Which plant substrate?

Discussion in 'Plant Fertilizers' started by Akari_32, Dec 25, 2012.

  1. Akari_32Fishlore LegendMember

    I'm trying to decide what I want for a substrate in my 55 gallon. I have 15 pounds of CaribSea FloraMax in my 20 long now, but only because it was on sale for 10 bucks (I don't care who you are, you can't pass that up LOL). I can't seem to find it anymore (online or in store), and my guess is that they stopped making it, which is why I got it so cheap. Soooooo, I need a replacement to add to it for the 55.

    I'm open to anything, really, but try and keep it affordable. I only have $170 cash, $25 to Pet Supermarket, and $20 to Walmart to fix up and get this tank going. It still needs two new hoods and light strips ($75 for the cheapest way I'm going to go), a new $30 freaking piece for the filter, and all the stuff to go inside the tank! And I'd like to have money left over... :;nin2

    If its online, something with free (or very, very cheap) shipping would be best. I have Pet Supermarket, PetSmart, PetCo, and a few lfs's around, as well as a PayPal account. It has to be black, too!

  2. EthanWell Known MemberMember

    i used black diamond blasting sand from tractor supply super cheap for a big ole bag and i mixed that with some all purpose sand i got from kmart also cheap and it doesn't look to bad for being SUPER cheap.. did i mention it was cheap :D

  3. Akari_32Fishlore LegendMember

    I want something that I don't have to use mass amounts of root tabs for my fatty plants (99% of them are heavy root feeders) :;th

  4. EthanWell Known MemberMember

    i use about 4-5 root tabs every couple of weeks not to bad
  5. Akari_32Fishlore LegendMember

    At a dollar a pop ($10 for 10 tabs), it will break me real fast surviving on root tabs alone lol One box would only last me one round, as this isn't the only tank I need them in.
  6. EthanWell Known MemberMember

    besides using miracle gro potting soil which is dirting it
  7. Akari_32Fishlore LegendMember

    You know, I've been that route, and it takes a lot more time than I care to put into it lol Plus, the tank will have goldfish, and they'd cause a terrible mess should they get through to the soil.
  8. chevyguy8893Well Known MemberMember

    If you don't mind alternative substrates, safe-T-Sorb (oil dry) has a high CEC, and a good amount of people have really good luck with it. It is just fired clay without any added nutrients other than what it contains (fullers earth clay). Basically it is a 40 lb bag of seachem flourite for $5 from tractor supply (bag # is 7941). From what I have read, it takes a lot of rinsing to use, but for the cost savings it would be worth it. I have a bag to use later this week for my new tank.

    If this tank has to be running with fish the same day, then it may not work out. It seems to be half and half between people saying it does or doesn't change water parameters, that is until it becomes loaded from minerals and other things from the water.
  9. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    Oil dri is cheap or Turface if you can find it. You'll have to dose ferts with it, but then again you will no matter what substrate you choose (except soil). It's a cheap method to get a high cec substrate.
  10. Akari_32Fishlore LegendMember

    Oh that sounds really awesome! The tank will have Goldfish and a Sailfin Pleco, so its not like I need too much added nutrients. I'd just prefer to not have to add them my self, which is why I wanted a substrate for planted tanks LOL I just don't have the time and money for anything like that. Anything that fits the bill of what I want, and costs me tons less is super-awesome-fantastic :3

    Adding the fish same day would be idea, but I'm sure I could work something out :;th

    I'd rather not have to add much in the way of ferts other than the occasional shot of Flourish Comp. I plan to buy a big bottle of that, as well. I've never heard of Turface.

    *edit* Could you link the Safe-T-Sorb to me? I can't ever get their website to function... -_-
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2012
  11. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    If you want that you might want to go with dirt. Using any high cec substrate on the market besides aquasoil means you'll likely have to dose ferts, or load the substrate with ferts before adding.

  12. Akari_32Fishlore LegendMember

    Hmmm, really? I don't really want to go down the dirt road again until I have more time to deal with it. Right now, I'm all work and classes @.@ Plus I really thing the Goldfish would make a huge mess of it.

    Well, what about something like I already have, then?
  13. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    Floramax? It needs supplementation also, even ecocomplete does once the initial bit of nutrients it has is spent. You can get by without dosing but the plants may come up with deficiencies at some point.
  14. Akari_32Fishlore LegendMember

    Well, not just FloraMax. The like, too. I don't mind using something like Flourish Comp (I use it now in all my tanks) every week or so. It's root tabs I'm sick of lol The bigger the tank, the less cost effective they get. How long do plant substrates typically last before they are used up?
  15. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    The benefit of plant substrates is their ability to hold nutrients for plant roots (cec). Usually though in a low light setup the nutrient demand is so low that additional dosing isn't needed, but it varies. Oil-dri/SMS/Turface/saf-t-sorb are known to soak up all of the buffers in the tank, so adding ca/mg is important to restore things. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just means they are doing their job.

    These substrates usually hold up for a few years, I've got some oil-dri that is over 2 years and still looking good. I have some ecocomplete that broke down into muck in about a year. I have some floramax that looks brand new about 2 years later as well.

    I *think* floramax is basically like lava rock so it probably won't break down for a long long time.
  16. scotty bWell Known MemberMember

    you can try natural clay it seems to work well. i used ''special kitty" cat litter all natural from wallmart
  17. Akari_32Fishlore LegendMember

    Yeah, FloraMax is real light weight. Today will be my first time trying to vaccum it. Should be fun lol

    I'm wanting something dark in color, Scotty, so I'm not sure how that would work for me.
  18. scotty bWell Known MemberMember

    the clay is a dark gray i think it adds a nice natural look
  19. jetajockeyFishlore VIPMember

    Oil-dri and saf t sorb have a natural color to them. Here's a photo from apc.

    The oil dri in this photo is a light grey whereas the kind I get here looks identical to saf t sorb, so I think a lot of it depends on what part of the country you live in since they mine this stuff from multiple places.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  20. Akari_32Fishlore LegendMember

    Compared to regular, plain gravel, will any of these need special care? Can they be treated just like gravel? I've decided that I'm going to section off the CaribSea into areas of the tank that I'm going actually have plants in, rather than using it throughout the whole tank. Its cheaper that way lol

    And they all kind of look like chips. Are they more round in person?

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