What Substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 01:06 AM Thread Starter
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What Substrate?

So I've been reading about the PPS Pro regime for fertilization. As a planted tank newb, I like the simplicity of the idea.


Given that with PPR Pro (as I understand it) the substrate won't have to provide or exchange nutrients, and no tabs will be required, what would be the best substrate for me?


The context is a planned South American community tank (Tetras, Cories, Pencilfish, and perhaps Dwarf Cichlids) with some combination of Echinodorus, Myriophyllum, Hydrocotyle, and/or Alternanthera reineckii.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 03:10 AM
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Many of those fish will show their best colors against a dark substrate.

While it is true that with water column dosing you can get away from a high cationic exchance capacity type of substrate, it would still provide a back up source of nutrients if you can find one you like.

Many of those fish prefer softer, acidic water, perhaps with peat moss in the filter, or leaf litter on the floor of the tank. A substrate that helps keep the water chemistry in the range preferred by the fish could help. Many of the ADA product line do this.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. For the plants I mentioned, what type of substrate would be best to both anchor them in place, but also allow root growth?
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 02:56 PM
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What is your price range? Most agree that aquasoils are the way to go, but on a large tank with a lot of soil you can be looking at a few hundred on substrate alone. Compare this to the still very nutrient rich sand capped soil which will cost you around $60 for a very very large tank and it shows why a bit more info is needed. It's also good to take into account how much you plan on rearranging. In my experience sand capped soil kind of requires a "plant and forget" type of layout as once your plants are rooted, pulling one up results in a huge mud cloud and very dirty top layer. Aquasoil on the otherhand is uniform so rearranging is not as big a deal since despite the mud cloud still happening, it just settles back in unnoticed


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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 03:09 PM
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I've used eco complete for 5 years and I just switched over to black diamond blasting sand. The blasting sand has a better appearance and its really cheap. 50 Lb bag for under 10 bucks. You just have to dose the water and use root tabs under heavy root feeders. No more eco complete for me ever again.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 05:30 PM
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If you want a simple gravel substrate, http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002APMU6?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=od_aui_detailpages00 is good. For plants, the important consideration is grain size. Peace River has grains that are about 1-2mm dia. This allows the proper amount of water circulation, but is small enough that food doesn't fall into the spaces between grains.

If you plan on have Cory cats, you want grains that are rounded. Sharp grains can be hard on the Cory's barbells. Peace River has rounded grains.

Some plants get nutrients from the water and some get it through their roots. Research the plants you want and see if they need nutrients in the soil. If so, use root tabs.

I'm running Eco-complete capped with Peace River in a 30g tank, and just Peace River in a 10g. Plants are doing well in both tanks.

I have Crypsts which like to get nutrients in the substrate. Before using Flourish Tabs, the Crypts started sending roots up into the water in search of nutrients.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-14-2015, 07:10 PM
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Get some pool filter sand and use fertilizer tabs. That stuff looks so awesome and natural, and it's cheap as heck. Throw in a handful of mixed-size pebbles and a few larger rocks and maybe one mini-boulder/very large rock, and you'll have it made. Add a bunch of oak, Indian almond or magnolia leaves for a more natural feel.

I've never had an issue with my fish going pale on my light-colored sand. I have used eco-complete and am not a fan of the look, and am not convinced it's any better for plants.

Good luck! Sounds like an awesome set up!
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wlevine09 View Post
What is your price range?
Price is relatively unimportant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wlevine09 View Post
Most agree that aquasoils are the way to go, but on a large tank with a lot of soil you can be looking at a few hundred on substrate alone. Compare this to the still very nutrient rich sand capped soil which will cost you around $60 for a very very large tank and it shows why a bit more info is needed.
I take it that aquasoils don't require a sand cap? I like the idea of a single substrate material if possible.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Argus View Post
Some plants get nutrients from the water and some get it through their roots. Research the plants you want and see if they need nutrients in the soil. If so, use root tabs.
Any suggestions about where/how to find information on how specific plants need or don't need nutrients in the soil? Also, if using root tabs for some plants, does that modify the PPS Pro approach? i.e. would the water dosing need to be reduced?
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 01:25 PM Thread Starter
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What does anyone think of CaribSea Tahitian Moon as a single substrate? 0.5mm-1.0mm. I'm pretty clueless about the whole gravel vs. sand thing. But I think I've decided I want a single dark colored substrate if that's possible. I'm also thinking I want something relatively inert, i.e. not something that will tend to decrease pH, because I think my tap water plus CO2 is already going to bring pH down into about the right range for the fish.

Again, prospective plants are some combination of Echinodorus, Myriophyllum, Hydrocotyle, and/or Alternanthera reineckii. Thanks!
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VikeMan View Post
Price is relatively unimportant.

I take it that aquasoils don't require a sand cap? I like the idea of a single substrate material if possible.
Exactly, Aquasoils are nutrient rich substrates that are shaped in little spheres that hold together pretty well even when submerged for a while. A very popular one is ADA amazonia. I prefer brightwell aquatics florinvolcanit as it doesn't leach ammonia in my experience. Obviously they are also the most expensive types of substrate, but are what many popular aquascapers use in their tank

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What does anyone think of CaribSea Tahitian Moon as a single substrate? 0.5mm-1.0mm. I'm pretty clueless about the whole gravel vs. sand thing. But I think I've decided I want a single dark colored substrate if that's possible. I'm also thinking I want something relatively inert, i.e. not something that will tend to decrease pH, because I think my tap water plus CO2 is already going to bring pH down into about the right range for the fish.

Again, prospective plants are some combination of Echinodorus, Myriophyllum, Hydrocotyle, and/or Alternanthera reineckii. Thanks!
One thing i'm concerned about in sand only setups is compaction of the substrate which can either make rooting difficult or create anaerobic areas. If you have sand you'll want to periodically poke it to stir up the substrate. Malaysian trumpet snails will do this for you if you choose to go that route


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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 03:10 PM
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I use Eco-Complete, nobody has mentioned Seachem Flourite?
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VikeMan View Post
What does anyone think of CaribSea Tahitian Moon as a single substrate? 0.5mm-1.0mm. I'm pretty clueless about the whole gravel vs. sand thing. But I think I've decided I want a single dark colored substrate if that's possible. I'm also thinking I want something relatively inert, i.e. not something that will tend to decrease pH, because I think my tap water plus CO2 is already going to bring pH down into about the right range for the fish.

Again, prospective plants are some combination of Echinodorus, Myriophyllum, Hydrocotyle, and/or Alternanthera reineckii. Thanks!
The Dr. Foster & Smith web page says:
Tahitian Moon
Average Small Grain Size: 0.1 mm
Average Large Grain Size: 0.3 mm

That is extremely fine. From the research I did when choosing a substrate, that would not allow enough water circulation through the substrate. Something with a grain size of 1-2mm is supposed to be about right.

Eco-Complete is often used, but it is volcanic rock and rather sharp. There are mixed opinions as to whether this is safe for corys or not.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 09:10 PM
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Quote:
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If you plan on have Cory cats, you want grains that are rounded. Sharp grains can be hard on the Cory's barbells. Peace River has rounded grains.
This has been disproven, and even more recent expeditions have shown corys in natural habitats with sharp rocks and edges with no issues. The only thing proven with damaging cory's barbels is poor water conditions and stress. I keep 12 corys with coarse medium grade black diamond sand and not a single has ever shown issues with their barbels.


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