Layered substrate q - ADA Amazonia, Brightwell volcanic ash, gravel, sand layer

BettaCyrus

So.... this is actually my 1st planted tank, and I may have gotten too ahead of myself, but right now I've got an 8.5 gallon Fluval Vista tank and I've mixed together ADA Amazonia & Brightwell Japanese volcanic ash that I rinsed (um, do not recommend rinsing! although the ash bag instructions kinda leave it open to doing so bc of "dust"), & added about 2/3" of that damp mix to tank, then decided to add more dry/non-rinsed volcanic ash on top of that to about 1- 1.25" total substrate at the bottom... then I got nervous about too many nutrients and ammonia spikes (will be doing a fishless cycle for a few weeks anyway), and decided to cap with ~1/3" small natural-colored aquarium gravel over whole thing... THEN I have this rad "purple diamond quartz" sand I love the look of, so I rinsed that and capped another ~1/2" on top of the gravel only in the front of the tank in a weird half-circle "beach" & added more gravel to the back/rest of tank to match the height of the sand cap in front.

I feel like I need to add more of a cap of both the sand in front & gravel in back, more than just the .8-1" of cap on top of the Amazonia/volcanic ash blend. But Idk for sure... I say this because I did a planted test bowl with just a little sand on top of the ash/Amazonia blend and BOY! That stuff gets MUDDY easily... so I really don't want that level of a brown mess on my hands... but I also don't want the sand to be too thick so I have to worry about the sulfate (?) pockets building up in there. I'm considering gettings some sort of small sand-shifting creature to go with my betta that would hopefully help sift the sand too, so I don't want him to disturb the soils below... maybe a kuhli loach, though I feel like 8.5 may be too small for one, plus they seem to do better with more than 1. Has anyone done a similar substrate layering & if so, how much of a sand/gravel cap would you recommend? Thanks!!
Visual... def not a big fan of the color of the stones, but aye, they'll mostly be covered with driftwood & plants...
 

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Passionfish

So.... this is actually my 1st planted tank, and I may have gotten too ahead of myself, but right now I've got an 8.5 gallon Fluval Vista tank and I've mixed together ADA Amazonia & Brightwell Japanese volcanic ash that I rinsed (um, do not recommend rinsing! although the ash bag instructions kinda leave it open to doing so bc of "dust"), & added about 2/3" of that damp mix to tank, then decided to add more dry/non-rinsed volcanic ash on top of that to about 1- 1.25" total substrate at the bottom... then I got nervous about too many nutrients and ammonia spikes (will be doing a fishless cycle for a few weeks anyway), and decided to cap with ~1/3" small natural-colored aquarium gravel over whole thing... THEN I have this rad "purple diamond quartz" sand I love the look of, so I rinsed that and capped another ~1/2" on top of the gravel only in the front of the tank in a weird half-circle "beach" & added more gravel to the back/rest of tank to match the height of the sand cap in front.

I feel like I need to add more of a cap of both the sand in front & gravel in back, more than just the .8-1" of cap on top of the Amazonia/volcanic ash blend. But Idk for sure... I say this because I did a planted test bowl with just a little sand on top of the ash/Amazonia blend and BOY! That stuff gets MUDDY easily... so I really don't want that level of a brown mess on my hands... but I also don't want the sand to be too thick so I have to worry about the sulfate (?) pockets building up in there. I'm considering gettings some sort of small sand-shifting creature to go with my betta that would hopefully help sift the sand too, so I don't want him to disturb the soils below... maybe a kuhli loach, though I feel like 8.5 may be too small for one, plus they seem to do better with more than 1. Has anyone done a similar substrate layering & if so, how much of a sand/gravel cap would you recommend? Thanks!!
Visual... def not a big fan of the color of the stones, but aye, they'll mostly be covered with driftwood & plants...
Very Nice!
if you want some sand sifters, get some neocaridina shrimp, they sift the sand almost all day, and if you have enough, it will work. Since your not doing a walstad method tank, getting a bunch of shrimps should be no problem. I would cap off the sand at about 1 inch, so it's not too shallow that the neocaridina shrimp would dig up the amazonia blend. A kuhli loach would decimate your substrate layers. And as you said they need a group of at least 3. Bettas are surface dwellers mostly, and IME they don't even touch the substrate except when sleeping. If you don't want to get a bunch of little tiny expensive shrimp, go with a rabbit snail! Rabbit snails shift through soft sand all the time, and they eat algae that forms under the substrate. For a rabbit snail, I would cap the sand off at about 1.5 inches, just because they are bigger and they can burrow deeper than neocaridina shrimp. You wouldn't need to worry about your gravel because it's like a rock hard wall to them, so they would just go up and around the gravel layer. I hope I helped!
 
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BettaCyrus

Very Nice!
if you want some sand sifters, get some neocaridina shrimp, they sift the sand almost all day, and if you have enough, it will work. Since your not doing a walstad method tank, getting a bunch of shrimps should be no problem. I would cap off the sand at about 1 inch, so it's not too shallow that the neocaridina shrimp would dig up the amazonia blend. A kuhli loach would decimate your substrate layers. And as you said they need a group of at least 3. Bettas are surface dwellers mostly, and IME they don't even touch the substrate except when sleeping. If you don't want to get a bunch of little tiny expensive shrimp, go with a rabbit snail! Rabbit snails shift through soft sand all the time, and they eat algae that forms under the substrate. For a rabbit snail, I would cap the sand off at about 1.5 inches, just because they are bigger and they can burrow deeper than neocaridina shrimp. You wouldn't need to worry about your gravel because it's like a rock hard wall to them, so they would just go up and around the gravel layer. I hope I helped!
Sweet! Thanks for the input. I am not familiar with neocaridina shrimp, I'll look them up! I was considering an Amano shrimp, as I hear they (can) go decently with Bettas. Good to know about the rabbit snails, I def want to get some type of snail as well, but prob not a big one like that in that case.
 
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Passionfish

Sweet! Thanks for the input. I am not familiar with neocaridina shrimp, I'll look them up! I was considering an Amano shrimp, as I hear they (can) go decently with Bettas. Good to know about the rabbit snails, I def want to get some type of snail as well, but prob not a big one like that in that case.
Neocaridina shrimp are smaller than Amano Shrimp, and it just depends on your betta's personality. My betta lives in a community 10 gallon with a bunch of cherry shrimp and endlers.
 
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BettaCyrus

Neocaridina shrimp are smaller than Amano Shrimp, and it just depends on your betta's personality. My betta lives in a community 10 gallon with a bunch of cherry shrimp and endlers.
Cool! Ya know, I actually was aware of them, just by their common names! I was hoping the blue dream shrimp might work with him, but... not sure I want to take the chance. Endlers seem rad too, thanks for weighing in.
 
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Passionfish

Cool! Ya know, I actually was aware of them, just by their common names! I was hoping the blue dream shrimp might work with him, but... not sure I want to take the chance. Endlers seem rad too, thanks for weighing in.
Just curious, you don't have to use up your time with this, but I was wondering what plants are going to be in your tank?
 
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BettaCyrus

Just curious, you don't have to use up your time with this, but I was wondering what plants are going to be in your tank?
Omg... a bunch lol - I'll do my best with names:

micro sword
red tiger lotus
java fern
echinodorus kleiner prinz
subwasstertang
alternanthera rosanervig
alternanthera reineckii mini
salvinia (floater)
dwarf red parrot's feather
godzilla buce
dark skeleton king buce
deep blue buce
cryptocoryne balansae
anubias nana
anubias petite
anubias minima
anubias barteri
frogbit (floater)
fissidens fontanus
mini pellia moss
water sprite (although it's looking sad atm/might not make it)
red cabomba piauhyensis
bacopa colorata
downoi little star pogostemon helferi
rotala wallichii
marino moss balls
ozelot green sword
unknown fern

Yeah... we'll see how much of this actually fits, but that's what I have to go in!!
 
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Passionfish

Omg... a bunch lol - I'll do my best with names:

micro sword
red tiger lotus
java fern
echinodorus kleiner prinz
subwasstertang
alternanthera rosanervig
alternanthera reineckii mini
salvinia (floater)
dwarf red parrot's feather
godzilla buce
dark skeleton king buce
deep blue buce
cryptocoryne balansae
anubias nana
anubias petite
anubias minima
anubias barteri
frogbit (floater)
fissidens fontanus
mini pellia moss
water sprite (although it's looking sad atm/might not make it)
red cabomba piauhyensis
bacopa colorata
downoi little star pogostemon helferi
rotala wallichii
marino moss balls
ozelot green sword
unknown fern

Yeah... we'll see how much of this actually fits, but that's what I have to go in!!
Wow I wish I could get this many plants for my tanks! The only plants I have from this list are salvinia minima and dwarf red parrots feather. DRPF plants can be planted in substrate, but IME they like to float and do much better that way. Just trying to contribute a little more
 
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BettaCyrus

Wow I wish I could get this many plants for my tanks! The only plants I have from this list are salvinia minima and dwarf red parrots feather. DRPF plants can be planted in substrate, but IME they like to float and do much better that way. Just trying to contribute a little more
Thanks! I have a big piece of weathered driftwood I'd like to attach some things too... maybe the DRPF would be good?
I went big... and who knows, I might regret it! But I wanted to get as much as possible at once bc I don't want to disturb the substrate again after all is said & done. & I forgot one! Crystalwort lol - which is in an experimental tank right now and Idk if I will use it in the main tank... I was hoping it would be easier to plant, but it's rather thin and floaty.
 
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Passionfish

Thanks! I have a big piece of weathered driftwood I'd like to attach some things too... maybe the DRPF would be good?
I went big... and who knows, I might regret it! But I wanted to get as much as possible at once bc I don't want to disturb the substrate again after all is said & done. & I forgot one! Crystalwort lol - which is in an experimental tank right now and Idk if I will use it in the main tank... I was hoping it would be easier to plant, but it's rather thin and floaty.
I think going big is awesome! Yea I think the DRPF would do awesome attached to the driftwood. I'm gonna have to look Crystalwort up!
 
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BettaCyrus

I think going big is awesome! Yea I think the DRPF would do awesome attached to the driftwood. I'm gonna have to look Crystalwort up!
Update - Omg crystalwort is messy! Do not recommend unless woven onto a pad/slate!
 
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Passionfish

Update - Omg crystalwort is messy! Do not recommend unless woven onto a pad/slate!
Eesh, now we all know. one sacrifice for the billions. Lol. Were you able to get it under control?
 
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BettaCyrus

Eesh, now we all know. one sacrifice for the billions. Lol. Were you able to get it under control?
Well... the good thing is it generally floats to the surface (doesn't look cool like usually floating plants, more like Easter grass!) so I was able to skim a lot with the net, but I had to get stuck pieces that were trapped under driftwood, etc. I still have a tiny pad of it under a stone, too afraid to take the stone up & have it go everywhere, so prob will leave it. lol Yes, sacrifice indeed!
Eesh, now we all know. one sacrifice for the billions. Lol. Were you able to get it under control?
PS, you can see a pic of my finished tank here - Pretty fly for a first build... | Freshwater Aquarium Builds Forum | 489502 Already lost a few plants to melt, but added others!
 
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Passionfish

Well... the good thing is it generally floats to the surface (doesn't look cool like usually floating plants, more like Easter grass!) so I was able to skim a lot with the net, but I had to get stuck pieces that were trapped under driftwood, etc. I still have a tiny pad of it under a stone, too afraid to take the stone up & have it go everywhere, so prob will leave it. lol Yes, sacrifice indeed!

PS, you can see a pic of my finished tank here - Pretty fly for a first build... | Freshwater Aquarium Builds Forum | 489502 Already lost a few plants to melt, but added others!
Wow, your tank has potential! I would never be able to do that...
 
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BettaCyrus

Wow, your tank has potential! I would never be able to do that...
Aye! Thanks - Never say never!
 
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