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Capping gravel? Indecision killing me!

2256 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Zapins
So I am on the track to a fully scaped and stem-heavy tank and need to make a decision guessed it..capping my gravel. I have been using inert substrate since the tank was set up about 2 months ago. I am planning a big rescape and would like to go ahead and solve this issue while I've got my hands in there anyway. Either picking up simple black gravel to cover the ugly green peas on top, or considering something nutrient rich eco, flourite etc.SO...

-If I start dosing EI should I be alright with inert substrate as far as nutrients go..(I know I will end up answering parameter q's but lets see what comes up) Mostly stems so they can rely on the nutrient rich water column yah?
-If I do go nutrient rich do I need to stop using my ph neutralizer/buffer as a water treatment (was told at the LFS they arent compatible). If so, any quick suggestions to keeping ph stable.

I know the big potential of KH/GH questions coming up so I'll tell you right now I don't have the tests for these at the moment and It's not something I want taking over this thread.

THANKS for input,
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Yes adding water column ferts is the way to go and as long as your gravel is in the 1mm to 3mm size range your fine with it.

I'd recommend not using a chemical buffer not because there 'in-compatible' but because jacking with your water parameters every WC is going to lead to allot of work and tears. Pick fish that can live in your tap water instead and most fish will acclimate to anything withen 6pH to 8pH just fine.

- Brad
Thank you Brad.

A more appropriate question.... would the normal benefits of such substrates still be seen if the substrate was laid on top of my gravel, basically should i spend the money on quality shiz if its just on the top layer.
Over time larger grains will work their way to the surface- so don't do it unless you're OK with the look of the 2 mixed together.

My personal preference is always for substrates that contain or will hold nutrients (have a good CEC). Even if you cap/mix it in, the plants will grow roots to reach into the nutrient-containing bits.
Okay so I am diving head first into pretty shallow water with this rescape. Im getting ready to do it RIGHT NOW so, going off of the comment about larger grains finding their way to the surface, which I expected to happen, I am unsure which of these two options would be wiser to keep as much of the pre-existing gravel out of sight. I picked up two bags of substrate, same brand but one is very fine and one is larger.
so should I layer the finer on the old gravel with the larger new on top, or should i layer the new larger substrate on the old gravel with the fine on top. Any insights as to which would better prevent my old stuff from making its way up?

They're going to get mixed over time, no matter what. Each time you move a plant or decoration the gravel will get exposed.

If you don't want the gravel to show up, remove it all.
Yeah, the finer will always go to the bottom naturally unfortunately. I would love to have eco complete on bottom and black sand on top but know from experience that it doesn't work. :icon_conf
Fluorite and eco-complete don't really contribute nutrients to plants in any large amount. I consider them both inert.

I wouldn't use pH buffers at all unless your pH is something crazy (above 8 or below 5). Messing with pH buffers all the time is asking for trouble, especially when 99% of the fish and plants hobbyists are likely to encounter aren't extremely picky about pH. The whole pH-has-to-be-perfect fad is really just there to get you to buy more products.

You mentioned "capping gravel" but then didn't say anything about soil. Are you planning on using soil under the gravel cap? If so, then you won't need to dose EI unless you get nutrient deficiencies. With soil in the tank I'd play it by ear and see what deficiency shows up if one shows up at all. If you are planning on just using fluorite/eco/etc... then start EI dosing from the beginning.
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