02-11-2008, 03:54 PM
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The problem that I've found most enduring with larger planted aquariums like that is the high amount of substrate needed. In my 65, I barely have enough to keep the plants rooted, but it's difficult and expensive to buy three inches of eco-complete for 65 gallons. Instead, I used two bags of eco and 1 large bag of river rock.
In my 38, I had a very hard time keeping the plants down because I only had a bag and a half of fluorite in it. But now I added a 20 lb bag of coated natural looking gravel and it works great.
This is really what I would recommend: get a bag or two of either eco or fluorite and then a bag or pea-sized gravel to spread over it. I wouldn't go with sand because it's difficult to maintain. Plus it's better to layer your substrate. Technically you would have to have sand on the bottom and that would eventually make it more difficult to disturb because you get all of your layers mixing. The downside to sand is if you don't disturb it, your roots start to rot. And if you don't layer your substrate then your plants won't be healthy either.
Either way, make sure you get enough of whatever you're getting to avoid future frustration.