Substrate for 55 planted
ok so the next item on the list is substrate. i have my lighting picked out already which is two lifeglow2 T8 tubes and my heater which is 300 watts and my filter which does 350 gph. am i able to use just "kiddie sand" from HD or do i gotta buy the insansely priced "aquarium sand: at 1.50 a lb? also am i able to use a mixture of potting soil and dirt (for the plants)? i know that the substrate has to pass the vinegar test but will just regular sand do the trick? i do however want to put some type of "plant substrate" in the tank aswell
forgot to add this in, wouldnt let me edit my post. anyways, how deep should by substrate be? ive read somewhere 3 to 5 inches is this correct?
Hi MoneyMitch if you are thinking of using potting soil, check this thread I post....
It could be a different plant you have in mind, but I think you could make it as a reference....thanks, and feel free to share your thoughts, cheers :)
Play sand is fine for aquariums, just remember to rinse well first. As for soil, the general consensus is that soil with no additives should be alright, however, it will get very messy. Many people use sand for their substrate, however, with sand remember to stir your sand every once in a while to prevent anaerobic gas pockets.
Several substrates are possible and feasible, but the first thing I would ask is what fish will be in this tank? Burrowers make a real mess with soil, even if it is covered by a layer of sand or gravel (they go right through all of it). Also, what type of plants? Rooted plants that are primarily (but not totally) root feeders are more in need of enriched substrates than stem plants that obtain more of their nutrients from the water through the leaves and roots along the stems.
Eco complete is good for planted aquaria, but in time the nutrients are gone (takes quite a while though, so I'm told).
Sand is used by many, and HD sand works (I have some, not yet set up the tank though). With sand you have to be careful vacuuming the substrate, the sand gets sucked up. It can also compact more easily, creating dead spots. A bit more vigilant maintainance is needed.
Fine-grained gravel is good for rooted plants especially (swords, crypts) and doesn't compact as easily. I've noticed that the vast majority of plant authorities recommend gravel over anything else.
A layer of planting medium can be put down first, then a layer of gravel or sand over it. Again, this will mix in time, especially depending upon fish and gravel cleaning. Another option to prevent the mess is plain sand or gravel with fertilizer tabs/sticks inserted next to the heavy feeding rooted plants, and liquid fertilizer is sufficient for stem plants. One advantage is, you control the nutrients easily by adding or removing the tabs/sticks. The nutrients in the substrate will leech into the water if not used by plant roots.
My personal preference is plain gravel, smallest grain size, and Hagen/Nutrafin Plant Gro sticks next to the heavy feeders, with weekly liquid fertilization.
Depth has to be sufficient to hold the plants rooted. I find for large rooted plants like swords and crypts a minimum 2 inches, preferably 3 inches, works, and it can be sloped to the back or terraces created for better plant foundations where the larger plants would normally be planted.
not to sure what kind of fish i'm going to put in yet as we have a water softener here and my test kits are in the mail. after i can get the water parameters then i will decide fish. as far as plants go i plan to have a nice mix of low to mid light level plants, i havet done any research yet as im still getting all the equip together. gravel would be nice as you said byron but at the pet store you pay 4x as much just because it says aquarium on it. but who knows maybe i need to just stop being so concernd about price :P and you are saying about 3 inches or so of substrate about how many lbs is that for a 55 gal thats 44inches long 13 wide?
Re the hardness, once you have your test kits and know how hard your water is, and the corresponding pH [they are linked due to the natural buffers in hard water that will prevent you lowering pH without altering the hardness, in simplistic terms], you can decide how to proceed. If you have very hard and alkaline (basic is now the term) water, livebearers and rift lake cichlids will be fine. If you decide you want soft and acidic water fish like SA tetras, dwarf cichlids, SE Asian fish that prefer (and some require) softer, slightly acidic water, you will know what will be involved to get it. On the other hand, you may already have water that is perfectly useable (maybe slightly basic, low 7's pH and moderate hardness) and no need to fiddle with it unless you intend getting into sensitive wild-caught acidic water fish like discus or something.
Re your plant thoughts, that is similar to what I have; you've probably checked my aquaria photos, and in both those tanks I had regular quartz aquarium gravel (it is inert), smallest grain size I could get, with Nutrafin's Plant-Gro sticks next to the largest swords that are heavy root feeders. Liquid fertilizer (Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive) twice a week, no CO2, and minimum light (one watt full spectrum per gallon) completes the picture, and I have no trouble with those plants thriving.
You can get gravel at some landscape places. Just make sure it is inert. Some (limestone, dolomite, coral, marble based) contains calcium and minerals that will raise pH and hardness. Quartz gravel is, as far as I know, inert unless something specific has been added. I purchased all my gravel (I have two colours, one in the 90g is gray/black base, one in the 70g is "natural" buff/brown base colour) from aquarium stores but in bulk which is considerably less expensive than prepared bags. Coated gravels can sometimes leech their coating (colour), I had this occur some years ago with some black gravel. Bulk gravel is the best in my view, just get the smallest grain size. A natural, darkish colour brings out the colours in fish and plants, and the fish feel more relaxed [I have evidence of this I won't go into here].
It used to be said a pound of gravel to a gallon of tank volume. I have so much gravel, bought years ago now, and keep moving some of it around as I change tanks, that I can't remember how much I bought for the tanks. But if you buy 60 pounds in bulk for your 55g tank, you will probably have enough and some to spare--and its handy to have spare, as you may decide to build up this or that section with a rock and the spare gravel gets used. I'm fairly certain I went with 60 pounds when I set up my 55g tank, but that was in the early 1980's so memory is a bit rusty, but I followed these generalities more back then.
also borneo did you use just soil or a mix?
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