Ideal Substrate for Shrimp and Plants - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 04:40 AM Thread Starter
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Ideal Substrate for Shrimp and Plants

Hey guys! I haven't been on here in a long time and I'm happy to be back! I've been meaning to tear down my Eheim Aquastyle 4 gallon and start from scratch, so I need some input and suggestions.

First off, substrate. I'm looking for a shrimp-safe yet plant beneficial substrate that's preferably black in color. When I remodel the tank, I'll have to put the shrimps and my chili rasboras back in same-day, so I'll need a substrate that doesn't leech toxic substances but is rich in nutrients for the plants (like ADA Aquasoil, I hear it leeches tons of ammonia upon initial running of the tank). I'll still have filter media and a portion of the former substrate so there's no worry in cycling. I've been considering Seachem Flourite Black (either normal or sand), but I'm open to other suggestions (that's within a reasonable price range!)

Second, plants. With the stock lighting (7 watts), I plan on planting a carpet of "mini" dwarf hairgrass and using a driftwood with anubias as the centerpiece. I'm having some success with the dwarf hairgrass I have how, given that I dose Excel daily and Floruish bi-weekly in the Fluval Ebi Stratum. I'm having highs hopes that if I up the substrate game, as that can only mean that the hairgrass will have more success. If you guys don't think that the hairgrass will grow out, please offer me some carpeting plant suggestions that aren't moss haha.

Thanks a lot!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 05:41 PM
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What shrimp are you planning on?
With Caridinas the active substrate may end up being easier (as in it helps buffer water).
With Neocaridinas it doesn't matter much.

What is your tap/source water like for GH and KH? pH not as crucial as the other two.

ADA Aquasoil only leaches for a certain time, and some people on forum pre-soak it for a week, and do water changes during that time, to get rid of the ammonia. Personally I just let the plants use it as long as the water does not exceed 2ppm and there's no livestock.

Some folks also like to use medium grade black diamond blasting sand and put osmocote under it (or just do water column dosing). Pretty inexpensive option.

With a four gallon tank though, you don't need much substrate so even if it's expensive it won't end up being too expensive
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Daisy Mae View Post
What shrimp are you planning on?
With Caridinas the active substrate may end up being easier (as in it helps buffer water).
With Neocaridinas it doesn't matter much.

What is your tap/source water like for GH and KH? pH not as crucial as the other two.

ADA Aquasoil only leaches for a certain time, and some people on forum pre-soak it for a week, and do water changes during that time, to get rid of the ammonia. Personally I just let the plants use it as long as the water does not exceed 2ppm and there's no livestock.

Some folks also like to use medium grade black diamond blasting sand and put osmocote under it (or just do water column dosing). Pretty inexpensive option.

With a four gallon tank though, you don't need much substrate so even if it's expensive it won't end up being too expensive
The only shrimp I plan on keeping in there are red cherries. I don't know exactly the kh and gh of my water, all I know is that it comes from the tap and I condition it when doing a water change.
So for ADA Aquasoil, if I just soak it and change the water a few weeks prior to putting it in, it won't cause any dangerous spikes in the tank?
I'd like to use sand, but I'm kinda scared of the anaerobic pockets it can create and the gases it can hold. Plus, is osmocote a shrimp safe fert?
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 03:38 PM
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It would be a good idea to get your water tested for GH and KH, that way at least you'll know if your water is within recommended for shrimp. The only issue will be if it is on the extremes, as in very soft or very hard water. If you're getting the shrimp from a local breeder who keeps it in local tap water, then you're likely home free.

For the Aquasoil, the folks who soaked it just soaked it for a week, and did daily almost 100% water changes IIRC. There's actually a thread on it.

Found it, see last post
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/29...ting-tank.html
Huh, I lied, it was one person, not several who mentioned soaking the Aquasoil.

No issues with anaerobic particles unless you're going very deep (4" or more from what I have read), which you can't in that size tank, ha ha, more than a third of its height, sure you can make it that deep but do you want to???

Osmocote is ok for shrimp, within recommended amounts. I'd probably only put a quarter to a half teaspoon for that size tank. Max.


Fwiw, I used Aquasoil in a 12 inch cube, didn't use it for the whole bottom, two inches in the back and one inch in front, about 3/4 of the tank. Didn't leach much ammonia, after all I had read about it I expected high numbers. I did a 70% water change the day after filling, before testing lol, then it never went beyond 0.5 ppm. I actually had to add ammonia to cycle the tank (had to look through my notes for this info, but it's there, I knew I kept notes for a reason)

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Daisy Mae View Post
It would be a good idea to get your water tested for GH and KH, that way at least you'll know if your water is within recommended for shrimp. The only issue will be if it is on the extremes, as in very soft or very hard water. If you're getting the shrimp from a local breeder who keeps it in local tap water, then you're likely home free.

For the Aquasoil, the folks who soaked it just soaked it for a week, and did daily almost 100% water changes IIRC. There's actually a thread on it.

Found it, see last post
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/29...ting-tank.html
Huh, I lied, it was one person, not several who mentioned soaking the Aquasoil.

No issues with anaerobic particles unless you're going very deep (4" or more from what I have read), which you can't in that size tank, ha ha, more than a third of its height, sure you can make it that deep but do you want to???

Osmocote is ok for shrimp, within recommended amounts. I'd probably only put a quarter to a half teaspoon for that size tank. Max.


Fwiw, I used Aquasoil in a 12 inch cube, didn't use it for the whole bottom, two inches in the back and one inch in front, about 3/4 of the tank. Didn't leach much ammonia, after all I had read about it I expected high numbers. I did a 70% water change the day after filling, before testing lol, then it never went beyond 0.5 ppm. I actually had to add ammonia to cycle the tank (had to look through my notes for this info, but it's there, I knew I kept notes for a reason)
Yeah the shrimp is no worry to me, I've had the same line of descendants for about 3 years now haha. So would black sand plus osmocote ensure a neat and full carpet? Aquasoil doesn't seem like such a hazard now since I can soak it, but I'm still a bit hesitant. I'm leaning towards the sand plus osmocote option right now or just the fluorite black sand overall.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 06:45 PM
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Yeah, sand plus osmocote should be good for a carpet, most carpeting plants have fine roots, and it would be easier to plant those into sand.

I tried fluorite back sand for the first time this week, oh my, it is very fine. Too much dust. Very nice to plant pearl weed into, but it was a real pain to wash. I'm not using it again due to that. I should have just purchased blasting sand but I didn't need a huge bag for a two plus gallon vase, lol.

Oh, by the way it looks like pearl weed makes a nice carpeting plant that doesn't require crazy high light. That's why I'm trying it. If you're looking for another option to DHG anyways.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 11:40 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, sand plus osmocote should be good for a carpet, most carpeting plants have fine roots, and it would be easier to plant those into sand.

I tried fluorite back sand for the first time this week, oh my, it is very fine. Too much dust. Very nice to plant pearl weed into, but it was a real pain to wash. I'm not using it again due to that. I should have just purchased blasting sand but I didn't need a huge bag for a two plus gallon vase, lol.

Oh, by the way it looks like pearl weed makes a nice carpeting plant that doesn't require crazy high light. That's why I'm trying it. If you're looking for another option to DHG anyways.
I'm worried that I don't have enough light and that the pearlweed will eventually grow upwards, not sideways. If you're having success carpeting the pearlweed in a low tech tank, please let me know so that I can consider it! xD
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-25-2015, 01:49 AM
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Yeah, sure, I'll let you know. I'm only expecting a fluffy loose carpet, not something thick and low, because it is low light as well but I thought for a small tank it's worth the experiment.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-25-2015, 05:08 AM Thread Starter
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So I did some research on blasting sand and turns out it's kinda sharp? This worries me because I don't want the sand to harm the fish and shrimp in any way... I looked into the CaribSea Tahitian moon sand, and it looks good, any input on that?
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