Go Back   Aquarium Advice - Aquarium Forum Community > Freshwater > Freshwater & Brackish - Planted Tanks

Join Aquarium Advice Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com
 
Old 06-23-2005, 12:04 PM   #1
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Nebraska, USA
Posts: 6,703
A guide to substrates for the planted tank

The substrate in a planted tank is important, but it does depend on lighting levels and the plants kept. I'll start with the low-light planted tank, since its very straight-forward.

Low light substrates

Pea Gravel/expoxy gravel - this is your cheap, run-of-the-mill substrate, and for a low light tank, it'll be fine. You're not going be keeping a wide variety of plants due to your lighting, so they really won't need a fancy substrate. If you happen to keep crypts, you can simply use fertilizer tabs under those plants to provide the nutrients they need.

Sand - pool filter sand or sand blasting sand works great. Play sand isn't the best because its such a fine grain, but it's doable.

Tahitian Moon Sand - almost jet black, light, but coarse, and makes a pretty good substrate, even if you have more light than 'low light'. Again, you can use root tabs to target feed plants that need it.

Additives for low/medium light substrates

Root tabs - basically small fertilizer tabs you insert in the substrate under or next to plants. They will feed a 6" diameter. SeaChem makes some good ones, or you can buy powdered clay and Plantex CSM and roll your own. Some people also use Jobe's plant sticks for Lush Ferns and Palms. This is the ONLY Jobe's plant stick that should be used in an aquarium, and you'll need to cut them into 3rds. They should never be exposed to the open water for long, as they are very nutrient rich and will cause algae blooms if exposed for long. I don't really suggest you use them, but if you have no alternatives...

Laterite - this is a clay based, iron rich substrate additive. You basically put a layer down in an empty tank, then put your sand/gravel over it. Laterite will cloud the water if it's disturbed, and it doesn't last forever. I haven't used it, but I believe it has to be replenished every one to two years.

Medium/High light substrates

Flourite - SeaChem makes this, and it's the oldest plant substrate and widely available. It's a very hard clay, basically light rock but kind of light. It very slowly breaks down to release the iron it contains, and also has good nutrient storage ability. That means the mulm that settles into the substrate will break down into usable nutrients that the plant roots will soak up. Its less common to need root tabs when using Flourite, but heavy root feeders like sword plants and crypts will benefit from their use. While flourite does break down, its such a slow process that you should never have to replace/replenish it.
Flourite comes in regular (rust colored bits with black specks) and 'red' (rust colored only, and reportedly more dusty than regular). Both types need to be rinsed thoroughly, and will still cloud the tank a bit when disturbed.

Eco-complete - Carib Sea started making this a few years ago. Its dark charcoal black in color, doesn't require rinsing, and has a great ability to hold nutrients. Eco doesn't break down, so it too will last forever.


Soil-layered substrate - This is considered an advanced substrate setup. Typically consists of layers of peat, soil, sand/gravel...you really have to know what you're doing before you attempt this. For more details, I suggest Diana Walstad's "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium", which goes into great scientific detail on planted tanks and layered substrates. Again, this isn't for the new planted tank keeper.

*edit*
After 2 years of constant use, I have decided that Flourite is inferior for plant growth as compared to Eco-complete. It is too heavy for some 'runner' plants to properly latch into and thus their growth is affected. With that, and clouding issues every time you move a plant, it's just not as convenient as Eco, and frankly I've had plants do far better in Eco under less light and CO2 than in Flourite.



(This thread is for information and resources only. Post questions in new threads. -- czcz, 9/06)
__________________

__________________
Former advisor and planted tank geek...life's moved on though.
malkore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2005, 05:52 PM   #2
AA Team Emeritus
 
czcz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: US
Posts: 2,821
Profile/Schultz Aquatic Soil - fired clay, like Flourite, but lacks any nutrients and sp most supplement for root feeders. Substrate is lightweight and many experienced aquarists prefer a layer of pea or other gravel over it to hold down stem plants. The substrate compacts over time and seems to get heavier. This aquarist found it difficult to keep stem plants down, but at the 8 month point finds it pretty easy without need for weights or rocks. Available at many home improvement stores.
__________________

__________________
"2- before attempting to plant, have a beer or a Bourbon. That will help to steady your hands…" -- elwaine

wet.biggiantnerds.com
czcz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2005, 02:54 PM   #3
Aquarium Advice Freak
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Dayton, Ohio
Posts: 436
MVP Turface, kittylitter. There are so many options to chose from. IF you dose the watercolumn you can use just about any inert substance (within reason). A high CEC is key.
__________________
For in much wisdom [is] much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v2...oapebanner.jpg
Simpte is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2006, 11:31 AM   #4
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Wizzard~Of~Ozz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,040
Send a message via MSN to Wizzard~Of~Ozz
http://home.infinet.net/teban/jamie.htm is a good list of substrates and their respected contents. Turface MVP is Flourite but has a CEC about 20 times higher.. Sadly, Eco Complete is not listed there.
__________________
120 Gal SW, 150lbs Prem. Fiji, 23Gal Sump, 2x250w 15K MH, 4x65w Actinic
3 x Halichoeres Chrysus (1 surfed), 3 x Nemateleotris magnifica, 1 x Centropyge bicolor, 11 x Scarlet Hermits, 6 x Zebra Hermits, 40 x Astrea Snails, 6 x Nassarius Snails, 3 x Cerith Snails
Wizzard~Of~Ozz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2006, 02:35 AM   #5
AA Team Emeritus
 
czcz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: US
Posts: 2,821
ADA Aquasoil Amazonia - A nutrient-rich acidic substrate, AquaSoil is an excellent product that does not cloud the water. Amazonia lowers KH and pH, and many feel it is required to grow Tonina, Eriocaulon, and other demanding soft water plants. Its uniform grain size effectively holds stem and carpet plants. The literature for Aquasoil Amazonia states it should not be used with animals that stir up the substrate. The "ADA substrate system" includes a variety of products -- including AquaSoil, PowerSand, Clear Super, Tourmaline BC and others with cryptic content -- meant to be used together. I have used AquaSoil with a pumice and peat bottom layer (DIY PowerSand, so to speak) and alone, and find it works fine either way. Its effect on water chemistry can skew CO2 numbers, and with DIY I suggest one be confident about injection levels before using it. (pH after injection in one of my set-ups is below 6.2.)

ADA also offers AquaSoil Africana and Malaya (advertised as being meant for Crypts and other Asian plants), in Normal and Powder grain sizes. ADA has limited availability in the US, and the only two distributers I know of are Aquarium Design Group and Aqua Forest San Francisco. I believe one of the advisors here will report on Powersand Special + Aquasoil after testing.
__________________
"2- before attempting to plant, have a beer or a Bourbon. That will help to steady your hands…" -- elwaine

wet.biggiantnerds.com
czcz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2006, 05:52 PM   #6
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Nebraska, USA
Posts: 6,703
An excellent discussion on substrate heating can be found in this post: http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewtopic.php?t=69828
__________________
Former advisor and planted tank geek...life's moved on though.
malkore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2006, 12:04 AM   #7
Moderator Emeritus
 
Purrbox's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Iowa USA
Posts: 5,860
I've been using Turface MVP in a couple of my tanks for several months now. Overall, I like it a lot.

It requires minimal rinsing and I've had absolutely no clouding issues from it. Might be slightly cloudy right after adding it to the tank, but this generally clears up within a couple of hours. It's a nice Dark Charcoal Grey, and looks very similar to Onyx sand in both size and color. This color is a very nice backdrop for the plants, at least until they completely cover it. Like others have said it's a bit lightweight, which can make planting interesting. I've found it to be one of the easier substrates to plant, but it's also easy to accidently uproot plants with finer roots like Hairgrass and HC while doing tank maintenance. I've seen excellant growth from my plants, which is at least as good if not better than my tanks using other substrates.

If you're looking for an inexpensive substrate option with a good CEC, Turface MVP is definately a good option at $10 for 50lbs. The hardest part is tracking down a retailer that carries it. Luckily the manufacturer is more than happy to send you a list of retailers near you if you contact them.
Purrbox is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2006, 06:15 PM   #8
Aquarium Advice Freak
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Pullman, WA
Posts: 240
3M ColorQuartz is a good alternative to those that want a cheap sand (or so I have heard, someone else may have to post their exact experiences).

To locate a place the sells the stuff, check out this link:
http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/!ut/p/kcxml/04_Sj9SPykssy0xPLMnMz0vM0Q9KzYsPDdaP0I8yizeINzUz1S _IcFQEAGKvYu0!

You'll have to copy and paste the full URL in, it won't let me turn it into a link. Unless some mods can figure out what the deal is with it.
__________________
CaptnIgnit is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-13-2006, 10:44 AM   #9
Aquarium Advice Freak
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Central NJ
Posts: 359
I use the Turface MVP after I read above posts. I don't like it. The main reason is its pH. It has pH6.2. My tap water has pH7.0. Although I put crushed coral in the filter, bury a large bag of crushed coral in the Turface MVP, add limestone and sea shell in the tank, it doesn't help me very much. I still get around pH6.5. Unless I remove large part of Turface MVP and add more crusched coral in the tank and mix them at ratio of 10:1 or even 5:1, then it may can reach pH7. But it may not look good as Turface MVP is dark brown and crushed coral is white.

If your fish like the low pH or you want to lower the pH in the tank, then it is ideal. If your fish like high or neutral pH, then it is not good substrate.
__________________
gu2high is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-13-2006, 06:07 PM   #10
Aquarium Advice Addict
 
Wizzard~Of~Ozz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,040
Send a message via MSN to Wizzard~Of~Ozz
With the exception of Seachem Onyx (sand or Gravel), there are no real alternatives to an acidic substrate. The 2 exceptions are actually addatives, not standalone substrates.

The 1 that stands out is profile which has a neutral PH. Ironically it is the company that makes turface. Ultimately tho, plants like acidic substrates (at least every one I've seen mentioned) so going with an alkaline substrate (which you won't find to many of) is detrimental to plant growth and self defeating.
__________________

__________________
120 Gal SW, 150lbs Prem. Fiji, 23Gal Sump, 2x250w 15K MH, 4x65w Actinic
3 x Halichoeres Chrysus (1 surfed), 3 x Nemateleotris magnifica, 1 x Centropyge bicolor, 11 x Scarlet Hermits, 6 x Zebra Hermits, 40 x Astrea Snails, 6 x Nassarius Snails, 3 x Cerith Snails
Wizzard~Of~Ozz is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
guide, plant, planted, planted tank, tan

Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on AquariumAdvice.com

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Substrates for a planted tank somecallmedaniel16 Freshwater & Brackish - Planted Tanks 10 06-18-2009 11:21 PM
Some beginner questions about substrates for planted tanks. fearlessfisch Freshwater & Brackish - Planted Tanks 8 10-28-2008 01:18 PM
A guide to fertilizing your planted aquarium malkore Freshwater & Brackish - Planted Tanks 3 11-20-2006 02:29 AM
Filtration guide for the planted aquarium malkore Freshwater & Brackish - Planted Tanks 10 11-15-2006 02:18 AM
Planted tank substrates? fishfreek Freshwater & Brackish - Planted Tanks 7 09-12-2002 10:42 PM







» Photo Contest Winners







Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

RV & Travel Trailer Communities

Our RV & Travel Trailer sites encompasses virtually all types of Recreational Vehicles, from brand-specific to general RV communities.

» More about our RV Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities


Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:10 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Aquarium News Delivered to your Email!

Stay up-to-date with Aquarium News in your inbox!

unsusbcribe at anytime with one click

Close [X]