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New to planted tanks and need substrate help

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I have a 26 gallon bowfront that I had intended on only doing java ferns and rooting plants like that in, so I bought pea gravel for my substrate. After a lot of looking at different tanks, I've decided that I would really like to do at least a portion of the tank with a dwarf hair grass carpet. From a lot of what Ive read, it wont work very well in the substrate I have. After reading a ton of different articles and posts on different substrates, Im now more confused and need some help. I plan on getting panda cories and rcs for the tank once its a little more put together, so it needs to be something suitable for them as well.

What would be the best substrate to grow the hair grass in? I dont have a LFS, so anything I buy will have to be ordered in.

My tank is already up and running. Its been cycled and already has fish in it and I can't take the fish out. Can I cap or mix the pea gravel with something else to make it better for stem plants? Or would it be better to somehow seperate the pea gravel from a different substrate and plant the hair grass just in that section?
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Planted Tank Nation
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I was sort of in the same dilema as you because I wanted to add more types of live plants to my tank, so I added eco complete in addition to my inert gravel. But I did not have that much success as I would have hoped. So eventually I just did a complete substrate change to dirt capped with gravel. I am very glad I decided to do that because even though my tank is super low light with no co2 I have had great growth! I just moved my filter and fish into a tub overnight and changed the substrate. I had no mini cycle either. And another thing, unless you have high light and co2, hairgrass is tough with even the vest substrate.
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