Rescape, substrate tips needed! - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 02:21 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Rescape, substrate tips needed!

Intro
Hello plantfriends!
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
Background
Tropica substrate (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
-Natural looking
-Something that is reasonably easy to plant smaller plants in (carpets etc)

What I do not want
-Colors
-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.

Unrelated question
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!


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Last edited by Fissure; 11-08-2015 at 02:49 AM. Reason: spelling corrections
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 03:21 AM Thread Starter
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Ok so I am gonna dubblepost here just to make things easier to read. Not bumping this!

Looked on ADAs webpage and saw that here is a listed reseller here in Sweden now. Took a look and it was not so expensive as I thought.
What do you guys think of this.
Bottom layer with ADA Power Sand
Top this of with ADA Bacter 100, ADA Super Clear/ADA Tourmaline BC and Penac P
Then ADA New Amazonia Powder on top of that?

Edit: Just read that Ada Power Sand - Special already contains the Super Clear and Bacter 100 so no need for that I Guess


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Last edited by Fissure; 11-08-2015 at 04:05 AM. Reason: Changed
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 03:36 AM
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I just answered several of these questions in another post.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/29...substrate.html

Here are more answers:

To keep a steeper slope, I have found that I actually have to build a retaining wall out of rock or wood. I usually use rock, and when I know I will not be moving it, I use expanding foam filler, as sold for ponds. It is safe for fish, holds up well underwater, and the black one is rather subtle.

The materials with a high cationic exchange capacity will be better. This is because they will trap and hold many of the fertilizers in a way that the plants can then take them. This acts like a reserve and sort of evens out the fertilizer supply over time.

The finer grades of materials will look more natural than the large particle sizes. I also find the larger ones less attractive. You can put the coarser product down lower in the substrate, and use it to build up the higher areas. Then use the finer material where you want to grow ground cover, and as a cap over the coarser material. This might look more natural to you. I also object to the color. I prefer a blend of colors. I use a product available here under the name 'Safe-T-Sorb. This is a material made for the automotive industry. It is used for absorbing oil spills in garages. This particular material is a blend of soft grey and tan shades. Each particle is sort of flattened, not round balls. To me, this looks more natural. I have used a similar material in black (looks grey when it is dry). This one is called Soil Master Select. It is not made any more (that I know of). It was produced for sports fields. It absorbs a lot of water, so would make the sports field playable sooner after rains. Turface is a similar material, but I do not like the color range. These are all montmorillonite clays, baked into small particles about 2-3mm, not round, though. Irregular shapes. They are lightweight (similar to the ADA product line) and is a little bit difficult to plant in, keeping the plants down until they root. Once they get going, the plants do fine.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 03:40 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
I just answered several of these questions in another post.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/29...substrate.html

Here are more answers:

To keep a steeper slope, I have found that I actually have to build a retaining wall out of rock or wood. I usually use rock, and when I know I will not be moving it, I use expanding foam filler, as sold for ponds. It is safe for fish, holds up well underwater, and the black one is rather subtle.

The materials with a high cationic exchange capacity will be better. This is because they will trap and hold many of the fertilizers in a way that the plants can then take them. This acts like a reserve and sort of evens out the fertilizer supply over time.

The finer grades of materials will look more natural than the large particle sizes. I also find the larger ones less attractive. You can put the coarser product down lower in the substrate, and use it to build up the higher areas. Then use the finer material where you want to grow ground cover, and as a cap over the coarser material. This might look more natural to you. I also object to the color. I prefer a blend of colors. I use a product available here under the name 'Safe-T-Sorb. This is a material made for the automotive industry. It is used for absorbing oil spills in garages. This particular material is a blend of soft grey and tan shades. Each particle is sort of flattened, not round balls. To me, this looks more natural. I have used a similar material in black (looks grey when it is dry). This one is called Soil Master Select. It is not made any more (that I know of). It was produced for sports fields. It absorbs a lot of water, so would make the sports field playable sooner after rains. Turface is a similar material, but I do not like the color range. These are all montmorillonite clays, baked into small particles about 2-3mm, not round, though. Irregular shapes. They are lightweight (similar to the ADA product line) and is a little bit difficult to plant in, keeping the plants down until they root. Once they get going, the plants do fine.
Foam filler is a really net idea btw! Thanks for the post. Doubt I will find Safe-T-Sorb here in Sweden though.


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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 03:55 AM
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I was afraid of that. Perhaps a similar material?
Other names for similar material:
Oil Dri, Kitty litter. But these are white, not good looking in a tank.

The foam filler that is used in construction is also fish safe. It is just a brighter color, not very subtle. If you use it carefully it can be hidden, though. Use it behind the rocks, just a tiny bit oozing in between them, and dust some sand over it wherever it shows. The sand does not work well, but it helps a bit. Don't depend on it for large areas, don't let the foam get into areas where it will be too visible.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 06:30 AM
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Hi, I've asked similar questions as you.

I've worked out that the following are a waste of time and money:

ADA Power Sand - it's too fine, floats too much.
ADA Bacter 100 - beneficial bacteria will multiply in time, no need for this product, unless you're really impatient
ADA Super Clear - a little carbon in the filter for the first few weeks achieves the same thing
ADA Tourmaline BC and Penac P - don't get me started on these. If you really want to re-mineralise (because your water is ro, rodi or just naturally soft) get some seachem equilibrium to increase the tds.

Just get some ADA aquasoil normal, and fertz (any brand will do or you can diy them)
I also recommend root capsules, particularly fe and macros. Borneo Wild does good ones. ADA have them too (but I've not tried them)

As for height, I've used tights filled with used soil before and its worked out well. Have a look at my current 2ft scape called peaks. https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12...-peaks-19.html
Diana is right, you need to build a retaining wall.

Good luck. Post some pics when you get a chance.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dantrasy View Post
Hi, I've asked similar questions as you.

I've worked out that the following are a waste of time and money:

ADA Power Sand - it's too fine, floats too much.
ADA Bacter 100 - beneficial bacteria will multiply in time, no need for this product, unless you're really impatient
ADA Super Clear - a little carbon in the filter for the first few weeks achieves the same thing
ADA Tourmaline BC and Penac P - don't get me started on these. If you really want to re-mineralise (because your water is ro, rodi or just naturally soft) get some seachem equilibrium to increase the tds.

Just get some ADA aquasoil normal, and fertz (any brand will do or you can diy them)
I also recommend root capsules, particularly fe and macros. Borneo Wild does good ones. ADA have them too (but I've not tried them)

As for height, I've used tights filled with used soil before and its worked out well. Have a look at my current 2ft scape called peaks. https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12...-peaks-19.html
Diana is right, you need to build a retaining wall.

Good luck. Post some pics when you get a chance.
Hi there and thanks for the post, actually read a thread at another forum where Barr said pretty much the same thing. Esp. regarding Power Sand, and that there is no proof it improves anything. And if he can get those great tanks without it, well that is proof enough that it is a complete waste of money. And I guess this goes for all of the clay you can buy like the tropica one I am currently using?
It would be kinda nice to just have the soil, since even when being careful pulling up roots/plants there is always some coming up with the roots.

Should I use root tabs from the start?


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