So I am currently planning on doing a full re-scape of my 500L tank (110G). I did one not that long ago but it did not turn out as I wanted to. I am planning on doing something with more dramatic height variation on the substrate level, currently pretty flat and boring.
I have a pretty good idea on how to set it up but I have hit a brick wall now and cannot decide on a substrate for the tank. Have been reading most threads a few pages back here and pretty much all over the net. But there are sooooooooooooooooooooooo many opinions when it comes to substrate etc. Have been reading a lot of Tom Barrs stuff since his tanks looks amazing but it's somewhat vague. Pretty much anything goes really if the hobbyist is any good and I get that but still there must be some kind of setup that gives the plants a good and firm base to grow on.
Tank and equipment
Tank is aprox. 500L (110G)
Pressurized CO2, PH controller etc
DIY Led with to much power
Daily-EI dosed from a pump
(1-2cm aprox in bottom)
Oliver Knotts Nature Soil, Brown 4-5 mm
What I want (trying to find some balance here)
-Something that fits the background (mission impossible to remove and change)
-Best possible conditions for plants
-Something that is reasonably easy to plant smaller plants in (carpets etc)
What I do not want
-Substrate that looks unnatural (like perfect spherical pebbles etc)
Questions and thoughts
So currently I am using Oliver Knotts Nature Soil (link up under tank and equipment). Read somewhere (I do not remember where) that this is "just" some Japanese generic product that has been re-branded
Under this there is a layer of Tropicas plant growth substrate.
My biggest problem with Knotts Nature Soil is the look of it. All those round balls in the bottom, just looks stupid in my opinion now when I got used to it. Though I have a bunch of bags of it still lying around (smaller size 2-3mm) not sure if this would look slightly better.
I was planning on going with some kind of sand/really fine gravel, I like how it moves with current and how fish movement etc affects it and leaves marks etc, looks a bit more living to my eye.
Though I have read that sand is not good for plants since it does not breath underneath, is this true?
Another concern I have is using a totally inert substrate, this is also not very natural I would guess.
Whats best between for example.
1. Some branded soil (like nature soil or ADA AS)
2. Branded soil like ADA AS etc + some plant growth bottom soil (like the tropica stuff I am currently using)
3. Sand 1-2mm + plant growth bottom soil
I would guess it is number two?
But do the ADA AS really release that much nutrients for the roots?
Does this matter with a bottom soil and if you dose EI?
Is there any other pros with the branded soils?
Would option 3 have a big chance of going anaerobic?
Does anyone know if there are big differences between the brands, for example ADA AS and Oilver Knotts Nature Soil?
What I have read most seem to really happy with ADA AS, but it looks to me like it is pretty much the same thing as Nature Soil. I would have probably chosen this from the start but it turned out it is not very popular in the EU. And shipping it from the US etc would cost me a smaller fortune... :'( the Nature Soil I have now was expensive enough.
I am not new to the planted tank but every now and then I read tips for newcomers. A common tip/rule is to use a filter that has GPH that of your tank size times 10 to 15. Is this for real? I currently have the largest eheim canister filter pushing 1700litres per hour. With my 500 litre tank I would need somewhere around 3-5 of these filters? That sounds totally insane to me! Would almost take up more space than the tank itself? Not to mention the storm that would follow in the tank there is a pretty big movement with just one...
Thanks for reading and looking forward for tips and thoughts regarding my issue!