Planning a 55 Gallon and have some substrate questions - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 02:22 AM Thread Starter
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Planning a 55 Gallon and have some substrate questions

I am planning to do a low tech 55 and am thinking about substrate. I was going to do dirt, but it's starting to scare me because I think I will want to do a lot of rearranging plants and aquascape because I'm not really experienced enough to be able accurately plan it out and I think it will be a lot of trial and error.

I've gotten lucky and am getting 60 lbs of Eco-Complete but I'm thinking about also getting Activ Flora to mix or cap with, mostly to ease the fertilizer requirements as AF seems to have more essential nutrients for the plants. Here's what I'm wondering...

If I go EC and AF, I'm not sure if I should cap with one or the other or mix them together. I'm not quite sure of the size of the two substrates and density. From what I have gathered, EC is pretty fine and AF is mixed fine with larger pieces mixed in. If that is true, I would guess cap with EC?

I will want Cory's and both seem to be "safe" for them and it again makes me wonder about granule size.

It also seems the copper is not good for snails or shrimp and I noticed there is a little copper in AF. I can't find a datasheet for EC but have found evidence that it is safe.

AF copper is stated at 17 mg/kg. Is that enough to cause problems if I decide to try shrimp or snails? Is anyone using AF with shrimp or snails? I have not found anything conclusive with actual experience.

Thanks in advance for any advice and suggestions!


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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 09:46 PM
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Substrate is like the plates and bowls on your table. It can hold nutrients for the plants just like plates and bowls hold food. But you need to add the fertilizer, just like you put food on the plates.

Some substrates are composed of elements that are plant nutrients, but the substrate is so dense it does not dissolve in the water, so those elements are not really plant nutrients. Just like the plates and bowls do not help you with your vitamins and minerals, even if they are made of those minerals. The elements that make up the granules of EC never become available to the plants.

Some substrates do come pre-loaded with some fertilizer. I would not buy a substrate just because it has some fertilizer in it.

Buy a substrate with a high cationic exchange capacity. This is the way a substrate holds certain elements available for the plants. When you add fertilizers they are kept in reserve in the substrate.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-09-2014, 10:26 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Substrate is like the plates and bowls on your table. It can hold nutrients for the plants just like plates and bowls hold food. But you need to add the fertilizer, just like you put food on the plates.

Some substrates are composed of elements that are plant nutrients, but the substrate is so dense it does not dissolve in the water, so those elements are not really plant nutrients. Just like the plates and bowls do not help you with your vitamins and minerals, even if they are made of those minerals. The elements that make up the granules of EC never become available to the plants.

Some substrates do come pre-loaded with some fertilizer. I would not buy a substrate just because it has some fertilizer in it.

Buy a substrate with a high cationic exchange capacity. This is the way a substrate holds certain elements available for the plants. When you add fertilizers they are kept in reserve in the substrate.
Thanks, Diana. Interesting analogy! So, to answer my own question from that... If I don't do dirt, I will do fert. (Hey, that rhymed!)

EC has high CEC so it's a good choice. Although it has some nutrients, it does not have all of the minerals to completely sustain plant life for any given time. It does however have the capacity to store nutrients.

I guess with all the different fertilizers out there, I just don't know which ones I really will need. If I have to use flourish and tabs at a minimum, does the high CEC mean it serves as a buffer or does it store the nutrients instead of letting them float around in the water?

In addition to flourish, do I also need to dose trace, potassium, iron, etc? I guess what would be ideal would be to have one bottle of whatever to dose periodically, kind of a one a day vitamin. I'm finding I'm quite horrible at figuring out what kind of algae or mineral deficiency exists in my smaller tank. I've found cheat sheets and similar, but it seems whenever something goes wrong, I can't find exactly what I'm looking at in my tank. It's one of those, you need to know what your looking for before you can find it.

I know it gets easier with practice, so I think I will go with the last few months of researching this and go for it. Heh, plastic plants were so much easier


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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-12-2014, 05:37 PM
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is your tank low tech or high tech setup? if you are doing a lot of rearranging plants, EC is the way to go with added root tabs will make EC rich in nutriens. it is also depends on the plants you want to grow. some plants required heavy roots feeder while other plants get their fertilzer from the water colluum.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-12-2014, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
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is your tank low tech or high tech setup? if you are doing a lot of rearranging plants, EC is the way to go with added root tabs will make EC rich in nutriens. it is also depends on the plants you want to grow. some plants required heavy roots feeder while other plants get their fertilzer from the water colluum.
trds, it will be low tech. I think I just may go for dirt. I'm going to start using Osmocote Plus caps in my small tank to test in case I back out and go pure EC. I'm going to try to plan it out carefully so any replanting would be minimal, if at all. I'm looking at setting it up in just over a month from now. Thanks for your reply!


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