suggestion for choosing substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 02:58 AM Thread Starter
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suggestion for choosing substrate

Hi, I need some suggestion for choosing a right substrate for my new planted tank [5 feet, 212.37 litres/56.1 gallon(US)]. I know there is no such best substrate as particular but i have got confused reading all the stuff.
I want to have a HC (cuba) carpet or monte carlo. My location is near coastal area(India), Temp 24-32 degrees. I am ready to get a Co2 kit and required lighting. I have some naturally available resources like garden soil, sand and gravels (Gravels from a river side of size about 2-4 mm).

So please guide me.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 03:26 AM
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Flourite sand has worked great for me, but the easiest in my experience to plant in is fluval stratum. I'd imagine that ada soil is the same if not better since it's roughly the same shape.


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Standard 55 gallon club... We need one of those.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 04:19 AM
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Hello @yadi. Welcome to this forum.

A suitable substrate depends on what you want to achieve with the aquarium and what plants you want to grow . It also depends on what is available to you locally and your budget. You could also ask other hobbyists from your country what substrate they use.

In general, if you money is no worry and 'safe bet' you could by ADA Aquasoil Amazonia as fishophile suggested. If you are more budget aware and want a more natural solution you could use remineralized soil with a sand cap. Sometimes the use of soil is tricky and create problems, but can produce good results. I have also grown plants in 100% rough sand.

Could you give a little more information as to what are your goals with this aquarium and what option of substrate brands are available ?

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 09:49 AM Thread Starter
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These are the aquascapes i liked the most. I want to achieve some where near that. I know that's very difficult. But want to try. Can i achieve it with dirt and sand? Also can buy commercial substrate but have tight budget. Can you tell how much quantity soil would i need for this tank? If it's not that expensive i can go with Aqua soil or eco complete.
I want have a natural river layout.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 12:52 PM
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If I had access to cheap garden soil and sand, I might use the soil and cap it with sand.
Some soil's also contain nutrient's like phosphates,nitrogen,pottasium,peat.
Plain top soil might be my choice just for peace of mind as to content.
That way only thing can get in is what I put in with regard's to plant nutrient's and fish food's that also contain nutrient's.
I normally aim for right at three pound's of substrate per gallon of water tank hold's.
Usually have a little left over or maybe not, depending on how deep I make the substrate.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 09:21 PM
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I think you can achieve the 2nd and the 3rd type of aquascape with just sand and some mineral base layer (eg. JBL Florapol). They have lots of mosses, ferns. When using sand or soil+sand, I prefer keeping my substrate flat. My vote is also sand or sand +soil if you feel courageous.

Echinodorus, Cryptocoryne, Nymphaea and some other plants benefit from a soil based substrate. Their extensive root systems help injecting oxygen in the soil. All plants will benefit from water fertilization. If you plan on going the soil route, I would suggest:
1. Read Diana Walstad- Ecology of the planted aquarium
2. Search this forum for remineralized topsoil

For an exact way to measure the volume of the substrate needed you need the length and the width. In cm you would have length* width*5/10 = volume of substrate in L. (5 here is the height of the substrate). I would guestimate 2-3 bags of Aquasoil, maybe put some lavarock on the bottom to reduce the amount needed.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-25-2015, 07:37 AM Thread Starter
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Hey thanks guys...

Is there free pdf of "Diana Walstad- Ecology of the planted aquarium" available? I think i will go with for soil with sand cap.

I also found some link about Mineralized Soil Substrate. How-To: Mineralized Soil Substrate, by Aaron Talbot - Library - Aquatic Plant Central


but its an old post, can u guys tell if its worth?
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-25-2015, 09:54 AM
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That is probably the best one. It requires a lot of time to make it.
Most just get an Organic top soil and sift the large pieces of wood etc. out of it.
If memory serves I paid $8 for a 40# bag of it from Loew's.
It was a Miracle Grow Organic Choice Top Soil.
Because of the decaying organic material, most soils will leach Ammonia for the first few weeks. The Bio-bacteria should handle that, but no fish shrimp etc should be in
there till it levels off. The nitrates will be high as the result of the Bio-bacteria breaking down the Ammonia. Just do at least a 50% water change each week and more if
needed to keep the nitrates down some during that time.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-25-2015, 12:19 PM Thread Starter
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okk thank you very much guys. I will keep on updating.... I will go with the same process then. Will need further assistance for co2 and lighting information.
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