Sand: Should I MIX it or use it as a top layer? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 05:16 AM Thread Starter
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Sand: Should I MIX it or use it as a top layer?

Hey everyone,

I'm brand new to this forum and I am about to set up my first planted aquarium.

I have a 75 gallon to set up. I want a 3 inch substrate base, with areas as deep as 5 or 6 inches (maybe more) to create depth. I was going to use Eco-Complete. And because I have read that fine grains of sand will help with carpeting plants, I was thinking about adding black sand as well.

Here are a few questions. Sorry, I'm new. Lol.

1. Is this even a good plan for substrate?

2. Should I actually mix the sand and ecocomplete, or just top with sand?

3. How much sand? (ie 1/2 inch, 1 inch, 1.5 inch)


Any help would be greatly appreciated...

Bump:

Last edited by getzbuzy; 10-12-2015 at 04:43 AM. Reason: more specific
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 03:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by getzbuzy View Post
Hey everyone,

I'm brand new to this forum and I am about to set up my first planted aquarium.

I have a 75 gallon to set up. I want a 3 inch substrate base, with areas as deep as 5 or 6 inches (maybe more) to create depth. I was going to use Eco-Complete. And because I have read that fine grains of sand will help with carpeting plants, I was thinking about adding black sand as well.

Here are a few questions. Sorry, I'm new. Lol.

1. Is this even a good plan for substrate?

2. Should I actually mix the sand and ecocomplete, or just top with sand?

3. How much sand? (ie 1/2 inch, 1 inch, 1.5 inch)


Any help would be greatly appreciated...

Bump:
1) Sand and Eco, probably not a good idea. Fine substrates will always sink to the bottom eventually. Unless you are capping dirt with sand, I wouldn't use sand to cap anything else in a planted tank.
2)see number one.
3) You could get away with 2-3 inches of sand as a main substrate. If you know what your doing, you can pull of a fresh water deep sand bed just as the salties do, but I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner. Also, if you want 5-6 for hills or what not, use lava rock, egg crate or something similar to bulk up your terrain. This keeps the good bacteria thriving and allow you to use less substrate. Now if you have some heavy root feeding plants, you can pull off deeper substrate beds as well.

I recommend doing a bit of search on here for others that have done sand beds. I have not done them personally yet, but I have done enough research and seen enough post to know what I would attempt and what I won't. My words are just opinion for you will need to put together information yourself so that you can form your own opinion.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 05:10 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by flight50 View Post
1) Sand and Eco, probably not a good idea. Fine substrates will always sink to the bottom eventually. Unless you are capping dirt with sand, I wouldn't use sand to cap anything else in a planted tank.
2)see number one.
3) You could get away with 2-3 inches of sand as a main substrate. If you know what your doing, you can pull of a fresh water deep sand bed just as the salties do, but I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner. Also, if you want 5-6 for hills or what not, use lava rock, egg crate or something similar to bulk up your terrain. This keeps the good bacteria thriving and allow you to use less substrate. Now if you have some heavy root feeding plants, you can pull off deeper substrate beds as well.

I recommend doing a bit of search on here for others that have done sand beds. I have not done them personally yet, but I have done enough research and seen enough post to know what I would attempt and what I won't. My words are just opinion for you will need to put together information yourself so that you can form your own opinion.
Thanks for the advice. I'm having a rough time making a decision on substrate. I just want optimal conditions for carpeting and therefore want a topper with small granuoles. However its spelled.

I'm really open to ideas if anyone has any

My Finnex Ray 2 just arrived today. According to Hoppy's graph, https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/10...ead-watts.html, I should be above 60 par (high light) in the majority of my tank at 18 inches deep. Along with my pressurized co2 setup I'm hoping to be in pretty descent shape for carpeting....

I just need to figure out the ideal substrate!!!!! Can I use a sand topper with MGO?

Last edited by getzbuzy; 10-15-2015 at 05:13 AM. Reason: Duplicate entry
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 05:45 AM
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Dirt your tank. Get some MGO or something similar and then cap it with the sand of your choice. Otherwise you will need to supplement the sand with root tabs to get a lush carpet.


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 10:57 AM
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I capped Eco-complete with CaribSea Peace River Gravel. As one plants or otherwise disturb the substrate it is difficult to keep some of the Eco from coming to the surface. However, it isn't a huge problem. I do use root tabs.

I think next time I might just use Peace River and root tabs.

Some people use Eco without a cap. It is a rough volcanic rock that could be hard on Cory cats. I've heard mixed reports, but it looks pretty abrasive to me.

Where you want 5 or 6" of substrate, it might be a good idea to put something in there as a spacer. Deep substrate can develop anaerobic pockets that produce methane. Use inert rocks such as granite for the added height. You might be able to get broken pieces of granite counter top from a place that does custom work. Don't use marble.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tuffgong View Post
Dirt your tank. Get some MGO or something similar and then cap it with the sand of your choice. Otherwise you will need to supplement the sand with root tabs to get a lush carpet.
I think I may want to go this route. How thick of a base should I go on the MGO? On the sand?

Not that I would, but could I have consequences if I were to lay 3 inches of a MGO product and top it with 3 inches of sand? I read that 1 inch of "dirt" is all a tank should have. I'm just trying to get a better understanding.

Also, will many carpeting plants grow roots through 3 inches of sand and into the MGO, or do they tend to stay in the sand and just obtain nutrients released into the water from the mgo? This may be a dumb question, but I havent gotten into learning much about the plant aspect of aquascaping yet. Just trying to get the lighting, substrate, and co2 down first. LOL.



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Quote:
Originally Posted by Argus View Post
I capped Eco-complete with CaribSea Peace River Gravel. As one plants or otherwise disturb the substrate it is difficult to keep some of the Eco from coming to the surface. However, it isn't a huge problem. I do use root tabs.

I think next time I might just use Peace River and root tabs.

Some people use Eco without a cap. It is a rough volcanic rock that could be hard on Cory cats. I've heard mixed reports, but it looks pretty abrasive to me.

Where you want 5 or 6" of substrate, it might be a good idea to put something in there as a spacer. Deep substrate can develop anaerobic pockets that produce methane. Use inert rocks such as granite for the added height. You might be able to get broken pieces of granite counter top from a place that does custom work. Don't use marble.
Thanks for the advice. I was thinking about using different sized tupperware and filling them with the gravel I have laying around the house. I also read of a few other people with the same idea. I want to use that as a base for my "hills.".

Last edited by getzbuzy; 10-15-2015 at 05:17 PM. Reason: added a question
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-18-2015, 08:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by getzbuzy View Post
My Finnex Ray 2 just arrived today. According to Hoppy's graph, https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/10...ead-watts.html, I should be above 60 par (high light) in the majority of my tank at 18 inches deep. Along with my pressurized co2 setup I'm hoping to be in pretty descent shape for carpeting....

I just need to figure out the ideal substrate!!!!! Can I use a sand topper with MGO?
Even though Hoppy's chart says one thing, it may not be a given that yours will be the same. I just replaced a Ray 2 / Monster Ray combo on my 40g that has a depth of about 14-18" to the substrate due to my landscaping. I did a dry start of HC on this tank and using my Hoppy Meter, I got 50-60 PAR consistently at the substrate right under the light. Once I flooded the tank, these numbers plummeted about 20 PAR levels. I have co2 blasted as my drop checker is a solid yellow. I will see how much better my new bml light are vs my finnex setup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by getzbuzy View Post
I think I may want to go this route. How thick of a base should I go on the MGO? On the sand?

Not that I would, but could I have consequences if I were to lay 3 inches of a MGO product and top it with 3 inches of sand? I read that 1 inch of "dirt" is all a tank should have. I'm just trying to get a better understanding.

Also, will many carpeting plants grow roots through 3 inches of sand and into the MGO, or do they tend to stay in the sand and just obtain nutrients released into the water from the mgo? This may be a dumb question, but I havent gotten into learning much about the plant aspect of aquascaping yet. Just trying to get the lighting, substrate, and co2 down first. LOL.



Bump:

Thanks for the advice. I was thinking about using different sized tupperware and filling them with the gravel I have laying around the house. I also read of a few other people with the same idea. I want to use that as a base for my "hills.".
MG should be about 1-2" at the most. Rule of thumb is to match the cap depth to the MG depth. Minimal of 1" cap though. 3" is probably a lot for small carpeting plants. Heavy rooting plants you can pull it off. I have been growing HC emersed in MG to populate my tanks and the roots are not very long when I pull them up. Because of how dense HC grows, I am going without a cap in the areas I will place HC in one of my recent setups. The HC should act as a cap and keep the dirt from free floating. HC in my experience grows much much quicker in MG than in any rock based substrate. Another tank I did a dsm using HC in flourite, isn't really spreading much so far which is why I am going without the cap over MG in another tank. I will see how it fairs with my recent lighting change.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-19-2015, 03:51 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by flight50 View Post
Even though Hoppy's chart says one thing, it may not be a given that yours will be the same. I just replaced a Ray 2 / Monster Ray combo on my 40g that has a depth of about 14-18" to the substrate due to my landscaping. I did a dry start of HC on this tank and using my Hoppy Meter, I got 50-60 PAR consistently at the substrate right under the light. Once I flooded the tank, these numbers plummeted about 20 PAR levels. I have co2 blasted as my drop checker is a solid yellow. I will see how much better my new bml light are vs my finnex setup.
Ehhhh. You're killing me!! Well I appreciate that. I knew the numbers would drop quite a bit once it was filled. I'm thinking about raising my floor with gravel filled tupperware before laying my substrate. I'll sacrifice some height it it means a descent increase in PAR values.

I honestly don't know much about causes and effects with anything aquarium related, but do the glass aquarium lids decrease much of the PAR?

Would it be beneficial to leave my tank open?
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