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Old 04-06-2017, 08:49 PM   #1
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Need suggestions for adding plant substrate to gravel

Hi, i want to add live plants to tank but would like to add a plant substrate to the gravel thats already there, what tyoe or brand do you suggest? I have a 55 gallon tank. Thank you
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Old 04-06-2017, 11:12 PM   #2
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Hi, i want to add live plants to tank but would like to add a plant substrate to the gravel thats already there, what tyoe or brand do you suggest? I have a 55 gallon tank. Thank you


Top soil! u won't be disappointed. Remove all the gravel put in a layer of top soil 1 inch thick (just plain organic top soil with no added ferts), then top it with your gravel. This is the cheapest option.

There are many planted substrates on the market these days so u can use any of them. Most people use, ADA, brightwell, Tropica, Eco complete, fluval stratum, flourite.

It's really personal preference as to what look your after.

U don't need a planted substrate to grow low light beginner plants but if u want to go into higher light and pressurised co2 then it's a must.

What plants are u planning on keeping?
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Old 04-06-2017, 11:21 PM   #3
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Top soil! u won't be disappointed. Remove all the gravel put in a layer of top soil 1 inch thick (just plain organic top soil with no added ferts), then top it with your gravel. This is the cheapest option.

There are many planted substrates on the market these days so u can use any of them. Most people use, ADA, brightwell, Tropica, Eco complete, fluval stratum, flourite.

It's really personal preference as to what look your after.

U don't need a planted substrate to grow low light beginner plants but if u want to go into higher light and pressurised co2 then it's a must.

What plants are u planning on keeping?


Don't agree 100%. I have pressurized co2 and plants are absolutely thriving in my all gravel substrate with root tabs. High light well maybe you are right there. Just feel you can grow about anything in gravel with pressurized co2 and enough fertilization whether it be from the substrate or tabs. Remember the substrate will eventually exhaust its nutrients anyway and will have to eventually use root tabs as it is. All IMO
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Old 04-07-2017, 12:29 AM   #4
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Don't agree 100%. I have pressurized co2 and plants are absolutely thriving in my all gravel substrate with root tabs. High light well maybe you are right there. Just feel you can grow about anything in gravel with pressurized co2 and enough fertilization whether it be from the substrate or tabs. Remember the substrate will eventually exhaust its nutrients anyway and will have to eventually use root tabs as it is. All IMO


True root tabs and gravel does work but my soil won't run out of nutrients for a long long long time. I'm talking years. And substrates with a high cec rating will always have nutrients as they absorb it so u wouldn't overly need tabs. Tabs are cheap but I don't like the idea of having to add them every few months. I'd rather have the nutrient there and not have to worry about it. I'm not 100% sure but I think Ada and Tropica's nutrients also last a few years?
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Old 04-07-2017, 02:57 AM   #5
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Nutrient rich substrates with a high cation exchange capacity are beneficial because they allow more margin for error than dosing the water column alone. Very precious when running a tank with high light as this essentially increases the uptake rate of nutrients.

Although it is true that aquatic plants can take in what they need through their leaves it's also true that most aquatic plants we encounter are actually semi aquatic which means they spend seasons in nature where they are using roots primarily. It makes sense from my perspective for synergistic reasons to allow nutrients at both uptake sites.

Even in gravel eventually (if you don't vac) you will build up a nutrient pool which will involve some CEC.

I use compost mixed with loam, peat, sand and grit. Works very well and is cheap. Can get messy though and requires a degree of understanding when setting up the tank.
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Old 04-07-2017, 03:18 AM   #6
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Hi Marie
I'd say if you don't want to remove the gravel and stuff you can just use root tabs. Sachem Flourish Tabs are my recommendation
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