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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Are there any substrates that fit the bill when starting with moderately high water hardness and ph? I do want something dark/black. I don't want to use DI/RO.

Here are some estimated water parameters for my tap water after being bubbled for 12 hours and heated to roughly 78 degrees:

PH 7.5 to 8
GH 143 to 179 ppm or 8 to 10 dgh
KH 125 ppm or 7 dgh

My tests are pretty old, but these numbers are similar to what they were when I had fresh tests.

Backstory:

I had a great tank years ago using an ADA substrate. I don't know today's equivalent product; it was like the darker version with larger round granules. I purchased it from an importer as I couldn't find it anywhere online from US-based distributors back then (it may have just been out of stock--I can't remember). Same tap water, no RO system, no Co2, bright light but used in moderation. Small tank (12 gallons). Was able to grow a really nice glosso carpet--I did a really long cycle before adding fish and my fish did well (some tetras, shrimp, can't remember what else). There may have been a small piece of driftwood in there too and maybe a rock or two.
 

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I use 1" of loamy soil capped with 1" of pool filter sand. My tap water hardness is 148 ppm and pH is 7.9. Plants grow like crazy in this.
 

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The product you are looking for is either ADA Amazonia or ADA Amazonia II. The second version has less nutrients deliberately as some find the original version to leach too much nutrients into the water.

That said, you shouldn't have any trouble with most (all?) species of tetras and neocardina or amano shrimp with your water profile. Some more sensitive plants might struggle with your hardness but you should still have quite a few options. Aquasoil of any type will soften your water for a bit but eventually (typically a few months) stop softening water as their ability to absorb those salts fills up. This is pretty normal and something you should plan to happen. Good luck!
 
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