Substrate confusion - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 11:01 AM Thread Starter
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Substrate confusion

Hi!

Ok, so I finally put mineralized topsoil to my new AGA 75g tank yesterday, did a 1 1/2-2" layer mixed with colorquartz and I wanted to cap it with CQ and fill the tank with water. I had almost two full 50# bags of CQ and guess what- I used all of it and I have barelly 2" in the front and 3" in the back. Since it will be extremely hard for me to get anothr bag of CQ locally, I already orered 2 bags of black fluorite, one regular and one sand. I have to wait another week or so I have few options and I would like to hear your opinion:
1. Mix black fluorite with the sand one and spread evenly on the whole tank to create that 1" I am missing.
2. Move as much cq as possible to the back and put mix of regular and sand fluorite in the front (since stem plants on the back will get quicker to the soil layer anyway)
3. Create a layer of fluorite sand in the front to help foreground plants to root and get their nutrients and put regular fluorite on the rest of the tank
4. Mix cq and fluorite together and spread in the whole tank.

Whih option will be the best? Thanks for all your answers.

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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-18-2009, 01:47 PM
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Personally, I think slopes in tanks are far, far overrated. The sole exception being an Iwagumi type with heavy rock work. Otherwise in a heavily planted tank I can never really see if there is a slope or not. Therefore, I say, heck with the slope! I'd shift some of the 3" in back, forward. Giving you a total of 2 1/2" all around, I think this would be plenty enough substrate. All Diana Walstad recommends to cap soil substrates is one inch anyway. I have quite a few smaller tanks w/ just 1 1/2 to 2" inches of substrate, and these do just fine.

The problem with adding another, either front or back, is they will eventually get shifted and mixed. I tend to think of CQ as being very solid black and a tad shiny. The black Flourite is more dark gray and very matte in coloration. I'm not sure if blending them will look nice or not.

Before ever dumping it together in a big tank, I'd make a sample. Mix them up and wet them, place in a small clear bowl*, then slowly place it into the aquarium submerged (very careful not to spill it). You can then see how it would look under your actual lighting. If it's not looking good, you've not spoiled your whole tank.

*The bottom cut off a 2 liter clear soda bottle will work great. Not filling your sample up to the top, will help keep it from sloshing out.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-19-2009, 02:41 AM Thread Starter
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Personally, I think slopes in tanks are far, far overrated. The sole exception being an Iwagumi type with heavy rock work. Otherwise in a heavily planted tank I can never really see if there is a slope or not. Therefore, I say, heck with the slope! I'd shift some of the 3" in back, forward. Giving you a total of 2 1/2" all around, I think this would be plenty enough substrate. All Diana Walstad recommends to cap soil substrates is one inch anyway. I have quite a few smaller tanks w/ just 1 1/2 to 2" inches of substrate, and these do just fine.

The problem with adding another, either front or back, is they will eventually get shifted and mixed. I tend to think of CQ as being very solid black and a tad shiny. The black Flourite is more dark gray and very matte in coloration. I'm not sure if blending them will look nice or not.

Before ever dumping it together in a big tank, I'd make a sample. Mix them up and wet them, place in a small clear bowl*, then slowly place it into the aquarium submerged (very careful not to spill it). You can then see how it would look under your actual lighting. If it's not looking good, you've not spoiled your whole tank.

*The bottom cut off a 2 liter clear soda bottle will work great. Not filling your sample up to the top, will help keep it from sloshing out.

What you say is quite interesting, thanks. I read that slopes give a sense fof depth but I never did them personally because all of my previous tanks were small. But I was preety sure from what I read that fluorite black looks almost thesame as CQ so I am confused now. I don't want to end up with two bags of fluorite unopened and not enough substrate in the tank. What do you guys think- is 3" in the front and 3 1/2-4" in the back of substrate enough? just right? too much?. I'd like to hear other opinions on my problem. Thank you.

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-19-2009, 04:44 AM
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I think 3 inches is plenty of substrate, and 4 inches is not too much. The problem I have with slopes is that everything submerged in water weighs a lot less, so most substrates are very light weight. That means they can easily shift their position in the tank. When I make slopes, within a few months I have near level substrate again. Or, the water circulation is such that a local eddy will scoop out one area and build up the adjacent area. Or, certain fish will do their own slope making.

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-19-2009, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
I think 3 inches is plenty of substrate, and 4 inches is not too much. The problem I have with slopes is that everything submerged in water weighs a lot less, so most substrates are very light weight. That means they can easily shift their position in the tank. When I make slopes, within a few months I have near level substrate again. Or, the water circulation is such that a local eddy will scoop out one area and build up the adjacent area. Or, certain fish will do their own slope making.


"everything submerged in water weighs a lot less" that got a chuckle out of me. While I understand what you meant and agree one gallon of water weights 8lbs so in a 100gal tank that's 800lbs + 135lbs for the 9 bags of flourite (or whatever you use) so that's a lot of nothing!

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-19-2009, 04:25 PM
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Slopes never stay very long as things slide and level in a short time. Most all plants do fine with 2" of substrate. More and you'll end up looking at about an inch of it across the front glass.


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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-19-2009, 05:28 PM
 
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I would suggest 3" total, especially if you plan to heavy deep rooters like crypts and swords. This will ensuer a lot of bedding for the roots to spread in and less liklihood that some of the roots will make their way back to the surface as could happen with much less substrate. IME, 3" is also a good amount to keep your plants well anchored and rooted, especially if you have fish that decide to run rough shot over your plants.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-19-2009, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. So I have 3" in the back but still two inches in the front. What about that CQ and fluorite issue- aren't they alike? Should I mix the sand, regular fluorite and CQ together or do entire front with fluorite sand alone?

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-20-2009, 12:15 AM
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Hey Homer,
Coming back to this string after thinking about it today.
Long term (relative term) I always add more substrate (a clean layer).
Over the course of a year on my two hi tech tanks when areas of crypts filled in. Added maybe 1/4 - 1/2" along the back as plants became larger and over an 18 month period I've done it twice. Adding a little cap allowed me to 'freshen' the tank in crypt groups and around micro swords where vacuuming always seemed to damage the plants or loosen some. The bacteria doesn't seem to be affected enough to hurt anything and plant growth improves for about 3 months.

Part of the reason I posted 2" on a new set up is over the years it seems at one point or another I add some no matter how much I start with. Once a tank is set up I rarely (actually only remember once) completely break it down to start over.


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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-20-2009, 12:21 AM
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Question for the OP.
"I finally put mineralized topsoil to my new AGA 75g tank yesterday, did a 1 1/2-2" layer mixed with colorquartz"
Reading other strings on soil subs, they placed it in a layer then capped. Do I understand correctly you mixed it throughout?


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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-20-2009, 01:38 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
Question for the OP.
"I finally put mineralized topsoil to my new AGA 75g tank yesterday, did a 1 1/2-2" layer mixed with colorquartz"
Reading other strings on soil subs, they placed it in a layer then capped. Do I understand correctly you mixed it throughout?
Yes sir, I mixed it as adviced by Torpedobarb. He said that he did it on his new tank to help plants' roots get faster to the "good stuff" and since it make sense to me I did it as well. I ended up with about 1 and 1/2 inch of soil-cq mix. But there is more soil than CQ in it.
I'd like to hear about issues with mixing fluorite with cq or capping cq with fluorite sand- how does it look and will it work?

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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-20-2009, 01:56 AM
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Thanks for the response to the 'Q'!

We go on vacation for the first two weeks in July out of state so my 'new to me' 110g is waiting until after we return for the fill. I bought two of Kens 75g soil kits for this project. The sump modification is completed and the plumbing run in the garage checking for leaks was finished last week. I'll be using Flourite original for the cap material. Pool sand was used in a 10g refugium I set up last month with just a sprinkle of flourite mixed in, about a 10:1 ratio. I also set up a Walstad style 55g tank filled on 4/30/09. Sand was planned for the cap on it but I changed to flourite again because I read several posts regarding gas exchange issues using sand over natural soil with organics intact.

Hopefully time will allow another tank journal on the 110g when I get it set up.

Best of luck with your new tank set up.


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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-20-2009, 02:29 AM
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"everything submerged in water weighs a lot less" that got a chuckle out of me. While I understand what you meant and agree one gallon of water weights 8lbs so in a 100gal tank that's 800lbs + 135lbs for the 9 bags of flourite (or whatever you use) so that's a lot of nothing!

- Brad
Let's assume I fill my 100 gallon tank with water - 800 pounds or so of water. Then I pour 135 pounds of Flourite in the tank. I end up with a lot of water on the floor, my wife threatening me, me contemplating jumping off a bridge, but I don't then have 935 pounds of stuff in the tank. I have 935 pounds less however much water spilled on the floor. The tank is still full as it was before I added the Flourite. So, didn't I add less than 135 pounds to the tank? Therefore the Flourite weighs a lot less in the tank than not in the tank.

If this seems hard to believe, please conduct this experiment (I will hide out for a few months just to be safe, in case you tell your wife I egged you on to it.)

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-20-2009, 03:00 AM
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Since a 7 kg bag of Flourite is 400 cubic inches; there would be around 15.2 gallons of water dumped out if someone did that.

I wouldn't want to clean that mess up.

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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-20-2009, 04:21 PM
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Since a 7 kg bag of Flourite is 400 cubic inches; there would be around 15.2 gallons of water dumped out if someone did that.

I wouldn't want to clean that mess up.
Ah, you spoiled the surprise!

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