What substrate to use!? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2006, 04:55 AM Thread Starter
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What substrate to use!?

Ugh for the past 2 weeks or so ive been deciding on the type of substrate to choose for my 50 gal planted aquarium. I am looking for a darker coloured (dark grey-black) substrate that would work to grow mostly all plants and not cost a whole lot. I cannot get SoilMaster Select (charcoal) unless I order 1 pallet or pay a arm and a leg for shipping charges. I could get SoilMaster Select (red) but then again personally I do not really like the colour of it. Eco-Complete would be nice but would cost like 30$ for a 20lb bag and again id have to order it. We do have Onyx at LFS but again it would cost 30$ for a 20lb bag and the color is more of a grey/bluish but may work only prob is it is expensive. Another would be sandblasting grit but I heard that it is very sharp edged so am not sure about that one. As of now I do not really know what other substrate I could use thats a darkgrey-black colour, works to grow all plants and relatively cheap. The only others I know of are Turface (black), Zeolite, Flourite, Shultz aquatic plant soil but then again those last 2 are not grey-black I think. I would GREATLY appreciate it if someone could tell me a substrate that is grey-black, works well for plants, and is relatively cheap..or even a mix that would work that would be cheap yet looks nice and has high CEC etc necessary for plants for my 50 gal.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2006, 05:49 AM
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If you can find black/grey turface use that. It is the same stuff as soilmaster. Not sure on another cheap black substrate, maybe tahetian moon sand. That might be too expensive as well. Good luck.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2006, 09:44 AM
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I'm in the same situation as you right. I finally decided to give kitty litter a try since i can't seem to find anything else cheap. I'll be setting it up tomorrow so I'll post pictures to let you see how it looks... the stuff is more of a grayish color i think...
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2006, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkfury18
I'm in the same situation as you right. I finally decided to give kitty litter a try since i can't seem to find anything else cheap. I'll be setting it up tomorrow so I'll post pictures to let you see how it looks... the stuff is more of a grayish color i think...

Please post your experience in using CPA (Cat Piss Absorbent) as a substrate. I would suggest that you place some in a container of water and let it set for a week before you do it. You might be surprised to find yourself with a container of mud.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2006, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkfury18
I'm in the same situation as you right. I finally decided to give kitty litter a try since i can't seem to find anything else cheap. I'll be setting it up tomorrow so I'll post pictures to let you see how it looks... the stuff is more of a grayish color i think...

Ummmm yeah.....you're going to not want to do that.....m'kay? There is a reason that almost no one on the forum uses it. Substrate is one of those things that you simply need to buy quality from the get go. Don't skimp. I can guarantee that if you stay with the hobby you'll end up replacing it anyway, so why not just do it right the first time?

In college....so no aquariums for a while.....
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2006, 01:59 PM
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3M color quartz comes to mind for an inexpensive substrate. It comes in black, will not fade and is totally inert. IF you keep you on the water column ferts, it works well for most plants. It comes in two grades. S-grade is like fine sand, and T-grade is the size of Soilmaster select. It is used a lot by members of the other forum starting an A

Check www.3M.com to see if there is a distrubutor near you.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2006, 02:23 PM
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Instead of CPA, use red clay. It's got a lot of the same properties as laterite and CPA, but it's free (at least in the southern US). I'm not sure what the case is in Canada. Search around for more info if you go this route.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2006, 03:44 PM
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Just a quick word or warning. There isn't much that is more tedious and nerve racking than trying to replace substrate in a tank with fish/shrimp/plants.

As a compromise, you could always to a 50-50 mix of Eco or Flourite with a similar colored substance.

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2006, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikee
Ugh for the past 2 weeks or so ive been deciding on the type of substrate to choose for my 50 gal planted aquarium. I am looking for a darker coloured (dark grey-black) substrate that would work to grow mostly all plants and not cost a whole lot. I cannot get SoilMaster Select (charcoal) unless I order 1 pallet or pay a arm and a leg for shipping charges. I could get SoilMaster Select (red) but then again personally I do not really like the colour of it. Eco-Complete would be nice but would cost like 30$ for a 20lb bag and again id have to order it. We do have Onyx at LFS but again it would cost 30$ for a 20lb bag and the color is more of a grey/bluish but may work only prob is it is expensive. Another would be sandblasting grit but I heard that it is very sharp edged so am not sure about that one. As of now I do not really know what other substrate I could use thats a darkgrey-black colour, works to grow all plants and relatively cheap. The only others I know of are Turface (black), Zeolite, Flourite, Shultz aquatic plant soil but then again those last 2 are not grey-black I think. I would GREATLY appreciate it if someone could tell me a substrate that is grey-black, works well for plants, and is relatively cheap..or even a mix that would work that would be cheap yet looks nice and has high CEC etc necessary for plants for my 50 gal.
Did you try what I recommended in your previous post?

"If you call Pro's Choice, they will give you the nearest distributor that has Soilmaster, not carries it but has it. Lesco sometimes will give you the "gotta order a pallet" story. Find the nearest distributor, make a run, get plenty for your buddies.

From their website http://www.oildri.com/agri/turbase.htm

"For more information about our sports field products, please fill out the form below or contact us at:

Pro's Choice
410 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 400
Chicago, Illinois 60611

Toll Free: 888-424-7672
Phone: 312/321-1515
Fax: 312/321-9525
Email: [email protected]"

If it does not work in Canada, please let me know so I do not recommend it again to a Canadian.....DC
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2006, 09:13 PM
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Given the cost, the ADA AS substrate is much cheaper than 30$ a bag!
You need two bags to = one 9 liter ADA AS bag.

ADG has it for around 26$ a 9 liter bag which is good for about a 20 gal.

You can also pour it directly into the tank without rinsing it, EC is wet and you pay for water in the volume and the weight.

And ADA is better than the other's mentioned here.
I've used kitty litter in the past with great success, but it's messy when you do large reworks and uprooting.

Tropica has come out with a new clay semi soft substrate as well, but it's not here in the USA yet, AGD will likely be carrying it soon though.

I've used all the metnioed substrates, I fully suggest the ADA substrate, the medium size amazonia.
Looks nice and it is fairly easy to work with and unlike the other hard subs, this will never scratch your glass when you clean or scrub the glass.


Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
Tom Barr
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2006, 10:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Grigg
Please post your experience in using CPA (Cat Piss Absorbent) as a substrate. I would suggest that you place some in a container of water and let it set for a week before you do it. You might be surprised to find yourself with a container of mud.
I got the Special Kitty cat litter from Walmart that most ppl suggests, I've been soaking a sample for over three days now, it's still as hard as I first got it. I'll be setting up after lunch, so pictures will be up tonight.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-26-2006, 12:32 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiabloCanine
Did you try what I recommended in your previous post?

"If you call Pro's Choice, they will give you the nearest distributor that has Soilmaster, not carries it but has it. Lesco sometimes will give you the "gotta order a pallet" story. Find the nearest distributor, make a run, get plenty for your buddies.

From their website http://www.oildri.com/agri/turbase.htm

"For more information about our sports field products, please fill out the form below or contact us at:

Pro's Choice
410 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 400
Chicago, Illinois 60611

Toll Free: 888-424-7672
Phone: 312/321-1515
Fax: 312/321-9525
Email: [email protected]"

If it does not work in Canada, please let me know so I do not recommend it again to a Canadian.....DC

Yes, I emailed them and they gave me my 2 nearest distributors which were in surrey and calgary both had no soilmaster select (charcoal) and only the red..the one in surrey also seemed to care more and after me emailing and calling they said they probably could get it in a couple months but not 100% sure if they will or not and I do not really want to wait a couple months because who knows how long the couple months could turn into..I know canadians and when it comes to ordering stuff it usually takes double the time or longer than what they said lol. But thank you anyways
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-26-2006, 02:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikee
Yes, I emailed them and they gave me my 2 nearest distributors which were in surrey and calgary both had no soilmaster select (charcoal) and only the red..the one in surrey also seemed to care more and after me emailing and calling they said they probably could get it in a couple months but not 100% sure if they will or not and I do not really want to wait a couple months because who knows how long the couple months could turn into..I know canadians and when it comes to ordering stuff it usually takes double the time or longer than what they said lol. But thank you anyways
Ok, thanks it worked different here. A phone call and they checked who had it in stock....DC
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-26-2006, 04:00 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain
Given the cost, the ADA AS substrate is much cheaper than 30$ a bag!
You need two bags to = one 9 liter ADA AS bag.

ADG has it for around 26$ a 9 liter bag which is good for about a 20 gal.

You can also pour it directly into the tank without rinsing it, EC is wet and you pay for water in the volume and the weight.

And ADA is better than the other's mentioned here.
I've used kitty litter in the past with great success, but it's messy when you do large reworks and uprooting.

Tropica has come out with a new clay semi soft substrate as well, but it's not here in the USA yet, AGD will likely be carrying it soon though.

I've used all the metnioed substrates, I fully suggest the ADA substrate, the medium size amazonia.
Looks nice and it is fairly easy to work with and unlike the other hard subs, this will never scratch your glass when you clean or scrub the glass.


Regards,
Tom Barr
Thanks Tom Barr, um how many 9 liter bags of 'ADA medium size amazonia' do you think I would need for a 50 gal 36 x 18 x 18 for a good 3-4" thickness? im guessing 3-4" is a good thickness to grow basically all plants without any problems (that is if I can get this stuff prob would have to order since I live in Canada and if it is that good of a substrate im willing to spend a little more not more than 100$ hopefully.. kinda poor right now and I still have to buy my lights which are coming soon..)
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-26-2006, 05:26 AM
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So you want to save some money. But a 50 G is not going to use that much substrate. I just put a little less than two bags of Eco complete and a bunch of cheap inert gray/black standard stream-river gravel in a 26 bow. It looks just like I imagine you want it to. So try some good quality stuff (that is the right color, like Eco) and mix it with some cheap local inert river gravel which is black. Maybe 50% of each. The regular gravel I bought at the LFS cost me about .40 cents a pound. Together they look terrific and I guarantee it will grow anything. I'll post a picture of it if you want me to.





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