newbie here.. what substrate should I use? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 04:31 AM Thread Starter
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newbie here.. what substrate should I use?

newbie here.. what substrate should I use?

I was thinking just regular gravel but is this okay?
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post #2 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 06:33 AM
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Regular gravel, or "pea" gravel, is not suitable for live plants since it doesn't provide any nutrients to the plants. Flourite and Eco-Complete have received mostly positive reviews on this forum. Personally, i like Flourite.

Flourite: found here
Eco-Complete: found here
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post #3 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 06:39 AM Thread Starter
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whats the difference between regular gravel and pea gravel? also, is Flourite more like a dirt, sand or mulch type of look or feel?

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post #4 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 06:58 AM
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Pea Gravel is just another term for the regular gravel.

Flourite is not a sand, nor a dirt, but it does have pretty small grains. It is made out of clay, instead of rock.
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post #5 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 07:00 AM Thread Starter
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can I do pea gravel and flourite together? or will that look weird? sorry- i am such a newbie!!

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post #6 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 07:01 AM
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Flourite regular feels and looks a lot like natural aquarium gravels. It is a little sharper on the edges, not polished. Here is a picture. Actually, the larger light colored pieces on top are regular aquarium gravel.



You can use regular gravel, but there are too main issues. It is inert (like Azfishkid said) and it is hard to plant in due to the size.

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post #7 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 07:04 AM Thread Starter
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what i was thinking of was black gravel with little bits of purple gravel scattered through it.. Does pea gravel or flourite come in black and can i still sprinkle a little purple over it here and there?

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post #8 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 07:12 AM
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what i was thinking of was black gravel with little bits of purple gravel scattered through it.. Does pea gravel or flourite come in black and can i still sprinkle a little purple over it here and there?
Trust me - Purple and black may sound like a good combination right now, but I'm 99.9% sure you won't be happy with it in the future. AND if you're happy with it at first and get everything set up, it is a HUGE pain to take out and replace the gravel. If you're wanting to take the more natural-looking approach, then i would stick with just flourite or flourite with a natural colored gravel on top.

Basically, here's how i see it-
There's two types of freshwater aquariums: Ornamental (unnatural colored gravel, plastic plants, sunken pirate ship ornaments, etc) and planted (natural looking, live plants). In my opinion, mixing these two "types" of styles doesn't work. If you have purple gravel, and you put live plants in, they're most likely going to die due to lack of nutrients. If you put a plastic pirate ship in a planted tank, it ruins the natural look.

Some might disagree with me.
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post #9 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 07:17 AM Thread Starter
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thanks!! real quick.. i know its a slight subject change but do you think a black background or a blue background would look better?

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post #10 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 07:19 AM
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IMO black. It's just about what you think looks best.
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post #11 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 07:19 AM
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Gravel can be used as a substrate, as long as you choose the right size, it is inert (meaning it won't alter your water parameters, and there are no artificial dyes. You will need to look for 2-3 mm particle size (which can be difficult to find) and you will need to fertilize it with root tabs, laterite, or even half flourite. There is a flourite black available that you could use. I actually mixed my tank with half gravel, half flourite to save money.

Edit: I want to clarify the statement above. Laterite and Flourite is NOT a fertilizer, but does have mineral substances such as iron and gas the ability to hold onto excess fertilizers. You may chose to dose with fertilizers as well in the above scenarios. With some tanks, I do not dose at all and others, I dose heavily. It really depends on your expectations, choice of plants and such.

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post #12 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 07:22 AM
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ninja'd by AzFishKid. I like both black and blue backgrounds, but I have noticed black is more becoming to the fish and plants.

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post #13 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 07:23 AM
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Gravel can be used as a substrate, as long as you choose the right size, it is inert (meaning it won't alter your water parameters, and there are no artificial dyes. You will need to look for 2-3 mm particle size (which can be difficult to find) and you will need to fertilize it with root tabs, laterite, or even half flourite. There is a flourite black available that you could use. I actually mixed my tank with half gravel, half flourite to save money.
These are good ideas as well. If you're truly attached to the black/purple idea, you could get black flourite and mix it with some purple pea gravel. That would work.
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post #14 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 07:25 AM
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ninja'd by AzFishKid. I like both black and blue backgrounds, but I have noticed black is more becoming to the fish and plants.
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post #15 of 36 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 07:28 AM Thread Starter
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Lol!! Ninja Kitty! Do you guys have any pics of your tanks substrate so I can get an idea? That would be great! Thanks!

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