Substrate...for Plants

ShamFish97

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I have 2 55 gallons and a 10 gallon, all three fully cycled with your ordinary store bought gravel. Some plants have done alright, some haven't. I've got a few different plants coming, and I just bought a Golden Nesaea.

I've been dosing Flourish, Excel, and Advance for weeks. Am I better off starting a new aquarium with dirt/sand and putting plants in that and waiting for it to be cycled, or will most plants do alright in just gravel? I really enjoy live plants, and want to continue using them in all 3 of my tanks, but am starting to realize I may have screwed up using just the regular gravel when I first set my tanks up, not knowing I'd love live plants as well.

Any tips?? :sour::facepalm::arghh:
 

kallililly1973

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Nilog Thrive is a great all in one plant fertilizer they will do much better with that. Also if you have swords or other root feeders it is helpful to them to place root tabs under them or a half on each side
Edit: also you don’t have to wait for a tank to be cycled to add plants you can add them the first day you add the water
 
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ShamFish97

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kallililly1973 said:
Nilog Thrive is a great all in one plant fertilizer they will do much better with that. Also if you have swords or other root feeders it is helpful to them to place root tabs under them or a half on each side
Edit: also you don’t have to wait for a tank to be cycled to add plants you can add them the first day you add the water
WAIT - so my plants will be okay in the gravel? That's fantastic news. I was really hoping I wouldn't have to do some kind of swap of substrate in order to really boost them. Should I use the rest of my ferts and then try this or just switch over to the new fert ASAP?
 

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ShamFish97 said:
WAIT - so my plants will be okay in the gravel? That's fantastic news. I was really hoping I wouldn't have to do some kind of swap of substrate in order to really boost them. Should I use the rest of my ferts and then try this or just switch over to the new fert ASAP?
Larger plants will, smaller plants will have some real trouble rooting.
Move to Nilcog Thrive or UNS Plant Food as soon as you can, Flourish lacks NPK, which are major macronutrients

However gravel is still the least ideal, I encourage you to read through this thread, especially @Vishaquatics (Koiman) last post!
https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfishforum/threads/so-for-a-planted-tank-and-generally-agreed-best-substrate-approach.408646/
 

kallililly1973

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With the right lighting schedule and lights and plant feet needs you can grow in pretty much any substrate .. I use sand in all my tanks and my plants do well. I would say the sooner the better for the Thrive before u start noticing any deficiencies in your plant leaves. That’s my 55 that just turned 2 years old and I mainly just use thrive and root tabs and on occasion I’ll put a little flourish excel iron and potassium but not always
 

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ShamFish97

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-Mak- said:
Larger plants will, smaller plants will have some real trouble rooting.
Move to Nilcog Thrive or UNS Plant Food as soon as you can, Flourish lacks NPK, which are major macronutrients

However gravel is still the least ideal, I encourage you to read through this thread, especially @Vishaquatics (Koiman) last post!
https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfishforum/threads/so-for-a-planted-tank-and-generally-agreed-best-substrate-approach.408646/
kallililly1973 said:
With the right lighting schedule and lights and plant feet needs you can grow in pretty much any substrate .. I use sand in all my tanks and my plants do well. I would say the sooner the better for the Thrive before u start noticing any deficiencies in your plant leaves. That’s my 55 that just turned 2 years old and I mainly just use thrive and root tabs and on occasion I’ll put a little flourish excel iron and potassium but not always
I'm using a Fluval lighting kit on my community 55, and then LED strips on my other two tanks. 55 has two, 10g has one. Have you any experience with ? I ordered that as well as a few plants, was going to test it on my 10 gallon.
 

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I’ve heard the aquarium co-op is another popular all in one fert that people use.. I never have but I’ve heard good results from that as well as thrive
 

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ShamFish97 said:
I have 2 55 gallons and a 10 gallon, all three fully cycled with your ordinary store bought gravel. Some plants have done alright, some haven't. I've got a few different plants coming, and I just bought a Golden Nesaea.

I've been dosing Flourish, Excel, and Advance for weeks. Am I better off starting a new aquarium with dirt/sand and putting plants in that and waiting for it to be cycled, or will most plants do alright in just gravel? I really enjoy live plants, and want to continue using them in all 3 of my tanks, but am starting to realize I may have screwed up using just the regular gravel when I first set my tanks up, not knowing I'd love live plants as well.

Any tips?? :sour::facepalm::arghh:
I made the same mistake when I first set up my 30 gallon with regular gravel. At that point I didn't know anything about live plants. When I decided to buy some they didn't do well in the gravel. I drained 50% of the water, slowly scooped out the gravel, and replaced it with Seachem Flourite Black. I dose with Aquarium Co-Op's Easy Green all in one fertilizer and use their root tabs for my Val, Swords, and Crypts. My plants are now thriving. I'm planning to get another tank and decided that I will use Eco Complete because I plan to do heavy planting and some aqua- and hardscaping.
 
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ShamFish97

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Julabean said:
I made the same mistake when I first set up my 30 gallon with regular gravel. At that point I didn't know anything about live plants. When I decided to buy some they didn't do well in the gravel. I drained 50% of the water, slowly scooped out the gravel, and replaced it with Seachem Flourite Black. I dose with Aquarium Co-Op's Easy Green all in one fertilizer and use their root tabs for my Val, Swords, and Crypts. My plants are now thriving. I'm planning to get another tank and decided that I will use Eco Complete because I plan to do heavy planting and some aqua- and hardscaping.
How long did that process take? I would like to try this in one of my 55 gallons or maybe my 10 and switch from gravel to something like what you suggested. How does it settle? Would I have to change my filter pad out right after and worry about any spikes?
 

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ShamFish97 said:
How long did that process take? I would like to try this in one of my 55 gallons or maybe my 10 and switch from gravel to something like what you suggested. How does it settle? Would I have to change my filter pad out right after and worry about any spikes?
I changed out the new substrate for the old in a few hours. I didn't even have to take my fish out, just 50% of the water to cut down on cloudiness. I scooped out the gravel with a plastic pint container that is used strictly for my tank, one scoop at a time. I didn't vacuum after it was all out because I didn't want to remove the beneficial bacteria.

If you use the Seachem Flourite Black or Red (they also have sand, but it can be hard for stem plants to root in sand), you definitely need to rinse it well. I poured each of my 3 bags (roughly $23 per 15.4 pound bag on Amazon), one at a time, into my 5 gallon bucket and rinsed it several times in my bathtub until the water ran clear. I bought 3 bags to give me 2-3 inches. I then used the same plastic container to add the new substrate. I recommend lowering the container you use into the water upright at an angle to fill it with water then gently lowering it down to pour it slowly onto the tank bottom. Do this scoop by scoop until it's all in the tank and then you can smooth it out the way you want it. My water was a little cloudy for a few hours, but nothing harmful to my fish or plants. It takes that time to settle all of the smaller particles. I didn't have to change of my media pads, but you should do so if you're worried about it. I also didn't have any spikes in any of my parameters and still don't, like I constantly battled with the old gravel.

If you decide to use Carib Sea Eco Complete, which comes wet with beneficial bacteria (which will help speed up the process of cycling a new tank) and fertilizer, the process is a little different. You don't rinse it first, just put it in wet, everything in the bag (roughly $20 per 20 pound bag on Amazon). I recommend this substrate over the Flourite if you intend to use plants. You can just use my same technique for adding it to the tank. I plan to use this in my new 40 gallon long tank because I intend to do moderate-to-heavy planting and some hardscaping with wood and stones.

I hope this helps, but please don't hesitate to reply if you have any more questions. Angela

ShamFish97 said:
I'm using a Fluval lighting kit on my community 55, and then LED strips on my other two tanks. 55 has two, 10g has one. Have you any experience with ? I ordered that as well as a few plants, was going to test it on my 10 gallon.
I have always used Aquarium Coop's All in One for my column feeders and their Easy Root Tabs for my root feeders. My plants started growing and getting healthier within a week. Their plants are also some of the best around. They start the process of converting them from emersed to submersed when they receive them from plant farms so you don't have as much melt back when you put them in your tank. Occasionally I will dose additional Iron from them as well. I've heard good things about Seachem's products, but you have to buy multiple bottles to get the right amount of macro and micro nutrients. I guess it's trial-and-error and personal preference. I hope this helps.
 
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ShamFish97

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Julabean said:
I changed out the new substrate for the old in a few hours. I didn't even have to take my fish out, just 50% of the water to cut down on cloudiness. I scooped out the gravel with a plastic pint container that is used strictly for my tank, one scoop at a time. I didn't vacuum after it was all out because I didn't want to remove the beneficial bacteria.

If you use the Seachem Flourite Black or Red (they also have sand, but it can be hard for stem plants to root in sand), you definitely need to rinse it well. I poured each of my 3 bags (roughly $23 per 15.4 pound bag on Amazon), one at a time, into my 5 gallon bucket and rinsed it several times in my bathtub until the water ran clear. I bought 3 bags to give me 2-3 inches. I then used the same plastic container to add the new substrate. I recommend lowering the container you use into the water upright at an angle to fill it with water then gently lowering it down to pour it slowly onto the tank bottom. Do this scoop by scoop until it's all in the tank and then you can smooth it out the way you want it. My water was a little cloudy for a few hours, but nothing harmful to my fish or plants. It takes that time to settle all of the smaller particles. I didn't have to change of my media pads, but you should do so if you're worried about it. I also didn't have any spikes in any of my parameters and still don't, like I constantly battled with the old gravel.

If you decide to use Carib Sea Eco Complete, which comes wet with beneficial bacteria (which will help speed up the process of cycling a new tank) and fertilizer, the process is a little different. You don't rinse it first, just put it in wet, everything in the bag (roughly $20 per 20 pound bag on Amazon). I recommend this substrate over the Flourite if you intend to use plants. You can just use my same technique for adding it to the tank. I plan to use this in my new 40 gallon long tank because I intend to do moderate-to-heavy planting and some hardscaping with wood and stones.

I hope this helps, but please don't hesitate to reply if you have any more questions. Angela
Julabean said:
I have always used Aquarium Coop's All in One for my column feeders and their Easy Root Tabs for my root feeders. My plants started growing and getting healthier within a week. Their plants are also some of the best around. They start the process of converting them from emersed to submersed when they receive them from plant farms so you don't have as much melt back when you put them in your tank. Occasionally I will dose additional Iron from them as well. I've heard good things about Seachem's products, but you have to buy multiple bottles to get the right amount of macro and micro nutrients. I guess it's trial-and-error and personal preference. I hope this helps.

Thank you so much for the info, I bookmarked your post. I may order the 20$ bags from carib sea, they are cheap and about half the price that my LFS was charging for it... understandable, but I need a lot of it for my tank! D:
 

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If you want to swap your substrate i would get an aquasoil. They have an higher cec ration then a lot of other substrates, are softer and ime are easier to grow plants in.
 
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ShamFish97

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smee82 said:
If you want to swap your substrate i would get an aquasoil. They have an higher cec ration then a lot of other substrates, are softer and ime are easier to grow plants in.
You would recommend this over ?
 

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ShamFish97 said:
So, something like this runs about 40$ for 20lbs, how much would I need for my tank? Same as gravel, 1-2lbs per gallon?

Edit: or what about mixing the two?
Not sure how much you will need it depends on the tank size but i wouldn't mix it with gravel.
 

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ShamFish97 said:
So, something like this runs about 40$ for 20lbs, how much would I need for my tank? Same as gravel, 1-2lbs per gallon?

Edit: or what about mixing the two?
I wouldn't mix the two. You can use a base layer of lava rock or porous material on the back bottom to build up volume though!
An example here:

Consider using this as well:


Dollar per liter, I believe it's cheaper if you get the 10 liter bag, and hobbyist consensus is that Controsoil is more nutrient rich than Fluval Stratum. It's a little hard to compare the prices because Statum is in pounds and Controsoil is in liters. I'll never understand why manufacturers use pounds for substrate, which clearly will take up volume. However, judging by my 4.4 pound bag of Statum, I think 4.4 pounds of Statum is about 2 liters.
The only thing that might change this is shipping. If you have amazon prime then the Stratum will be cheaper.
Whichever one you choose, there's a rough calculator for how much soil you'll need on the Controsoil product page I linked
 
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ShamFish97

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-Mak- said:
I wouldn't mix the two. You can use a base layer of lava rock or porous material on the back bottom to build up volume though!
An example here:

Consider using this as well:


Dollar per liter, I believe it's cheaper if you get the 10 liter bag, and hobbyist consensus is that Controsoil is more nutrient rich than Fluval Stratum. It's a little hard to compare the prices because Statum is in pounds and Controsoil is in liters. I'll never understand why manufacturers use pounds for substrate, which clearly will take up volume. However, judging by my 4.4 pound bag of Statum, I think 4.4 pounds of Statum is about 2 liters.
The only thing that might change this is shipping. If you have amazon prime then the Stratum will be cheaper.
Whichever one you choose, there's a rough calculator for how much soil you'll need on the Controsoil product page I linked
Although I support my LFS, I'm a loyal primer as well. Looking like Stratum may be the best bet.

Is This Stuff any good? I've seen a few good reviews/recommendations for it, and just wondering if this won't be a huge waste of time because of some unforseen reason. I think I can get this stuff for dirt cheap in one of my nearby towns. :smuggrin:
 

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ShamFish97 said:
Is This Stuff any good? I've seen a few good reviews/recommendations for it, and just wondering if this won't be a huge waste of time because of some unforseen reason. I think I can get this stuff for dirt cheap in one of my nearby towns. :smuggrin:
Besides the fact that it's just inert sand, it should be safe and easy to use
 
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