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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking to rescape my 12 gallon long, which currently just has a huge mass of Java fern and anubias. The current substrate is just caribsea naturals peace river which is a very fine gravel. During the rescape I'd like to add some plants other than rhizomes that will require something other than an inert substrate. I have UNS contrasoil in in pond tank which I really like and grows plants well, however getting this tank rescaped is a time sensitive matter since the stand I have it on currently is bowing out from the weight causing pressure points on my rimless tank and I'd hate to come home to a busted tank and water everywhere. Unfortunately the contrasoil probably won't ship fast enough and I'd rather not prolong the tank weight be unbalanced for an extra week just for some soil. My original plan was to add a few handfuls of contrasoil here and there where I will be planting root feeders.

I'd like to keep most of my substrate in the middle where the plants will go, then remove it from the sides and add caribsea sand instead. The new plants will mostly be rhizome plants, with the exception of a tiger lotus (which has already exploded in this tank sans-nutrient rich substrate). However I'd like to try some blyxa japonica which definitely requires nutrients to thrive. What is your opinion on just using the fine gravel to plant it, then burying 2 root tabs underneath the blyxa? Would liquid ferts in the water column be better than tabs? This tank is over 3 years old and very established which is why I think the lotus does so well in this tank, but I'm sure it sucks up most of the excess nutrients in the water. I have thrive-c on hand but stopped using it in other tanks after it caused a bit of a cyano outbreak but would be willing to try dosing it again since I now have a light timer and it cut my light cycle by about 4 hours. Any suggestions are appreciated!
 

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If your tank is doing great without it and other than the blyxa all the plants you've mentioned don't even really feed through the substrate I, personally, wouldn't switch and have to deal with the potential for a mini cycle. That being said, if you have to redo it anyway and are looking to add some stem plants and bump up your planting a little now would be the perfect time to jump into it. If you're gonna do it you might as well take the plunge, right? 馃槈 I'm interested to see which direction you pick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I cant get anything in time other than fluval stratum, which I have not heard many good things about it, so I'm leaning towards keeping my substrate inert sand and then keeping the planted areas in 2 inch deep fine inert gravel that's already in the tank. Now to my next question-- root tabs or thrive-c in the water column? I'd love to have the blyxa explode in this tank. I know it does better with nutrient rich substrate....so should I use flourish root tabs? Or dose the water column? The thrive-c would be nice because all of the other plants would get a boost, but then would the blyxa not get enough nutrients because they are root feeders? If I use root tabs, then my other plants are lacking. This tank has had under 5ppm of nitrates since I set it up, mainly because it's not heavily stocked but heavily planted. I don't think doubling up with root tabs plus water column ferts would be good right? Wouldn't that cause excess nutrients and therefore make an algae bloom? I'm not super-informed on fertilizers, I've always stuck with my low tech scapes over the years.
 

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I've been keeping Blyxa Japonica successfully for years in an inert substrate. I use Black Diamond blasting sand (medium/fine grade) and it anchors the Blyxa nicely and the roots grow well in it. I have found that dosing the water column is enough for Blyxa to thrive (given enough light and nutrients). You can use root tabs, but it isn't necessary for success with this plant. If you decide to use them, be careful and plant them deep so they don't leach into the water column causing issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've been keeping Blyxa Japonica successfully for years in an inert substrate. I use Black Diamond blasting sand (medium/fine grade) and it anchors the Blyxa nicely and the roots grow well in it. I have found that dosing the water column is enough for Blyxa to thrive (given enough light and nutrients). You can use root tabs, but it isn't necessary for success with this plant. If you decide to use them, be careful and plant them deep so they don't leach into the water column causing issues.
Thank you! Perhaps I will just give it a go in some sand and dose thrive-c once a week after water changes.

Btw, does anyone have any experiences with fluval stratum? I can pick that up any time since petsmart sells it now. I've heard that it's hard to plant with, but maybe because some people don't know to wet down the substrate before planting and flooding the tank? I don't plan on having much in the tank at all. Just small mounds where the blyxa will go. The rest of my plants will be Java fern species, anubias, bucephalandra, and them two tiger lotuses
 

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Back when I worked at the LFS - I set up a small display tank with Fluval Stratum. I was surprised with how difficult it was to work with. It is incredibly light weight and I found planting was significantly more difficult than any other substrate I had used before. FYI - I did use it with the tank flooded. I think the hardest part of keeping Blyxa is getting it initially planted and anchored. I used to have Eco-Complete as my substrate and it was fairly difficult to plant Blyxa without damaging it. This is one of the reasons I made the switch to BDBS. IMO Fluval Stratum checks more bad boxes than good.
 

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I've used fluval stratum. It's a very weird aquasoils as it's pellets are muddy and round. It's very awkward to plant in but does its job as an active substrate. If you're going to use it you're going to have to plant deep and be super careful when vacuuming. My experience with it long term is a weird one as well as it breaks down into mulm and silt. I had to tear the tank down to replace it after a year. I haven't used it since. That's just my experience with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I've used fluval stratum. It's a very weird aquasoils as it's pellets are muddy and round. It's very awkward to plant in but does its job as an active substrate. If you're going to use it you're going to have to plant deep and be super careful when vacuuming. My experience with it long term is a weird one as well as it breaks down into mulm and silt. I had to tear the tank down to replace it after a year. I haven't used it since. That's just my experience with it.
I'm waiting for that to happen with my contrasoil lol. I built a retaining wall with river stone and stuffed filter floss in the cracks to hold the soil in then built a mound of contrasoil to plant my emersed section. Luckily that way I don't have to gravel vac it. But the gravel I have currently and will be keeping for the planted area is finer grained than the stratum I think, its probably the same size as contrasoil extra fine. Hopefully it will hold the blyxa well, I don't plan on keeping the new sand bed deeper than a half inch so I can't really do any planting in that area, unless I buy more sand for the tank. Im trying to keep most of this rescape with things I already have in the tank, like the wood and stone and then use substrate I have leftover from my pond build since I had to dump money into buying a new stand because I'm getting super anxious with the tank having so much pressure on the sides of it. Fingers crossed the stand and leveling mat come by Friday or Saturday.

Back when I worked at the LFS - I set up a small display tank with Fluval Stratum. I was surprised with how difficult it was to work with. It is incredibly light weight and I found planting was significantly more difficult than any other substrate I had used before. FYI - I did use it with the tank flooded. I think the hardest part of keeping Blyxa is getting it initially planted and anchored. I used to have Eco-Complete as my substrate and it was fairly difficult to plant Blyxa without damaging it. This is one of the reasons I made the switch to BDBS. IMO Fluval Stratum checks more bad boxes than good.
I read that pretty much everywhere else too! That its too porous and tends to float up after being flooded. Obviously you can't soak it first before planting, so I think that was a major design flaw on fluvals part. I think I will try either sand or my fine gravel with thrive-c. If I don't get good results with dosing the water column I could always stop and then shove some root tabs in there after the fact. I don't want to deal with pH swings either, the contrasoil already has my pond at a 6.2 currently.
 

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A great majority of plants will do fine with an inert substrate and water column dosing. There are some that may do better with an active substrate, but I struggle to think of any that 100% require an active substrate to live.
 

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I was not at all happy with the mess Stratum made if stirred up, so last year when I started a new 10g tank, I tried putting about 1.5" of it down, and then another 1" of Seachem Flourite on top. It's been working very well, keeping the stratum capped and contained. My Ludwigia, rotala, and swords are all doing great in it and I just have an inexpensive Nicrew that is on the 24-hr cycle. I've added a few root tabs twice in the past year and I dose Thrive once a week in all my three tanks after I do my weekly vacuuming and water change.
 
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