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substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 5:28 pm
by freshfish
Hey,

I'm wondering if any of you in here have ever used and could give me feedback on a few different substrates I'm debating between.

The context is that I'm setting up a 90gal FW planted 25" deep with 260W PC lighting, no CO2.

These are the substrates I'm debating between:

http://www.aquariumplants.com/product_p/ss-1.htm (at the moment I'm leaning towards this one for both aesthetic and cost reasons...)

http://www.aquariumplants.com/Eco_Compl ... _p/eco.htm

http://www.aquariumplants.com/BLACK_ONY ... p/onyx.htm

http://bayleesfishees.com/catalog/produ ... 298eb6ec25

Should I mix any flourite or laterite in with these? Would there be any advantage with mixing a couple of different ones together? Any pointers?

Thanks!

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:04 am
by Crazygar
I've never used "Aquariumplants.com" own Substrate so I can not give advice or even the slightest bit of Technical Data on it. Though, however, I ran (and have ran) tanks with Flourite (still running), Onyx Sand (still running) and Laterite.

Here is what I found;

For the most part, Flourite seems to sustain the longest. I don't think I'll ever see Flourite "exhaust" itself. I am using the inital bags I had when I first came into the hobby back in 2002. Also some 4 bags from my 2004 Planted Tank. Both are still producing amazing results!

I've ran tanks with Laterite underneath the Gravel. I had ok results, but I found its rather poor and its nutrients get exhausted quick. Its messy to deal with (when you plant or replant, it clouds). Personally, I'll never use Laterite again.

Onyx Sand, I originally used it my Daughters fish tank. She wanted a Paludarium (she is a Frog Nut) so I moved all the fish to the 70GAL and then did something sneaky. I used a bag of black gravel and mixed it in with the Onyx Sand. I then "moved it" to one side and created a slope. I planted and Aquascaped the tank. Even the Bog/Marginal Plants seem to enjoy Onyx Sand.

I had a 6.5GAL Iwagumi with just Onyx Sand, petrified wood and Hairgrass. I find that Hairgrass (Elecharis spp.) enjoys this substrate.

I've never used EcoComplete. Recently Seachem introduced the long awaited, Flourite Black. Ohhhhhh.....

Gary

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:20 am
by freshfish
OOO I didn't know about the new Flourite black. I've got Flourite in my 10gal now, and the rooted plants love it- I just don't like the red color, and it was really messy for a long time. So much mud stirred up during planting that I had a hard time seeing well enough to plant! Then there was the botia fiasco... I think I'm going to try the aquariumplant.com stuff just because it's cheap and I need alot, but mix in one bag of black Flourite and one bag of Black Onyx as an underlayer to make sure the plants are getting what they need... that's what I'm thinking right now, anyways, but I'm still weeks away from planting (gotta sand and repaint the stand and canopy on my tank, slap a larger piece of MDF on the top of the stand and rout the edges, scrape off the blue paint on the back of the tank, get the filter up and running, etc etc etc.)

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:41 am
by Crazygar
I'm curious as to the breakdown of the Aquariumplants.com substrate. Does it have percentages of Iron and other nutrients. Its usually still a good idea to dose Maconutrients as some nutrients can not be derived from the substrate (though, Iron usually is).

Gary

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:52 am
by J.B.
I love mixed substrates, in fact almost all of my tanks have some mixture in them. I think it gives it more of a natural look. I know what you mean about the reddish color of Flourite, I'm probably going to be changing it out of my 75g here fairly soon in favor of Eco-Complete mixed with something.

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:45 am
by Lou
The general consensus regarding plant substrates is that they are most effective when you do not mix them with inert substrates like gravel. However you see people with highly successful planted tanks (like JB's) who do mix the substrates. I think it depends on the look you're going for and the amount of potential chance that a mixed plant substrate/gravel mixture won't be optimum for your plants.

If I mixed a plant substrate and gravel and the plants or some plants weren't doing well, I would question whether the mixed substrate had anything to do with it and would probably eventually change out the whole substrate at some point. On the other hand, you can't argue with the success others have with mixed substrates. It's really a question you have to answer for yourself unfortunately. There is no right or wrong way IMHO.

This is just my personal view, but if I'm starting a tank that I think will ever be planted at some point, I go with an all plant substrate. There are enough options out there to fulfill most "looks" or themes that one would go for.

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 2:58 am
by Crazygar
I can say Cost is an important factor. Flourite is not cheap. I am assuming that Flourite "Black" is the same price. I'll be looking and buying a few bags of this shortly to start up my final FW Project.

Gary

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:38 am
by montanahh
My tanks are all mixed substrates. In my 125 I even used a layer of potting soil (not recommended for beginners). I also just set up a 29 that also has a mixed substrate including a layer of potting soil, fine gravel and inert larger grade non plant oriented substrate on top. Bit of an experiment there. Let me just point out for those even considering a potting soil, make sure its of the simplest variety! No added ferts, moisture control components and so on.

As to my usage of plant specific substrates, I have used Eco-Complete and Volcanit (very spendy) with good results, but once again I must point out all of my plant tanks I have ever done have been with mixed substrates, never a sole component.

Takashi Amano uses mixed substrates for those that read his column in TFH but access to his specific products is about impossible I have found.

To mix or not to mix that is the question. I would just simply have to close with that's a matter of personal choice and experience level. For those just starting out I would suggest a singular substrate. For those with years of experience and want to "tweak" things feel free to experiment.

Erik

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 6:52 pm
by freshfish
Crazygar wrote:I'm curious as to the breakdown of the Aquariumplants.com substrate. Does it have percentages of Iron and other nutrients. Its usually still a good idea to dose Maconutrients as some nutrients can not be derived from the substrate (though, Iron usually is).

Gary


Nope the biggest issue I have with the Aquariumplants.com stuff is that it doesn't give any nutrient info (at least not on the website- I suppose I could call and talk to a live person), that's the reason I'm leaning towards mixing it up to be on the safe side.

If I were going with a smaller tank, and if Flourite weren't just so darn messy, I would stick with that- but since I've got a big and deep tank I'm going to want some big plants, so need to make sure I hit my 3" or maybe a little more to support some big root systems.

If I layer it in and it stays in layers, it will be interesting to look at the root systems I can see growing through my tank glass and see if I can tell any difference in the future...

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 6:55 pm
by freshfish
Crazygar wrote:I can say Cost is an important factor. Flourite is not cheap. I am assuming that Flourite "Black" is the same price. I'll be looking and buying a few bags of this shortly to start up my final FW Project.

Gary


Whichever of us gets to that point first agree to share source resources with the other? I'm ALL about comparison shopping... lol

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 7:05 pm
by freshfish
Lou wrote:The general consensus regarding plant substrates is that they are most effective when you do not mix them with inert substrates like gravel.


Lou,

I have to agree with you, and I've experimented with both mixing substrate with gravel and not over the years- I think just plain substrate works best in the planted areas. Right now my 10gal is mixed- but they are not mixed together- the substrate is in specific areas and the gravel in other specific areas in an attempt to encourage and discourage plants in certain areas of the aquascape, and I think the strategy has worked pretty well!

The aquariumplants.com substrate that I've been debating over is supposed to be a plant substrate- just we don't know what all is in it (I actually suspect they probably mix up some of the commercial products in bulk and then cut it with a filler of some sort, so in the end I bet it's all the same- but that's just total guesswork on my end!)

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 9:39 pm
by Crazygar
Laura, I live in Canuckistan. A simple bag of Flourite at say 15US would be about 30-35CAN. For some weird reason, things get hyperinflated when they cross the border.

I've never had a messy Flourite problem. I have my tanks so densely planted, it seems that the plants are growing from plants. If you are doing major digging, then yes, you'd have some clouding for sure. The key is to take it easy. All of the Commericial substrates will do this.

Gary

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:22 pm
by Algenco
Aquariumplants.com "own" substrate is soil master select made by oildri. Available at Lessco dealers for $16 per 50# bag

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 12:59 am
by freshfish
Do elaborate? Lessco dealers? Any online that you know of?

Thanks!!!

Re: substrate comparison

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:14 am
by freshfish
Well, a Google search pulled up some discussions about Soilmaster on aquaticplantcentral.com's forum, and it sounds worth giving it a try. Turns out Lesco also has tons of distributors in FL, so I found the email addy for someone in town, too!

Here's some quotes I found about the product (it's so nice to not have to use APA reference styles :cheer: ):

"The Soilmaster was $13 for a 50lb bag. 50lbs was plenty to make a 3-4" depth in a 75g tank. Soilmaster Select is used mainly as a sports field conditioner. It is a soil conditioner similar to Turface or Shultz Aquatic Plant Soil but comes in a charcoal color and has a high iron content and CEC. " http://www.plantedtank.net/articles/Soi ... strate/26/

"Soilmaster® soil conditioner is a natural inorganic, ceramic material mined from the earth. It is thermally-optimized to enhance absorbency and durability and comes in a variety of sizes to meet your needs. Soilmaster® soil conditioner is produced to the highest quality standards by Pro's Choice®, the sports turf group of Oil-Dri Corporation of America. Soilmaster® soil conditioner modifies soil to create an ideal medium for growing healthy, resilient turf that holds up to the toughest use. Incorporated into turf rootzones, Soilmaster® granules resist compaction and promote vital soil oxygen and root penetration."
http://www.premierturf.com/proschoice.html

Ok this discussion got over my head just about from the getgo- can anyone more versed in plant chemistry interpret this forum discussion for me in layman's terms? http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/foru ... ph-kh.html

Thanks!