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Old 04-10-2018, 08:38 PM
 
Location: KC, MO
854 posts, read 814,930 times
Reputation: 687

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So,

I am starting up a 20 gal aquarium for the office; I've started up zillions of them in the past but I am taking a new turn by using fertilizer infused 'substrate' instead of every day gravel since I want to get the best results from the live plants I'll be putting into the tank.

I want a substrate that is gravel colored, not the black Flourite and other brands that only come in black colors.

I've checked out all the YouTubes and still can't figure out which is the 'best' substrate available.

The tank will be community style, no Cichlids that tend to dig up the gravel.

If anyone has success/has had success with any particular brand, I'd be grateful for your advice in this regard.

I'm keeping it simple- two Fluval AquaClear 30's**, submersible heater, air stones and I'm going to use fertilizer pellets and the bottled liquid C02 carbon stuff versus dealing with those baby dispensers of gas C02. Lighting will be moderate.

Plants will be 'easy' and 'difficult' as categorized by the plant dealers.

** In my last 30 gal, I used two AquaClears so I can pull maintenance on one while the other continues to run so as to avoid that temporary cloudiness that happens when you squeeze out too much bacteria from the sponge. Alternating maintenance on the two filters keeps the water polished during the insert replacement period.



Thanks,


Paul.......

..
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Old 04-12-2018, 02:41 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
8,818 posts, read 5,091,871 times
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It's not exactly gravel-colored, but SeaChem Flourite comes in a reddish color and my plants did well in it.

Otherwise I think you're stuck using gravel over a layer of laterite or soil. I can't think of any substrates that will nourish plants that come in gravel tones.

(I'm curious why you want to avoid a black substrate, as fish generally show their best colors over dark substrates.)
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Old 04-12-2018, 07:29 PM
 
Location: KC, MO
854 posts, read 814,930 times
Reputation: 687
Default Best Substrate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aredhel View Post
It's not exactly gravel-colored, but SeaChem Flourite comes in a reddish color and my plants did well in it.

Otherwise I think you're stuck using gravel over a layer of laterite or soil. I can't think of any substrates that will nourish plants that come in gravel tones.

(I'm curious why you want to avoid a black substrate, as fish generally show their best colors over dark substrates.)
Thanks for taking the time...

I did some more YouTubing and I like how the F Red looks so thanks for the recommendation.

I've done black and in fact I have in the past tried a variety of colors and I keep going back to standard gravel so I want my fertilizer infused substrate to be as close to gravel color as possible.

Black gravel/substrate does not look 'natural' to my mind.

I am a scuba diver, both ocean and lakes.

I want this tank to look as close as possible to what you would see if you looked at a riverbed or lake bottom.

Thanks again, you have helped me make up my mind.

I was distracted by the Eco Complete Red just now but the reviews say it contains no plant nutrients so it appears as though I will take your advice.

And the red in the F Red appears to be a 'soft' red vs that bright red gravel you see among the colored gravel choices.



Thanks again,


Paul........

..
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Old 04-12-2018, 08:03 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
8,818 posts, read 5,091,871 times
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The Flourite red is a brick red, not a bright red, and it has brown undertones. Think red clay. I think you’ll like it.
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Old 04-12-2018, 10:21 PM
 
Location: KC, MO
854 posts, read 814,930 times
Reputation: 687
Default Best Substrate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aredhel View Post
The Flourite red is a brick red, not a bright red, and it has brown undertones. Think red clay. I think you’ll like it.

Yes, that's about what the You Tubes show.

I had seen a 'red' version of 'GROW-PRO' and it looked cool so I am already halfway there toward red for substrate.


I looked at a page of reviews at Amazon and they all said it was good stuff.

The only negative factor were those who said it needs very, very, very extensive rinsing prior to use.


I don't see that as a problem, just something to be sure to do. Who doesn't wash their gravel before putting it into a tank?


Thanks again,


Paul........

..

Last edited by HeadhunterPaul; 04-12-2018 at 10:24 PM.. Reason: edit correction
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Old 04-18-2018, 01:56 PM
 
Location: NY/LA
3,937 posts, read 3,208,759 times
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It's kind of pricey, but I used ADA Aquasoil in my two tanks. I have Amazonia (chocolate-colored) in one, and Africana (more reddish) in the other. I've had pretty good luck growing S. Repens, dwarf baby tears, and other non-beginner plants like bucephalandra using just Aquasoil, with no additional fertilizers or nutrients.
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Old 04-18-2018, 04:21 PM
 
Location: KC, MO
854 posts, read 814,930 times
Reputation: 687
Exclamation Best Substrate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Zero View Post
It's kind of pricey, but I used ADA Aquasoil in my two tanks. I have Amazonia (chocolate-colored) in one, and Africana (more reddish) in the other. I've had pretty good luck growing S. Repens, dwarf baby tears, and other non-beginner plants like bucephalandra using just Aquasoil, with no additional fertilizers or nutrients.
Thanks, Mr. Zero....

Well, as a matter of fact, I've not thoroughly reviewed the ADA, even as I was seeing reference to it.

I still have time to do more research so I will check out the ADA as you suggest and thanks for reminding me to take a harder look at it.



Paul.............

..
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Old 05-28-2018, 09:58 AM
 
Location: Tip of the Sphere. Just the tip.
4,182 posts, read 1,895,995 times
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IMO the best thing you can do for any freshwater tank- and even more so a planted tank- is dirt. Yep, just dirt from my yard- dug down a little bit so that it's mostly clay. NOT potting soil (too much organic stuff to rot).

I discovered this kinda by accident. I wanted some plants in my tank, and they just weren't doing very well with their roots in the gravel. I tried sand (pool filter sand) which I like much better as a substrate, and the plants did somewhat better... but still not great. And a lot of times they just never really put down roots. So I got some little terracotta pots. Put a few inches of dirt in the bottom, then a layer of large gravel so my fish couldn't dig into the dirt, then a layer of sand to seal it up. It worked very well for the plants- years later I still have several planted this way.

But what really surprised me is that once things settled, it made the water more clear. Fewer problems with ich and red algae. And plants grow MUCH better if there's dirt in the tank- whether their roots are in it or not. I think the dirt introduces some 'good' bacteria, fungi, etc. that just make the mini-ecosystem work better. But again... DON'T use potting soil. I can tell you from experience that that won't work. I'm talking about plain ol' dirt without much organic matter.

As for substrate itself, I like sand. Problem with gravel is that all the crud and crap falls down between the cracks, and it just stays there and rots. That's not what you want... you want the fish to stir it up so that the crud gets sucked into the filter. That happens to a much greater extent with sand.

Now if you use sand, the *type* of sand is important. Don't use the cheap sandbox/playground sand from Home Depot. It's fine if you're making concrete or sand castles, but way too messy for an aquarium. There are some really fine grains (practically dust) mixed in, and they'll just make a mess and the water will never be clear. I've found two types of sand that work well in a freshwater aquarium. There's the stuff they sell at the pet store. It's a little expensive, but available in lots of colors and works well. But if you want white or tan sand (depending on brand), the best bang for the buck IMO is pool filter sand. Very clean and uniform in size. Large bags, not expensive.

What I like to do is mix in a small amount of colored sand from the pet store with mostly pool filter sand. So it's white or tan sand with flecks of whatever color you like. What IMO looks nice in an aquarium is white sand with some black mixed in. This way if you're lazy and haven't vacuumed out the sand in a while, the black specks do a great job of hiding any nasties sitting on the bottom. Makes for a clean looking tank even if it's... not.
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Old 05-28-2018, 04:22 PM
 
Location: KC, MO
854 posts, read 814,930 times
Reputation: 687
Exclamation Best Substrate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by turkey-head View Post
IMO the best thing you can do for any freshwater tank- and even more so a planted tank- is dirt. Yep, just dirt from my yard- dug down a little bit so that it's mostly clay. NOT potting soil (too much organic stuff to rot)........ the best bang for the buck IMO is pool filter sand. Very clean and uniform in size. Large bags, not expensive......

Thanks, Turkey....!


I've not yet started the aquarium so there is still time to consider what you have said; I've seen others say the same thing, by the way.




Thanks for the input, I'll give it consideration while I keep the Red Seachem Flourite in mind.




Paul..........


..
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Old 07-07-2018, 09:32 AM
 
Location: Posting from my space yacht.
8,462 posts, read 3,651,286 times
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I've seen people use a layer of the black soil on the bottom with gravel on top of that and it works well. The soil helps with nutrients and the gravel gives them enough space for the roots to grow. My planted tank just has the black soil on the bottom and I think it looks great but I'm thinking of adding some gravel to at least one portion of the tank for contrast and to hide stray roots.

Pool filter sand is great for cichlid tanks and tanks with bottom feeders that like to sift through the substrate. I've found in planted tanks it can smother the roots though. It's too compact and heavy and doesn't give the roots room to grow. Might not be as much of an issue if you have a layer of soil underneath it though.
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