The Planted Tank Forum banner
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey y'all...I've had my tank up and running fully cycled for about 3 months now. It started out as a 10 gallon which I soon found out was far too small for what I had. I have been upgraded to a 28 gallon bowfront for about the last month now. I made a poor attempt at the entire thing from the start and I am trying to make it right now.

Here's my tank setup at the moment:

1 Betta
3 male platys
4 Julii cory
6 ghost shrimp

Water parameters:

pH: 8.0
ammo: 0
nitrite: 0
nitrate: 20-40 I suspect...it's hard to read the API test kit on nitrate
gH: usually 60
kH: 160-180
I measure the gH and kH using API 5 in 1 test strips so I don't know how accurate these measurements are.

Plants:

1 cryptocyrne broken up out of the pot and spread around a bit
1 banana plant
1 small bunch of anacharis
2 amazon swords (growth stunted)
1 stalk of wisteria
1 rhizome of java fern on a piece of driftwood which has turned into 3 since 2 leaves are propagating nicely

Substrate is 1.5 inch CaribSea FloraMax mixed with pool filter sand covered with about 1 inch of just pool filter sand. I don't like this because it seems no matter how hard I try the FloraMax, which is black, always makes it's way up to the top of the substrate even though I don't really fool with the substrate. I only have messed with it while planting at first. I wonder if I should just go ahead and mix it all up? I just don't really like the look of the brown sand with the black FloraMax mixed all into it. I would really like a substrate good for planting that I don't have to worry about mixing all up if I do happen to disturb it a little. Any ideas?

To give y'all a little background as to what has happened....This tank started out as a 10G with most of the live plants mentioned and only 1 18" T8 full spectrum T8 light over it. This is where the swords were stunted I believe. They had larger leaves when I bought them, but since then the larger leaves have all died and a large amount of new smaller leaves have grown up in their place. Will these plants always be in a stunted state now? Moving on, I then bought a 28 gallon bowfront from a guy at work and tranferred everything into the new tank along with my cycled Fluval C2. I'm also going to be adding a Rena Filstar XP1 to my filtration soon by the way. The 28G bowfront only came with the same 18" T8 lighting so the plants were getting even less light for a while since the new tank was a bit taller. I've since added a dual 24" T5 fixture with a 6500k full spectrum and a 10000k colormax bulb equaling exactly 1 watt of light per gallon. I have no CO2 injection and not interested in it.

Anyways, my main questions are:

What should I do about the substrate? I was thinking about shaving the top layer of sand only off and going back with a little thicker layer of sand since the top layer now is littered with the FloraMax. I'm wanting to stick with sand because of the Juliis, but are there any other options? I've heard a lot of people layering on top of dirt or manure and peat, laterite, flourite, etc. I understand these provide good growth for the plants, but I don't want a substrate that if I disturb it a little too much I'm going to get plumes of junk in my water. I've also read soil and manure can really mess with the nitrate levels in a tank so I don't want any problems like that. I could get some API laterite half off right now at my local PETsMART since they are moving locations, but I've heard laterite clouds the water pretty badly. I'm not opposed to taking all the substrate out of the tank and starting from scratch if I can get some good advice on what is the best while being easiest to maintain.

Another question is what plants would you suggest? I'd like to get some cabomba and maybe vallis, but what are y'all's opinions?

Thanks guys for reading my really long post. I just wanted to be thorough and give all the information I could from the start.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,262 Posts
Plants:
2 amazon swords (growth stunted)

Substrate
1.5 inch CaribSea FloraMax mixed with pool filter sand

What should I do about the substrate?
I'm wanting to stick with sand because of the Juliis.
I've heard a lot of people layering on top of dirt or manure and peat, laterite, flourite, etc.

Another question is what plants would you suggest? I'd like to get some cabomba and maybe vallis, but what are y'all's opinions?
I have read some use black blasting sand and have cory's in the tank. They have no problems. The fish are smart enough not to hurt themselves.

You are fighting a loosing battle for FloraMax is suppose to be used for the top layer. If you want to use sand get river sand from landscaper co. After using pool filter sand and play sand found it to be the easiest to keep clean.

Manure is toxic to fish.

Peat or reptile coconut bark under the substrate help create Co2 in the substrate.

I basically use reptile coconut bark topped with Scott's top soil. Top soil with river sand. I have moved substrate and plants with no problems.

Swords will outgrow your tank.

With your light you can grow a lot of plants. The deep red plants would be a problem. Also stay away from plants that require a lot of Co2.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I basically use reptile coconut bark topped with Scott's top soil. Top soil with river sand. I have moved substrate and plants with no problem.
I'm familiar with coconut bark. It just seems odd to me that the top soil won't mess with the water parameters in a closed environment such as a tank. Should it be organic Scotts or something? Also, should I put some Malaysian trumpets in to keep the sand aerated? I don't have any snails and I'm afraid maybe my substrate is full of gas pockets.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
849 Posts
I am going with mineralized top soil on the tank i'm filling right now. Putting dirt I dug up from my back yard then boiled into a fish tank did seem pretty risky to me at first, but the more you learn about soil the more sense it makes. dirt is not as random a substance as it may seem. A puddle is a closed system. if you stuck some aquatic plants in a mud bottomed puddle they would grow... and prepare the way for fish. We're not fighting nature here. Check out the thread.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,262 Posts
I'm familiar with coconut bark. It just seems odd to me that the top soil won't mess with the water parameters in a closed environment such as a tank. Should it be organic Scotts or something? Also, should I put some Malaysian trumpets in to keep the sand aerated? I don't have any snails and I'm afraid maybe my substrate is full of gas pockets.
Just Scott's top soil. You can leave the sticks in if you want.
For new tank I used hydroponic potting soil and mixed it with Red Bag Kitty litter.
Another used Dollar store potting soil.

Gas pockets are normal in a new setting. Are okay as long as they don't have the rotten air smell. Which takes year to occur. Just poke the substrate with knife to let the gas out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Alright, so I'm thinking about doing the coconut bark, top soil and then sand to cap it. I'm going to have to completely break down my tank to do it. What thicknesses do I need to use for each layer? Also, will this type of substrate keep me from having to dose ferts? I really want this to be as low tech and low maintenance as possible.

Is there any special way I need to prepare the substrates before I layer them? And do I need to use coconut bark or is the compressed coconut fiber bedding used for reptiles acceptable? I know the bark is much larger chunks so are the voids left in between what helps to make the CO2 for the tank?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,262 Posts
1 Do I need to use coconut bark or compressed coconut fiber bedding used for reptiles acceptable?
2 Does the bark create voids to make the CO2 for the tank?
3 Is there any special way I need to prepare the substrates
4 What thicknesses do I need to use for each layer?
4 Also, will this type of substrate keep me from having to dose ferts?
  1. I used the reptile coconut bark. Got it for approx $3 at Pet Supermarket.
  2. The bark is fine and compressed. It expands when it gets wet. No voids. The breakdown process of the mulch is what creates Co2 in the substrate.
  3. Coconut needs to be soaked a bit. Soil should be sifted like flour. River sand sifted. Other sands need some rinsing.
  4. I just put a fingers width of the coconut fiber down, Soil approx 1.5 in, and topping 1.5 in.
  5. Weather you need ferts depends on the light, plants, soil, and water.
Keep in mind lights are the engine. Also all tanks have some algae. If it get out of control you 1st decrease the light period. Average time is 8hrs.

Plants that don't usually need ferts or special substrate are mosses, ferns and anubias.

The soil looses ferts after a year. Last longer if you dose ferts. Some use Miracle grow organic. In new tank I used Hydroponics potting soil from Wall-mart. I does 5ml of liquid ferts. My favorite is Brigtwell aquatics FloraMulti. It is cheapest at LNT.com.

If you live in the city you water probably is being treated with phosphates. Mosses and fern love it. If no phosphates the mosses and ferns need potassium sulfate.

To not recreate recycle you should leave some of the old substrate in the tank. Have seen some put it in sock and leave it in the tank for a few weeks. Or you could leave some on the bottom in place of the reptile coconut bark. There may be some mulm under it.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top