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Old 04-01-2021, 02:17 PM   #1
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Substrate for planted tanks

Maybe this has been answered in posts but I can not find.

Will be setting up a planted tank for the first time and have been researching the proper substrate to use. Seachem Flouride Black seems to be 1 of the contenders but have seen good and bad reviews of it. Some say makes water cloudy, not good for cories, etc while others think it is great.

My research is turning into "Analysis Paralysis" and would appreciate suggestions. I do not want aquarium sand.



Brad
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Old 04-01-2021, 02:59 PM   #2
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What type of plants are you looking at? Low demand "easy" plants dont need a specialist substrate, some dont need substrate at all. I do low demand plants with standard gravel or sand, supplemented with root tabs for rooting plants.
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Old 04-01-2021, 03:03 PM   #3
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Low demand easy plants for sure.
Would regular gravel like Imagitarium Nutmeg Aquarium Gravel be ok?
Is "supposed" to be good for plants because of its size?
I really want something not expensive since if I do not have good luck will go back to plastic. I could always fertilize the plants.
Thanks
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Old 04-01-2021, 03:05 PM   #4
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P.S. If you can, please tell me what plants you have that are easy growing.
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Old 04-01-2021, 03:24 PM   #5
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I have java fern, java moss (these dont need any substrate), amazon swords, crypts, bacopa caroliniana (water hyssop i think is the common name). Ive had other easy plants that didnt do well, so ive done a lot of trial and error. What works in 1 tank wont in another. Anubias is a very common easy plant, also doesn't need any substrate.

I cant find that specific gravel for sale here in the UK, but what i can see online it looks fine and will do the job you want it to do. If you like the look and the price go for it. I would just make sure its not too abrasive if you plan on corys.

I got into planted tanks watching this youtube project. Might be useful. Thomas does go a bit high tech on the substrate and lighting a bit more than you need to for low tech though.

https://youtu.be/66Xt4qglbNc
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Old 04-01-2021, 06:44 PM   #6
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Thank you for the information.

I think I am going to buy the gravel I mentioned... is 3m to 6m and is noted that it is good for plants. Also, I think I will start off with mostly plastic and gradually add live plants and replace the plastic going forward.

I will watch the Thomas video from Big Al's online.

Thanks,
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Old 04-02-2021, 05:42 AM   #7
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If you want to start slowly with your planting, i would go for some java fern. Just tie wrap a plant weight to the rhyzome and drop it in the tank. Tuck the weight behind a rock or piece of wood to hide it from view. Java fern is about as bullet proof a plant as you can get. Within a few months you will be getting a lot of growth that you can easily cultivate new java ferns from as well. You could fill a whole tank from a single java fern in short time (if you wanted a tank full of java fern). I throw huge amounts of it away every month to prevent being over-run with it.
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Old 04-02-2021, 08:29 AM   #8
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Sounds like a plan!!
Hopefully I will need additional trash bags when I get overrun
Will be getting my aquarium early May... will let you know how Java Ferns do.
Thanks!
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Old 04-06-2021, 03:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BradDP View Post
Maybe this has been answered in posts but I can not find.

Will be setting up a planted tank for the first time and have been researching the proper substrate to use. Seachem Flouride Black seems to be 1 of the contenders but have seen good and bad reviews of it. Some say makes water cloudy, not good for cories, etc while others think it is great.

My research is turning into "Analysis Paralysis" and would appreciate suggestions. I do not want aquarium sand.



Brad
I've used the Seachem Flourite substrate (black) as a bottom layer topped with regular black gravel in pretty much all of my planted tanks and never had an issue with it. I've also kept cory's in all of my tanks with zero issue. The only issues I've had with cloudy water is when I would pull up my heavily rooted plants. The fix for that is to turn off your filters and remove the plant slowly.

Just my $.02.
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Old 04-07-2021, 07:53 AM   #10
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Thanks for the information! Worth more than 2 cents
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Old 04-08-2021, 10:19 AM   #11
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Was in your situation a few months ago and definitely understand the "analysis paralysis."

There is no "best substrate"--at least in the one-size-fits-all sense. As mentioned, technically substrate isn't even needed even for land plants as you can grow them hydroponically.

With that in mind, the substrate is often chosen more to suit the fish and other animal inhabitants than the plants. This is why "aquarium gravel" is so popular--it's fine with most fish, harbors beneficial bacteria, doesn't cloud the water when disturbed and is easy to clean by numerous means to certainly include a syphon "vacuum".

Will your tank have fish or other animals? What size is the tank?

As mentioned, Java moss is certainly a good starter plant. If you want it in forms other than weighted balls, use common sewing thread and loosely wrap it to rocks, wood, ornaments, etc. to which it will firmly adhere and spread across.
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Old 04-08-2021, 06:36 PM   #12
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I finally just decided to purchase 100 pounds of Imagitarium Nutmeg Aquarium Gravel for my 75 gallon aquarium. Will just house fish... tetras, platys, swords... the simple stuff!
I do like tiger barbs and had many years ago. Purchased 12 so they messed with each other and not my other fish.
Also decided to ease into live plants and gradually replace plastic with live (let's hope!)

Thanks for your thoughts!!!
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Old 04-10-2021, 07:40 PM   #13
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In the past I had plants in tanks and mainly just managed to keep them alive. Inexpensive, low heat, full-spectrum light in the form of LEDs [seems] to be the magic ingredient that allows plantings to actually thrive without great expense.

Am currently establishing a number of plants in a spare tank before they go into their permanent home in a 160-gallon currently "planted" with plastic. Some things I discovered and have done.

1) Sources are utterly correct in that a great many of the plants you buy are grown immersed in water with their leaves growing in air. Such leaves are very different in appearance than those grown under water and once fully submerged they will quickly begin to die off with most either gone or removed after 2-3 months.

2) With the exception of those that only grow floating on the surface most aquarium plants will appreciate some pond soil in the substrate with a layered mix of soil, coarse sand and gravel often ideal. Pond soil is high in clay and minerals so it provides needed nutrients for an extended period. Of course that's not especially practical in an aquarium so I decided to use containers. I got clear plastic trays (2" deep) in various sizes (smallest about 3" x 3" (5cm x 5cm)) drilled numerous small holes into them and layered substrate in them. Once I have them in shape I'll bury them--container and all--in the gravel substrate of the big tank. This has already proved very useful as it's easy to remove the plants to completely remove the dead and dying leaves. Even the anubius nana which is known for not requiring substrate (just something to cling to) seems to love the mix I used for them (soil then sand then very thin layer of gravel) are rooting very heavily and are now larger than when received despite having removed many of their original leaves.

3) An aquarium plant tool set is great to have!

4) You have to experiment with light, fertilization and dosing. "Root tabs" are definitely useful--particularly when the plants are establishing and essentially re-growing themselves. It seems best to keep the lighting lower than normal for the first week or so as the newly trimmed roots (don't forget to do that!) grow and the plant adjusts to the water and other conditions. If algae starts to build up even with relatively low light you should gently clean the plants. After this you can pour on the light for a while to stimulate new growth. In this period the original leaves that grew above water will almost seem to dry up, become brittle and get covered in an algae that can't be removed while the new growth stays algae free. If you make your own dosing drops (PMDD) you should reduce the nitrogen source (saltpeter) by half or more if you have a decent load of fish and other animals as their waste provides usable nitrogen too much of which encourages algae growth.

5) Heavily aerate to keep the surface moving and the water saturated with CO2.

6) CO2 "fertilization" seems best suited to plant only tanks. Super-saturating water with CO2 quickly and significantly alters water chemistry. It acidifies water but before you think, "that's a good thing as so many fish like slightly acid water" know that the way it does so is akin to using vinegar or other acid in a futile attempt to turn alkaline tap water into something discus will like. Rapid ph fluctuation ensues as plants alternate between their "light" and "dark" phases the first of which consumes CO2 with the latter actually producing a bit in addition to O2. Were this the only effect on water chemistry it wouldn't be much of a deal for most fish but there's another BIG problem. The additional carbon dioxide literally squeezes out oxygen which is even more of a problem for tropical fish as the warmer the water the less oxygen it can hold. Without extremely careful control of both quantity (thus the "bubble counters") and timing to stop the "fertilization" when the chlorophyll is in the "dark" phase fish become oxygen starved.
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Old 04-11-2021, 08:50 AM   #14
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Thank you so much for your detailed information.
I am sure this will be helpful to others also!
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Old 04-11-2021, 09:12 AM   #15
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Think about attaching Java or Anubias to some nice looking rocks. I’ve attached them with super glue and the cascading roots are a good look.
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Old 04-11-2021, 11:33 AM   #16
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Not to sound dumb but I assume only part of the roots get glued?
Also, once glued how does the plant "spread"?
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Old 04-11-2021, 12:15 PM   #17
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I used to glue java fern to rocks. Just glue the rhyzome and roots. It will grow and spread just fine. The rhyzome will grow longer and shoot new leaves. Check that the glue is cyanoacrylate, most superglues, if not all, are cyanoacrylate but best to check.
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Old 04-11-2021, 12:21 PM   #18
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Glue the rhizome. Some will get on the roots. The plant continues to grow from the rhizome. Just clear any material from the rhizome first, Pat it dry along with the area of the rock, hold it there for a couple of minutes, and you’re good to go. Use Super Glue Gel. You’ll find lots of UTube videos on it. Trust me, it’s easy.
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