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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought some black blasting sand for the substrate of a tank I'm currently planning. Should I get a potting soil mix to put under the sand and use the sand as a cap or will it be okay with just the sand??? I would assume that I would need to use root tabs or something in the sand if I didn't use the soil...

Thanks for any feedback you guys can offer!!
 

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I bought some black blasting sand for the substrate of a tank I'm currently planning. Should I get a potting soil mix to put under the sand and use the sand as a cap or will it be okay with just the sand??? I would assume that I would need to use root tabs or something in the sand if I didn't use the soil...

Thanks for any feedback you guys can offer!!
Sand and root tabs will work fine. You can buy Osmocote tabs from members here or make your own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sand and root tabs will work fine. You can buy Osmocote tabs from members here or make your own.
I feel like that would be a lot easier and more manageable. Why do people bother with putting the potting mix/soil in?

Thanks again.
 

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I feel like that would be a lot easier and more manageable. Why do people bother with putting the potting mix/soil in?

Thanks again.
For the additional nutrients from the soil. I transitioned my 55 to dirt 6 months ago and honestly for me I think it was better before with just Black Diamond and tabs. It's cleaner without the dirt and one less variable to deal with. It pains me to move plants now because it just causes a mess. If you are someone who likes to change your scape often than I would advise against dirt. Just my opinion.
 

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I find it much easier to balance ferts with soil and sand cap than just same alone... as far as mess... of you have a lot of stem plants, just cut at the substrate and replant, let the roots rot.. if you have a lot of swords/crypts r other rosette plants shaking them and pulling slowly to replant keeps the mess down... gravel vac a bit and its like it never happened
 

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For the additional nutrients from the soil. I transitioned my 55 to dirt 6 months ago and honestly for me I think it was better before with just Black Diamons and tabs. It's cleaner without the dirt and one less variable to deal with. It pains me to move plants now because it just causes a mess. If you are someone who likes to change your scape often than I would advise against dirt. Just my opinion.

Agree - this is my opinion too.
 

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I use mostly sand/gravel/Flourite as mine got mixed over time and I like the look it gives the tank. But then there is also some soil mixed as well as I've spilled things numerous times. One big thing that was just brought home again is that the soil is very likely to be made up of many different kinds of debris in various stages of decay. Some of that debris (for lack of a better name?) may cause color in the water. I did a little wood project recently and posted about it. One of the results that I've not mentioned is the color in the water from the soil. I find if I use a small pot full of soil in a 125, I never notice color but when I scoop a handful of the same soil and use it in a ten, I get lots of dark color. Less diluted!
I can live with it in a ten but if I had a 125 totally covered with the same soil I would likely want to cut my arm off for being so dumb!
Proceed with caution!
 

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Sand, root tabs, Laterite, Activated Carbon, and some Peat. Zero issues from day 1. Going on 6 years now. Never, not once, a single kind of algae. Of course the substrate nutrients have depleted a long time ago. But they are enough to take the tank through a few months of undisturbed development. Which is what a properly established planted tank is.
 

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I would use just a small handful of peat moss vs soil. Either way don't forget to bake it prior to putting it in your tank to kill any unwanted guests.

Also, don't use carbon in your filters for planted tanks because it will clean out the stuff your bacteria feeds on which is necessary for root growth.
 

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I would use just a small handful of peat moss vs soil. Either way don't forget to bake it prior to putting it in your tank to kill any unwanted guests.

Also, don't use carbon in your filters for planted tanks because it will clean out the stuff your bacteria feeds on which is necessary for root growth.
This is not true. It is perfectly ok to use carbon in your planted tank. Carbon does not remove ammonia. Bacteria breaks down ammonia (or ammonium) into nitrites (see nitrogen cycle), so there is not effect on bacteria either. There is also no effect on root growth. Nutrients in the substrate or water column affect root growth (in addition to light and CO2).
 

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Point of history that may indicate how carbon and plants tend to work? For a very, very long time almost everybody ran carbon in their filters. At the same time many began to grow plants in the tank.
That would seem to indicate there is no problem with using carbon and growing plants or the hobby would not have developed.
Too easy to read bad info so we need to think and sort it for our use before believing all we read.
 

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This is not true. It is perfectly ok to use carbon in your planted tank. Carbon does not remove ammonia. Bacteria breaks down ammonia (or ammonium) into nitrites (see nitrogen cycle), so there is not effect on bacteria either. There is also no effect on root growth. Nutrients in the substrate or water column affect root growth (in addition to light and CO2).
Ok I googled this (again) and I did get ahead of myself about the bacteria and such.

Mr. Tom Barr himself said that it isn't bad for your tank (if you are trying to remove tannins or medicines). However, simple water changes can have almost the same effect so why not save the space in your filter to use Purigen or more biomedia?

I've also saw some research that carbon removes iron/manganese and other elements that are essential for plant growth/reproduction:

Activated Carbon and Aquatic Nutrients - I

Might not be legit though...
 

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Just so that I know the subject has been mentioned...
Plants can take in nutrients from BOTH roots and from the water. Neither is "required".
Lots of tanks have plain Petco gravel for the sub and never see root tabs/capsules.
But the Detrius/mulm does eventually fill in between the gravel and is natural fertilizer
for the plants.
So dirt or root capsules in sand is really just a personal choice that no doubt will
make it easier for the plants to get nutrients as opposed to just water dosing.
I plan on making one/w dirt, but just because I never did before. Not because I
think the plants "need" it.
 

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Ok I googled this (again) and I did get ahead of myself about the bacteria and such.

Mr. Tom Barr himself said that it isn't bad for your tank (if you are trying to remove tannins or medicines). However, simple water changes can have almost the same effect so why not save the space in your filter to use Purigen or more biomedia?

I've also saw some research that carbon removes iron/manganese and other elements that are essential for plant growth/reproduction:

Activated Carbon and Aquatic Nutrients - I

Might not be legit though...
The study is a start by someone trying to sort through the question but then I would also have to note that it is apparently a study started but not completed. That seems to make it somewhat less valuable as a reference both due to the lack of completion and due to the age of the study started. It appears to be a start done almost twenty years ago but not finished. `
 

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Sand, root tabs, Laterite, Activated Carbon, and some Peat. Zero issues from day 1. Going on 6 years now. Never, not once, a single kind of algae. Of course the substrate nutrients have depleted a long time ago. But they are enough to take the tank through a few months of undisturbed development. Which is what a properly established planted tank is.
I've always wondered about alternatives to aquasoil / dirt. Would you care to elaborate more? What ratios? Why sand and not gravel? Why carbon and not purigen? Why peat and not fertilizer? And what's the difference between being properly established and not? It seems you have a certain philosophy but I've not been able to find any complete info just snippets here and there..
 
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Just so that I know the subject has been mentioned...
Plants can take in nutrients from BOTH roots and from the water. Neither is "required".
Experts suggest that rooted plants get 70% or more of their nutrients through the roots.

Lots of tanks have plain Petco gravel for the sub and never see root tabs/capsules.
In most aquarium substrates, nutrients in the water are easily accessed by the plant roots.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I've always wondered about alternatives to aquasoil / dirt. Would you care to elaborate more? What ratios? Why sand and not gravel? Why carbon and not purigen? Why peat and not fertilizer? And what's the difference between being properly established and not? It seems you have a certain philosophy but I've not been able to find any complete info just snippets here and there..
I'm so glad I started this thread! I love where it is going! Thanks to everyone that has chimed in and expanded the topic :)
 
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