It doesn't matter anything between 1mm to 3mm will work fine for all the carpet plants I've used. If your OK with spending the butt-load of money on ADA go for it but otherwise I'd look at something with a good CEC rating like Turface, PFS, 3MCQ, even Eco or Fluorite will work fine.
Does that mean I only need one layer of one type of substrate? I have eco complete in my current 10g but I plan on transferring that into another 10g it's kind of hard to plant small short stems b/c the granules differ from big to small and the smaller finer granule is at the bottom. How long does Aqua Soil last? I had my mind set on Flora base but I read they don't last quite so long (6 months...)I don't want to replace the substrate too often. I appreciate the help
Brad- you have a different definition of "inert" in respect to planted tank substrates than most people use here on TPT. Gravel, sand, quartz... substrates that cannot be broken down by the plants nor affect water parameters are generally the only "inert" substrates by the common definition. Inert is not the opposite of organic.
The fired clays aren't generally considered inert as 1)- plants CAN obtain nutrients from them (trace, especially iron, which many are high in, as well as those related to CEC) as well as 2) they CAN affect water parameters (some people have experienced kH changes in their tank water). For those reasons, most people do not include them in the "inert" category when referring to substrates.
eiginh- Yes, you can go with only one substrate if you want to.
I define inert as "has no impact on its environment." No impact on plants, no impact on tank water... that's gravel, sand, quartz...
This definition is in line with wikipedia's definition of inert- "In chemistry, the term inert is used to describe something that is not chemically active." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inert
Having a CEC would definitely fall into the category of "chemically active," so my statement makes sense in that context.
It's just semantics, really.
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