Planted Tank Basics pt 1 -SUBSTRATES-

  • Big-Ken
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Big-Ken created the topic: Planted Tank Basics pt 1 -SUBSTRATES-

With the growing interest in planted tanks here i figured i would do a series of guides touching on the more important aspects of a planted tank.

-SUBSTRATES-

Plants can be grown in just about any substrate if done the right way, in this guide im going to go over all the major substrates and there pros and cons.

INERT SUBSTRATES- Gravel and sand can provide a good substrate for growing plants as long as a little though is put into it.CONS- They are inert which means they don't contain and won't hold onto nutrients for the plants to use, this can be overcame with the use of root tabs PROS- cheap, easy to find, you dont need to tear a tank down to start planting, tank can be easily changed
gravel- needs to of the smaller variety so the roots have something to hold onto, harder to clean since everything will go into the gravel
sand- play sand has a tendency to compact cause of the different grain sizes so pool filter sand is prefered, sand is also easier to clean since everything sits on top

SOIL SUBSTRATES- What better to grow plants in then dirt CONS- messy, can go anaerobic if to deep and gas the tank, hard to move plants around without making a mess, can cause major algae problems if it gets into the water column, must be capped with sand or fine gravel, other nutrients need to be mixed in PROS- cheap and easy to find, provides nutrients for plants, best for the money for superior plant growth, high cec
unmineralized topsoil- straight out of the bag, there is a break-in period for topsoil during which time it will release ammonia into water usually 1-2 months so water params need to be checked daily along with frequent water changes till the soil is mineralized
mineralized topsoil- regular topsoil that has been put through soaking and drying cycles, there is no break-in period since it already mineralized from the soaking/drying cycles.
organic potting mix- used alot in low tech low light tanks, has a tendency to go anaerobic due to the amount of organic material in it, also has the same 1-2 month break-in period
SEE THIS LINK ON HOW TO PREPARE SOIL AND ON HOW TO MINERALIZE TOPSOIL

COMMERCIAL PLANTING SUBSTRATES- These are the best substrates for planting hands down but they are also stupid expensive, they contain lots of nutrients and very high cec CONS- VERY expensive PROS- they are the best for growing anything, nothing needs to be added, doesn't need to be capped, wont cause algae issues in water
Seachem Flourite- $20 for a 15lb bag, contains mostly laterite
CaribSea Eco-complete- $25 for a 20lb bag, contains basaltic volcanic soil and laterite also shipped in a liquid that contains live Heterotrophic bacteria to help cycle a new planted aquarium
ADA Aquasoil- $30 for a 20lb bag, this is the best out there period the ADA Substrate System is designed to create active earth as in Nature rich with nutrients and active bacteria


Most plants could care less about what they are planted in as long as they are getting their nutrients but some plants need a richer substrate so research what plants you want and there individual needs. Whatever substrate you use it needs to be no more than 3", you can also save some money by layering the more expensive commercial substrates (1" of eco-complete under 1" of sand) that way the nutrients are being leached into the sand for the plants to use and it will cost half as much.

NEXT pt 2 -FERTILIZATION-
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  • JasonR
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JasonR replied the topic: Re: Planted Tank Basics pt 1 -SUBSTRATES-

Nice job Ken and great info! Appreciate you putting the time into this man!
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  • ehall67
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ehall67 replied the topic: Re: Planted Tank Basics pt 1 -SUBSTRATES-

you are going to make this to easy for me later on ken lol !! thanks bud

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  • Big-Ken
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Big-Ken replied the topic: Re: Planted Tank Basics pt 1 -SUBSTRATES-

I'm happy to do it, I figure I spent a ton of time learning all this cause no one on the planted forums wanted to help so why not share the info here in one place for you all

I plan to do 4, I'm going to try to do one every day

pt 1 -substrates-
pt 2 -fertilization-
pt 3 -lighting-
pt 4 -aquascaping & planting techniques-
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cebosound replied the topic: Re: Planted Tank Basics pt 1 -SUBSTRATES-

great right up Ken. :)

My YouTube Channel:http://www.youtube.com/user/cebosound1?blend=1&ob=0
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  • Nina_W
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Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Planted Tank Basics pt 1 -SUBSTRATES-

Ken, this is wonderful! Thank you so much :)
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Nina_W replied the topic: Re: Planted Tank Basics pt 1 -SUBSTRATES-

I make a sticky! I keep referring to these threads myself, so this makes them easier to find for me. I'm sure others agree :P
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  • Big-Ken
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Big-Ken replied the topic: Re: Planted Tank Basics pt 1 -SUBSTRATES-

Thanks Nina, I was hoping they would be B)
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Tatum replied the topic: Re: Planted Tank Basics pt 1 -SUBSTRATES-

Thanks for the post. Really informative.
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