Do I have to put something on top of aquasoil?

Mark2621

Currently, my tank is 100% sand. I dont like it that much for two reasons: I can't plant much in it, and it scratches my glass when cleaning, even if I'm careful.

I want to change to Aquasoil. Do I have to put something on top of Aquasoil, or is that optional? If I don't, will it release too many nutrients into the water?
 

BigManAquatics

I think one of the big reasons people put some gravel on top of it is to prevent soil from kicking up into the water and clogging the filters.
 

TClare

It might depend on the type of aquasoil and whether you have any fish that dig. At my local shop I have seen plenty of planted tanks with just aquasoil as a substrate. All with small non-digging fish.
 

Mark2621

I'm just keeping German Blue Rams. My biggest concern is if using just Aquasoil might increase algae (higher nitrates). I want to reduce algae as much as possible.

I'm also not sure what the difference is in the size of Aquasoil (small, medium, large) and if it makes any important difference in keeping my small fish. 20 gallon tank.
 

ruud

Difference in size is price and aesthetics. Small size ("powder") is more expensive, but helps make your tank look larger. That said, the normal size will eventually crumble. I use normal size for bulk and only powder for the top front part (the part that is visible).

Adding a top layer is something that seems not an uncommon practice by US hobbyists. Outside US, I almost never see the use of a top layer, such as gravel.

When water is added to aquasoil, some parts will float initially. After a day or two, it will sink and will pretty much stay there. The idea is of course, to add lots of plants, and once the roots get a hold of the soil, it become a fairly strong structure.

That said, I disagree with your assumption that you are limited in plant selection when using sand. I'm pretty sure all seasoned owners of planted tanks will tell you sand is just fine for plants, regardless of the use of root tabs.

Sand causing scratches during cleaning....could be; I don't know, I never clean tanks.

Nowadays, I only use aquasoil for jungly style aquascapes that have lots of carpet plants. The reason for using aquasoil is aesthtics; I love the contrast of dark substrate and green carpets.

Aqua soil contains some nutrients that are pretty much depleted after a year or so. It might cause algae, but only if you plant a few plants "to begin with". Simply watch a few YouTube videos of people making a (nature or jungle style) aquascape, and you will notice that each one of them plants heavily as of day 1. This way, algae won't stand a chance.

Good luck.
 

Mark2621

"Aqua soil contains some nutrients that are pretty much depleted after a year or so."

Does that mean the soil needs to be replaced every year or two? That seems like a lot of extra work.

I was under the impression that you can't plant rooted plants in sand. Is that wrong?
 

MasterPython

I have a tank with 3 inches of sand covering an inch of dirt from the backyard and it has been the easiest planted tank I have set up. It is not heavily stocked but I don't get nitrate readings and I can leave the light on all day and not get algea.
 

TClare

You can. I have plants growing in sand in all my tanks. I use fertilisers sporadically.
 

ruud

Aqua soil contains mostly macro nutrients. So cutting a few corners, you don't have to dose those the first year. After that, you can start dosing macro fertilizers (besides micro fertilizers). And over time, the aqua soil starts to fall apart, so you end up with "dark sand".

Rooted plants in sand.... perhaps take a look at some marshlands where most of the plants we keep originate ;). Plants will do just fine.

I let plant matter decompose completely in my tanks and also add dry leaves every once in a while. Over time, these are turned into fine mulm and the sand gets mixed (fertilised!) with the mulm. Its my favourite substrate by far. A sand substrate is more alive than you might think.
 

Mark2621

Aqua soil contains mostly macro nutrients. So cutting a few corners, you don't have to dose those the first year. After that, you can start dosing macro fertilizers (besides micro fertilizers). And over time, the aqua soil starts to fall apart, so you end up with "dark sand".

Rooted plants in sand.... perhaps take a look at some marshlands where most of the plants we keep originate ;). Plants will do just fine.

I let plant matter decompose completely in my tanks and also add dry leaves every once in a while. Over time, these are turned into fine mulm and the sand gets mixed (fertilised!) with the mulm. Its my favourite substrate by far. A sand substrate is more alive than you might think.
The problem is that I always have algae on my glass. So when I clean the glass I have to be sooo careful not to scratch my glass. How do you not get algae between the sand and glass?
 

ruud

I don't get (noticeable) algae anywhere. There are different routes to follow, depending on what type of tank you are after.

The most common mistake made by people who'd like to have a planted tank, is that they plant very conservatively in the beginning, have no idea what and how to fertilise the plants, freak out once they see a plant melt, and use an aquarium light to light the entire room the tank is in.

One should turn this around; start heavily with plants; dose very modestly and limit and dim your aquarium lights. Once your plants take hold, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Some of my planted tanks catch direct sunlight for a few hours a day; no problem.
 

Katona

I'm another one who plants heavy in sand. No issues. :)
 

Jl29

Both these tanks are aquasoil free. One sand only one gravel only. A good light and occasional liquid fertiliser are all I have needed! I occasionally put root tabs under the Amazon sword and lotus Lilly but that's it. Hope that helps!

IMG_20220422_174909613.jpg
 

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