My name is Luis and I am in Los Angeles. This is my first post in this forum. I have kept both salt water and fresh water tanks in the past; about ten years ago. I am starting again with fresh water. I have a question that I am hoping you could help me with:
I am using pool filter sand as substrate. I have never had real plants in my tanks so I want to try plants this time. I want to keep clown loaches, dojo loaches, angel fish and maybe two more species. My main concern is if I am able to use the sand with those species and with real plants. I might put a thin coat of pebbles on top. Should I put a layer of Eco-Complete at the bottom? I assume the sand will not provide any nutrients for the plants.
Any help is greatly appreciated.
I use sand in my tank (play sand, not pool sand, but I think it's similar). I just use root tabs for my plants, you stick it in the ground near the plants and replace it every few months. It works just as well as fertilized substrate I think. The bottom dwellers will love the sand because they can sift through it and rearrange it (I have a CAE who digs caves under my PVC pipes).
The only thing you should worry about is the sand compacting around the roots of the plants. I combat this by keeping my tank full of malaysian trumpet snails. They sift through the sand keeping it loose. Plus, they're pretty cool looking.
I personally do not like using sand, although I do have one cichlid tank using a sandy substrate. Sand does not hold nutrients well, compacts easily, and is not coarse enough to provide substantial support for the roots.
My personal favorite is Eco-Complete for Planted Tanks. I have used both flourite and laterite. I even conducted a "mini study" using all three is adjacent tanks and found the Eco-Complete was far superior in promoting healthy plants. I also like the dark color as it tends to have a "calming" effect on the fish.
As for fertilizers, on my smaller tanks, those less than 90g, I use Pfertz liquid fertilizers, They come as a four bottle set which have the three macro ferts and one bottle for the micros. Great deal, easy to use, and best of all they work. Larger tanks use dry ferts. Another thing with pfertz company, they are gracious enough to help sponsor our forum.
Thank you everyone for their input. Can I put a bottom layer of Eco-Complete and top it off with sand?
Hmm, personally I wouldn't recommend it. I think the sand would probably filter down through the eco complete in time, and you could end up with a bit of a mess on your hands.
Also (and I could be wrong here), but I think having a layer of sand on top would take away the beneficial properties of the eco complete that make for good plant growth.
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