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What substrate to use for new planted tank

1230 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  spirgeyooh
I will be starting a new planted tank in the next few weeks and am trying to decide which substrate to get. I'm planning to do 2 layers, with the top layer being natural colored small (1/16") gravel. I can easily purchase from PetSmart or Petco, so I have looked at both EcoComplete and FloraMax. Does anyone have opinions on one or the other? Also, I'll plan to do approximately 1.5" of each - does that seem like a good ratio?
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generally, I don't think there is much point to doing a layered/capped substrate unless you are also dealing with dirt.

I'd say either do the entire tank with what you use as the top substrate, or maybe stick in a ~1" or so layer of MGOCPM, or some other dirt, and then cap with what you like.

Also depends on the tank size. substrate costs for a 10g are bordering on negligible (compared to other costs), while going with premium substrates for a massive tank can be ridiculously expensive...
CEC only works(IMO) when the sub can come in contact/w the ferts. Putting a cap on it keeps the ferts from having contact/w it. Unless you plan on using root tabs
of course. BTW all those ingredients listed in the Eco-Compete...stay there. They
do not get used by plants. Any/most "better than grave" substrates are so because they can absorb nutrients when the level of them is high and then realese them when it gets low in the water.
All water plants can aborb nutrients both from the water directly or from roots.
So root tabs are good but never necessary. Most do believe they help plants which are
called rooted type plants but I know several who have them with NO root tabs and
you can't tell that by looking at the tank.
I said "ALL" plants but obviously floating type plants don't get benefits from root tabs.
I said "ALL" plants but obviously floating type plants don't get benefits from root tabs.
I use a rubberband and attach my roottabs directly to my frogbit roots:icon_lol:
Thanks for the replies. I really like the natural look of the small gravel and since I am just starting I will likely be moving my plants around until I get a look that I like. I have read that layered substrates will mix and the plant substrate can cloud the water when moving plants, so I'm leaning toward using all fine gravel, and using fertilizer and root tabs. Will I still be able to grow carpeting plants, such as dwarf baby tears or dwarf hairgrass or will those be difficult with gravel?
I use flourite either by itself or capped with another gravel

Sent from my Galaxy s3 using this Tapatalk thingy
There are some substrates targeted for planted tanks that have a gravel rather than dirt appearance if that's what you're looking for. Activ-Flora has been pretty popular on the forum recently, and they make a few gravel substrates.

Here's their website:

And here's where it's cheapest to buy from:
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