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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
how to pick a substrate
seachem fluorite or caribsea eco complete
the ada looks very nice but doesn't look like its easy to get and expensive
 

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Think of the types of plants you want to grow. Some plants wil grow great in Eco or Seachem others will only grow in Ada, Fluval etc??

Think of it 2 ways.
1) Organic ADA, Fluva, UP Aqua etc seem to grow the harder to grow plants well, Toninina Fluivitalis, Syng Belem, Erios etc

2) Inorganic substrates Secahem, Eco - Seem to grow Crypts, Amazon swords, Vals etc Well

Also the Inorganic are easier to vaccuum clean as they are heavier, generally get better with age as the have high CEC and act as magnets and hold in ferts nutrients, but also may become compacted like cement making it hard for plants to Grow.

Organic based substrates are lighter harder to root plants may become mush/mud later with breakdown, dont become compacted

Substrate is very important to most plants, although some plants do not need substrate ie Java Ferns Anubias Buce can be attached to wood or rocks and take ferts from the water column better and if planted too deep in any substrate will die. I have learned this the hard way trying to grow certain expensive plants that just dont like a specific substrate and they end up dieing and once I changed the substrate with all other equipment the exact same the plants grew amazing.

There are many DIY substrate methods that can be cost efficient and very effective ie

1) Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil Methods Capped with sand and
2) Mineralized Top Soil Recipes on the internet
are thye 2 most popular ones right now.

Both methods may require more work and research for you but are cheaper and people have had very good success with these methods.

Choose the plants you want to grow first then work your equipment around that. I think that would be easier than choosing a substrate and then deciding you want to grow a specific plant that won't do well in that type of substrate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
wow thanks wasnt expecting to get such an awesome reply so quickly.
where can i find these organic substrates?
 

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I havnt looked around for this yet, but I suspect Home Depot or maybe nuseries.

But the preferred soils;
Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil - aka MGOPS
and Possibly Scotts Topsoil is what I have seen on Forums.

The reason people mineralize the Topsoil is to decompose the organics in the soil faster. If you just put random soils into your tank you may get a build up of gases that can kill plants and fish and also smell bad ie like sulpher. I had this happen before.

When you use the substrate research substrate depth as well this is important as you want aerobic substrate and not anerobic (if it is too deep)

You may have to cycle the aquarium a bit, do water changes and sift out the floating particals a bit before you add fish do to the soil composition I think the MGOPS may contain ammonia or nitrates for the first while
 

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2) Inorganic substrates Secahem, Eco - Seem to grow Crypts, Amazon swords, Vals etc Well
I agree, it's not cheap but as a complete beginner with a planted tank crypts, vals and dwarf sag do very well in the 3-4" of Eco Complete fine in my low/no tech 55g. MTS snails seem to do well in it, and it's ok for the corys. Also liked the 'no rinse' aspect. Fairly easy to keep clean with surface vacuuming. It's pretty light, but the crypts hold it together enough that I can pour in a 5g water bottle pretty fast and nothing blows around.
 

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I recently switched from miracle gro to top soil, just too much wood bits in the miracle gro.
 

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ADA, NETLEA all the way if you are going for tougher to grow plants or if your willing to spend 40 bucks a bag. But as a newbie I would just try any of the above except for the topsoil. I have aquascaped with every possible substrate, and I wouldnt try the topsoil or miracle grow unless you know your not going to be moving much stuff around, have read everything on it from the 08 posts on aquaticplantcentral or plantedtank.net, tom barrs report on it. Soil is cheap, but its a huge mess, especially when your rescaping.

Here is the list in my opinion

ADA (get from aquainspiration or shrimp fever)
Netlea ( AI)
Flourite (fine grain) (big al)
AKAdama with grain from kims nature with lower layer of osmocot or slow release from AI, or Azoo slow release from lucky
red sea
regular flourite

Theres also a lot of members selling plants here including me, so take a look at the forums for that as well. That will save you some money too.
 

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dirt is best capped with a coarse sand or very find gravel, larger gravel makes a big mess when removing plants. The method I use for moving plants is shaking a little and turning and pulling slowly so the sand falls down right away so not much dirt is released. Plants with a very large root system will make a big mess for sure. I just pulled a fairly big bleheri sword yesterday and it's roots had a diameter of about 6 inches at least. I also plant using tweezers. a big shuffle of plants means a large water change for sure. But dirt capped with something is probably the best substrate quality wise for plants, the messiest for moving stuff around.

There is no best substrate, there is just a few good options for your setup and it's just a matter of figuring out the pros and cons for each and deciding what is better for you.

I personally like dirt capped with coarse sand but sometimes I curse it to.
 

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I like coarse concrete sand from a builders supply or the Horticultural sand from a garden center.
 

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Before any substrate was available, I use to use playground sand that I literally stole from my local playground lol Back then there wasnt man hard to keep plants readily available either. But if your looking for light plants, sand is a good cheap option, just layer it with sub substrate ferts and get some chunkey gravel at the bottom to prevent your sand from packing and creating anaerobic zones.

I like coarse concrete sand from a builders supply or the Horticultural sand from a garden center.
 

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Some of us used to get it off the lakeshore years ago. That is now illegal and there at too many eyes watching. It is still the best to grow most plants.
 

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I use playsand in both my larger tanks and really like it. It keeps the plants in pretty well, looks pretty nice, and is cheap and readily available. I also added some laterite (clay) for iron content, which is good for crypts and swords (my sword grew HUUUUGE and now pops off babies like crazy). I throw in a bit of root tabs where needed.

So far it has been quite successful for me. Maybe the fancier substrates would work better, I've never compared, but I have no problems. Mind, I am mostly avoiding highly demanding and difficult plants, although some I have are moderately demanding.
 

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I find play sand is too fine. The coarser sand is much better. If you drag a magnet though it it picks up particles of natural iron. Maybe that is why it works so well.
 
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