Should I change Substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-06-2004, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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Hello all.

I want to convert my 29 gallon tank to a planted tank.

I have bought a co2 reactor from plantguild to use with my diy co2 coke bottle.

I have also bought a 55 watt retrofit light to replace my 20 watt RO light.

My question now is, should I do something with my subrate? It is composed of natural color pebbles. It is not fine pebbles, but like jellybean size. The tank has been established for over 6 months.

Any help is apprieciated!

THANKS!!!
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-06-2004, 11:43 PM
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That gravel is really too large for plants to happily take root in, but you don't need to break the tank down and completely replace it. If you get some smaller size gravel, you can top up what you've already got and mix it in a bit. Then you can also add some root tabs for fertilization. That'll work fine.

You could also go with flourite or eco-complete... I'm sure someone else will be along in a second to give advice on going that route...


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-06-2004, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
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If I were to completely take everything out and re do the Substrate, would the tank have to completely re cycle? If so, how would I add my fish back in there without killing them all?

Thanks!!!
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-06-2004, 11:56 PM
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I think you would have to re-cycle. Are you determined to completely replace the substrate? Perhaps you could keep the tank running and remove/replace the substrate in sections...?


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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-07-2004, 03:15 AM
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If your gravel has some good mulm in it, then you might be OK with regular gravel. However, I would change the substrate.

I did a 100% substrate change on my tank a while ago. I already had a well established biological colony on my biowheel, so I removed 1/3 of the substrate per week for three weeks before making various upgrades and putting in Eco-Complete. (See my journal - shameless plug :twisted: : https://www.plantedtank.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7427)

Whether or not you need to re-cycle depends on what type of filtration you are using. Please let us know.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-07-2004, 02:07 PM
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remember that eco-complete comes with biologically active water to shorten cycling time.
if it's a highlight tank with lots of plants, you should be able to change substrates without causing a significant cycle...the plants should soak up the excess ammonia.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-07-2004, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
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Which one would look better with "play sand"?? Eco-complete or Flourite?

Also is it better to simply mix it all together or to layer it? I really like the white look of sand, and don't know how it would look with stuff mixed into it.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-07-2004, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silicon_dt
Which one would look better with "play sand"?? Eco-complete or Flourite?

Also is it better to simply mix it all together or to layer it? I really like the white look of sand, and don't know how it would look with stuff mixed into it.
IMO neither fluorite or Eco-complete will look good mixed with sand. I like the look of sand too, but not with large chunks of black (Eco-complete) or shades of brown (Fluorite). Layering is the better way to go...but only if you don't plan and disrupting the substrate. The larger material will always settle on top - therefore all your sand will go down, and the Eco-complete or Fluorite will come up.

If you want to slow down the process of mixing it is best to have the bottom layer mixed throughly 50/50 with sand/Eco-complete or sand/Fluorite. Then put a layer of pure sand on top.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-07-2004, 07:06 PM
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I'm looking at the same situation w/ my 75 gal tank: the substrate is called "Monterey Sand", but is actually a small gravel that's 4"s thick, 50/50 live/fake plant right now, 23 cardinals, a couple golden barbs and 80wts. Just got it settled in and now am thinking of going all live plants and some new lights lol. I too was thinking of taking 50% out and adding flourite or eco complete (eheim canister does biol. filtr). But after reading this, thinking I should replace it all. Big decision though and interesting thread.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-07-2004, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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So does this mean, that even if I layer the white sand on top. Over time the florite will make it's way to the top and replace the sand? If so, is there any subrate that will mix well with sand, and not take it over?
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-07-2004, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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Also, would I even have to use florite if I add liquid fert? That was I could go all sand, and not worry about the florite mixing in.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-07-2004, 08:39 PM
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It's just gravity. The smaller particles will work their way down through the gaps between the larger particles. Nothing you can really do to prevent it completely. Although, as Rolo posted, if you do a good 50/50 mix on the bottom layer, those gaps should already be filled by sand so the layer you put on top should stay put... well, it'll stay put longer anyway. Unless, of course, you do a lot of re-aquascaping and disrupt it all the time.

Ooops, we were both posting at the same time... If you go with all sand, you could forget the flourite and just put in some root tabs for fertilizer. I don't know how it would compare in terms of quality of fertilization. Anyone else want to field that one? Anyone? Bueller?


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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-07-2004, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silicon_dt
So does this mean, that even if I layer the white sand on top. Over time the florite will make it's way to the top and replace the sand? If so, is there any subrate that will mix well with sand, and not take it over?
The only reason I don't use sand is b/c I can't use fluorite. Only if the mixing can ever be 100% prevented, I will do it. So unless you won't be rescaping alot and can tolerate some mixing, go for the sand a fluorite layering. However, I like what amanda huggenkiss suggested - go all sand and use root tabs. Many people actually have great success with all sand, despite its poor quality to hold nutrients.

Unless you have the time to grind fluorite to the size of sand, there really arn't many plant substrates that will not settle over sand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silicon_dt
Also, would I even have to use florite if I add liquid fert? That was I could go all sand, and not worry about the florite mixing in.
Fluorite, or any substrate for that matter was never a substitute for dosing fertilizers. These are still necessary despite whatever substrate you chose (especially for higher light and CO2 injected tanks).
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-10-2004, 04:58 PM
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flourite is good at holding nutrients in the substrate...this is great for root feeders, but since most of us have a mix of root and water column feeders, flourite isn't going to replace the need for dosing liquid ferts.
also, flourite in a high light tank doesn't replace the need for root tabs either. swords will still benefit from root tabs, and i always put them under my crypts as well.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-11-2004, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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Well I did a sand/florite layering combo like bucks tank. Now my ammonia is rising. I kept the power filter going the whole time I was switching out though, by using a small tub. Does this mean my whole tank is going to go through a big cycle again like the first one?
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