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Beginner questions for high-tech tank setup

2754 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  lauraleellbp
I have a couple beginner questions before I get going on my first high-tech planted tank. I did alot of searching, but was unable to get concise, definitive answers.

1) I plan to use flourite black sand, mostly for the aesthetics but also for ease of planting. With a highly planted tank, does one need to stir this type of sand? How often? Will it damage plant roots to do so? I plan to do a dwarf baby tears or micro-sword foreground cover... I don't see how it is possible to "stir" that.

2) I have conflicting info on substrate (sand) depth. Most say 2-3" is standard, however some seem to say that you don't want that depth if you are using sand. How deep should I make it?

3) When replacing a sand substrate (ie, starting over) do you try to preserve as much as possible or only enough to get the cycling jump-started?

Thanks for the help. This is a great forum!
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Hi Hoa,

Afraid I won't be able to answer all your questions. Do you have any planted tanks currently?

1) Never heard of stirring the sand, why would you do that?
2) Not sure here, I suspect its largely opinion based. I think you would be fine at anything above 1.5"
3) You can use the previous tanks water + the cycled filter and be fine with replacing the substrate.
Sand that is not being aerated starts to form gas pockets that are toxic to the fish when released.
1) If you have plants that have heavy root systems, e.g. swords or crypts, you shouldn't need to stir the sand because the roots will do it for you.

2) I believe the depth comes back to what type of plants you are using, lightly rooted or heavy rooted.

3) I would say just keep enough of the substrate to assist in cycling, since I assume you would be replacing it to replenish nutrients.
I agree ideal substrate depth depends somewhat on what plants you're keeping.

The overall idea is you don't want any "dead" areas where water & gas exchange can't easily occur, as anaerobic areas often develop into deadly hydrogen sulfide pockets. Keeping the substrate shallow is one way to help prevent this, incorporating burrowing snails such as Malaysian Trumpet Snails (MTS) is another, relying on large rooted plants to fill in the substrate, raking or poking holes on a consistent basis is yet another...

2-3" is probably a good target for you.

I've got 4-6" in my 90gal b/c I have large swordplants (they've got massive root systems)- but I also had a massive fish die-off after moving the tank a few months back, which I am attributing to the substrate being stirred up during the move, so there are some definite risks with deep substrate beds.
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