Question about Fluval Stratum depth - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-03-2013, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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Question about Fluval Stratum depth

In my relentless search to discover an appropriate substrate for my 30g tank (30"x13") and an appropriate substrate for my wallet I have come across Fluval Stratum. I was reading the info about it on Amazon and it said that a recommended depth was 1.25"-1.5", does anyone know why Fluval would recommend such a shallow depth? It seems that I would only need one 16.7lb bag of the stuff for that depth, or am I wrong and I would need several?
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-03-2013, 04:30 PM
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1.5-2" is probably a good depth.

It looks like - with shipping - that would cost you about $50. Or you could also get a 9L bag of Aquasoil Amazonia for roughly $50 shipped. That'd be plenty for your tank. And it contains fertilizer that your plants will use / serves as its own ammonia source for cycling your tank.

The Fluval product contains little to no plant nutrition, doesn't buffer water for long (if that's a concern of yours) and tends to break down within a year or so.


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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-03-2013, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Well I have amazon prime so I could get the fluval for about $35. Really do you think I would only need one 9L of Aquasoil? From the best I can tell that would only put at about 1.5" and I'm not sure that would be enough for any plants with large root systems.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-03-2013, 07:56 PM
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i used fluval shrimp stratum as the base substrate, and then poured eco complete on top of that. you can't even tell the difference really between the two since they're both black - but the eco is not as fine grained as the stratum. i don't think either really give much in the way of nutrients, so what i've done is plant, stick a plant tab in the substrate next to the root, and dry fert treat the water. this way you can build a slope with the eco, but the roots have something pretty firm to grab under the eco too. oh, and i think they both hold nutrients well that seep from the plant tab so far.


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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-03-2013, 08:52 PM
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Yep, a single 9L bag is plenty.

My latest 20 longs (30 x 12.5/13, depending upon the brand) all use a single bag and it's more than deep enough.

If you have Multiple Tank Syndrome, you could pick up two-three bags just to have on-hand.


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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-03-2013, 10:36 PM
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I have a 29 g (same footprint as somewhatshockeds 20 gallon) and 1 bag of Fluval did a pretty good job at covering the whole thing but that depends on how many hills you are creating. I needed a couple handfuls more substrate than just a large bag. I am really liking the look of Fluval and it is surprisingly easy to plant in.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-03-2013, 10:55 PM
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go ada and don't make a mistake. ada is a pain to cycle because of the daily wc you have to do, but your plants and/or shrimp will love it. i made the switch from FS to ADA and what a difference!


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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-03-2013, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
Yep, a single 9L bag is plenty.

My latest 20 longs (30 x 12.5/13, depending upon the brand) all use a single bag and it's more than deep enough.

If you have Multiple Tank Syndrome, you could pick up two-three bags just to have on-hand.
For what it's worth how deep is it? Just deep enough or deep enough with enough to scape some hills in too? Do you think I could cap it with sand (I really like the look of natural tan/white sand)?

Also, I tried to have MTS, but my parents very quickly shot that down, I even tried to get them into aquariums

Dany08fa: I've heard it is a pain to cycle because of all the ammonia it releases. Normally I would say what is best in the long run for the inhabitants is best for me, but since I'm redoing the substrate in an established aquarium, and I have no place to rehouse the fish during the cycling time, am I SOL for ADA or will daily WCs for a couple of weeks be enough? I'm not afraid of extra work, just extra $.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-03-2013, 11:52 PM
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Feel free to check out my tank journals and you'll be able to gauge the depth.

It's not really a pain to cycle. Daily water changes aren't always necessary. I only do water changes when the ammonia exceeds 4PPM in concentration. Usually taks 4-6 weeks to cycle. Since you already have fish, it obviously isn't a good idea to use Aquasoil.

But also know that adding a substrate that alters your water parameters cannot be done all at once without potentially harming or shocking your livestock. You'd need to keep everything in a bucket, add the new substrate, allow your tank to adjust and then re-acclimate your livestock.

Also note that swapping substrates could lead to a mini-cycle because a lot of beneficial bacteria is contained in your substrate.

You can't cap substrates like these with sand. Sand settles to the bottom.


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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-04-2013, 02:40 AM Thread Starter
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I tried looking through your tank journals and the only ones that seemed to have a 20 in them were the 20L shrimp tanks which, from the best I can tell, are covered in fluval shrimp stratum.

About changing the parameters, my kH is already at 13 so I would be surprised if anything managed to change them at all let alone drastically, but I could be surprised.

I know it take about 4-6 to cycle AS, but if I changed the water everyday and I heavily planted it, would I have to worry about the ammonia getting too high, especially since I already have an established bacteria colony?

Lastly, I understand why the sand would sift through the AS (small particles fit between big ones and sift to the bottom), but doesn't that only occur through heavy mixing, for example (not saying I would ever do this) swirling a spatula in the substrate? And since sand is cleaned by just moving the gravel vac over it, but not in it like gravel, wouldn't that prevent most, if not all mixing potential?
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-04-2013, 02:53 AM
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There are easily a dozen photos that show Aquasoil. You can also use the search function here on the forum to check out other tank journals.

Here are a few of the photos from my journal, from the most recent posts:

Nearly 2 inches above the rim:



Here's a shot where you can see how deep the AS is (bottom tank - even had leftovers for the two cubes in the shot):



More:




About parameter swings: Even Fluval Shrimp Stratum will alter your KH at first and will definitely drop your pH.

Yes, you'd have to worry about ammonia with Aquasoil - even with an established filter.

Sand will settle the bottom of Aquasoil/similar substrates no matter what you do.


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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-04-2013, 03:03 AM Thread Starter
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I saw that second picture when I perusing your 20L shrimp tanks, I guess I just assumed it was FSS not AS, my bad, thanks for the pics though! As far as everything else goes, I guess I will just have to think on it and decide on what to do.

Uggh this is so frustrating, trying to weigh all of the pros and cons of the different substrates has been making my head spin for three weeks now, and I don't feel any closer to making a decision... Hopefully soon though I will come to a reasonable decision, at the very least everyone around here has been very helpful!
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-04-2013, 04:00 AM
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i still stand by the fss. it did start to break down at about a year. but i dont use ro water. and it took my tap water that is about 7,5 ph down to 6 and stayed there for over a year till i took down the tank (im moving) not sure what i will use when i set tanks back up though
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-04-2013, 04:31 AM Thread Starter
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I'm curious, how deep was your substrate?
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 06-04-2013, 11:53 AM
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If you have livestock and don't have a tank to temporarily rehome your livestock, Aquasoil is out of the question. Unless you're somehow able to 'cycle' it in a large bucket.

You'd still have to deal with the parameter shifts, which wouldn't be much of an issue, as you'd put your livestock in a bucket for a few hours, put in the new substrate and then drip acclimate your critters to the new parameters.

As for Fluval Shrimp Stratum, definitely do some forum searches. You'll find quite a few people with horror stories. People with tons of tanking experience. If it's a new substrate you're after, there are tons of cheaper, more reliable ways to go. Safe T Sorb, crushed lava rock, black blasting grit, pool filter sand, et al. All of them - even using Fluval Stratum - will require the addition of root tabs if you aren't dosing your tank with ferts.


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Last edited by somewhatshocked; 06-05-2013 at 03:09 PM. Reason: Apparently, "swing" is a word that gets censored
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