02-25-2011, 01:49 PM
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Most of the people that have answered your question are the people I get my info from, so you are in good hands. I would second changing the substrate now, or even half of it, replaced with black or dark brown substrate, it helps the color of both the fish and plants "pop", not to mention it more closely resembles natural habitats of most fish thus (as mentioned) helps the fish feel more "at home".
I wouldn't change it all at once or you might get a mini cycle, as the substrate contains a lot of the benificial bacteria in your tank. Anyhow, you might consider putting a few hand fulls of the new substrate in mesh bags and half submerging them in the old substrate for about a week prior to removing the old stuff. Then mix this cultured substrate in with the new to give it a "jump start". I have never done this, I have just thought of it before, so I don't know if it would really have much of an impact on an established tank. Just speculation.
In my opinion you don't really need any special substrate (maybe it helps, but I can't really tell a difference in growth or health between walmart substrate and eco complete) If you are worried about it though, and like me think that spending 25 bucks is a little crazy for substrate, there are many plants you can buy that primarily assimilate nutrients through their leaves rather than roots. Cheap gravel + liquid fertilizer works great for me.