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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So doing my first high-tech planted set up. I've had a small 10 gallon low-tech system before and no issues, but want to do it right now.
What i have so far:
- Innovative Marine Nuvo 20 Fusion (all-in-one rimless tank)
- 1 liter C02 system (ISTA)
- Finnex 24" Planted+ 24/7 light

So goal of the tank is to build up the substrate in one back corner and have it slope down to the front opposite corner. Fully carpeted in HC / dwarft baby tears and 1 or two moss trees (had a few in my old low tech tank).

Questions are:

- What is the best substrate to use. Heard good things about ADA, but can't find anywhere here and also heard good things about Eco-Complete (black course).

- Do i need to build up the base where the substrate will be higher in one corner with something? Should i put gravel / rocks under there, as i've heard too thick soil can cause issues.

Thanks!
 

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Hey @jrance4585,
Welcome to the forum.

1. I fully recommend ADA AquaSoil Amazonia. It is not the only good substrate out there, but I had good experience with it. From what I understand, Eco-Complete is basically a rock that does not provide all the macronutrients needed by plants. There are some microelements, that may or may not be bioavailable. ADA AS is a soil, meaning it provides a very good nitrogen backup source for plants. It will brake down in time, but not very quick. Other similar alternatives to ADA AS are Fluval Stratum, Tropica Aquarium Soil, Nature Soil by Oliver Knott, etc. If you add your location to the profile maybe some members can point you to a good alternative in your area.

2. With HC you do not need a lot of substrate so you can go as low as 1" in front and that also means lower in the back. However I have had ADA AS for over one year at ~5" with no problems. Other substrates might go anaerobic.

3. For HC, if you can afford it invest in a bag of the 'powder type' it makes planting easier.

4. Moss trees can shadow HC. Think of another plant that can do well in the shadowded areas.

Wish you all the best with your new high-tech setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This is extremely helpful. I'm located in New York City.

On the Powder type ADA Amazonia, is there any real difference between the standard and the powder type other than the size of the pieces?

Follow-up, can i put anything under the ADA to avoid requiring so much soil, but still getting a big slope?

Thanks,
Jordan
 

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I second the ADA Aquasoil recommendation. The difference between powder and regular is just the particle size. You can order it directly from ADA's website, though shipping isn't cheap. Fluval Stratum is fine too, and Seachem's aquavitro line now includes a soil that looks promising.

Eco-Complete, Flourite, etc. have high CEC, meaning they can store and release nutrients, but they do not include nutrients themselves, so you'll need root tabs or dosing in the water column.

If you want a slope in the back, you can of course use something else under the Aquasoil. If you want to maintain the slope, I'd suggest building it up with rocks or bricks and then covering with soil (enough so plants can still root). You could also use a different, cheaper substrate under it, but the slope often will not hold well over time.

Also agree that if your moss trees are too large/light-blocking, any HC under them may have issues. HC is not necessarily a high light plant, but it's not going to do well in very low light. You could also put some nice, small, natural-looking gravel/rock under the tree that fades out into the HC... might look especially good if you have just one moss tree in the high top or low bottom corner

How tall is your tank? If it's 12" or shorter, that 24/7 may be overkill as far as the amount of light. It's dimmable, but if you dim, you lose the 24/7 cycle. Just FYI.
 

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Yes, just the dif. in size and over time the small particles will go to the bottom and the larger ones will go to the suface... just physics. However it might help for the first planting with HC. I did my HC in normal AS out of financial constraints and it worked, but tends to be a fight for the first week.

Often the hardscape helps keep the slope in shape. You can reduce the volume of AS needed by using lavarock for example (similar to ADA Power Sand). Putting it in a mesh would also be recommended.

How big of a slope are we talking about ? You can use some techniques from this extreme slope https://youtu.be/ad0pwwt17KU .
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Man, this is by far the most helpful forum i've been on. 1 day and more useful information than months on others. thanks again.

Think i'm going to try to put ceramic bio filter media under the soil, to prop it up. May put some substrate supports in there as well if it's really high.

Yeah, figured light may be a little much with tank being 13" (so closer to 10-11 w/ substrate), but didn't want to outgrow whatever light i got so I'm ok just dimming it and leaving on a regular timer.
 
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