New Tank Setup- Best Substrate?
So i got a new 25 gallon tank/stand/cover/light for christmas and I want to setup another planted tank. It's a rather tall tank at over 19" tall. It came with an all glass cover and a 24" coralife t5 fixture with a 6700K bulb and a colormax bulb. I want to go all out on this tank. I have a new sponge filter setup i want to use on this tank. My questions are what is the best substrate to use? I have black sand in my 10g planted, but are the plant-specific substrates really that much better? Also, do you think this light is too much? I figured since its a t5, i could cut down the time duration its on everyday and be able to grow some of the higher light plants?
I'd like to stock the tank with a school of 8-10 cories such as juli's and a school of 10-12 small tetras and go heavily planted. Crypts, anubias, vals, etc. Sound like a good stocking?
I think that fixture is regular output T5, which is 14 watts per bulb for the 24 inch fixture (to check, look at the bulbs, it should be printed on them). High output would be 24 watts and probably too much unless you plan on high tech. The regular output should still be more than enough for the plants listed, but not excessive and you can limit algae by keeping the photoperiod down somewhat.
I have no experience with the plant substrates, but it doesn't seem necessary. There are a alot of folks that have good plant growth without it. I also think I've read that it's not good for corys or loaches, so that may be something to consider as well.
On the substrate, I now have tanks with fine gravel, playsand and Flourite (enriched substrate). Plant growth--and I have many of the same species in each of these, with identical light and fertilizing so it is a fair comparison--is much the same in all of them. There may be a slight advantage in the Flourite tank, but I am still having to dose Flourish Comp weekly the same as the other tanks. I do use Flourish tabs next to the large swords in the sand and gravel tanks.
Quantum's comment on substrate fish is important. I moved my corys out of the Flourite tank, the substrate is rather sharp-edged. And one reason I selected Flourite over Eco-Complete was that having seen both in a store I felt the Flourite was not sharp whereas the EC was. Still, the corys did not seem happy, but they are now over sand. Loaches would be the same issue. I have not tried (or seen locally) the other enriched substrates like ADA or Amazonia [if I have those names correct].
On the light, Quantum has commented. Whichever it is, a short duration daily plus heavy floating plant cover should keep it manageable. The latter will also be appreciated by the fish.
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