last flooded 3/16/2011 the growth results are good.

I use sponge equipped powerheads for water movement on a number of tanks from 5g to 55g so I'll leave no comment on the need for high end filters to maintain planted aquariums.

Known mineral content in the supplied water, trace additions added weekly or only during water changes and monitored NO3, PO4, TDS ranges.

dirt works for me

again WELCOME! to a new member that might be getting dirty
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-05-2013, 02:51 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys, very helpful info, I've always been concerned about ph, but as you have stated a lot of factors can change this. I really appreciate the advice, I think I'm going to be using this forum a lot more over the next couple months as I'm getting my tank setup. How thick should my dirt layer be and how much of a cap should I put on it?
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-05-2013, 02:54 AM
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there is also dedicated aqua soils on the market.
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