Natural looking substrate that lowers PH for a planted tank - recommendations.

George1992

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Hi,

Can anyone recommend a natural looking substrate for a planted tank that naturally lowers PH? Also, one that also has high iron levels so I can bring out the best of the red plants?

Looking to re-scape my 180 litre tank. Planning on putting my existing cardinal tetras and ram into there. I have water that comes out the tap with a PH of 7.2 so trying to find a natural looking substrate that will help me lower the PH.

I usually dirt my tanks so am planning on mixing some crushed up clay balls with organic compost to go underneath the substrate. Unless anyone has any better suggestions?
 

SeattleRoy

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HI George,

First of all iron doesn't not bring out the red in plants. Plants species that have the ability to turn red (not all do) do so because of light intensity. Iron, like other micro-nutrients certainly can help make your plants healthy and grow faster but will not improve the color.

I see you are in the UK, my wife and I visited Stratford-upon-Avon when we visited the UK just a little south of where you live. It is a beautiful area of the country. Sorry you are dealing with COVID-19 as we are here in Seattle....good time to work on our tanks.

Here in the United States I use a calcined (heat hardened) product that is typically used as a floor absorbent. It is called Safe-t-Sorb made by Moltan a division of EP Minerals. It removes carbonates from the tank so it lowers the pH, dKH, and to some degree the dGH. It is inexpensive, about $11 US for 40 pounds (18 kg). It has a natural look as well; here it is in my 45 gallon tank. Hopefully you can find something similar.

Safe-t-sorb
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Fahn

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Red color will come from light intensity, it is the plant's way to protect itself from getting "sunburned".

Most substrates that lower your pH are going to be volcanic soils such as ADA Amazonia, Brightwell Rio Cafe, Tropica Soil, or UNS Controsoil. You can also use bonsaI akadama which will REALLY drop your pH down. While I have no personal experience with akadama, most aquasoils as previously mentioned are also great for plant growth. However, the harder your tap, the faster it will use up it's ability to lower your pH. The soils contain enough nutrients to keep plants fed for about a year or two before needing to be replaced.

To extend the life of these soils further, you could remineralize your own water to a specific dGH and dKH, but unless you have access to an RO unit this method can be expensive...
 
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George1992

George1992

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Thanks for the information. Think I'm goin to go with fluval stratum from what I’ve researched. Does anyone have experience with this? My ph is 7.2 and am hoping to get it down a bit.
 

Fahn

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George1992 said:
Thanks for the information. Think I'm goin to go with fluval stratum from what I’ve researched. Does anyone have experience with this? My ph is 7.2 and am hoping to get it down a bit.
It will lower your pH to between 6.7 and 7.0, it's not as "strong" as some of the other active substrates. The higher your KH, the shorter the lifespan of the substrate's buffering capacity.
 

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