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Old 04-06-2005, 12:46 AM   #1
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Best substrate short of actual dirt?

Well I know that epoxy gravel is about the worst thing I can have in my aquariums but what is the best short of Eco-complete or similar substrate for plants? Sand has a really good base that the plants can take hold of and take root in. Natural gravel is smaller and better than other gravel for plants because they at least hold some nutrients. Sand has problems because of the dead spots and needs more maintenance. Natural gravel is still going to need to be vaccumed and chance the plants being uprooted. Then there is the question of breeding in the planted tank and what is best for breeding my C. trilineatus but also best for my plants?

I have time before I get ready to set up my breeder and planted tanks so any informaiton now will make it much easier then. Will also help me get ready to remove my undergravel filters and switch to something a little better for my plants.

Please help me figure out what best to do as I am really confused reading all the different posts about gravel, sand, eco-complete and everything else.
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Old 04-06-2005, 01:01 AM   #2
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I don't know that there is any single best substrate to use for plants although from what I have read Eco-Complete comes very close (I haven't tried it yet). I've tried many different types of substrates in my planted tanks. I use Flourite in three of them and think it is great for providing iron to my plants. I wouldn't recommend it for a tank with Corydoras though because the sharp edges could damage their barbels. I use potting soil covered with small gravel for a low maintenance tank with low light plants like Anubias. I have a five gallon tank with sand as a substrate and haven't had any problems with that. I even have a couple of tanks with just plain gravel (one was used to breed Corydoras). I'm thinking of trying Seachem's black onyx sand next.
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Old 04-06-2005, 01:54 AM   #3
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When I was first getting started I saw this recommendation of using 1/2 vermiculite & 1/2 clay soil with sand or grit over the top. The vermiculite & clay go in a blender with water & make a thick past. So far I have had good plant growth though I do do some substrate fertilization for my crypts. I didn't & don't have a lot of money to invest & this has worked out fine for me. My tank is just at the edge of sufficient lighting 1.3 wpg & I run a DIY CO2 rig & dose with fertilizers. But even before I started the CO2 & made homemade fertilizer from a recipe again found on the web my plants did pretty well.

I do get some water cloudiness when I plant because the clay gets stired up a bit but it goes away in a couple of hours with my filter.

I started out with the grit but recently became interested in a digging fish with barbells so I changed it out for sand & left the clay intact. It was slow but the fish where fine with it.
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Old 04-06-2005, 03:41 AM   #4
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Well, if you were interested in doing a natural aquarium, you can use actual "dirt". I'm going to be setting up one with peat base layer, soil, and then either pea gravel or sand (haven't decided yet). Just another idea to confuse you
The great thing about a natural aquarium is that you don't have to spend an arm and a leg on your tank. No fancy lighting, fertilizers, co2 systems, filters or even water changes.
You can search for a couple of threads already started on this issue. I know TankGirl has one and its doing great.
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Old 04-06-2005, 10:31 PM   #5
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I feel that using Eco-complete as your sole substrate is enough to grow practically any plant in your tank (given that all ther other parameters are met, i.e. lighting, etc). I have toyed with the idea of combining fluorite or laterite with eco-complete, but I'm saving that for my next big tank project...whenever that is.
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Old 04-07-2005, 12:12 PM   #6
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Sand does not compact and develop "dead" spots in a planted tank because of roots moving through it, and you could also get yourself some Malaysian trumpet snails, as they burrow in the sand during the day and come out at night.
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Old 04-07-2005, 01:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TankGirl
Sand does not compact and develop "dead" spots in a planted tank because of roots moving through it, and you could also get yourself some Malaysian trumpet snails, as they burrow in the sand during the day and come out at night.
Ok, what type of plants get a good root hold because I have yet to get one to take root and I have tried anacharis, hornwort, java moss and java fern? Oh, and are as easy to grow as they are? Maybe a groundcover plants? Would the pellia work for that? Remember this is a low light tank and the 30 gallon will only have 40 watts of light and is 18 inches tall.

Thanks again tank girl and everyone else, is always something I forget to ask and this makes it easy to ask. 8O
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Old 04-07-2005, 02:04 PM   #8
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Okay, the plants you list do not really need substrate, so your choice can be up to you!

I think for your breeding setup you can go with a completely bare bottom setup or a very thin layer of very small, smooth gravel, as corydoras require (almost) pristine conditions to spawn successfully, and your substrate will trap debris no matter how diligent you are about vac'ing. You can float the anacharis and hornwort, tie the java fern and moss to objects that can be lifted out of the way when you syphon. You could also plant something like cryptocoryne in pots, since that is a low light plant that is a heavy root feeder. The pots can be lifted out of the way for cleaning.

To me, a decision needs to be made whether the tank is going to be a lovely planted tank, or a breeding setup. However, I have not bred corydoras so I am going purely on what I have read about breeding them. Guppyman is an experienced breeder of these cool cats and might be able to give you some tips if you want to PM him.
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