Page 3 of 7

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:49 pm
by freshfish
Ok then, just to further display my almost total lack of a green (or bluegreen) thumb, what's the distinction between fertiziling and adding a carbon source? :shrug:

(ps You guys r giving me quite an awesome education!!! who needs grad school?)

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:06 pm
by montanahh
Large topic you have there. I will start off with the short version. First off the vast majority of life is carbon based. Photosynthisis requires the need of CO2 to convert to O2. This is how plants produce energy. No CO2, plants die. Fertilizers provide the macro and micro nutrients neccessary for the plants to complete their life processes, much like how we humans need our vitamins, amino acids, and minerals to survive. I will leave it off there for any one else with the time and energy today to answer in more detail.

Erik

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:49 pm
by freshfish
Maybe it's just an arbitrary distinction; I guess from my non-plantkeeping perspective anything you need to add as a supplement to keep a plant alive and happy is "fertilizer" so I'll just let it go, lol! Thanks for letting me pick your brain, tho.. :D

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:48 pm
by Crazygar
To further breakdown Flourish Excel, its organic Co2. Black Beard Algae turns white and brittle in the presence of this.

Gary

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:00 am
by freshfish
LOL none of you can answer a question without giving me at least 3 more- this is the thread that does not endddd :whistle:

Is there a difference between black beard algae and hair algae?

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:23 am
by Lou
Yes, one of our former Admins is a plant guru. He has a whole site dedicated to planted tanks, here is his page on algae Steve's algae page. His whole site would be a worthwhile read since you are going to be planting your 90 g.

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:31 am
by freshfish
Awesome, thanks Lou.

Here's another one I found that I'm finding pretty helpful, in case anyone else is reading along (unfortunately it doesn't list the specific substrate I'm looking at, but still has a number of ones I recognize...)

http://home.infinet.net/teban/jamie.htm

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 7:09 am
by Crazygar
ADA Aquasoil is the king. This the Takashi Amano brand of Planted Substrates. Its a premium substrate with a premium price. Thats a good link Freshfish, I plan to read it on my flight tomorrow.

Gary

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 2:44 pm
by Steve Hampton
Just to throw another $0.O2 worth of information about substrates.

I've tried many many many types and combinations over the years and have success and failures with each type. Substrate choice definitely will not make or break your chance at having a healthy, successful, and basically algae-free planted tank. Some substrates will most definitely increase your odds in having success. Below is my ranking based mainly on my expereinces and from gauging the experiences of others I know and trust. I'm leary of placing too much faith in the recommendations and reports of those I don't know much about...(you should probably question my post based on not knowing me).

Eco-Complete- For color, easy of planting, grain size, and repeatable success I can't say I've found anything better than Eco-Complete. Price is a issue for larger tanks. I have a 75G planted tank with 100% Eco-Complete and the cost was $150 for just the substrate...that's a substantial investment.

Seachem Flourite- I love this stuff too...except for the initial clouding of the water even when rinsed well prior to adding. I'm not crazy about the color either...especially the way is photographs.

Soilmaster and Shultz Aquatic Plant Soil - Don't like the color of the Shultz, and I hate the lightweight of both. These substrates are too easily disturbed for my tastes. Both were added to my pond, never to be used in an aquarium again. It's largely a personal thing as they both produced healthy plants.

Kitty litter - Blah, just a funky mess and I really dislike the color.

Soil - Very difficult to get right and difficult to maintain clear water, but under the right circumstances can create a wonderful low light low tech planted tank.

Mixed substrates - I'm not a fan of mixing commerical substrates with gravel or sand in order to reduce costs...all these commercial substrates (except ADA) actually contain very small amounts of plant nutrients, diluting these with inert substrate materials really becomes pointless to even purchase any of the expensive substrates. Like Lou and the others I'm for 100% or none...sort of none.

I've used a homemade substrate with repeatable success and longterm success. My homemade substrate follows this basic recipe:

1. Lay about 1 handful or ground peat per sq. ft. on the bottom glass.
2. If available add as much mulm from an established aquarium as you can get on top of the peat.
3. Add 1 inch of pool filter or silica sand (large grain size) and mix together and smooth out over bottom glass.

Most times I'll place a cut to size piece of fluorescent light fixture grid on top of this first layer. This serves to protect the bottom glass from rocks and serves to tie/anchor driftwood. At this point I'll place rocks and driftwood into place.

4. Add another 1-2 inches of sand. Scatter 1-2 ounces of Laterite and mix into sand.
5. Cap the sand with a natural pea or river gravel of a color that works with the aquascape effect you want to achieve.

Again, my main point is this...substrate choice isn't nearly as critical as controlling the balance of CO2 (carbon), nutrients, and lighting. I can and have had success and failures with every substrate type...meaning get the lighting, CO2, and nutrient balance right it the substrate is simply a place to anchor and show off your plants and they all will work equally well. Allow lighting, CO2, and nutrients to become unbalanced and you can't spend enough on substrate to compensate and have success.

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 8:17 pm
by freshfish
Steve Hampton wrote:Just to throw another $0.O2 worth of information about substrates... (you should probably question my post based on not knowing me).


Sorry, Sir, but I'm not buying! Your reputation WAYYY preceedes you! lol

And Thank You for all the info!

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 8:19 pm
by freshfish
Crazygar wrote: Thats a good link Freshfish, I plan to read it on my flight tomorrow.
Gary


Nerd! (JK) 8)

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:40 pm
by freshfish

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:34 pm
by montanahh
Unfortunately I know nothing of these products, but Steve Hampton summed it up well in his last paragraph. It's not so much the substrate of choice, it's the balance. There is no "perfect" substrate that is going to guarantee success on its on accord. Simply choose one you feel comfortable with from advice and your own instincts that meets the asthetics you are looking for and meets your budget.

Regards,
Erik

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 3:06 pm
by freshfish
Ok, point taken. :)

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:54 pm
by kb46
the cost was $150 for just the substrate...that's a substantial investment

How do others feel about "investment" in substrate?
I've changed substrate in my 16G tank twice and my 8G once, and neither were planted at the time. The sheer effort involved has taught me that it's something I really don't want to do very often, if at all. :)
Do the special plant substrates have a lifespan, after which the 'goodness' is pretty much used up? After then, unless you wanted to strip back your tank, you would have to use root tabs, etc, to revitalise it anyway - yes?
My point of view is, that it is worth getting something that
1. you think looks great - because it is something you will be spending a lot of time looking at, and
2. something with longevity.
So, if I could get a product that did both, it would be an investment of sorts, and worth paying extra bucks and perhaps delaying overall completion of the tank for.

But...
get the lighting, CO2, and nutrient balance right it the substrate is simply a place to anchor and show off your plants

It's not so much the substrate of choice, it's the balance. There is no "perfect" substrate that is going to guarantee success on its on accord.

If this is the case, it may well be false economy to spend big bucks on substrate... :think: :dontknow:

So, is it the following...
If you're aiming for a Diana Walstead natural planted tank arrangement where you want to spend little effort and $$$ on upkeep - substrate is an investment, while in the higher tech environments you can achieve a great tank irrespective of the substrate quality and you'd be better saving your bucks to pay for the ferts etc down the track?