Can I change to a planted tank without soil on bottom?

Discussion in 'Aquarium Plants' started by jcmguy, Jul 19, 2014.

  1. jcmguy

    jcmguyValued MemberMember

    I have seen many a tank with soil and then substrate for plants. I only have substrate but I want to plant in my tank.. is this okay or should I just start all over with this tank and put my fish in my separate 10 gallon tank while I make a soil bottomed tank?

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  2. OP

    jcmguyValued MemberMember

    I mean I only have a gravel bottom (small pebble-like rocks)

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  3. Kindafishy

    KindafishyValued MemberMember

    I have a gravel substrate and started with plastic and silk plants. After spending time here, I thought real plants seemed like a good idea. I started with Java moss and hornwort. Those did so well, that I kept going.

    I now have moderate lighting, substrate and water column ferts and a heavily-planted tank. Everything that gets some of the light just grows like weeds. It's to the point that it looks like a messy jungle. I plan on taking everything apart and re-scaping tomorrow.

  4. renthusWell Known MemberMember

    Soil helps with heavy rooters, but it's not absolutely necessary. Sand can be a challenge, but gravel is fine.

  5. hollie1505

    hollie1505Well Known MemberMember

    I have had luck with soil, sand and gravel. I've found as long as you use root tabs in the sand and gravel, they seem just as good as the soil.xx
  6. Adam55

    Adam55Well Known MemberMember

    This. I switched my planted tank from a dirted tank to a sand tank. It's much more difficult with sand. It's just too inert. Tabs help, but it's not the same. There are people that have great success with sand, but not this guy.
  7. OP

    jcmguyValued MemberMember

    Okay!! Thanks all!!

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  8. endlercollector

    endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    If you want to go with eco-complete or Flourite instead of soil, you can have the fish in a bucket while you change your substrate. It will only take a few hours. I have been this several times with tanks that are 10, 20, and 40 gallons.
  9. Phishphin

    PhishphinWell Known MemberMember

    The nice thing about eco complete / floramax is that you can continually replenish it. The CEC (ability to absorb and retain nutrients) is very high.

    As a side note, I did the very same thing with my 15 gallon not too long ago. All the fish came out and into a 5 gallon bucket with tank water. I even put my HOB on the side and kept it running. Took a few hours for me to mix the substrate, get the plants back in, and scape everything, but it was well worth the effort. I'd recommend using root tabs with almost any setup, but a substrate capable of retaining nutrients will definitely aid that process.

    IMHO, substrate is the first thing new aquarists overlook and it is probably one of the more difficult aspects to change. As opposed to ordering a new bulb, light system, or even DIY CO2, the substrate requires a huge redo. I think you will find the effort worth it, just like I did.

    Last edited: Jul 26, 2014
  10. LinwoodValued MemberMember

    I had a pure gravel tank and upon reading a lot decided the LFS who had advised me was just plain wrong, most of what I hand planted (e.g. jungle val) were just not going to work. I added ecco-complete on top, without removing anything (fish or plants or shrimp), and now 6 weeks later it is doing marvelously.

    I took a cup (like 8oz or so), filled with ecco complete + black water (use that stuff that is in the bag, don't discard it!). Then very slowly submerged it upright, and poured selectively on top of the gravel. I expected to have cloudy water for days, but it had very little suspended small particles, stayed very clean considering.

    I then replanted the ones that needed to be planted, in place. The ecco pieces over time settle down into the gravel, no need to mix directly.

    Very pleased so far.

    By the way, if you feed pellets, the red ecco complete grains look a lot like a swollen pellet on the bottom, which is either good (if you want to hide the mess) or bad (if you like to see how much is there). It looks a lot like tiny pieces of pumice (it's also pretty light so you have to be careful in vacuuming not to suck it up).
  11. Phishphin

    PhishphinWell Known MemberMember

    Similar to Linwood, some folks will place their new substrate in ice trays, freeze them with a little water, then take the frozen product and work it underneath the sand/gravel in the tank. Very little mess this way as well.
  12. ricmcc

    ricmccWell Known MemberMember

    Odd that you ask this question just now, but then I have been frequently assured that I am an odd person, so I hope that this post speaks generally in the direction of your question.
    I have been considering doing a tank in a sort of art deco style, no substrate, but with various combinations of clay planting pots in which to place plants quite individually, with the pots being at various levels, and perhaps supported by neutrally coloured plates, and inverted pots..
    I think it sounds kind of neat, but then I did also fake a Leonardo signature on my Elvis on Velvet (or Venus in Blue Jeans pic), so you might well ignore me.
    My wife does so, the secret to a long happy marriage, she says, so I'll take no offence:)-rick
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2014
  13. psalm18.2

    psalm18.2Fishlore LegendMember

    I had a tank like that, looked good.
  14. psalm18.2

    psalm18.2Fishlore LegendMember

    I've done that too.
  15. Linda4088

    Linda4088Valued MemberMember

    Wow I never would have thought of something like this. You guys are fabulous. Thanks

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