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Discussion Starter #1
Looking to get some feedback on a planned rescape of my 25 gallon tank. I'm looking for a good alternative to Tropica Aquasoil. It would be my go to substrate, save for the fact I'd need so much of it and it goes for almost $60 / bag at the local store (Western Canada). As such, I'm looking for a good value alternative that will give my plants a good medium to root in, without costing an arm and a leg.

I've done some reading about sand capped organic topsoil, though there are a few things I'd be worried about. Probably the biggest concern I have is about the cory's and planned shrimp stirring up the substrate and exposing the soil. Is this a valid concern? As well how long would this last? I'd like to have the tank setup for a fairly long time, and if the soil will need to be replaced every couple months, I'd probably want to look elsewhere.

Alternatively I'd be fine paying for a branded planting substrate if it doesn't cost as much as the aqua soil and can give the same kind of benefits.

Any information would be greatly appreciated!
 

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My advice is to use aquasoil of your choice in a thin layer (1 or 2 cm) and then cap it with 2+ cm of sand (as much sand as you want). This gives you all the benefit of aquasoil without the expense. I've honestly not noticed a difference between doing this and using a pure aquasoil substrate tank. This way you need only a small bag.

As for which aquasoil? Honestly... anything seems to work fine. I've used denerele scapersoil and fluval stratum. Both worked fine for me and were cheaper then tropica.

Your primary nutrients for plants should be coming from ferts you add to the tank each week. The aquasoil in the substrate is just there to recharge from the water column and be available for plant roots they contact.

I've done dirt tanks and frankly I'm never going back. Dirt is definitely cheaper then aquasoil (since you can dig it up for free anywhere there is an empty patch of ground), but the aquasoil needed to put down 1 or 2 cm in a 25 gallon tank will cost somewhere between 20 and 40 dollars most likely. For that price dirt is just not worth the headaches of having algae outbreaks and ugliness whenever you need to pull a plant. Just my 2 cents.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm honestly a little embarrassed I didn't even have that thought cross my mind. It's good to hear that it will work for what I'm after though. Thank you very much for the suggestion! Hopefully when I collect everything for the tank I'll get some nice pictures when it's together.
 
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