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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-14-2007, 12:41 AM Thread Starter
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3 layer substrate...

I was thinking about this at work they other day, how would this mixture sound for a plant based substrate...

-Layer #1 (about 3/4 inch) organic potting soil

-Layer #2 (about 3/4 inch) coconut fiber (like peat moss but w/o the ph effect)
-Layer #3 (about 1 to 1 1/2 inches) gravel or sand/gravel mix

I've considered this because #1 will allow nutrients to be slowly released into the plant roots. #2 is also a biological media that will give some benefits over time such as the minerals within the fibers themselves, and lastly #3 to hold everything down.

Now the problem I forsee with this is siphoning and allowing the 3 to intermingle and create a mess. The dirt would cloud the water if disturbed too much, as well as the coconut, but I don't plan to gouge the entire gravel bed until I reach the bottom...

What do you think? Or would the Coconut fiber decay to rapidly and cause other issues?

Oh and one reason I thought of this is because all of those combined make the price of only one bag of eco complete or flourite, and I could have more substrated for half the price....

Kevin

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-14-2007, 03:08 AM
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Ya might work but... Do Peat moss then organic soil then gravel/sand. Go to lowes they have organic peat moss with limestone in it and it DOES NOT buffer ph. I used it for aquariums and reptiles it works great.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-14-2007, 12:00 PM
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The thing about this hobby is that you never know if an idea will work or not until you try it, especially if others have never tried it. So, I say try it and see what happens. What is the worst that could happen.

Alternatively you could try the soil and vermiculite(given the vermiculite's extremely high CEC) mixture as described here capped with sand.
http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/kelly-intro.html

Many people have stated that the vermiculite may cloud the water, but I like to go with the source and not what others say. In this case, the person who tried this does not mention any short term or long term clouding, so obviously for him that was not an issue.

I have always wanted to experiment with this, but just don't have any more space in my home to set up any more fish tanks.

Good Luck.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-14-2007, 01:01 PM
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I think you might want to do some more reading here before you do this. Do a search on soil substrates and see the discussions about what different kinds of soils do to water quality.

Vermiculite does not cloud water, it floats. When it floats up out of the substrate it makes a mess. It does this every time you try to plant something.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-15-2007, 10:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psybock View Post
I was thinking about this at work they other day, how would this mixture sound for a plant based substrate...

-Layer #1 (about 3/4 inch) organic potting soil

-Layer #2 (about 3/4 inch) coconut fiber (like peat moss but w/o the ph effect)
-Layer #3 (about 1 to 1 1/2 inches) gravel or sand/gravel mix

I've considered this because #1 will allow nutrients to be slowly released into the plant roots. #2 is also a biological media that will give some benefits over time such as the minerals within the fibers themselves, and lastly #3 to hold everything down.

Now the problem I forsee with this is siphoning and allowing the 3 to intermingle and create a mess. The dirt would cloud the water if disturbed too much, as well as the coconut, but I don't plan to gouge the entire gravel bed until I reach the bottom...

What do you think? Or would the Coconut fiber decay to rapidly and cause other issues?

Oh and one reason I thought of this is because all of those combined make the price of only one bag of eco complete or flourite, and I could have more substrated for half the price....

Kevin
I did something similar and did extensive research. Here's my layers 1. Red Sea heater cables. 2. 3/4 inch playsand. 3. 1 inch Miracle grow potting soil with peat slow release (try not to get the ones with too much phosphates). 4. "First Laterite" mix with 2-3 mm gravel. 5. 2-3 mm gravel to top off.

Works great for me. Plants are growing like weeds! I do a very light gravel vacuum on the gravel, and I mean "light", just to suck up the crap. The deepest I would vac is 1/4 inch. I disturb nothing.

Total cost of gravel and soil is $20.

Heater cables are optional, I was probably not going to add them but I'm glad I did. For me, it made a very noticeable difference!

Good luck.

90 gal, eheim 2217, pressure co2, 4x54w T5HO.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-16-2007, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by asiansensation2000 View Post
Heater cables are optional, I was probably not going to add them but I'm glad I did. For me, it made a very noticeable difference!
Did you try the same setup previously without an under-gravel heater? That would be the best way to positively say whether or not said heater helped your plants grow faster. I only bring this up because I do not want others to be misled into thinking that they need an expensive heater under their substrate to make their plants grow faster. I've never used one myself, so I can't give personal experience, but it seems to me like their usefulness has been overstated.

To the OP: Instead of potting soil, how about some good ole' river mud? It's free and full of nutrients. I just started a natural planted tank with about an inch of silt/mud from a local creek capped with about a half inch of sand from Home depot. It's only been set up for a week so far, so I have no huge results to give, but everything is still alive! Good luck with your experiment. To me that is what keeps the hobby growing and fun.


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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-27-2007, 06:59 PM
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I've done somethign like this before but I used peat pellets (hagen ones, since i had store credit)
the only problem or concern I had was uprooting of plants, the water will get messy/cloudy,

on the other hand, my plants grew quite well with this type of substrate setup
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-11-2008, 02:38 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I haven't tried this experiment yet, however, I have been testing the cork bark out in my 5.5 gal bluefin killie breeder tank, the only thing in the tank is the cork fibers (1 inch) pieces of an Indian Almond Leaf (better than black water extract/expert), and java moss. Even with them swimming close to the cork bark it doesn't fly up unless I make it so apparently after being water logged (took 3 days) it stays put and so far hasn't screwed with the water any, so that part is plausible.

So whenever I use the gravel should I use smaller grain or just plain aquarium gravel which is the size of a pea?

On the one hand the bigger gravel holds plants better, but it's harder to plant stuff like baby tears in it, whereas the smaller grain allows that but also compacts faster....what do you all think?

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-12-2008, 05:31 PM
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my first planted aquarium, i did in '98, had soil from my back yard, mixed w/ osmocote and vermiculite, and covered w/ black tahitian moon sand. the tank was absolutely stunning.

then i moved, i tried to be gentle and keep everything intact, but the substrate shifted, and i didn't want to mess w/ it again, so i bought what i think was the very first generation of flourite (not sure).

When I compare the two tanks, i would take the flourite tank over the soil substrate every day of the week. fewer problems w/ that tank, just as gorgeous.
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