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First off, hi guys :)

I currently have a 55g tank with approx 3" of aragonite all the way across the bottom of the tank. All decorations are currently plastic or inert. I have pair of Sunshine Peacock Cichlids, an Electric Blue Ahli Hap cichlid, a Green Severum, two Pearl Gourami, one 3-3.5" clown loach, and several tiger barbs; all of these are full grown fish, except the loach.

Current lighting is two 15w bulbs that came with the tank. Pathetic, I know. I'm currently looking at getting the 4x54W Tek system. I think that will light things up nicely :)

Anyway, what my question comes down to, is this: can I grow any plants at all in the aragonite, or shall I have to replace it all? It's a whole bunch of aragonite, and I don't really want to stress my fish by changing it all; I also would like to keep the water chemistry as it is now (aka, not killing my fish). I'm still a novice, and from what I understand, the aragonite allows me to make a lot of screwups that just wouldn't fly in a different substrate.

Can I add fertilizers and additives to the tank that would beef up the aragonite and make it suitable for plants?

If I am understanding correctly, aragonite makes the water very hard, and brings it to a fairly high pH (which is ideal for cichlids, but not for plants, I think?) It keeps the whole ecosystem (if you can call plastic plants and a number of aggressive fish an ecosystem...) in good balance, as far as I know.

I'm looking to grow dwarf hairgrass, and then to branch out from there, after I get a good carpet going.

Oh yes, I also have a fair number of Malaysian trumpet snails churning up the aragonite, which keeps the anaerobic bacteria from building up. This also would be good for the plants, wouldn't it?

Thanks for your patience, I hope to have a beautiful green plant going one of these days :)
 

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I had argonite in 1 tank for 2 months before I took it out and replaced it with plain gravel. It may just be coincidence, but within a few days of changing the substrate the tank went from being an algae filled mess to clear and sparkling and has pretty much stayed that way.

I also, foolishly IMO, decided that several handfuls sprinkled into a couple of my other tanks would help keep the water buffered. I'm spending this week taking those tanks down for a heavy cleaning and hoping I can get it out of the substrate. It may not be the argonite. But at this point I wouldn't have that stuff in my tanks again.

My experience with it is very limited (and very negative). Hopefully you'll get some other responses before you have to make your decision.
 
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