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Planted Tanker
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So Im on the verge of changing out my substrate in a couple tanks from blasting sand to ADA AS. Got a couple of questions...

The tanks I will be changing are a 75 gal, a 29 and a 20. All high light, co2, EI, etc, and I do have a tendency to uproot/move things around a lot.

I understand AS needs to be treated with a gentle hand any time it is disturbed, follow with a WC etc, so Im prepared to not be able to yank things up and re-stuff them with the same reckless abandon as I can do now with sand.

The reason I want to change is is for the KH lowering properties of AS. I use straight tap which is 7-8 KH (maybe a tad higher?) and it's proving difficult to grow some of the more demanding species I want like Tonina, erios, bv etc.

1) Would there be any benefit to capping the AS with sand? I realize before long it would probably all be mixed together, at least to some degree.

2) Is there any reason to, or not to...mix say 50/50 AS and the sand together?

Or would it be better to do away with the sand entirely and just go straight AS?

My concern is not really saving $$ by buying less AS, I just hate to shelve all this sand. Seems like a 50/50 blend would be.....alright?

Any advice from experienced peeps will be greatly appreciated.

TIA
 

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What about doing the attractive and popular AS behind rocks with a sandy beach?

I'd be concerned that the hard sand would break up the soft AS faster if it was mixed.

My AS is only 3 months old but it doesn't get muddy if plants are pulled up, just some silt sized bits that soon settle down or go into the filter.

Since you have 3 tanks why not mix AS with sand for the smallest one and if you like it then do for another, if it doesn't work then you haven't used all that much of it.
 

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The buffering capacity of Aquasoil does wear off after a few months; the harder your water, the faster it wears off... so it's not a permanent solution (if you keep doing water changes with high KH tap water). Not to mention the flux each time a water change is done

How faster it buffers, and how long your substrate can "last" is up to your soil/water ratio... so you can dilute your aquasoil with sand, but the buffering effects will be lessened also.

At the cost of buying so much aquasoil; if your concern was to have lower KH water, getting an RO system might make more long term sense. It's hard to fight the water with just substrate. For plants that like an acidic substrate, you can add underlayer of peat, or have pockets of AS.
 

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My water is not terribly hard but has a high KH,(around 11 or 12), until it rains. I just blend it with my RO water to get 4 KH and call it good. PH out of the tap is 8.2 or so and does not lower with the addition of RO.

I tried Mr Aqua soil which acts similarly and it originally pulled all the KH out of the water and reduced the PH to 6.5 or so from the 8+ that it started out as but after the tank cycled and regular water changes were performed it pretty much stayed the same as it came out of the tap. Maybe if it were left for a few weeks it would still pull the PH and KH down but that really is not practical for me.
 
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