46 gallon bowfront - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-23-2007, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
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46 gallon bowfront

Hi everyone, I have decided to upgrade my 29 gallon tank to a 46 gallon bowfront. The 29 gallon has always had gravel as a substrate. For the 46 gallon I am going to have to use some of this gravel as it is already cycled but I would like to use some coarse sand as well. The tank is going to have about 2.5 watts per gallon and I want to grow Vals, anubias, swords, crypts, rotala indica, perhaps microsword. I was wondering what type of substrate would be advisable for this type of set-up.
Thank you
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-23-2007, 10:21 PM
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Hi Christina,

There is quite a debate over substrates out there. I recently purchased 10 bags of Eco Complete for a 75 g tank I am planning. I am also using a mix of gravel and Eco in my 26g bowfront. When I started the 26g I did not intend to go with plants so it was all gravel. When I decided to plant the tank, I planted in the gravel and let it go for a few months then decided to add some plant substrate. I gradually mixed in the Eco Complete over about a 30 day timeframe. The increase in plant growth and health after I added the Eco was pretty dramatic. I would certainly recommend it.

I have read a lot of the posts in this forum discussing different substrates and if cost is not a big problem the two that seem to stand out are Eco Complete and the ADA products. My understanding of the ADA products is if you plan to move and replace plants often, a lot the ADA substrates tend to cloud the water more than the Eco. I am still refining my aquascaping abilities and move things around quite a bit so I decided to go with the Eco. I also prefer the look over ADA's.

I haven't decided on my 75g if it will be straight Eco or I might mix it with a small grain gravel. I have used some of this mixture in my 26g to create a mound and I really like the look. It also added some weight to it and seemed to make planting the micro sword a little easier.

You understand if you mix the sand into the other substrate, eventually the sand will work it's way to the bottom right? Was this the plan or were you going to have some areas sand and some regular substraight?

Regarding using some of the old gravel from your other tank, if you don't want to have it mix with the new stuff you can put it into a filter media bag or in the foot of a pair of nylons and leave it in the corner so you can easily remove it after a month or so.

Are you going to have C02 in your new tank?

Hope this helps,


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-25-2007, 06:08 AM Thread Starter
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DIY CO2 is probably it at this point--I haven't figured out how much I want to spend on substrate yet, but I want something that will look good. I actually was thinking about having areas of sand and areas of gravel, I know if the two are mixed the sand will fall to the bottom. Thanks for the advice about the pantyhose that is a really good idea
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-25-2007, 06:08 AM Thread Starter
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Do you have to replace the eco from time to time?
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-25-2007, 06:24 AM
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Hello Christina,
Dont use any of that old gravel from your other tank, it isnt necessary. A good ripe filter is much more helpful then the gravel if ya have one. Tank "cycling" isnt necessary in a planted tank. Just start out with some fast growing stems and you will never miss a beat.
Anyway's, to invest in a tank's substrate is no cheap deal and to mix in oddities is a decision you will regret. I use Eco with a Tahitan Moon Sand mix and like it. However there are many that have had issues with Eco now too. Mine is about 4 years old and never had a problem, but it appears that some new batches buffer the water.
There is also AquaSoil that is very popular these days it seems...do some reading on that, its something I want to try myself.
Once you use any of these substrates though you are good for years, no need to replace.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-25-2007, 02:54 PM
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I used 4 of the7kg bags of flourite in my 46 gallon bowfront...

2 x 96 watt lights on top... one tube burns 12 hour a day, the second tube burns 4 hours a day in the middle of the day..... 6500k light spectrum coral life bulbs... jebo light... I did take it apart when I got it and made sure the wiring was all done right... had to replace the bulb connectors after about a week, they were brittle and fell apart first time I changed the bulb... $6 each for new conectors... mine have the 4 pin in-line connectors... bulbs from Big Al's online.. about $45 each... I have a glass top on my tank so I removed the lexan cover off the bottom of the light to let the heat dissipate...

46 gallon bowfront, Dalmatian Mollies, Swordtails, Otos
75 gallon Lake Malawi African Cichlids
3 gallon nano desktop with Betta at the office
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-25-2007, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
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OK, point made about not mixing in the old gravel--I will start all fresh. I agree that over time the old gravel will probably get to be kind of a mess. I want something light colored for substrate, and something that won't change the water chemistry. Although I already have hard water and it is probably so (naturally) buffered that it isn't going to budge anyway. I don't really mind paying the money for the substrate but I'm not really crazy about the color of some of them--I don't really like the red of fluorite. Maybe I'll do black? Or should I mix them? I would like some nice light colored substrate--any ideas?
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-25-2007, 11:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the post rob, very helpful, I was wondering if anyone had used the Jebo lights before, I am considering them. Although I am going to go with less watts than you--
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-26-2007, 06:20 PM
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Most of the preferred substrates are black or a clay-red color. Dark substrates seem to show off the colors of the plants to greater effect and keep fish happier.

If you want a light-colored substrate, you might consider an underlayer of something nutrient-laden (laterite?) with play-sand or light gravel on top. Too messy for me though.

It seems trendy right now to make a "river" or "shore" of light colored sand to contrast with the dark substrate in the remainder of the tank... but I wouldnt do that unless you're definitely not going to be moving things around too much.
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