Need help, just starting out! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-21-2013, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Hello all!

I am about to attempt to start up my 10 gallon fish tank that's been sitting in my basement for god knows how long and I want to make it a planted tank. I am completely new to this world of planted tanks so I needs some help/advice!

How much substrate would I need for a 10 gallon tank? I was searching around to find the cheapest possible materials that I can find and I found this: Mr. Aqua Aquarium Soil Plant Substrate - 1 Liter

Mr. Aqua Water Plant Soil. Specifically designed with the hobbyists in mind for planted aquariums. The Mr Aqua Soil is composed using specific proprietary blends of organic and inert ingredients. Mr Aqua Water Plant Soil will provide all essential elements as well as a stable and ideal rooting media. The Soil will also provide buffering capacities for softening water as well as buffering PH from 6.6 6.8 depending on water parameters.

Long lasting fertilized plant substrate up to 12-18 months.
Purify the water that is stained from driftwoods.
Prolong water exchange periods of up to 6 months.
Stabilizes the pH to hold within 6.6-6.8 with a porous granular structure that is easily penetrated by plant roots.

Would this substrate suffice and would it be enough for a 10 gallon tank? I'm also planning to put a layer of gravel on top of the substrate.

Also, if anyone knows of any place or website where I can get substrate for cheap, please let me know! I'm on a very tight budget! ><

Last edited by Darkblade48; 05-22-2013 at 10:36 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-22-2013, 12:39 AM
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2 best websites I have found for almost anything you need for aquariums are... ( sponsor)


They will have almost anything you need at the lowest prices around, they are usually half price or even cheaper of local pets/fish stores.

I use regular aquarium gravel for my substrate, so I'm no expert on the fancy stuff. A great place to start looking for info would be the stickied post at the top of the substrate forum called "Substrate articles and FAQ". It will probably answer most of your questions.

Other things to consider would be what kind of water do you have or plan on using, is it low ph, high ph, etc.? Also what kind of plants are you wanting to start with it? There is a also a sticky post on the Low Tech forum for Low light plants as this will be a good place to start for plants. You don't want to start out with some real complicated/tough to grow plants that need special ferts or co2 requirements. A low-tech tank would be best to start with. All of these things will factor in to your substrate choice.

Whatever you decide good luck, and read around on these forums, The Planted Tank forums are a great encyclopedia of knowledge, and a great community of people for continued support and questions.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-23-2013, 01:33 PM
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For cheap substrate, best bet would be going with a miracle grow organic potting mix, and capping with pool filter sand. Potting mix $8, 50lbs of sand is about $8 all from HD. You don't need that much sand for a 10 gallon so if you can find a smaller bag then go for it. I just set up a 12" cube with MGOPM and black sand, an old desk lamp with a CFL in it and it's growing great.
I did a lot of research on the threads here. Plenty of info to parse through.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-23-2013, 02:04 PM
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If you plant and leave the substrate alone then dirt+sand is great. If you suspect you might be replanting or be fumble fingers like me use just the pool filter sand, fine gravel or a hard clay product like SafeTSorb for a cheap substrate and add root tabs if you like. SafeTSorb is $10 shipped for 40 pounds if you cannot find it locally for $5 but a single bag is enough substrate for a big tank, you need about 4x the sand as it is heavy. Sand or gravel is easier to plant though, STS is so light weight it can be difficult to convince plants to stay in it!

The specialty plant substrates are very attractive and work but expensive. It would cost me $700 to use the substrate you asked about [as it is in very small bags and I have a large tank] or $400 for the best, ADA's AquaSoil but I spent $10+$20+$16+$0 total for substrate over the years on gravel, STS and another hard clay product - Schultz's Aquatic Soil.

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-23-2013, 04:30 PM
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I've always used eco complete/ API leaf zone. The 20 lb bags are about $20, and I presently have a 29gallon heavily planted. The eco complete is going on over a year, and never had any problems. I have 5 swords, and one is huge, also assorted plants. I highly recommend ecocomplete for substrate.
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