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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need help picking the cheapest substrate or whatever i need to start my tank. Its a 72 gallon bowfront i picked up for 100 bucks and i dont have much money to get started... i have a t5 HO to go with it please help
 

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... well.... cheapest substrate I've ever come across is a bag of play sand that you'd get from a home improvement store. Probably $3 for a 50-lb bag if I recall correctly. Do a forum search for "play sand" and "pool filter sand".

Anyway - it would help if you'd tell us more about your plans for your new tank so we can help you find the best substrate for the price and purpose. (Sand is cheap, some of your plants might not like it depending on what you're planning to keep...)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thats the thing i dont know what im gonna plant im just gonna wing it. i hear the sand is hard to clean though. i just dont know where to begin how much should i use... i just dont know AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH
 

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Ok, another option for cheap substrate is what is called "pea gravel". Again you'll probably find a bag of it at your home improvement store. Example - if you have something like Mendards where you are, you'd find it near where the paver brick (for patios) display is. A bag at my local store costs less than $3 for 50 lbs. However... there's always a however... the pieces are a larger diameter and may not make the perfect substrate for plants. So do a search for pea gravel as well to get an idea of what I'm talking about and what others have said about it relative to keeping plants.

There are some good YouTube videos out there about cleaning sand substrates. No, you don't stick the gravel vac down into it. But some people say they're actually easier to keep clean (and thus keep nitrates down) because food and waste particles don't fall down into the grains and get trapped.
 

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I agree on the pea gravel as a general substrate - I used it for years, and I like it's natural look. It can be hard to get plants to stay rooted in it though.
 

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not a good idea if you plant to do much replanting or moving plants around.
As long as the cap has larger grains than the MTS, it will be ok. The smaller MTS grains will sink back below the gravel after you move plants. If you're new to planted tanks, start with easy-to grow plants that are readily available (e.g. cabomba, hornwart, swords, mosses, and floaters).
 

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if you want a quality substrate n save some money. you would plan for a scape that has plants in the corners or the center, then place sand/gravel in the rest of the tank. that way you can have a nutrient rich substrate, save some money, and not deal with nutriet def later on
 

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The Schultz's Aquatic Soil I bought cost less than the pea gravel from the pet store and it is light weight so you don't need as many pounds of it. It has high CEC which simply means it has a lot of pores that can grab nutrients the plants can utilize later the same as some specialty substrates like Flourite and Eco Complete. Even cheaper is Turface that is used to surface playing fields. A huge bag costs less than $20 I think. You need to find it locally. The color may not appeal to you and it is lightweight so it takes practice to get plants to stay planted. http://www.tomark.com/Field_Maintenance/display.php?Category=127&Product=2571&pn=Turface+MVP+Infield+Soil+Amendment+%2850+lb+Bag+-+Freight+from+Corona%2C+CA%29

If you can find gravel that is about the size of a grain of raw rice you would be very happy with it.
 

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hi alll. i have smallish size pea gravel in my aquarium about 2 inches thick on top of tetra complete plant substrate also 2 inches thick, could i get a plant to carpet the foreground or do i need finer subtrate like sand ??
 

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I've found that white silica pool filter sand is an excellent substrate for growing a large variety of plants, using root tab ferts twice a year. (along with regular dosing of dry or liquid ferts). About $10. or less for a 50 lb. bag at most pool/spa supply stores.

Very easy to keep clean, has high density/weight so doesn't get sucked up into vac tubes or filter intakes, and makes fish and plant colors really pop !
That's if you like the look of a light/bright substrate.
Here's my 70 gallon low-tech planted discus tank to give you an idea:
http://s1105.photobucket.com/albums/h357/discuspaul/Sept2011
 

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When I set up this tank I put the dirty Schultz Aquatic Soil down and topped with 2" of washed pea gravel. Am growing Staurogyne repens, Eleocharis acicularis and Marsilea in that big gravel without any trouble. Baby hairgrass looks terrible with big gravel though, it is so wispy it doesn't show up with the busy background of the large gravel until it gets good and dense.
 

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Don't mean to be the mean guy in the bunch but lets slow down and take a breath (insert large sigh here). Your first statement is what concerns me...You are starting a tank with not much money, and you haven't done any research on where you want to go with the tank. Before you go any further, you need to decide what you want to do...do you want a planted tank, fish only? I think before you go any further, you need to do some research on the following things and then develop a plan.
1.) Type of tank...planted, fish only?
2.) Lighting...depends on plants or fish only and what type of plants
3.) CO2...if you want to have plants, big issue to research

Will continue later...need to go...
 

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Ok..I am back...

4) Substrate...If you want plants, then your substrate needs to be good...if fish only then just get some gravel
5.) Dosing....with plants, you need to be thinking of dosing some ferts in the water column and/or get some good root tabs
6.) Filters..your need a good filter with good flow and filtration. This is another area you don't want to go to cheap on

Just remember...you get what you pay for and this hobby can get quite expensive. If you try and go cheap, be ready for problems. Do plenty of research and ask questions. Learn what the nitrogen cycle, the difference between T5, LED, CF, Etc lighting, how is your water and do you need to get a RO/DI filter. There is alot of information out there and you need to sort through it all and make some plans and conclussions on what you want to do. Good luck and enjoy the hobby!
 
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