Fine Plant Substrate question - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 14 Old 06-13-2012, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
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Fine Plant Substrate question

Hi guys and gals

I was looking at some cheap aquarium substrates for my 46 gallon tank. I'm looking to having live plants in it and was wondering what types of substrates would be best. I've read Bryon's 4 page sticky on planted tanks and concluded that a 1-2mm gravel should be good for a planted tank. My question is what specific brand and type of gravel should I buy. I've been doing some searching and came up with 3M Colorquartz, Pool Filtration sand or Turface. I don't want something that too grainy and small (like play sand) but something along the lines of a fine gravel. Could anyone give any insight or experiences with these 3 types of substrates or provide any alternatives.

Thanks :)
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post #2 of 14 Old 06-13-2012, 07:47 PM
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A lot of people swear by eco-complete, its a nice black gravel that's supposed to absorb nutrients and make it easier for the plants to absorb

That would make sense. Haven't you heard? We make yogurt, not sense.

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post #3 of 14 Old 06-13-2012, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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Yea I've seen eco complete in stores, but it's 37$ per bag (20lb), is there anything cheaper I can use that I can keep plants in ?
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post #4 of 14 Old 06-14-2012, 12:09 AM
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In my planting project I have a 1/2mm-1mm grain gravel then I found when a local petland went out of business. From what I can tell as long as the grain size is right it doesn't matter what you use. If you really can't decide there's always pool filter sand, do a 2inch layer of sand to prevent it from compacting... I'm a big fan of Leslies Pool Filter Sand, Pretty sure they are a pretty big branch store if you can find one locally. Price when i got some was $8 per 50lb bag

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post #5 of 14 Old 06-14-2012, 04:59 AM
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Anything from gravel to sand will work as mentioned. Just make sure the gravel is not to big or you might have problems getting plants to.grow. Pea gavel is about the max I would go with. Smaller is better though. Also with Eco complete if you plan on having substrate fish such as Corys you might have problems again. As some of the pieces can be sharp.

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post #6 of 14 Old 06-14-2012, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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Ok cool thanks for the help guys, when I'm buying my substrate, are there any warning signs I should ne looking out for (chemicals that could be harmful to fish/plants). I know about the vinegar test to see if bubbles form, but would there be any other things I should watch out for (eg:specific labels,ingredients on the bag)

Thank you kindly
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post #7 of 14 Old 06-15-2012, 12:43 PM
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Yes. Some gravels will raise pH, and/or GH, so if it is an "aquarium" gravel always carefully read the bag information. A while back i bought some quite nice fine black gravel only to find out it raises pH (but not GH, which was interesting).

No mention is made of intended fish, but the warning about sharpness is critical if substrate fish are intended. Eco-complete and Flourite (I have the latter, and have seen the former in stores) are rough and not advisable with substrate fish, I had to remove my corys from the Flourite tank.

I've not tried the specific gravels you mention in post #1. But on pool filter sand, if you can get the black, it is fine; the white is too bright in my view. For years I had fine gravel, the natural buff-blend, until I decided to change over (last 2 years). I now have Quikrete Play Sand in five tanks, Flourite in one, and fine dark gravel in the other. The Flourite is likely to get changed to sand this summer, it has been very disappointing. And the gravel may soon follow. I obviously like the sand.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #8 of 14 Old 06-18-2012, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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hey thanks for all the help. I went to pioneer pools and saw some pool filter sand, but as you mentioned Bryon, its really bright, and the guy said that's the only colour they have. You mentioned you had fine dark gravel in one of your tanks. Do you remember where you bought it from and the brand name? Even a natural brown colour would be fine, i just really don't like white as a substrate. How did the quikrete play sand turn out?, if there anything like the tanks you have bryon, ill be sold :D

Thanks a million

Last edited by shady07; 06-18-2012 at 03:52 PM.
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post #9 of 14 Old 06-18-2012, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shady07 View Post
hey thanks for all the help. I went to pioneer pools and saw some pool filter sand, but as you mentioned Bryon, its really bright, and the guy said that's the only colour they have. You mentioned you had fine dark gravel in one of your tanks. Do you remember where you bought it from and the brand name? Even a natural brown colour would be fine, i just really don't like white as a substrate. How did the quikrete play sand turn out?, if there anything like the tanks you have bryon, ill be sold :D

Thanks a million
My fine dark gravel is a mix, not completely black, and you can see it in the photos of the 90g stream habitat in my log [click "Aquariums" under my name on the left]. I found it in a local store years ago, but that is the only time I've ever seen it.

The 70g flooded Amazon Forest tank has black Flourite gravel, though I do not recomend this as I mentioned earlier. And the other tanks all have the Quikrete Play Sand which is what i have been changing all myh tanks over to during the past year. The 70g will proably be next.

Black pool filter sand is available, or so I have been told, but I've no idea where; might find it online. But I am finding that the fish tend to look better over the "mix" like the playsand. Maybe because this is so natural to them.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #10 of 14 Old 07-03-2012, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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The quikrete sand looks amazing in your tank byron. But what concerns me about quikrete play sand is the grain size. I wanted a carpeting plant like glosso to grow in the foreground, but would this be attainable using quickrete play sand (ie:would it take root in sand). I have a 36" Nova Extreme T5HO lighting fixture. It takes 4 T5HO bulbs which total up to 156 watts (which was donated to me by a good friend who used it for saltwater) and planning to run diy CO2.

I've read a lot of posts regarding sand for planted tanks and they all seem to be working fine. So i guess my question is; is quikrete play sand suitable for all plant species frovided the have good lighting, CO2 and proper dosing?
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