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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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New Member - Substrate Help?

Hi everyone!

I'm thinking about starting a planted tank in my classroom at the school I teach at. Now I've kind of on the whim decided this and I don't know if I can't go back to it based on what I've already done. My tank at school right now is a 29g tank with about three inches of pool filter sand as a substrate and filled with water. I've read that I can use fertilizers because I know there isn't much nutritional value to Pool Sand but would that not work as well?

Also, I've located this product: http://www.petsmart.com/product/inde...uctId=11147295

Would this product allow me to take it and just mix it in with the pool filter sand or would I have to remove all the sand and water, layer the stuff, and then put water back in? This option, I'm not too interested in doing right now so if that is the case, this project might wait until next summer.

Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 01:48 PM
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Yes, you can use that.. either as a substrate only without having to cap it with sand or if you have to cap sand you can do that but I do not see a reason when that will suffice. The PFS will get dirty over time and not look as white and nice as it does now. You could always lightly vacuum it with a gravel vac when doing your routine tank maintenance and lift up some of the larger stuff. Personally I would just ditch the sand with this product. You could add some root tabs under the plants for good measure. If you look in the Vendors for sale section Root Medic is a good buy and he is a forum sponsor as well. The sand alone won't be the best not only for the lack of nutrients but any plants that like to root won't get the best success with plain sand.

I have used Eco Complete, Activ Flora and Flora Max all with good success and I do not use sand at all to cap it. I also have plain dirt in a couple of tanks with a sand cap and they do well. In that case you do need the sand though. Now I do have a small 3 gallon tank with pebble gravel you buy at PetSmart and it has live plants and does amazingly well considering that the pebbles offer zero nutrients but in that example the betta is providing for everything.

I think you are headed in the right direction though with a real substrate vs. just sand. I am sure others will chime in with their thoughts, observations.

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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 02:45 PM
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Welcome to PT

You can get away with plain PFS usually if you add root tabs and have the right water parameters...Also any larger grain substrate if buried it will eventually end up on the top of the substrate so you want to find certain substrate mixes with the same color/grain size..

Im using only PFS with root tabs and everything seems okay.
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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Like I said, I'm new....So I'm not sure what root tabs are? Typing them into Google only gives me links to Deftone things . Are these essentially nutrient tablets that go into the PFS or are they places for roots to take hold? It sounds like they could be either.
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 03:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amsreorb View Post
Like I said, I'm new....So I'm not sure what root tabs are? Typing them into Google only gives me links to Deftone things . Are these essentially nutrient tablets that go into the PFS or are they places for roots to take hold? It sounds like they could be either.
That is what they are... The brand i used looked like little speckled reese's minis, and you just put them into the substrate under your plants, and watch as your plants explode when they find the root tabs.

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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 04:03 PM
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one of the sponsors Root Medic makes a capsule that goes into substrate and lasts up to 6 months.

You could do Estimative Index (EI) dosing of fertilizer. www.barrrreport.com has information on that and there is some on this forum as well.

www.aquariumfertilizers.com has all the items you need for EI dosing at a low cost.

Since the tank is already setup I would just stick with what you got as far as substrate goes and get capsule or root tabs and maybe think about dosing EI and Flourish Excel (source of CO2) assuming you aren't injecting CO2 already.

wingsdlc on this site also has a school aquarium, so he may be able to give you some advice on how best to make the whole school time/summer vacation thing work.
Do you take the tank home with you over the summer?


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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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No I won't be taking it home because either I will get it going this school year or I will get it going during the summer and then I won't want to move it.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kamikazi View Post
one of the sponsors Root Medic makes a capsule that goes into substrate and lasts up to 6 months.

You could do Estimative Index (EI) dosing of fertilizer. www.barrrreport.com has information on that and there is some on this forum as well.

www.aquariumfertilizers.com has all the items you need for EI dosing at a low cost.

Since the tank is already setup I would just stick with what you got as far as substrate goes and get capsule or root tabs and maybe think about dosing EI and Flourish Excel (source of CO2) assuming you aren't injecting CO2 already.

wingsdlc on this site also has a school aquarium, so he may be able to give you some advice on how best to make the whole school time/summer vacation thing work.
Do you take the tank home with you over the summer?
I second that idea ... EI is great (go with powdered much cheaper) ... more better with some type of root tab fertilizer available for those plants that take nutrient through their roots only.

Best wishes,
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 04:43 PM
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No I won't be taking it home because either I will get it going this school year or I will get it going during the summer and then I won't want to move it.

Oh so the tank isn't set up yet...once you get it setup who will care for the tank over summer vacation?

Since the tank isnt setup I would get a plant substrate (floramax, flourite, ecocomplete) or pea gravel with capsule or tabs.

sand is a pain to clean, gravel is soooo much easier. you can get the finest grain which is about half the size of a finger nail.

In my 29 gallon I have floramax in the bottom with small (not the smallest) pea gravel on top. I would have used all floramax but I wanted to keep cory catfish and was concerned the sharper edges of floramax would hurt their whiskers.


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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 04:51 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kamikazi View Post
Oh so the tank isn't set up yet...once you get it setup who will care for the tank over summer vacation?

Since the tank isnt setup I would get a plant substrate (floramax, flourite, ecocomplete) or pea gravel with capsule or tabs.

sand is a pain to clean, gravel is soooo much easier. you can get the finest grain which is about half the size of a finger nail.

In my 29 gallon I have floramax in the bottom with small (not the smallest) pea gravel on top. I would have used all floramax but I wanted to keep cory catfish and was concerned the sharper edges of floramax would hurt their whiskers.
Sorry, I'm being confusing...

It is in my classroom right now, I have it full with water and about three inches of PFS so I don't really want to change the substrate now. This is the point that I thought it would be nice to have a planted aquarium .

I don't entirely understand the idea of dosing, does that mean adding something like fertilizer to the water along with the root tabs in the PFS?

I wanted to quick throw in a thank you. I really appreciate this help. I'm just learning and I am starting to understand this a little bit more.
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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amsreorb View Post
Sorry, I'm being confusing...

It is in my classroom right now, I have it full with water and about three inches of PFS so I don't really want to change the substrate now. This is the point that I thought it would be nice to have a planted aquarium .

I don't entirely understand the idea of dosing, does that mean adding something like fertilizer to the water along with the root tabs in the PFS?
EI dosing using dry fertilizer

You add recommended doses of
GH booster
KNO3
KH2PO4 (MKP)
and either
Plantex CSM+B or Flourish Comprehensive

Do a 25-50% water change weekly and every 2 months they recommend about a 80% water change.

The water changes not only help regulate ammonia and nitrates but they keep the fertilizer from building up to toxic levels and the big one resets nutrients.

You add the fertilizer directly to the tank water.
The capsules and tabs just get shoved at least an inch into the substrate every few inches apart.

If you want to avoid dosing and root tabs there are some plants that will grow and live although very slowly without all that.

Java Fern, Java Moss, some swords, most anubias as well as a few others work well in low tech setups.


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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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Honestly right now, I wouldn't mind avoiding those things and working those low tech setups to just figure out a little bit what I'm doing.

So the other thing I might have an issue with is lighting: Here is a picture of the type of setup I have.



Right now, it is a 17 W bulb but I think I can go higher with it. How would I figure out if I could or not and even if I could, is it feasible with this sort of setup or would I need to buy a new lid or something like that?
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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 08:40 PM
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the fixture should say somewhere on it what the maximum wattage is.

there are ways to work with existing hoods to expand the lighting.
If it was me I would just get a new light all together and get a glass top or use a piece of plexiglass cut to size and shape. Whatever lighting you end up with, if you want to stay simple and low tech, you'll want have low light.
Reference this chart https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/li...t5-t12-pc.html to help decide what kind of light to look at.


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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 09:43 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
If you want to avoid dosing and root tabs there are some plants that will grow and live although very slowly without all that.

Java Fern, Java Moss, some swords, most anubias as well as a few others work well in low tech setups.
So let's say I wanted to do this just to try and figure out what Planted aquariums are going to be like-ish, what should my next steps be? Just go out, buy the plants and put them in, or is there other things I will need to do?

I'm also going to be putting fish in there, so there will start to be some nutrients for the plants. Should I start with the fish to build up that nutrient level and then go to some of those plants?
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 08-05-2011, 02:29 AM
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Have you cycled your tank yet? If not get it cycled before adding fish.
Do you have all the equipment you need? ie heater, filter, basic supplies like tests and water conditioner

Most people add plants before getting fish. I'm not sure if it matters which order you do it.
java moss, java fern, and anubias like to be tied to drift wood, but you can also plant them in the substrate but for java fern and anubias just make sure you dont bury the rhizome.

If I was setting up this tank I would...
1. Get all needed supplies and equipment
2. Get tank cycled
3. While cycling make a list of plants of plan for layout of tank
4. Find out if and how many plants I want I can get at my local fish stores.
5. Buy plants at stores and ones I can't get at stores order them online.
6. Set up hardscape and plant tank.
7. Once cycle is complete buy first set of fish (start with hardiest you plan to add)
8. Do weekly water changes of 25-50%
9. Two weeks after adding 1st fish add next set of fish (repeat till tank is stocked)
10. Maintain and enjoy.


You would probably still need to upgrade your light.


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