Originally Posted by jschristian44
I had eco complete but it got really stinky from all the fish poop so i threw it out. I didn't know how to clean it and it killed almost all my guppies, i only have one left. Anyways, my amazon swords new buds are still okay but i dont have them in substrate. I have flourish excel, but that doesnt really help someone said I need flourish supplimental complete or something that is good to promote green leaves. Because all my plants die like within 2 weeks of getting them and its really annoying. I just want a nice planted tank that will keep growing fast etc. I have a 5600k flurescent lamp or whatever which is nice and i use water conditioner. Please help! Which substrate should I get and what plant food.
There are probably a few things happening here, so let's deal with each in turn. First, because you are a relatively new member and I don't know your level of knowledge on planted aquaria, I will do a brief background since it is important to realize what is needed and what is happening when there are problems.
Plants need 17 nutrients, and these must be balanced among themselves and balanced with the light. Light must be adequate in terms of spectrum, intensity and duration, and the nutrients must balance. If any of these is missing, plants cannot photosynthesize and will either slow down or stop, and photosynthesis is how they grow. Growth rates can vary, but the plant cannot grow at all if it is not getting what it requires in terms of light and nutrients in balance.
Eco-complete is an enriched substrate that will provide nutrients to substrate-rooted plants [= those with roots in the substrate, as opposed to floating plants that derive no benefit from the substrate]. Swords (Echinodorus species) should manage in Eco-complete. So here we come to the light.
The kelvin (5600K) is suitable but without knowing the tank size, how much light you have (number of tubes, watts) and duration it is on, I can't offer much more on this. Perhaps you could provide this info and I can comment further.
To the Excel. This is just a liquid carbon supplement. As i mentioned previously, plants need 17 nutrients, of which carbon is just one and an important one, but if this is not balanced by the others and the light, it will not benefit and may actually harm the plants. I do not recommend using Excel in natural or low-tech tanks, as there is usually sufficient CO2 (carbon dioxide) from the fish and bacteria to balance the light and other nutrients.
Flourish Comprehensive Supplement is a complete fertilizer containing all necessary nutrients in balance, intended to be used to "supplement" the nutrients in a natural or low-tech planted tank. It may or may not be necessary with an enriched substrate, but it certainly won't hurt, and if you have non-substrate rotted plants like floating plants, some stem plants, Anubias or Java Fern and Moss, it will benefit them.
To the substrate: in planted tanks, we generally leave it alone. The organics entering the substrate from fish waste, etc. are broken down by aerobic and anaerobic bacteria that are part of a cycle involving water than flows through the substrate naturally and the plant roots which provide oxygen to the bacteria. The organics become important nutrients for the plants, and this is part of the effectiveness and replenishment of the enriched substrate. It is best to leave it alone. Do a weekly water change, but do not vacuum the substrate. I never touch mine. I have gravel in some tanks, sand in others, and Flourite (similar to Eco-complete) in another.
I don't understand how it breaks the siphon. But on the smell, did you pull some up to notice this? I am wondering if it was the natural smell of the substrate or if you hit an anaerobic spot, which would smell like rotten eggs. Some anaerobic spots are natural, and again best left alone. Provided there are lots of substrate-rooted plants (like swords which have extensive root systems) and you are not overfeeding the fish, and the fish load is balanced with the plants and water volume, the substrate should not cause problems.
Last, when you say the plants always die, could you explain further. Swords often lose their existing leaves after being planted. New growth from the centre of the crown should be present, and if so, the plant is fine. Or it may be the light, or some other issue. I may have more to offer when I have the afore-mentioned information.