Is specialised 'plant substrate' necessary for a successful planted aquarium?
As the Title says, is specialised 'Plant Substrate' necessary for a successful planted aquarium? As I only have sand in all my tanks, I was just curious if I could achieve a fully planted tank in one of them only using root tabs and liquid fertilisers, as I really do not wish to up-heave all my sand.
I've heard many different thing, but none of them from a reliable source.
My current lighting is:
1x 24inch, T8 Power-Glo. (20W).
1x 24inch, T8 Life Glo. (20W).
I don't know what the others will say... but I am using regular gravel and the tank is fully planted no plastic. And thriving. Substrate has not been an issue for me.
Ferts 2x a week and not on a water change day.
You can look at the three aquariums under my name here for pictures of my planted tanks, none use an enriched substrate. Two are regular old play sand and the third is black epoxy coated gravel which is the gravel almost every pet store sells (and comes in numerous outlandish colors).
So my answer is no, encriched substrates are by no means required.
I agree with others that an enriched substrate is not necessary. And I have tried one.
For over 15 years I had fine gravel substrates and good plant growth. During the past couple of years, I have been changing to play sand in several tanks for aesthetics, and plant growth continues to be good. Regular liquid fertilization (twice weekly in my situation, I have very soft water) in all tanks and substrate tabs next to the larger swords and tiger lotus in two tanks.
I have one Flourite substrate tank, running now for 19 months, and it has been very disappointing. In short, the same weekly fertilization has been required in the Flourite tank as the sand tanks, and the plant growth (same species, same lighting) is no different to my eyes. Save your money.
Of much more importance is the light and then balancing that light with adequate nutrients.
Have not tried all of the commercially prepared substrates(some not available in U.S.),but agree with other's that they are not necessary to get good growth.
I built my own substrate with plain potting soil,or miracle grow potting soil,plain unscented cat litter(clay),and capped the afore mentioned with black diamond blasting media.
I too, use liquid fertz, and dry fertz once a week with 50 % water change every couple week's.
+1 to all the posts above.
A specialized substrate is not needed.
I have ran tanks for up to 9 years with just sand. The tanks had a very large population of live bearers from the original cycle trio.
But I did notice neon tetras did not do well so measured hardness and found both carbonate and general hardness very very high.
So I did an experiment and found peat moss prevents that hardness increase. And neon tetras lived for years.
So now I use:
1" canadian peat moss (1'x1'x3' plastic bales for $11)
1" play sand
1" pc choice select red (a baked red clay used for baseball infields) 50 pound bag was $7 or so but I had to contact the supplier to get a local supplier.
I sometimes dose a little iron but otherwise basically just let the fish feed the plants.
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