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Plant Substrate

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    Hey guys,
    have a question regarding substrate.
    Would it be at all beneficial to put some specialized substrate in a tank with no added CO2. Something along the lines of Tetra complete or some such.
    The lighting levels are about 0,5 W/L or 2,25 W/gallon(UK).
    The plants I plan on having are Hygrophila, Egeria densa, Microsorium, Ludwigia repens, some Anubias, Bacopa, Sagittaria subulata and maybe some Crypts. The list is subject to some change but would stay away from anything too demanding, and not all of the plants I listed would go in. Just a shortlist.



    yep, a specialised substrate would help – is there a particular issue with any of the plants at the minute?



    There aren’t even any particular plants at the minute



    I’d agree with that. I’ve used root tabs in the past (can’t remember the brand) and the plants have done well.



    I’d use it as the whole substrate or maybe mix it 50/50 with another substrate to cut down on cost or if your afraid it might encourage algae growth.

    I wouldn’t have thought it would though. The point of these substrates is too provide long term fertilisation to the plant roots (I reckon in a heavily planted tank they are exhausted after a year or so). While i’d expect them to leach some nutrients in to the water I don’t think it’s that much. As I said it’s a root feeder (in the same way as root tabs), I would still dose the water column with ferts in a well planted tank, even without CO2.

    A good plant substrate is a minimum that I would use in a fairly well planted tank – if I was adding CO2 as well, I would go even further and add root tabs around greedy feeders and a layer of laterite.

    A good dosing of ferts with a good water change each week to remove the excess not used by the plants is better than adding a small amount of ferts that will be quickly used up by the plants and not allow them to grow so vigourously – thats when algae likes to pounce.

    Over fertilising and removing the excess with water changes is the basis of the EI system.

    (you can’t beat a regular water change for a whole host of reasons!).



    So it would be a good idea to prepare the substrate by the book and add ferts regardless of CO2, right??? Who knows, I may get a CO2 system in the future. I did a dry run with a DIY yeast reactor, 3 x 1,5L bottles, put the tube under a water column of about the same height as the tank just to check the pressure was adequate to push the CO2 in and it produced about 1 bubble per sec for almost 4 weeks. Was even happy with the consistency. The problem is I can’t figure out how to dissolve the damn thing in the water.
    Anyway, back to substrate. Could you talk me through a cross section of what you consider a good substrate would look like? Depth and composition of layers?



    yes – you just need to adjust the amount of ferts your adding based on the available CO2. This may be once a week or once every couple of weeks or every day – depends on what you are growing and how heavily planted you are. It’s a bit trial and error! or with the EI method you just dose every day and then perform a big water change once a week – google EI method and you should get Tom Barrs website. UKAPS has a lot of info as well.

    To avoid algae in the early days of a set up I usually plant loads of fast growing stem plants (limnophilia sessiflora was a favourite – as I generally had loads of that in one of my tanks) and then when the tank has settled down a bit after 3 or 4 months you can rescape with slower growing plants.

    As to DIY CO2 – 4 weeks is about right – you could buy a CO2 diffuser to go on the end of the tube (or make your own). Just make sure the supply is consistent – change it regularly as if it runs out it can trigger an algae bloom.




    Thanks Dave. Nice info.
    I would have thought it would be better to add slow growers first to let them settle in, and then add fast growers. Good thing you mentioned it.
    Will look into ferts some more latter on. Ran into the EI method before. Looks fun. All those chemicals, weeeeeee. And will try to see if I can find a diffuser somewhere.
    But you missed part of my question. Substrate composition??? Do I go gravel, substrate, gravel or mix 50/50 with a thin layer of gravel on top? Do I mix in the laterite or sandwich a layer somewhere in there?
    How do you goo about it? As much info as you have the patience to write. Took a look at some photos of your planted tanks and previous threads. Seems you’re the resident plant guy /laugh.gif” style=”vertical-align:middle” emoid=”:lol:” border=”0″ alt=”laugh.gif” />



    lol, flaterry will get you everywhere!

    I’ve done it loads of different way but I think I’ve settled on just using a couple of inches of a plant specific substrate (I like the black Dennerle gravel but there are loads of different ones all much of a muchness) putting in a layer of laterite and then topping off with another inch of the same substrate.

    I have also done an inch of sand, layer of laterite, couple of inches of gravel. I put a heater cable in the sand layer to encourage water movement through the substrate. Do you need to do this? Not convinced as I’ve had great tanks without this as well.

    One of the best substrates I used was Akadema – used it in my 500 litre Discus set up – about 5 inches of it (had some big Echinodorus that prefer a deep substrate).

    I’ve also just used sand occasionally with root tabs – i’ve found that bigger plants with big root systems don’t really like it so much – but it all depends on the effect you want.

    If you want to keep cost down then go for a 50/50 mix of gravel to planted substrate. You can buy both that appear the same (i.e. you can buy black gravel if you have a black substrate) and nobody will notice.



    Nice one,
    I’ll probably go with a 50 50 mix and a layer of laterite if I can find something suitable.
    The heaters in the sand sound like a good idea. I mean the function they serve makes sense to me. Its just that none of my LFSs seem to have em so I cant even figure out the cost.

    Just a couple more things. When you clean the gravel, do you just vacuum around the rooted plants or is there some less invasive way to do it. Also, I really like Crypts. As you know I don’t have my tank just yet but Crypts look like something I’d want in there. Most things I’ve read list them as hardy, beginner friendly plants but I’ve also come across a lot of articles saying they are a nightmare to keep. Is it just a matter of some types/varieties being a problem or is there something specific which makes them a pain???

    P.S. You getting ready for the game??? I never asked, United or City???



    Just vac around the plants, but to be honest I very rarely vacuum anyway – don’t think there’s much wrong with a little bit of mulm (i’m sure there are others who disagree).

    I’ve never had any trouble with crypts but I’ve not kept a great variety of these. People worry about Cryptocoryne rot and state that crypts don’t like big changes to their environment. Big changes lead to the plants just melting.

    I’ve not experienced this but as I said I’ve only kept a couple of varieties. Perhaps someone whose kept a lot of different varieties of crypt can comment?

    I’m never ready for a derby game – clues in the name mate – I’m not called red dave!!!



    Well since I’m just starting out there’s gonna be a learning curve involved anyway so a couple of plants rotting might be the least of my worries /laugh.gif” style=”vertical-align:middle” emoid=”:lol:” border=”0″ alt=”laugh.gif” /> /rolleyes.gif” style=”vertical-align:middle” emoid=”:rolleyes:” border=”0″ alt=”rolleyes.gif” />.



    So whos your Club? I can only rember Dinamo Zagreb playing utd but they got beat (although I think they drew at Old Trafford).



    Not Hadjuk Split is it? According to google they beat them heavily in a friendly?



    QUOTE (Bluedave @ Apr 15 2011, 03:33 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
    I’m not called red dave!!!

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