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what Substrate do you use?

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what Substrate do you use?

Post  ciscosdad on Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:12 pm

I am getting ready to set up a 12 gallon plant tank.  I have never used any other substrate than gravel.  Im thinking about dirt what do you guys use and why?
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Re: what Substrate do you use?

Post  williemcd on Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:26 pm

Cisco.. you'll get as many answers to that question as there are members!  <grin>

I've done dirt tanks capped with a bit of PFS and had incredible success with them... Walstead method ..Downside?  replanting will seriously foul the tank for a while... then vacuuming up the debris after it settles to the PFS cap.  
Currently, I've got PFS only tanks that have moderate plant growth but have had tanks, a 125 in particular, that I had to hoe out weekly with PFS... Pro's?  easy to vacuum, easy to spot debris.  
I also have a Safe-T-Sorb tank that provides incredible growth probably due to the substrate primarily composed of baked clay... which I suspect has a ton of trace elements beneficial to plant health. Cons?  disturbing it will cause a brown cloud but it too settles down pretty quickly. 
I don't do ferts or CO2 as others will suggest... I'm a naturalist as much as possible and feel that fish poo should be able to provide all the organic fert necessary.  
Oddly enough, I cannot grow crypts in the STS but they do well in a gravel tank!  

It's a mystery!  Bill

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Re: what Substrate do you use?

Post  neogeo20041 on Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:52 pm

PFS- It's cheap and looks great in a planted tank. If you plan to keep easy to grow plants then its not bad. The PFS don't make a mess and don't fowl your water if you like change your scape all the time.

Dirt- It grow plants great but have to do a lot of water changes to make it safe for fish. It releases a lot of ammonia if I recall correctly, when you first start out with dirt capped with sand or whatever you use. It's a lot easier to cap the dirt with sand from my experience.

Safe-T-Sorb- Its very cheap and grows plants very well. Like Bill said it contains a lot of trace elements and I have had good success growing plants with it. The only downside is it needs a good cleansing before you can put it in the tank.

Eco complete- My 90 gallon has half eco complete and half seachem flourite. I don't have good lights in any of my tanks but it seems to grow plants alright. Eco complete is kind of expensive compared to STS and dirt, but it doesn't fowl you water at all.  

You can always mix up substrate and see what you like. Just my 4 cent Smile

Here is my 75 gallon planted tank dirted tank capped with pfs. The lights I'm using are 3 compact florescent bulb that I got from walmart Smile.

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Re: what Substrate do you use?

Post  ciscosdad on Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:35 pm

Ok My wife is complaining about my 75 gallon, time for a change. Got to keep her happy if I want to keep my tanks. I was going to start with an experiment small tank but what the hell ill start with the biggest one I have at the moment. After my all to brief visit with Bill I think I want to go with Safe-T-Sorb. I just have a few questions about it. Do you use a PFS cap to help the plants stay in place? Do you add clay like you do with dirt? Is it safe for fish as soon as its set up? Im going to have to fut my Apistogramma borellii back in after it is set up. How do you prep it? Last one. Its the same stuff that Tractor Supply has right?

Thanks
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Re: what Substrate do you use?

Post  williemcd on Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:40 pm

Chris.. yea.. I tripped onto this solution a couple of years ago and found it to have a number of pro's with very few con's...
1  I use mine straight without any other supplement.  
2  It is the cheapest/safe substrate I have located.
3  IMHO, I think it does a great job of promoting plant growth.

Cons'.. 
1.  RINSE, RINSE, RINSE.
2.  It will continue to break down over time but not leave the tank cloudy...that is until you stir the substrate up.. 
Bill

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Re: what Substrate do you use?

Post  chale151 on Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:22 am

I do all my tanks with dirt...except like everyone else hated the mess when I had to replant or move things around. I found a pretty good solution that works well. I put down my 1-1.5 inch layer of Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Soil (I sift it to get out the wood debris), then I go to a fabric shop and buy a piece of mesh. It's plastic and very pliable with small holes. I lay that down on the soil, cover with an inch cap of Saf-T-sorb then cap that with a layer of sand or whatever you want to look good. The Saf-T-Sorb soak of the nutrients of the soil like a sponge. Sometimes your roots will get tangled with the mesh, but I just cut them and move it where I want. No mess, nutrient rich substrate and cheap. Just another choice for you to think about.

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Re: what Substrate do you use?

Post  williemcd on Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:24 am

Chale.. sounds like a great compromise!  Bill

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Re: what Substrate do you use?

Post  IRAligon on Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:14 pm

i like to use sand & gravel i get from new kent county on the chickohoney river.

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Re: what Substrate do you use?

Post  neogeo20041 on Wed Apr 02, 2014 6:13 pm

chale151 wrote:I do all my tanks with dirt...except like everyone else hated the mess when I had to replant or move things around. I found a pretty good solution that works well. I put down my 1-1.5 inch layer of Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Soil (I sift it to get out the wood debris), then I go to a fabric shop and buy a piece of mesh. It's plastic and very pliable with small holes. I lay that down on the soil, cover with an inch cap of Saf-T-sorb then cap that with a layer of sand or whatever you want to look good. The Saf-T-Sorb soak of the nutrients of the soil like a sponge. Sometimes your roots will get tangled with the mesh, but I just cut them and move it where I want. No mess, nutrient rich substrate and cheap. Just another choice for you to think about.

Very interesting I will try that next time with a nano tank  Smile
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Re: what Substrate do you use?

Post  williemcd on Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:41 pm

Neo.. check out Diane Walstead!  http://www.aquatic-eden.com/2008/09/diana-walstads-el-natural-approach-to.html

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Re: what Substrate do you use?

Post  chiclidlover on Mon May 19, 2014 5:04 pm

I use a mix in my Oscar tank pfs an pea size gravel with iron an calcium pills crushed an mixed in. I also use clay from a river bank in henrico county mixed with pea size gravel cap with common blue gravel from petco for my 29 . Visited Ira today got some water sprites an VALs an moss . Ill load q picture today . I'm going to do a ten gallon walstad for breeding my Molly's an grow plants that need great trace elements.like swords an cryps an gypsy grass Cuba grass also plus no more vac just water change
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Re: what Substrate do you use?

Post  AngelAddict on Wed Jun 25, 2014 10:24 am

i use pool filter sand in one tank and florite in the other. if you have fish that like to dig around or are going to kick up the substrate i recommend florite even though its expensive as hell. pool filter sand you can get a huge back for 15$ florite its like 20$ for a back a quarter the size. the ONLY downside to pool filter sand is that its really light but thats it.

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