Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Outside Philadelphia, PA
Taking my planted tank to the next level
I just joined this group, and I hope some of the people here can help me take my planted tank from being what I'd call very good to something really exceptional.
Currently I have a 90 gal tank that has been set up for about 7 years, in it's current form. I have massive amounts of giant vallisneria, Cryptocoryne walkeri, and java moss. I also have a few other miscellaneous plants.
The lighting is two 150w 6500K HQIs. The filtration is an Eheim Pro II model 2028, and an additional powerhead in the tank for some additional circulation. The heater is a Jager 250w.
The substrate is 3 inches of standard #3 aquariun gravel with the bottom half laced with laterite.
For years, I got excellent plant growth, but after all this time I'm not getting what I have come to expect. I believe the substrata has been more or less depleted and it's time to change that out and upgrade it. Obviously, this is going to mean a complete tear down of the system. This is also going to be a great time to upgrade the system with cable heating and any other items I may wish to add.
I'm interested in replacing the substrata but I'm not sure which way I want to go here. I could just go with what I have been using, but I feel that has some limitations by today's standards. I also want something that looks a lot better than #3 aquarium gravel, at least on the surface layer. I have considered several alternatives, but have mixed feelings about all of them.
The two typical substrata media that I see talked about are Seachem's Flourite and Carib Sea's Eco-Complete. Either of these would be ok, but by the time I buy a couple of hundred pounds and add on the shipping it gets very expensive.
I have also looked at the ADA Substrata System. To me this system looks great, but is even more expensive than Flourite or Eco-Complete.
I am also considering using a soil based substrata, such as described by Diana Walstand in her book Ecology of the Planted Aquarium. I find this to me an intriguing way of doing things, and it's been done by a few people almost forever. It is also very low cost. However, it's not that commonly used and I have no experience with soil based substrata. I hope that some people with experience here could tell me more abut it, especially in the area of they type of soil used and anything added to it.
I don't mind spending the money on the expensive substrata, if it's going to be a lot better than what I do currently, or using a soil based substrata, but this is the sort of thing I only want to do once, and get it right.