The Planted Tank Forum banner
1 - 4 of 4 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've had an aquarium for several years, but I'm just now wanting to start a planted tank. I want to make sure I'm using the best combination of substrates and have been watching youtube video after youtube video to see what is most prevalent, but it seems every video I watch there is a different combination of substrate being used. Some use power sand, others use the porous volcanic material, some use the soil powder on top of soil, others don't. Some put sand and/or gravel on top of the soil, others just leave the soil exposed. I realize some of this is just up to personal preference but I'm wondering what people suggest as being the "best" combination and just some of the do's and dont's when it comes to substrates.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,998 Posts
I've had an aquarium for several years, but I'm just now wanting to start a planted tank. I want to make sure I'm using the best combination of substrates and have been watching youtube video after youtube video to see what is most prevalent, but it seems every video I watch there is a different combination of substrate being used. Some use power sand, others use the porous volcanic material, some use the soil powder on top of soil, others don't. Some put sand and/or gravel on top of the soil, others just leave the soil exposed. I realize some of this is just up to personal preference but I'm wondering what people suggest as being the "best" combination and just some of the do's and dont's when it comes to substrates.
The most important thing not to use is substrate with grains that are bigger then 3-4mm across (smaller is fine). So in other words, don't use something like pea gravel or large sized aquarium gravel. After that there really are no hard and fast rules. People have a lot of success with a variety of substrate options as you have seen. A lot of this has to do with personal preferences for features and aesthetics. Price also plays a large part for many people.

No matter what you pick you will need to be following a regular fertilizer regime for best chance of success. This is the part that some channels don't show you or gloss over, but its hyper important. There are many fertilizer options out there but one popular option is Nicolg Thrive (or ThriveC for low tech tanks). Good luck and welcome to the forum!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
584 Posts
People have found success with lots of different substrates, which is why you have seen so many different set ups. Substrates fall into two general categories, active or inert. Active substrates include dirt and aquasoil and provide the plants with nutrition (though many people add supplemental fertilizer also), but they change over time - they may leech too many nutrients right at set up and they eventually become depleted. Inert substrates like gravel and sand have no nutrients, so you have to add the plant nutrients yourself. There are many pros and cons to each well beyond what I've explained here, and a lot of it comes down to personal preference. The most important thing is that you understand the properties of the one you go with, because they aren't managed the same way.

I will make a few comments though. If you choose to have a dirted tank, you must have a cap of some sort. This is not optional. ADA aquasoil is a popular choice (though it's not the only aquasoil in town), but you won't see many Americans using all their extra additives because they are super expensive and I don't think the advantage of using them has been proven. I'm not clear that power sand is functionally different from using crushed lava rock as a base, which primarily allows you to get more substrate volume without having to buy an entire dump truck of aquasoil ($$$). If money is literally no object and you want to try them all out, sure, go for it. I'm sure they are fine. But for most people I think your money is better budgeted elsewhere.
 
1 - 4 of 4 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top