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Old 07-03-2020, 05:40 PM   #1
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Cheap/DIY substrate for planted aquarium?

Hey guys, I'm wondering if anyone could share some experiences of how to DIY cheap substrate or what cheap substrate you used for planted aquarium and it's a success.

I'm asking this because I just got a 350-gallon fish tank and I'd always prefer real live planted aquarium instead of plastic decorations. I used to use Carib Sea Eco-Complete or Seachem Flourite and of course they work very good but expensive, especially if I want to use all of those in this 350 gallon tank.

I have a few ideas but really don't know if any of them will work because I have never tried to use other substrates besides Carib Sea Eco-Complete or Seachem Flourite.

1. mix of top soil and Carib Sea Eco-Complete or Seachem Flourite? Do I need to process top soil? How?

2. top soil on the bottom and gravel or sand or something above the top soil?

3. some type of dirt on the bottom then something on the top?

As long as the substrate substitute doesn't cloud the tank every time I do water change and also provides plants enough nutrition and foundation for their roots, I'm all up for them. Please share your thoughts! Thank you.
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Old 07-03-2020, 06:56 PM   #2
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I used peat moss on the bottom once. Covered it with cheap aquarium gravel and had plants growing like crazy. Takes awhile for the water to clear though and if you disturb the gravel you get brown, peaty water. But plants grew!
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Old 07-09-2020, 03:32 PM   #3
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Home depot - Pea Gravel - $5 per 30 pound bag

Just be sure to THOROUGHLY wash / rinse this gravel - MANY MANY times before loading into your tank.

I have this gravel in 3 of my tanks and love it!

Forgot to mention... I use Flourish tabs in my planted tanks and put new cubes in like every 5 or 6 months...
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Old 07-09-2020, 05:33 PM   #4
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I used dirt from the dollar store. I basically looked up what was bad and made sure the dirt I bought did not contain it. Then poured gravel overtop. I had the dirt in my tank for 4.5 years before I moved. My plants grew like crazy.

Good luck.
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