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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've had a neocaridina (blue velvet) shrimp and ramshorn snail tank set up for a little while with regular gravel and plants. I will be moving them to a bigger tank soon so is there a beginner friendly inert substrate that is good for plants and neos but WON'T change the water parameters?
 

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Really, anything that isn't an aqua soil or calcium based that you find on your LFS shelf will work. Regular Estes aquarium gravel, sand, Flourite, Eco Complete are all good choices depending on your set up and what you want to keep (both plant and animal wise). Then there are blasting and pool sands and other gravels not marketed for aquariums that will work on a budget. I've grown hardy plants well in each of those and none will alter your parameters. Strong preferences from people might be incoming, but honest to goodness they all will grow plants. I could debate minutiae as to what I lean towards and so forth, but pros and cons aren't major among inert substrates for basic plants. Some fish that feed off the bottom (Geos, dwarf cichlids, cory cats, etc.) require sand, some plants grow poorly in anything compact like sand, so you will need to cater your wishlist accordingly but generally speaking you don't need to purchase anything special. Welcome to TPT!
 

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I'm curious about this too.

I'm trying Aquasoil (NatureTank edition) and not impressed. The crypts and swords aren't thriving - not dying but not really growing.

The water column feeders are thriving tho.

I've seen plants growing in gravel + root tabs - next tank I won't be spending on AS.

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I'm curious about this too.

I'm trying Aquasoil (NatureTank edition) and not impressed. The crypts and swords aren't thriving - not dying but not really growing.

The water column feeders are thriving tho.

I've seen plants growing in gravel + root tabs - next tank I won't be spending on AS.

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Every aquatic plant we keep will do perfectly fine and feed from the water column as long as the nutrients are there. Aquasoils do add another layer of ferts and can protect against inadequate water column dosing, but are far from necessary to grow healthy plants, even crypts and swords.
 

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How big is the tank? If it's small, it would be worth it just to get something off a store shelf (LFS preferably, big box if you don't have an LFS).

If it's a larger tank, pool filter sand and Black Diamond are both great choices.

As stated above, just make sure it's not calcium based (like aragonite or limestone - at pet stores it will be marketed for African cichlids or saltwater) or aquasoil, and you should be good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you all so much. I will be moving them into a 15 gallon tank strictly for the shrimp and snails only. As far as plants I have java moss, moss balls, anubius petite(not sure if I spelled that wrong) and a couple other long leaf plants I forgot the name of (similar to java fern). I want to try sand OR even use substrate that can be used to make a carpet of moss/grass, but just want to make sure the plants would live and it wouldn't harm my shrimp/snails
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I think I may try sand since the plants I have don't need substrate plus sand looks like it would be beautiful. Is it a hassle to clean? I currently vacuum their tank with air hose...its the best I could do as not to hurt them but it is a pain even with gravel. Also could I mix the sand with my current gravel substrate that already has biofilm/good bacteria? What sand would y'all recommend?
 

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I use CaribSea Super Naturals sand in mine - the sunset gold colour. I really like it! It's pricier of course than some of the alternatives like PFS but for a smaller tank it's not too bad - I think $20 for 20lbs.

You do need to wash it before it goes in the tank to get off the dust but I don't find it to be excessively dirty. Any leftover dust will settle out or get picked up by your filter in the first couple weeks while it is cycling anyway. For maintenance in the tank you can use a gravel vac like you have been doing, just be aware the sand is lighter weight and will get sucked up, so rather than plunging the vac into the substrate you just go along about an inch or so above it and the lighter weight poop and mulm gets pulled up with not too much sand.

Re mixing it with the current gravel - I think that should be okay. If you don't want to keep it that way forever, you could maybe put some of the gravel into nylon baggies and sit them on top of the sand for a few weeks to transfer the bacteria?

Note that for moss, it won't exactly "carpet" per se and wouldn't need a substrate anyway. You could try a small crypt species - they've spread well in sand for me, but from my understanding the smaller varieties are often very slow growing as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Does CaribSea alter the water parameters? I read somewhere that shrimp tanks don't even have to be vacuumed, people just take water from the top to do water changes?? Wouldn't that build up harm the shrimp and snails? Sorry for all the questions I'm still learning and trying to understand as much as I can before I change things since they have been doing great lately.
 

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The caribsea sand comes in a few varieties, some of which do alter the parameters. Sunset Gold that I use does not, but make sure to avoid any that say "African cichlids" or reference to saltwater/aragonite. It should say on the bag that it won't affect parameters. I believe any of the bags labelled "super naturals" should be okay.

Yes, for my shrimp tank I just take some water out from the top and leave the substrate alone for the most part, although since it's pretty poopy right now I think I'll be trying to get some of that out next time I clean! That is one downside to the pale coloured sand, and part of the reason a lot of shrimp substrates are dark, to help hide it. I have a piece of pantyhose tied over the end of my shrimp siphon to protect any babies as well.

No need to apologise for the questions!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I think I'll try to go for that sand. I looked it up and seems pretty good. Thank you. How do you avoid gas bubbles in the sand?
I had no clue about just taking water from the top, I'll most likely swap to that! I've literally been using pump air hose tubing to clean my tank and it's such a pain because it sucks the smaller gravel up in the tubing no matter how careful I am which blocks the flow all together. Plus the fact that it takes forever to do water changes this way. I'm a pro at making things harder on myself apparently lol
 

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I think I'll try to go for that sand. I looked it up and seems pretty good. Thank you. How do you avoid gas bubbles in the sand?
I had no clue about just taking water from the top, I'll most likely swap to that! I've literally been using pump air hose tubing to clean my tank and it's such a pain because it sucks the smaller gravel up in the tubing no matter how careful I am which blocks the flow all together. Plus the fact that it takes forever to do water changes this way. I'm a pro at making things harder on myself apparently lol
One trick is to tie a chopstick an inch longer to the air hose so you can use it to stir up the sand while the hose is too far up to suck sand. An alternative to chopstick is to tie a turkey blaster to blow up dirt.
 

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If you ask me beginner setting up a tank with plants and neos Fluval stratum is the best in my experience. The only con with Fluval is that planting is a bit tricky because of the grain size, however the grain size works great for shrimplets.


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I'm getting MC to spread runners, (not exactly carpeting but it is growing outwards with new shoots coming off the runners..) without CO2 in a fish and shrimp 20 gallon tank. I'm using pool filter sand.

The lighting is a single 10 watt A-17 5000K LED in a work light reflector. Also a big Flame Sword and regular Amazon sword share this tank, both are growing slowly but are pretty lush.
 

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I haven't had any issues with gas bubbles in my sandbeds that I'm aware of - keeping them not too deep and having rooted plants definitely helps to keep everything nice though! In the shrimp tank I think the sand is only about an inch deep if that, since it's mostly a moss and java fern tank which don't use the substrate anyway. I have 2 sponge filters running in there too and no issues with the sand! :)
 
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