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Plants and substrate

756 Views 9 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Raymond S.
My question is about best substrate for plants. I have been always with planted tanks only and my plants grew satisfactory well in plain gravel. Now, I would like to experiment with mixture of gravel and some clay or pit in pots for certain individual plants. Did anybody used those small pots sold in garden stores? You can plant seedlings right in the soil with the pot, which completely decomposes eventually. I would like to take one of such pots and cut it shorter to hide it into gravel substrate. It can be filled with any mixture to supply aponogeton or other plant with better nutrients. I have some reservations about the pot. It will decompose, but how it may effect the water quality?
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Yeah I would not use a composting pot unless it was burried completely under the gravel by about an inch.
Many people are very enthusiastic about trying different subs for the plants benefit.
I read many of the threads associated/w that idea and find that none of them are permanent and last various lengths of time before needing replacing.
They range from very elaborate potions which sound a bit like science projects in-the-making to simple buy-it-in-the store garden soils.
I hope someone on here has tried those pots you spoke of(and I presume it to be the square ones that are brown and appear to be made of some type of fiber) and will respond to your question for you with info about their experience/w those pots.
If after researching it, you decide to find a simpler way to do it, the capsules on this link are called Osmocote+ and contain ALL the nutrients plants need as opposed to root tabs which do not.
ALL aquarium plants take in nutrients from the water and those which are planted also take in nutrients from the substrate if the substrate has them. So yes it would be easier for them if you had ferts in the sub. But 100% not necessary.
The overall appearence of the plants in tanks/w fancy subs is better. But is it because of the sub or is it because people who would go through all that extra work are more
likely to take better care of those plants anyway ?
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I thank everyone for replies and suggestions. I am very cautious about water quality, because fish matter not less them live plants. Perhaps, I will stay where I am and let my plants to find nutrients in water and gravel, as I did before. Fish provide all the nutrients in the tank, the natural way wins. This is also a low tech method, which I like.
I've done that before.

It was a long time ago, so I'm a bit fuzzy on the specifics. This was back before there were many commercially available planted substrates, so I probably just had regular gravel.

Took one of those peat pots, and filled with a mix of stuff like peat and vermiculite (that can get messy in an aquarium:) ), maybe some other stuff. Planted the roots of the plant in it, (I may have tried to fold the top over, or used another pot to try and make a little 'pod', but I'm not certain...), and then stuffed the whole mess into the gravel.

From what I remember, it worked pretty well, and gave the plant a bit of nutrient-rich substrate to hold it over until mulm and such started building up in the gravel. Eventually the roots would grow through the peat pot, but by that point there was probably enough mulm in the gravel.

as to your concerns, I'm pretty sure those pots are just compressed peat. So if there is a lot of it, it will likely leach tannins and make your water a bit darker, much like a piece of driftwood.
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Lochaber, this sounds good to me. I am a lazy aquarist and like to leave things to their own devices as long as possible. When plants grow, look healthy, fish is happy and water clear, I do not bother to work much. Idea with pit pots came, when I thought of establishing some special to me plants, such as Aponogeton, for example. Aponogeton ncrispus grew well in plain gravel and I hope it will grow well again, when I will plant it in gravel or in a pot filled with gravel and a little of red clay beneath the gravel. If the plant would go dormant, I have to extract the bulb and this will create a mess in water for a while... I hope it will grow without dormancy breaks.
Low and very low maintenance tanks are what I really like also.
For that reason I use fine gravel with a little Flourite on top of it which I had left over.
The other tank does have a more high tech sub, but I'll replace that with just plain fine gravel some day. But I have learned through keeping them for a while, that if you only have a few plants (and depending on what kind) they seem to do ok with just fish waste as ferts. But when more plants are there I've found that adding ferts keeps your plant in good condition.
From reading all that you have said, I think you are noticing a need for ferts but trying to use other methods to achieve it. That is your choice. If you prefer digging up your tank every so often or whatever other method you choose to get around using ferts
you certainly can make that your is totally up to you.
I just find it so much easier to just change some water once a week and add ferts after I do that and then again on the next day and that's it for another week.
A little bit of work each week prevents me from major disturbances every couple of months. That is what I call low maintenance.
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Raymond, thank you. I like medium size-coarse gravel, because I worry about poor water circulation in the gravel and possible development of methane bubbles. So far, I am avoiding it, but in the past, when I had fine gravel mixed with sand, I had this problem returning again and again. I never use under gravel filters. I like look your tanks. My tanks look rather like parts of jungle water bodies then like well cared of gardens. When plants grow well, their roots take a good hold of the substrate and bubbles of gas do not form. I am still avoiding gas in the gravel for recent 12 years.
As long as I don't disturb the sub I see no bubbles. I do when I disturb the sub however but they are small ones. Did you know that trumpet snails burrow in the sub
and therefor stop that from building up ?
But the main thing for me is to not need to change/dig up/replace part of or any other way need to mess with my sub...permanently. So plain gravel works best for me since
plants can get nutrients from the water and that mulm which fills in between the gravel has nutrients too. I have tried Eco-Complete and not happy or hate it just so so.
I have tried other "best" substrates, just not dirt. But don't want to cause of the
re-do after a year or so with them. I add a little here and there and just change out some things so after two years it really starts looking mature/natural which those
perfectly clean top of the gravel and no algae anywhere tanks look sterile to me.
This is a picture of the fine gravel I use. Just for you to see.
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