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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am setting up a 53 gallon tank and I would like to realize my first aquascaping tank where plants have the leading role.
Now I have to deal with the problem of the substrate.
Because it is my first aquascaping tank (not the first at all) I was looking for something that could match both plants requirements and not need a lot of work at the beginning.
I read some articles about pros and cons of different substrates and I was impressed by fluorite.
What do you think about?
Do you have any other suggestion?

Thanks

M.
 

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After a ton of research, I ended up to choosing Flourite myself.

But before we get to that, when you read discussions and reviews about Flourite, note the date of the document. Because in a couple of years old conversations it is touted as having high CEC, which roughly means that it is able to store nutrients well. However we now know that the CEC value is only about 2 if I recall right, when it is something like 0.1 for inert gravel and something like 20-30 for many competing substrate products. So Flourite CEC is ok, but there are products with much better CEC.

I would say that the Flourite is good old school option, if you are looking for a stable long term solution without any surprises along the road. It looks quite natural. It is heavier than most other products so planting is quite easy and plants stay there. And people have reported much success with it.

The main difference between Flourite and most popular competing products is that Flourite does not deplete in a year or two, since it does not release nutrients it was originally made of into the water nearly as fast as other substrates. So competing products could offer way better growth rates from the beginning by giving away nutrients and turning into a mush in a year or two. But Flourite sort of takes time to load itself with nutrients from water column and then works with a bit lower pace for years to come.

So especially if you think you will rescape every year or so, I would recommend you go with other substrate to boost the growth.


Some other things you might want to know:

About the cloudiness and having to wash the Flourite. Yes you do, but it is not a big deal for small to medium sized tanks. I washed it in a 10 gallon bucket with hosing water with good pressure and stirring vigorously and pouring the water away before the dust settles. Repeated maybe 10 times, until the water was clear. This took maybe 15 minutes and I had enough stuff for a 10-20 gallon tank. And I had zero cloudiness when the aquarium was flooded.

About Flourite nutrient contents. Don't bother. Flourite releases compounds it is made of so slowly that it does not make a big difference. It stores some nutrients from root tabs and water column ferts you provide and then releases them steadily.

Flourite is sharp and therefore not suitable for corys etc? This was mentioned in various sources by people who have never used Flourite for that reason. And it was called as being not true by many people who have corys with Flourite. You do the math.

For other options, here is a up to date conversation: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/2...rate-kids-using-these-days-4.html#post9973306
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I would say that the Flourite is good old school option, if you are looking for a stable long term solution without any surprises along the road. It looks quite natural. It is heavier than most other products so planting is quite easy and plants stay there. And people have reported much success with it.
What I want to avoid at the moment is to rescape the tank after a couple of year because the substrate became a mess. Fluorite looks to works like a lead battery: roomy and with a long life as long as you recharge it slowly.

we now know that the CEC value is only about 2 if I recall right, when it is something like 0.1 for inert gravel and something like 20-30 for many competing substrate products. So Flourite CEC is ok, but there are products with much better CEC.
It looks a logarithmic scale :)
2 is not so much but compared with 0.1 looks to be a good starting point. It looks to be necessary put tabs in the substrate and start immediately with the column fertilisation but in my opinion it requires less effort than change lot of water in the first days or months because of the soil.


Flourite is sharp and therefore not suitable for corys etc? This was mentioned in various sources by people who have never used Flourite for that reason. And it was called as being not true by many people who have corys with Flourite. You do the math.
It is impossible not to have some corys hanging around. I found two different format of fluorite: sand and gravel so it looks that Seachem took care of catfish.
I think it is possible to use the gravel in the lower layer or to fill deep gaps and use the sand for the top level.
 

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What form do you want the tank from appearance? I find I like the look of natural better than a consistent solid color. Part of my choice is the fish I keep as well as how I tend to operate. My fish dig and I do not stay with any one plan for long and fully admit that all my tanks are in flux and prone to change.
All of those make Flourite a good choice for me. I started with a bunch of used fluorite I got in a swap and never saw any reason to change. Rinsing new can be helpful to remove the loose dust but I might caution that you do not want to rinse until the water is totally clear as the Flourite is baked clay and it may be gone before the rinse water is totally clear?
but once rinsed, I find no problems and find it works well for me to just add other items like sand, gravel, dirt and let the whole mix as nature would. I find debris does "soak" into the combo and that feeds the plants without me needing to deal with the things that may have the higher levels of nutrients but also have higher levels of work involved. Nutrients that come out far more when new or change my water are not things I want to deal with and adapt as they change. I like slow stable operations over high level worries.
What does a river or lake bottom look like in your mind?
This matches what I see:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What form do you want the tank from appearance?
I was thinking to to lay a sandy foreground separated by kind of dam/wall made by black stones which keep the real fertile substrate with the plants.

Did you try just the standard Fluorite or the new "sand" type too?
 

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Ciao! Benvenuto a planted tank!

I have used Fluorite and have been happy with it, for the same reasons PlantedRich said.

To me, one of the best reasons of using Fluorite is to not have to worry about the substrate having too many nutrients, like garden soil or ADA aquasoils. You can control the amount going in the tank by your fertilization schedule.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ciao! Benvenuto a planted tank!
Grazie :)

To me, one of the best reasons of using Fluorite is to not have to worry about the substrate having too many nutrients,
What I would like to avoid first of all is to have to re-scape the tank after a couple of years because of the soil then I prefer to put fertiliser in the tank instead go take an excess of nutrient away.

I think I would need a good protocol to use with the fluorite to give element through the water column.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I found a picture of the back of a fluorite bag.
It is recommended to add a bottom layer of Onyx sand.
if I'm not mistaken the Onyx has a lot of Ca and Mg.
What do you think about?
 

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Grazie :)


What I would like to avoid first of all is to have to re-scape the tank after a couple of years because of the soil then I prefer to put fertiliser in the tank instead go take an excess of nutrient away.

I think I would need a good protocol to use with the fluorite to give element through the water column.
Exactly. With Fluorite, you don't have to worry about it degrading. And the only fertilizer in the tank is what you put into it.

I wouldn't worry about the Onyx, unless you want it. I don't think it's necessary.
 

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I really enjoy using Fluorite. Every time I start a new tank I keep telling myself I'm going to try something "new" or "different", but I love the natural look of it too much to change things.

In my 20L I made retaining walls of lexan and siliconed them in place, then covered them in fragments of a $2 slate tile I shattered from Home Depot. It separates my fluorite from a path of inert pool sand and looks like a terrace of sorts.

I haven't started working on my latest nano yet, but I plan on doing something a little different (ok, very different...lol) on the bottom, then doing some fluorite and a fluorite sand top. I like that it doesn't degrade or turn into mud, looks great, and if anything it becomes better over time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I haven't started working on my latest nano yet, but I plan on doing something a little different (ok, very different...lol) on the bottom, then doing some fluorite and a fluorite sand top.

I was thinking to do something like you: to place a fluorite sand top over a bottom of Fluorite . Is there any risk that the two different forms mix themselves each other?




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I really like Flourite! I use a 60-40 mix of Flourite dark (dark brown) and Flourite (original) in all my aquariums. I went to this after having tanks with only dark and only original. It does last a long time too.
 

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I started a couple tanks with the idea of not mixing but then as I pulled plants, some moved and when my fish dig, some gets mixed. Certainly when I take the whole out and move it to another thank it was a full blown mix! So I now do not bother as I know in my tanks, things we be mixed. I find it makes small misses on planning less trouble if I don't look too hard at the total on things like the substrate. Since I do have a mix, there is no big problem if I find I want more of something. There are times when the feel is too dark so a few bottles of light colored sand can change the feel a lot. I find I can add a bit here and there by only lowering the water while I work and using some care.
A cut off soda bottle, filled with the new can be pushed down into the existing and slowly release the new so that it doesn't create enough mess in the water to be a real problem. I like that there is no real reason that I can't just add this and that and push it around to fill or cover things like roots that get snagged and pulled up. I push them back down and add some over the top.
But then My methods are often too loose for others, so we each need to find what fits for the way we like to think.
No bad plans but just different at times!
 

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I was thinking to do something like you: to place a fluorite sand top over a bottom of Fluorite . Is there any risk that the two different forms mix themselves each other?
Like Long mentioned, they will eventually shift places (with agitation/disturbance)... especially if you're doing a 50:50 ratio or less sand than regular fluorite. My nano is getting a base of clay, a very light layer of mineralized soil, a sprinkling of regular fluorite, and a healthy cap of fluorite sand.

If you really want the sand as your top layer visual, I would probably stick with the sand only. Personally, I've yet to have a tank with only f-sand (I've only mixed it with regular fluorite to add more fines) so I'm not a huge help, but I'm looking forward to it in my little 10" cube.
 
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