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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am setting up a new 10 gal tank and I plan to use Fluval stratum as substrate. For the light I will buy a hygger waterproof light. My question is since this substrate has nutrients for plants do I need to dose the water column, or does the substrate also affect the water column? Also If I do dose the water column, which one should I go with? Easy green? Or thrive? Is there any thing I should know with using aquasoil?

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Also, would I still need to cycle the tank if I use aqua soil? I clearly don't get the active substrate concept.
 

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Yes you definitely need to dose fertilizers even with an active substrate. Active substrates will release nutrients to plants over time but quickly (within 2 - 6 months) get a lot of those nutrients depleted. Aquasoil just being processed dirt, has a high CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity), meaning bits of the fertilizers will get absorbed into the dirt. So when you dose the water column you are also 'replenishing' the aquasoil to some degree.

As for which fertilizer to use.. I have both ThriveC (for my low tech tanks) and Easy Green. They both work well. You really can't go wrong with either. I think Thrive is a better deal with the cost vs amount of fertilizer if I remember correctly.

You definitely need to cycle the tank as aquasoil doesn't do much where beneficial bacteria is concerned other then provide some ammonia when you are first starting the tank.

One thing to keep in mind with aquasoil is that you will need to do big water changes when the substrate is new. So every day 50% for the first week, every other day for the second week, three times in week 3, and twice in week 4. This is due to the massive amounts of nutrients that are initially released. Doing the big water changes will cut down on potential algae issues. Don't bother dosing ferts until week 2 or 3 due to these big water changes.

Hopefully this is helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes very helpful thank you I heard that eco complete also has a very high cec value also, but it's not an aquasoil so no initial nutrients. And it does not break down. Is this better than buying Fluval stratum if I have to dose fertilizers anyway?

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Also the tank inhabitants will be a blue dream shrimp. This substrate lowers ph will this be a problem for them?

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Also the tank inhabitants will be a blue dream shrimp. This substrate lowers ph will this be a problem for them?

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Eco complete has a higher CEC then say sand, but its not the be all end all. There are people on here that swear by eco complete and some other folk (myself included) that truly despise the stuff. Soooo your mileage will vary. My issue with it is that its really difficult to plant into. My preferred substrate is a thin layer of aquasoil (about 1/2 inch) followed by a 1.5+ inches of pool filter sand. I haven't actually had aquasoil break down on me. Some people say it happens within months or years, others say they have been using the same stuff for many years without issue. I see mulm buildup in my aquasoil but that is normal in any substrate. Soooo /shrug. Personally the advantages of aquasoil outweigh any weaknesses for me.

Blue Dream Shrimp are neocaridina and are very hardy. Lower ph from the aquasoil will probably do them good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok thank you very much I will go with aquasoil. I didn't know aquasoil needed a cap? And what brand of aquasoil do you use?

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Ok thank you very much I will go with aquasoil. I didn't know aquasoil needed a cap? And what brand of aquasoil do you use?

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Oh aquasoil doesn't need a cap. You can use it straight, but then 1) it looks like aquasoil which I personally don't like as much as sand, and 2) you need more of it which is more expensive then dumping a bunch of sand in.

I have used several different brands of aquasoil including fluval stratum, dennerle scapersoil, and that weird brand nicolg sells. All are basically the same once you start adding liquid ferts. Just go with the one that has the color you like and the price you are willing to pay.
 

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100% agree on the difficulty of planting in eco complete. I like it for the ability for plants to root, but it's way too light. I've only used a few different types of aquasoils- amazonia 1, fluval stratum, eco complete (which I don't really consider an aquasoil as it's relatively inert and doesn't jump start your cycle) and most recently dennerle scapers soil. I, personally, would avoid eco complete unless you are mixing it with something that can hold the plants down. Fluval stratum is a step up from eco complete but is still pretty light and globby. It's hard to get plants to stay put in this one as well, you have to plant deep and hope you don't push all the top off to the side and pull the plant out once it's in there. Once you get to the freakishly more expensive ones you get a good hold and relatively predictable behaviour (amazonia 2 had a formula issue that caused additional ammonia to be released a short time back) it's really going to come back to what you're looking for and what your budget is.

It's very important that you track the cycle active substrates are going to kick off right away. You're going to need to do daily 50% changes first week, every other day 2nd week, twice a week 3rd and weekly after that. It goes with the territory. Good luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Is there a specific brand you would recommend for keeping plants down? Would a cap help with that?
 

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A cap would definitely help with that, but it isn't necessary. I like dennerle and amazonia, but everybody has their own preferences. I've heard contrasoil is moderately priced and works really well. My true preference, tbh, is dirt bottomed tanks but I've been trying to hone skills on low to moderate tech planted tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If I was to do a cap could I use gravel? I think I read somewhere that pfs make a good cap, but it's 25 bucks on Amazon and I only need 1 in for my 10 gal? Is there anything else I could use the excess pfs for? Other than a pool filter....

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I just get small bags of fine gravel from petco for 5 bucks, honestly and barely use any (about a quarter inch) for this type of cap as aquasoil doesn't need it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Petsmart has a black sand for that price I will use that. I would also like to use aquasoil also for a 5 gal I have lying around. I would like to spend around $50 on substrate for both if possible? Is there like a lb:gal ratio for aqua soil I could use?

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
So I bought a hygger waterproof plant light and Fluval stratum. Tomorrow I have a 20lb bag of eco complete coming to use as a cap (not all 20 lb, 1/2 is for another tank).

So do I just pour the stratum in, as it's an active substrate?
Or do I wash it? For the cap, do I just dump the eco complete on top the stratum?

I think I will make this a tank journal.....

The hugger light gets HOT is that normal or is it defective?
Otherwise really like the timer and the ability to dim.

For the plants in this tank when do I add them? Do I wait for a month like for fish and shrimp? I don't have any of the plants so they would probably take 3-5 days to get here once I order. Also the only plant I had a bit of trouble finding was water wisteria, if anyone has about 10-15 stems. I can pay about $10 -15 just let me know.


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Whoops miss read your message, you said fine gravel

Will eco complete work?

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If I put an established sponge filter from another tank into this new one, will that help speed up the process?

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If I put an established sponge filter from another tank into this new one, will that help speed up the process?

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Yes, it will definitely speed it up. I just used a piece of my sponge filter to seed my corner filter in my new nano cube and it took me a week, I'm on day 9 now and just picked up a nerite to test if my 0 trite trate and ammo is real or not. It's still going to take a little while, but y you can definitely reduce the cycle time using seeded media.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks

what about the questions about Fluval stratum? Can I use eco complete as a cap?


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Thanks for all your help so far pinkploop and minorhero

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
So I bought a hygger waterproof plant light and Fluval stratum. Tomorrow I have a 20lb bag of eco complete coming to use as a cap (not all 20 lb, 1/2 is for another tank).

So do I just pour the stratum in, as it's an active substrate?
Or do I wash it? For the cap, do I just dump the eco complete on top the stratum?

I think I will make this a tank journal.....

The hugger light gets HOT is that normal or is it defective?
Otherwise really like the timer and the ability to dim.

For the plants in this tank when do I add them? Do I wait for a month like for fish and shrimp? I don't have any of the plants so they would probably take 3-5 days to get here once I order. Also the only plant I had a bit of trouble finding was water wisteria, if anyone has about 10-15 stems. I can pay about $10 -15 just let me know.


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I mean would it help to keep plants down when planting?

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Ok thanks

guess I can still use it for the other tank. Petsmarts black sand looks like mini squares that got dyed black? Carib sea has a whiter sand but that will make my shrimps color lighter right?

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