Substrate for first planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-06-2015, 12:56 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: United States
Posts: 18
Substrate for first planted tank

Hello everyone, I have a question about substrate for my low tech 125. When i first got this tank i wasn't going to do planted but then changed my mind. I bought a couple bags of this gravel from petsmart.

right now i only have about an inch of it in. So instead of buying more should i just get rid of it and go for something different?
mitch303 is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-06-2015, 01:16 AM
Algae Grower
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Posts: 64
You could really go with whatever you want. It just really depends on how much things such as root tabs you'll have to do. Personally I like the looks of sand, so I'm doing dirt topped with sand, but you can do whatever you feel you enjoy the most. You may just need to work harder at making it yours, but I'd say do whatever you think looks good. You're the one looking at the tank all the time.
AndrewV is offline  
post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-16-2015, 05:02 AM
Planted Tank Obsessed
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Westchester County, NY USA
Posts: 304
I put this gravel (or very similar to it, also bought at PetSmart) into my tank. As a result GH in my tank is now 18 and TDS 500 - compared to GH 7 and TDS 260 tap water. Most plants will not care but many fishes and invertebrates will.
Oso Polar is offline  
post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-16-2015, 05:18 AM
Algae Grower
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 128
I use blasting sand with root tabs.
Verivus is offline  
post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-16-2015, 08:18 AM
Wannabe Guru
goodbytes's Avatar
PTrader: (3/100%)
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Fort Myers, Florida
Posts: 1,108
I use pool filter sand in all my tanks. Its super cheap--$7.00 for a 50lb bag--and they sell it at Home Depot. I need roughly 90lbs to get around a 3 inch substrate depth in my 55 gallon (3 inch depth is desirable for root structures while not too deep as to cause anaerobic zones) but a 125 is 9 square feet of bottom versus the about four square feet of a 55 so you'd need about 200 lbs of sand. By contrast, the big box pet stores charge around a dollar a pound for the "aquarium" sand that they sell.
goodbytes is offline  
post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-18-2015, 02:44 PM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
PTrader: (4/100%)
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Oregon
Posts: 608
You can keep it or toss it. I have a couple of tanks with just gravel and they grow my low-tech low light plants very well. No root tabs, but I let the gravel fill up with mulm for 6 months before I added plants with any success. Adding root tabs would also do the trick, but it depends on the plants you want to use. If you're going to do a lot of Anubias and java ferns, you don't need anything more that what you have.

It sounds like the hardness of the water was raised for another member, so be mindful of your stocking. Livebearers generally do well with harder water.
grizzly_a is offline  
post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-18-2015, 04:34 PM
Planted Member
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: May 2015
Location: british columbia
Posts: 174
I have soil capped with small gravel in my 10g. I've found it to be quite easy, the water has never been cloudy/muddy. It's been a very low maintenance tank since set up, and low tech but my plants are doing awesome. I haven't had any algae issues either, I thank my floating plants for that though.

The only difference I've found compared to just gravel is being a little more careful with water changes especially with how fast I add water back, and where it's poured in.

Really you just have to go with what works for you and what you think looks good. Lots of people have success with just gravel, or just sand, and many other substrates/combinations.
xmpjx is offline  
post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-21-2015, 04:56 PM
Planted Tank Obsessed
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: falmouth ,ky
Posts: 451
What kind of look are you going for? Natural? Gravel bottom? Black? For a natural look I would recommend Saf-T-Sorb. It great for plants, has high CEC, it does have it minor issues when first starting a tank. Do a search for other opinions, but I personally use it in all my tanks. My 125g took 2- 40lb bags to get a 3 inch layer (2 bags were about $10 at tractor supply).
For gravel, it's up to you. For a planted tank you don't want to use Argonite or coral gravel unless you have extremely soft water. Most people use smaller grain sized gravel. I would consider sand to be in this category. Black diamond blasting sand in a 20/40 size is popular. It's available at Tractor supply. Pool filter sand, which can vary in color depending on the local source. Pool supply places usually have the white sand. With all gravel/sand substrates, you will need to use root tabs if you have heavy root feeders like swords and crypts.
There is also the option of the so called "plant" substrates, Eco complete, ADA aquasoils, and such. While they are good products, their price deters me.
Then there is the option of a dirted substrate, top soil, potting mix, or other concoction of dirt. With dirt you will need to cap it with one of the above options. The advantages are it supplies needed nutrients to the plants without the use of root tabs, but this only lasts for so long, then you need to supplement ferts. On a good note.........plants love dirt.
In the end it's all up to you on how you want your tank. There is no "right" or "wrong" there is only trial and error for what works for you. Everybody's tanks are different, everyone's experiences are different, use the info as a guide and welcome to the hobby.
Do a search for the 6 foot plus club thread and see examples of what others done with their big tanks. Most of all..........keep calm and enjoy......keep asking questions and learning. It's a great, relaxing hobby.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
,2x75g, 55g, 40g breeder, 29g, 2x10g, 100g stock pond..........MTS ? Nahhhhhh
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Just acquired a 150g tall and a 30g long
Fraternity of dirt #135 join--->
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

sadchevy is offline  
post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-21-2015, 05:02 PM
Planted Tank Obsessed
ROYWS3's Avatar
PTrader: (7/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Central PA
Posts: 346
You could mix your gravel with the saf-t-sorb. They are both of similar color and size
ROYWS3 is offline  
post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-26-2015, 05:26 AM
Algae Grower
bigtrout's Avatar
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Northwest PA
Posts: 91
I have had excellent luck with black diamond blasting sand, and with age and a few malaysian trumpet snails to turn it over and pull dying plant matter under the sand to eat it, it has enough nutrients in it to satisfy my plants...vallisneria throws runners like crazy through it, and stem plants do well in it as well. Its heavy as sand goes so I dont have a problem with plants floating up when planted. Plus the shiny black look makes the plants and fish 'pop' because of the contrast. If you read the msds on it, it also have some trace minerals and iron in it, nothing harmful to fish or plants though, as long as u rinse it really well with hot water before using, it works and looks great
bigtrout is offline  
post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-29-2015, 09:09 PM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
crice8's Avatar
PTrader: (52/100%)
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Texas
Posts: 804
I like eco-complete(=
crice8 is offline  


Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome