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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-17-2006, 12:25 AM Thread Starter
 
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Substrate Depth

Hello everyone, I am setting up my first planted aquarium (55 gal euro bowed front) and have a question regarding substrate depth. Is 3 inches enough? Those 3 inches consist of half natural aquarium gravel (medium sized) with a top half layer of flourite. If it needs to be deeper, would it be wise to add maybe another inch of plain gravel on top of the flourite layer? Thanks!
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-17-2006, 03:10 AM
 
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Another newbie like me

Hi,

I am a newbie too!

I was going to use flourite and a tub of Tetra complete aquatic soil mixed together. However I was under the impression that a good 2 inch level of this rich substrate goes down first, then a layer of fine gravel or river sand on top to hold it down. The plant roots will reach down into the rich layer for nutrients via osmosis.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-17-2006, 03:50 AM
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Is 3 inches enough? YES.

But most people have had better luck using 100% of a single plant-friendly substrate like flourite instead of layering it with gravel or mixing two substrates together. Gravel is inert, so it does nothing for your plants. The one exception is that people DO use it to conver soil in low-tech soil tanks. The soil would be really messy should it get into your water column, so gravel is needed to hold it down. If you're using something like Flourite then you certainly don't NEED gravel with it!

If you're looking for a VERY cheap alternative, go to www.lesco.com and see if there is a store near you. You may have better luck with this in the US than the UK (sorry JJ). Lesco carries a product called Soilmaster Pro "Select" which is used to cover baseball diamonds. It also grows plants VERY well! It comes in a red and a charcoal color, and the cost is generally $11-$17 for a 50 lb bag. You can't beat that!


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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-17-2006, 05:09 AM
 
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Layers

Thanks Jen,

I am going to layer as an experiment. Also, there are two reasons for not wanting just Flourite; a) it is too expensive and b) it does not look that nice. I don't think anybody wants to own an aquarium with a dirty looking substrate, beautiful river sand is far more pleasing on the eye. A thin layer of either fine black gravel or fine, light, natural-coloured river sand about 0.5 inch on top of a thick, nutrient rich soil would be ideal, the plant roots will not see the gravel or sand only the soil.

JJ
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-17-2006, 12:05 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the info!

With plant health in mind, should that bottom layer of gravel be scooped up and replaced with more flourite?
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-17-2006, 02:17 PM
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If you've already put the gravel and flourite in there, don't redo it unless you have a lot of time and are very patient. It is SO messy to do! Just suppliment with some root tabs around heavy root feeders like crypts and sword plants if you have them, and see how everything grows. You may end up with good plant growth anyhow. When I first started I mixed gravel and flourite with ok results, then later tanks had 100% substrate and did a little better. I thought maybe you hadn't set it up yet.

JJ - go for it! Fair warning though, sand is very hard to keep clean-looking because of fish poo and the like, and if you ever need to pull up roots you're in for a mess. It CAN work though, so good luck!! There's a book that might really help you. "The Ecology of the Planted Aquarium" by Diana Walsted is all about low-tech soil-substrate tanks, and it is super helpful. There are lots of ways to go wrong with soil, and Diana will stear you right.


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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-17-2006, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
 
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I made the mistake of taking advice from a guy at my local petsmart concerning layering. I decided to do more research online AFTER I filled the tank with water (doh).

From my forum research, I notice some people say that some plants do well with a 50/50 gravel mix and some do not. Perhapse I could buy an extra bag of flourite and create a hill on one side and make the flourite layer extra thick for these sensitive plants. Just throwing that idea out there for opinions.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-17-2006, 02:47 PM
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Realize this as well, JJ, when you layer a substrate the finer grained of the two substrates will eventually wind up under the larger grained of the two substrates.

So, if you were to place sand over gravel, the sand will eventually wind up under the gravel. Gravel over sand? The gravel will stay on top of the sand.

Soil can be troublesome. If you are new to the hobby, I'd get a little more time/experience under your belt before going the soil route.


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