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Hi there. Newb question, I use only rain water from my water butts in my 200l tank and have had no issues so far, but I'm emptying it and adding a dirt layer to help the plants grow better, which is likely to affect the pH, right? I'm after a plant substrate which won't mess with the pH. Any recommendations? Thanks.
 

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Most plant specific substrates will affect pH - generally reducing it to the low to mid-6's. Using rain water would be fine with those plant specific substrates.

Substrates such as sand or gravel that do not affect pH will require you to add some form of carbonates, a tiny amount of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) would do. This is to provide some form of buffer to keep the pH consistent and prevent stress to livestock.
 

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Carpe Diem
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If you have no issues then why change it?
 

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Caribsea eco complete didn’t change my ph when I went from sand to it, people say it’s inert and I like it, you can also try black diamond blasting sand from tractor supply I think.
 

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I mean I've had no pH issues but nothing grows well otherwise.
There are quite a number of people here who grow incredibly lush tanks using inert substrates, so I think maybe you're looking in the wrong direction for a solution to your issue. Do you fertilize at all, or is you tank just straight rain water?
 

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There are quite a number of people here who grow incredibly lush tanks using inert substrates, so I think maybe you're looking in the wrong direction for a solution to your issue. Do you fertilize at all, or is you tank just straight rain water?
I agree I have three tanks with bdbs and one with pfs and grow everything with proper lights and ferts.
 
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