Substrates and choices

Discussion in 'Freshwater Substrates - Gravel, Sand' started by AsianManJames, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. AsianManJamesNew MemberMember

    As a beginning fish keeper, I only have a ten gallon tank with some regular gravel. Because of my substrate choice, I feel limited by my choice of live plants. However, in the future I would like to set up a heavily planted tank, so I would like to know the benefits and disadvantages for different types of planted tank substrate.
    I don't know if anyone has soil as a substrate but I really like the idea of being able to get a free substrate complete with nutrients, so any advice on soil is very helpful!
  2. aliray

    alirayFishlore VIPMember

    Welcome to the forum and glad you joined us. I only use gravel so wait for others to chime in. ..Alison;)
  3. OP

    AsianManJamesNew MemberMember

    Thanks for the welcome, but even if you only use gravel, there must be a reason. Why didn't you use sand or dirt? Thanks!

  4. peregrine

    peregrineValued MemberMember

    Welcome to the forums. I thought the same thing about gravel but @Aquaphobia says it's isn't totally true.Just need to add root tabs. As with anything else, there are people that I have seen that have used soil but the hard thing is that you have to worry about chemicals in your soil along with possible hitchhikers from anything that comes from "the wild" that could cause issues in your tank. Or even the soil itself could possible cause issues with water parameters. So you would need to be REALLY REALLY careful.

    Asian. They both have pluses and minuses. Most of it comes down to what you think looks best. Also what type of fish you are planning on using that could cause you to go one way or another since some fish prefer one over the other and some fish actually pretty much require sand bottom.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2016
  5. bizaliz3

    bizaliz3Fishlore LegendMember

  6. aliray

    alirayFishlore VIPMember

    I don't like dealing with sand. I prefer gravel . I like the looks better and I can put the python water changer right down to the bottom of the tank. I use smooth river pebbles. I would not use dirt from the back yard. Others use miracle grow organic potting soil and then cover that with sand. Although I have no idea how thick the layers would have to be. I have kept fish on and off for 61 years and have always used gravel. Old habits die hard. Alison;)
  7. tyguy7760

    tyguy7760Fishlore VIPMember

  8. BluMan1914

    BluMan1914Well Known MemberMember

    It all comes down to personal choice. I've had just about every substrate except for for dirt,(which I would never deal with), from big coarse gravel, to small round pea sizes gravel, I've even had amber colored glass as a substrate. Now I'm using sand in my wife's 5 gallkn, and I will use Blasting Sand in the 75 that I am setting up. I must say that I love sand. All debris sits on top and doesn't get down into it which makes it so easy to clean and getting all debris when vacuuming. If you prefer gravel over sand, I would suggest the finer grade, that way less debris can fall in between.
  9. OP

    AsianManJamesNew MemberMember

    Wow, I'm kind of leaning towards a finer grade gravel now, I never realised the risks of using dirt as a substrate in the past. Thanks for helping out a beginner like me everyone!
  10. LJC6780

    LJC6780Well Known MemberMember

    I use the floramax gravel with live bacteria. I like it so far.
  11. Anastasia Vedmedenko

    Anastasia VedmedenkoNew MemberMember

    You can get all kinds of soil substrate that is designed for healthy plant and fish development and even balances your pH for you! Here's a link to some seachem products. I've used these for all of my tanks and have never had a problem with them. I personally like the darker varieties since they brighten up your tank.

  12. Lady Monster

    Lady MonsterWell Known MemberMember

    I have half pea gravel half black sand. Prefer the sand because sinking food doesnt get "lost" on sand like it does over gravel. My plants do well in both substrates. I use florish once a month.
  13. Andy N katNew MemberMember

    I uses a base of sand and then gravel and have no issues with my plants image
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  14. OP

    AsianManJamesNew MemberMember

    Never thought of using them both! Thanks!
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  15. superbutterfly12Well Known MemberMember

    I have mine the opposite, ecocomplete gravel with about an inch of sand over the top.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  16. angelfishguppieValued MemberMember

    I just changed over from gravel after 20+ years to black diamond sand. The largest reason was I didn't feel able to do a deep gravel vacuum without tearing up the roots of my plants. I NEVER had to use root tabs while planting in gravel (see previous sentence...)

    I have recently added root tabs to the sand in near the "tank busting" amazon sword and a new anubia.

    I do like the looks of the sand and that it is easy to clean plus I wanted to have cory cats.

    Soil is NOT for me. I had a gravel type fluorite once upon a time and I absolutely HATED it, always had a cloud of murk any time I disturbed the gravel after adding it. I am fascinated (from afar) by folks with dirted walstead tanks but don't think I could handle it.

    Have fun researching/pondering!
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2016
  17. danieltaylor

    danieltaylorValued MemberMember

    I know one thing I saw on youtube that I decided to try was to go to lowes and get that all purpose sand and that was a mistake. What he had in the video and what I ended up with were two way different things I couldn't even see through my tank for a solid day so I had to do a serious water change but since then my fish LOVE sand so much more than gravel. They all play in it even the ones I haven't read about liking to play in the sand where as before I had petstore gravel, much easier to clean but the sand has got my pH down and also my fish seem much more happy with it. I even had to get some corys to go with the new sandy bottom. But I am also a beginner to the hobby so just lending a painful experience out there. Good Luck!
  18. sunshine2012

    sunshine2012Valued MemberMember

    You can also go on YouTube and see a lot of different ideas that may help with some ideas. Welcome to the forum.
  19. :) fatcatfish (:

    :) fatcatfish (:Well Known MemberMember


    I use pea gravel and have done since I started my tank. For me and the plants it works really well and allows for good root growth and becomes quite nutrient rich. Of course sand also has its benefits.

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