55 Gallon Amazon Planted Set up ---New Ground --Substrate???

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Discuss all topics related to freshwater and planted tanks.

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55 Gallon Amazon Planted Set up ---New Ground --Substrate???

by cichlidpyro

This is my first time setting up a planted tank. Currently the tank has been cycling for about a week. I have done african cichlids in the past, and am looking for a bit more of a challenge. I have been looking at different substrates, and am curious to hear other's opinions. I would like to do swords, anubius, etc. I would very much like to hear of any other plants that do well in soft acidic water. Please and thanks!

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Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:14 pm

by zambize

I use Eco-complete in my planted tanks. It is specifically for plants and I really like the way it looks. It is black and looks very natural. You get it for less than $18 for 20lbs. right now on sale at either Drs. Foster and Smith or Petsolutions.com (I can't remember which one it is.)


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Joined: Fri May 15, 2009 5:21 am

by JB20High9473

I have heard of people laying a layer of the specifically designed plant substrate then going with sand and such over the top to save coin as well. I am considering this as a way to cut down on the costs. Any thoughts on this?


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by yasherkoach

red clay or laterite under any top layer of sand, gravel, even peat moss is a must. The laterite (or first laterite) will last a very long time. It carries all the nutrients the plant roots will need to live off of in the first several months.

It is a little expensive, but it does help.And once it is laid under the gravel or what have you it remains there for th elife of the tank and never should be disrupted by vacuuming.

This is my take on this matter

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by Tmercier834747

Just a quick note about anubias..they don't require substrate at all but instead thrive better when allowed to attach itself to rock or wood. They have a rhizome when takes nutrients directly out of flowing water.

There is a big variety to choose from. Yasher is correct in that base layers of laterite and clay are ideal, however not much of an option if you're not starting from scratch--which is the only reason I didn't do mine this way. I changed substrates in my 16gal after the tank was already well established.

There's a decent variety of plant-ready stuff to choose from. A favorite already stated is eco-complete. The best competitor to that is seachem flourite. Flourite now comes in 3 kinds: the original, which is multi-color brown; a black version of that; and a black/charcoal sand. The original is hideous, but at least semi-natural in appearance.

If I were to completely start over...I would do what yasher suggests (base layer laterite/clay) and then top with several inches of play sand. Play sand is the stuff contracters use to put in landscapes and is available very cheap from places like home depot and lowes. Sand and river rock imo make up the most natural appearance. Though the black substrates can be very appealing.

Another thing to keep in mind is that with layering, if you base layer with a pebble-like substrate, and top-layer with a sandy/fine substrate the larger and coarser will find its way to the top over time. I started my 30gal with a base layer of the original (and hideous) flourite which I had left over from my other tank and then put 2.5 inches of black flourite sand on top...now months later the hideous stuff is making its way to the top.

55 Gallon Amazon Planted Set up ---New Ground --Substrate???

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