Sand, plants and possibly mixing gravel.
Well I am moving next month and so I have to go through the horrendous process of breaking down my two tanks and transporting them to another state. Since I am breaking it down, I have become very very frustrated with my EcoComplete substrate in my 29g because all of my rooted plants are stem plants and I can never get them to stay put. I have about a 2.5"-3.0" layer so its plenty deep but stems and EcoComplete just do not mix.I have amano shrimp, snails, cories that constantly pester them and even the thick ones that grow beyond the top will get uprooted. I was hoping to solve this by switching to a sand substrate. I know they are not big time root feeders so I could get away with stems and root tabs every few months to help with the low CEC. I was wondering if anyone has had success. I'm not looking for out of this world growth, but as long as it maintains and does not wilt away I am happy. I have yeast DIY CO2, regular dosage with liquid ferts,and dual T5 bulb setup for lighting on a timer. I know that the tabs would be better with the sand so i plan to incorporate those if I do switch. Was thinking of purchasing some pool filter sand since it is pool season here in the SW and its available and cheaper than usual and I like the look better than play sand.
Also on I side note I have seen some people mix a bottom layer of gravel with a nylon mesh to keep the sand layer on top and prevent mixing but still allow plant roots to get the high CEC benefits from the underlying gravel that they can stretch into. Wondering if anyone is familiar with this process as well.
You do not need an enriched substrate, or root tabs with stem plants. Those only really benefit heavy root feeders like swords and crypts.
The stem plants are likely getting the majority of their nutrients from the liquid fertilizer that you are using.
Both play sand and pool filter sand work, but if you go with pool filter sand make sure it isn't too light or white in color, the bright reflection is stressful on fish. Several people here use one or the other with great success, including myself. You do not want to go as thick with sand, 2" max. Malaysian Trumpet Snails will be good to have to keep the sand aerated.
I don't think you would get any benefit from trying to mix gravel and sand substrates with stem plants.
Good to know. I just wanted the confirmation that stems can be viable in sand. I just kept reading online in various forums about the need for tabs or some kind of CEC. Hopefully the transition will be smooth so I don't have to worry about losing anyone on the trip.
stems definately don't need an enriched substrate or a high CEC substrate- stems take nutrients from the water column.
I would provide the best substrate for the fish. First, because this can impact their health and longevity. Second because plants can grow in any substrate. And especially stem plants as others have mentioned.
A basic sand substrate if you have corys is best; fine gravel that is smooth will also work, I used it for 15+ years. But there is no doubt in my mind now that they prefer sand. And EcoComplete is not good for corys, I had this from a pro catfish breeder and experienced it myself with Flourite which is much the same.
Even in my 5-foot tank with large swords a 2.5 inch overall substrate of playsand has been very adequate. Inexpensive too. If the pool filter sand is white, forget it. Playsand (tan/gray/black/white mix) is better for the fish, will bring out better colouration, and is authentic in appearance (Amazon streams are this sand).
a mix of playsand and pool filter sand works well also
I will have to plan on picking up some play sand then, also does play sand lose its color or get mucky? I've heard rumors elsewhere and wanted more info on it. White pool filter sand would be nice but the stuff i've seen looks "too white"
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