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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking to rescape my 10 gallon tank. The vision I have in mind is of a field of DHG Belem, with a planting of some stem plants (particular ones I have in mind are Rotala wallichi, R. macandra 'Japan Red', R. 'mini', and Ludwigia senegalensis) on the left side of the tank. There'd be a border of downoi/some small crypt and some rocks in between the stems and the DHG. The fauna would be a school of green neon tetras (Paracheirodon simulans) and possibly some zebra otos and RCS/CRS.

With the mentioned setup, would a light or dark colored substrate and background look better?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm looking to use a sand (or at least a small grain gravel) substrate that would be good for growing the DHG. Should I get a plant specific substrate or am I better off getting some Petco sand and using root tabs? I estimate I'll need a bit over 20 pounds or so of sand.
 

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I use pool filter sand 40lb bag costs about $12 and its really white looking
I like it but it may not be what your looking for
I tried using play sand before but it was too fine grain and my bottom feeders kept digging in it and it was constantly floating in my tank, but the pool filter sand stays at the bottom and it looks a lot cleaner
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm looking for a dark substrate, so pool filter sand isn't an option.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
There are no suppliers of black diamond near me, and with the shipping costs it's just cheaper to get Petco sand if I'm going to get an inert substrate.

Do you guys think it is worth investing in a plant specific substrate or am I better off just using inert sand and root tabs?
 

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Much better if the substrate has some CEC.

Dark substrate and background will bring out the colors of the fish a lot. The fish will fade in a lighter tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Do you have any examples of high CEC substrates? What would the CEC of inert Petco sand be?
 

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Sand hasn't good CEC. Flourite and Eco-Complete do, they are clay or lava based.

You could put laterite [iron rich clay] and/or peat and/or mulm from an established tank under the sand as well as the root tabs. Not much, just a scattering of whichever you have or decide to use. That would increase the CEC of the substrate and mulm would mature the tank faster too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
What substrate is the best for growing a carpet of DHG? I was the under the impression that sand was the best substrate for carpeting plants.
 

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Black and black. I feel like if you are going to do a background, black is always best ascetically, plus it will make your colors pop more.


As for a plant specific substrate, though I prefer to use one, it doesn't matter as much as I like to admit. I like Flourite black sand and I think it looks better than Petco sand if you want to do sand. However, don't use any magnetic cleaners as the Flourite is sharp and can stick to the magnet.
 

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No black substrate here but I have had carpets for a while and hairgrass has rooted in anything from pea gravel to raw rice grain sized Turface type stuff, never had sand though. It looks better with small grained substrate as those leaves are so fine. My substrate hasn't been rinsed out since I set up the tank about 12 years ago so loads of mulm. There was laterite in there at some point too. Occasionally I stick root tabs in as well. Tank has been heavily fertilized and CO2 injected for over a decade.

For staying down it is probably six of one and half a dozen of the other. Coarser material won't move as much but tiny hairgrass crowns might float up when you or a fish brush up against them as not as many roots are anchored. Fine stuff would hold the tiny roots great but it moves around easily so hairgrass roots might get dislodged. High CEC substrates are porous. Plants in the tank will grab bits of porous substrate more than the gravel. Since my substrate is a mix of gravel and high CEC stuff it is noticeable when I pull up a mat of hairgrass, more SAS than gravel on the roots.

Compare volume to price, sand is heavier per volume unit than Flourite or Eco Complete. The designed for a planted tank substrate may not be as expensive as you think it will be. Here is the calculator on this site. http://www.plantedtank.net/substratecalculator.html
 
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