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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all

I just bought a 65g tank and now i have a dilemma about which substrate to use. My NC6 has azoo grower bed which i know is very good, but the label says to replace the substrate every 1.5 years, and seachem flourite is also good, and i thought of using onyx sand but it would be very expensive. Now i thought of using mineralized topsoil for this tank but don't have any experience with it. I've read it is very good and cheap and lasts a long time, but what kind of light should i use? high-light or low-light? Co2 or no Co2? what about algae issues and problems i could have with delicate fish like GBR or discus?

I would like to keep costs to a minimum. I considered a 2 bulb T5HO fixture from Aquaticlife or fishneedit, or a 4 bulb T5NO, which are the easiest to obtain and afford. I know all of these options give me high light, what advice regarding Co2 can you give? If i use mineralized topsoil can i skip the Co2 equipment with this much light?

Thanks!
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Whether or not you need CO2 depends on your lighting, not your substrate. If you go with higher lighting you'll need CO2.

If you want to keep costs to a minimum I'd go with MTS.

Onyx sand has a tendency to raise and buffer your tank- you might not want to use it in a discus tank. It's also grey rather than black, if that matters to you. If you DO decide you want to go that direction, see if you can find Seachem's Tidal or Coastal Grey- it's exactly the same stuff as Onyx sand, just repackaged cheaper for saltwater tanks at a fraction of the cost. I got some bags at Petsmart last year for $9 each.

Personally due to the high cost of discus I wouldn't keep them in a tank with pressurized CO2. Lots of people do it successfully, but I personally wouldn't want to risk gassing them should something go wrong. I'd set up a low light/low tech tank for discus, myself.
 

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The need for CO2 is determined by how much light you have, not the substrate. If you have high light you have to have CO2, with any substrate. If you want minimum costs, and have a place to soak and dry topsoil to mineralize it, you can't get any lower cost than that. You do need a thick layer of other substrate on top of the topsoil to avoid always having cloudy water everytime something slightly disturbs the substrate. A good choice for that is one with a high CEC, so the nutrients in the MTS can be stored on those grains of substrate, where plant roots can easily get them. Flourite has a high CEC, as does any other substrate that is made of baked clay. Plain swimming pool filter sand also works well as a top layer, even though it has a low CEC, and it is very cheap too.

LauraLee wins by a nose!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your replies

I was thinking of taking Hoppy's advice, about hanging the fixture 1 foot above the water, a 2 bulb T5HO would give me low-med light, and would require no or little Co2. With this low light can i grow amazon swords and crypts?

BTW, what's CEC?
 

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CEC is cation exchange capacity, the ability of a mineral to adsorb cations, those ions with positive charges, like Fe, Mg, NH4, K, etc. (Nutrients that plants consume have to be in ion form.)

CO2 speeds up plant growth at any light level, including low light, and it lets you grow high light plants with lower light levels. With low medium light, and CO2, you should be able to grow most of the aquatic plants of interest, certainly including swords and crypts.
 
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