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Old 07-03-2020, 05:17 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, 09:36 PM   #2
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What's swimming in the tank?
I'm not really here... fell in the tank and my phone is just that smart
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Old 07-03-2020, 10:48 PM   #3
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I have had alot of success with gravel and root tabs.

You can also have plants that feed from the water column instead of the substrate, there are loads of different plants that do this. They can be planted in gravel/sand or will attach themselves to driftwood or rocks.

From what ive learned, the expensive planted substrate loses its nutrients after awhile and needs root tabs anyways.
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Old 07-04-2020, 03:09 PM   #4
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I personally use pool filter sand and root tabs. Can get 50 pounds from a hardware store for 6 or 7 bucks.
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Old 09-04-2020, 06:15 AM   #5
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I am in the process of setting up a 75 gallon tank, I already have gravel.

I plan on buying 1-2 bags of Eco Complete and just use this in areas which will have root feeding plants. I will use Java moss for carpeting plants, they get nutrients thru the water column.

You could also plant your large root feeding plants in net pots used in Hydroponics system, just fill the pots with Eco Complete, the rest of your tank using cheap gravel.

As someone else said, all planting substrates lose their nutrients after 1-2 years, so why bother?
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