Re-doing substrate need suggestions, please - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-19-2014, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Re-doing substrate need suggestions, please

We are going to be re-doing the substrate in our 46 gallon tank soon. Currently it is Miracle Grow topped with natural colored gravel.

We want to get this tank away from the Miracle Grow and try it with a substrate + ferts and see how the plants do. I do not want to go straight black diamond with nothing mixed in it, I find the plain black substrate annoys me because you can see absolutely everything on it and i want to clean it daily so will probably top with a sprinkle of light colored natural gravel and sand.

My question is, what can i put under (or mixed in the black diamond) to make it more apt to support my plants by not being completely devoid of nutrients besides just using root tabs. This tank has alot of swords, hygro (temple, augustofolia, sunset and green) as well as lilies and apongaton bulbs. Mostly heavy root feeders and large healthy plants that shot off babies frequently and we'd like to keep it that way, not damaging the plants by taking away the loaded substrate completely but getting rid of the complete mess that is Organic Miracle grow.

I have absolutely no knowledge of what we could mix in the Black Diamond, so please talk to me like you are explaining this to a toddler about what to use. Also we are on a limited budget so do not want to use anything that has a high cost attached to it.

Thank you for suggestions, explanations and help in advance. I, and my fish and plants, really appreciate it.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-19-2014, 07:23 PM
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Since Black diamond is so fine anything bigger than sand will "raise" to the top as the sand settles to the bottom. That limits what you can mix with the sand.

you could use First Layer Pure Laterite under the sand.

You could mix some of the black substrates that have high CEC with the sand knowing you will get some separation.

Could use "natural colored" substrate with CEC sprinkled over the sand (SafeTsorb might work for this)

or a combination of above

CEC=Cation-exchange capacity in layman terms that is the amount of nutrients a soil is capable of storing.

check out the Substrate Choices Pros/Cons thread to find substrates with CEC

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-19-2014, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-19-2014, 07:43 PM
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If you don't want pure black, Ecocomplete has a lot of brown in it. A lot of people (myself included) don't like that and switch to pure black substrates. I'm about to do a tank with Flourite Black Sand. All of my experiments with MGOCPM have been a tea-colored water mess regardless of what I capped with. So I'm hoping Flourite and root tabs will do the trick. They also make Flourite Dark (not sure what color, but must not be all black) and regular Flourite is reddish.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-19-2014, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
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After reading the above link and following all of NanoDave's thread the last couple hours, I think (despite the price) that Active Flora mixed with Black Diamond would fit the bill perfectly for exactly what I had in mind. Black Diamond only to fill out space because we are on a budget and it isn't really cost effective for us to do the entire substrate in something relatively expensive.

I had in mind to make some kind of zombie plant mixture into black diamond but black diamond doesn't have any CEC, so I don't think that would work. (I didn't even know what CEC was until I read that thread.) Might work with something else like Safetsorb or Ecocomplete but if we have the extra money it would be worth saving for the Activflora. His tanks look awesome and the test jars really show the plants doing well in the Activflora.

Now to find somewhere in Knoxville that carries it or can order it for us. The colors they offer are really, really nice as well since I tend to lean towards the lighter color substrates mixed with black. http://www.activflora.com/
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-19-2014, 10:17 PM
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Hiya, Peachii!

I was going to suggest Eco Complete as well. I prefer the Activ-Flora, but Eco Complete is cheaper. Also Activ-Flora is pretty uniform, small and dense, and stuff stays on top more like sand, while the larger Eco Complete granules have more variation in size and color, so it will both hide things better visually for you, and it will allow more to penetrate below the gravel to hide the stuff you don't want to see. And finally, from what I've read, swords and plants with active root systems tend to enjoy Eco Complete as it allows easier root penetration than the denser substrates. It's a pain with tiny plants like Glosso, or things with delicate roots. I've used both, and prefer Activ-Flora, but based on everything you've said in terms of preference and plans, , it sounds like Eco Complete might be the better choice for you over Activ-Flora.


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