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Old 07-21-2020, 04:04 PM   #1
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best cheap substrate?

i want to mix some plant substrate in with my gravel, what's the best cheap option and how much should i mix with the gravel? (4 5-gallon tanks and a 3 gallon)

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Old 07-21-2020, 04:05 PM   #2
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Which plant substrate do you currently have?
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Old 07-21-2020, 07:33 PM   #3
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i currently just have plain gravel
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Old 07-21-2020, 10:31 PM   #4
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Any substrate can work well for a planted tank. If you want you can still use the plain gravel you have if you like the look of it. If not, you can swap it or you can mix substrates without any issues.

For cheap substrate, pool filter sand, black diamond blasting sand, normal aquarium gravel or normal aquarium sand can all work.

You would have to add a little fertilizer for the plants if using an inert substrate. Thrive or Easy Green are cheap and quality all-in-one fertilizers.
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Old 07-22-2020, 01:38 AM   #5
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see i was putting fertilizer in with the plants in the gravel and they still weren't doing well and kept turning yellow or the leaves were liquifying, but no matter what i did they keep happening and not growing back. that's kinda why i wanted to know what ratio would be enough to be enough for the plants to do better.
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Old 07-22-2020, 08:16 AM   #6
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If you’re not using proper substrate your fertilizer is probably going right up into the water column and away from the roots of your plants. Plant specific substrate is designed to hold on to the fertilizer and feed the plant as needed. A lot of aquarium gravel won’t do that. Also depends on your type of plants. Some are root feeders and some will take fertz from the water column. Do you have high or low water current in your tank? Lights? Frequently changing water? Fish load?
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Old 07-22-2020, 11:17 AM   #7
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I use sand. Very cheap, and easy for plants to root in.
Use black diamond if you want black sand, thatís 10$ for 50lbs at tractor supply.
If you want light sand get play sand at Home Depot/ menards / Loweís etc for 3$ for 50 lbs
I believe they also sell gravel for a good rate too.
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Old 07-22-2020, 11:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trashpanda49 View Post
If youíre not using proper substrate your fertilizer is probably going right up into the water column and away from the roots of your plants. Plant specific substrate is designed to hold on to the fertilizer and feed the plant as needed. A lot of aquarium gravel wonít do that. Also depends on your type of plants. Some are root feeders and some will take fertz from the water column. Do you have high or low water current in your tank? Lights? Frequently changing water? Fish load?

I just moved my 36 gallon tank with sand and some of the root tabs I added a year ago were still there. I always saw the high end stuff as containing slow release fertilizer within them. But I have had no problems fertilizing with cheap sand. I can see where it would loose nutrients in gravel, with so many gaps.
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Old 07-22-2020, 12:17 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by quinnmquinn View Post
I just moved my 36 gallon tank with sand and some of the root tabs I added a year ago were still there. I always saw the high end stuff as containing slow release fertilizer within them. But I have had no problems fertilizing with cheap sand. I can see where it would loose nutrients in gravel, with so many gaps.


Sand can definitely hold nutrients especially since it packs down. It can also be a dead zone. The high end products contain nutrients but while the lower end substrates donít they do an awesome job of storing it. Seachem Clay works really well and wonít break the bank. Same for Carib sea. And Iíve always preferred Tropica tabs to seachem. Just starting to try thrive.
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