Should I replace 10 yr old substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2007, 03:25 AM Thread Starter
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Should I replace 10 yr old substrate?

I have a 40gal tank (36” L x 24” H x 12” W) that I originally planted approximately 10 years ago. I used a layer of sand on the bottom, then Sera Floar Depot, followed by a typical aquarium gravel of fairly small size. I then inserted “laterite balls” into the gravel (some of which are still somewhat intact!) The short story is that due to a severe outbreak of algae (BGA covering the plants and some other dusty stuff accumulating on the glass, I am working at reviving the tank. I removed all the plants from the tank and physically removed the BGA, and did the same to the wood pieces and rocks. I then did a major vacuming of the gravel, replanted the pants and inserted some of Karl Schroeder’s plant tabs I still have kicking around from years past. I had a small amount of Aquatic Gold fertilizer that I dosed the tank with. The Algae is beginning to show up again rather quickly and I want to get this under control by heavily re-planting the tank and begin doing using the EI method. I have good lighting and pressurized CO2, as well.

My Question is as follows: Should I re-do (replace) the substrate while I am going through this re-birth of my planted tank? I’d be interested in hearing different viewpoints on this (if there are any…) and any suggestions that anyone might have!

40gal H
Pressurized CO2
AH Supply 1 x 96 W (new)
JBJ 4 x 36 W (began dying years ago – now gone to pasture.)
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2007, 03:37 AM
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Replace everything and start Fresh Especially if your planning on reset Substrate

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2007, 06:48 AM
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Don't give up

One thing that I have found is that algae doesn't like its light messed with. If you give the tank a couple of days with no light and then set your lighting on a timer for 4 hour on, one hour off, and 4 hours on this should help you make a dent in algae problem. Mine has come a long ways. The only other thing that I have done in the last couple months to help is add a UV sterilizer. Good luck.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2007, 11:45 AM
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I would reccomend new substrate.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-26-2007, 12:52 PM Thread Starter
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The consensus, so far, seems to be to replace the substrate. Anyone have an explanation as to why? Has anyone used the Substrate Retro-fitting Kit from the PlantGuild? This looks like it might be easier than breaking down the tank and starting from scratch. Also might be less $$$... I am fairly confident that I can get the algae under control with a heavy planting of fast growing plants, I just don't want to do this and then end up having to replace the substrate.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-15-2007, 04:43 PM
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i think the best option for you now is to replace the substrate. you've been stuffing more and more fertiliser stick into it and you havent really removed any of it. so your substrate would now be somewhat "dead" its got irregular densities all across it and that means you've got pockets of nutrients or at least pockets of dead water which is very condusive for algae growth.

if you insisnt on maintaining your old substrate. just take out all your plants. turn over everything (mix it all up) and change almost all of the water. I did this with my 60L tank. except it was just coming to a year old.

the results is substrate that is rather messy and a large cloud of dust that stayed in the water for about a week.

but i replanted and my plants just took off. note that i'm using ada africana and powersand. everything's mixed up. with only a couple of JBL's "the seven balls" all mixed up with my AS and powersand. algae growth is minimal and i didnt lose any fishes or shrimps (i didnt take them out when i tossed the substrate about)
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-16-2007, 04:11 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your input! I have not yet replaced the substrate, but will be doing so in the near future. I picked up a bag of SMS at the local Lesco (Portland, ME) to experiment with. I intend to get some manzanita wood and do a total re-scape. In the meantime, I've loaded up the tank with some great plants I purchased from Bigstick120 and started EI dosing this week. Alge seems to be under control right now and the plants are mostly doing well. The crypts and vals I salvaged from the BGA episode are also doing excellent. Once I have assembled all the pieces, I'm going to do the big change over. In regards to the old substrate, if you read back you'll see that I removed all the plants and did a major stirring / vacuming a couple of weeks ago to eliminate dead spots. I will start rinsing the SMS soon and decide if this will end up being used or if i'll spring for the Aquasoil. I would really like to go with the darkest color.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-16-2007, 03:30 PM
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good to hear your plants are doing well. sorry if i mis-read! =)
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-16-2007, 11:31 PM
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what's your fishload? have you had fish die off recently to cause an algae outbreak due to less mulm buildup? have any plants die off that could cause algae to break out? new lights? substrate shouldn't DIE, as long as fish are still in there, and eating and pooping etc.
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