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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 29 gallon tank with some feeder guppies, CPDs, Zebra danios, and cherry shrimp. The plants I have are wisteria, anacharis, java moss, and java fern. The wisteria is looking a little weak, some of the anacharis is looking bad and some is looking great, the the java fern is the same way and the moss looks good but growing slow. I use ferts and I'm working on DIY CO2 and creating a stronger light.

BUT! I can't even keep the dang anacharis in in the gravel. Seems silly to try to balance the chemistry and lighting if I just have a bunch of floating anacharis. The bottoms of the plant look shredded and rootless

I originally bought the gravel for a piranha tank years ago. It is a mix of natural rough and smooth rock. I now know from some online research that the gravel is probably rough on the plants and cutting into them and is bigger than most recommendations for planted aquariums.

So, I started looking into the pricey planted tank substrates. A Seachem calculator said I needed about 45 pounds or three of their bags ($60) to cover 3 inches. So my question is, can you get away with maybe only 50% plant substrate and 50% inert substrate suitable for plants.
 

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Just go with play sand, far cheaper, works with plants, works with bottom feeders, looks more natural than most substrates and won't mess with the water enough to worry about.

Oh, and far cheaper.

Jeff.
 

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Just go with play sand, far cheaper, works with plants, works with bottom feeders, looks more natural than most substrates and won't mess with the water enough to worry about.

Oh, and far cheaper.

Jeff.
That is an interesting idea I haven't thought of. I've only ever shopped for sand for the back of my truck, can you get it in black at local stores very often?
 

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I don't know about black. It's got to be play sand though or it will have crap in it.
Even then you need to rinse the finer silt and dust out if it.

Jeff
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I preferr pool filter sand. It is super cheap 5-10$ It is generally light brown, and is easier than play sand to clean. Lowes has it and varous other major retailers in the usa. I highly preferr sand as opposed to gravel, and the colored sand I tried from the pet store sucked pretty bad as it bled off the color and was really hard to get clean.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I would really like a black substrate. There will be fish in the tank, the fish waste isn't going to sit on top of the sand is it?
 

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Sure it will sit on top, however it will sink into the sand somewhat and fertilize the plants. I don't really vac mine and it just seems to disapear. I do have mts snails, maybe they eat it idk? I'm semi new to planted tanks too, and I did try colored sand from petco, just didn't turn out well. This is a 29 gal tank and the sand for it costed like 7.50$
 

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Sure it will sit on top, however it will sink into the sand somewhat and fertilize the plants. I don't really vac mine and it just seems to disapear. I do have mts snails, maybe they eat it idk? I'm semi new to planted tanks too, and I did try colored sand from petco, just didn't turn out well. This is a 29 gal tank and the sand for it costed like 7.50$
Tank looks great. When I clicked on it, I noticed a picture on the bottom with black substrate. What substrate is that and is it suitable for planted?
 

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I preferr pool filter sand. It is super cheap 5-10$ It is generally light brown, and is easier than play sand to clean. Lowes has it and varous other major retailers in the usa. I highly preferr sand as opposed to gravel, and the colored sand I tried from the pet store sucked pretty bad as it bled off the color and was really hard to get clean.
I agree, I prefer PFS over play sand hands down. My experience with play sand was awful - I can't understand why it's suggested. Must have been the brand?.....
 

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Idk about that tank with the black sand- that is my fathers tank in a different state, he posts pictures in my image shack to show me rather than emailing them. Mine is the planted one- his is the fake decor one with the mean big fishy. I like little nice fishy like neons and cat fishes.
 

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I agree, I prefer PFS over play sand hands down. My experience with play sand was awful - I can't understand why it's suggested. Must have been the brand?.....
What problem did it give you? Not going to try to troubleshoot but I am curious.

Jeff.
 

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Hankj, these are my observations after 20+ years of substrates including fine gravel, pea gravel, play sand, and Flourite (Seachem's "enriched" plant substrate in black).

To the initial question of the plant rooting. There may well be other factors here, as the lack of roots and disintegrating lower stems suggests. Leaving this aside, most stem plants will root easiest in fine gravel or sand.

To the issue of types of sand. But first, the fish should determine the substrate, if any in this tank have substrate-related needs. Substrate fish such as corys should always have sand. Loaches can be sand or fine gravel, depending upon the species. Most cichlids are best with sand, as they feed from the substrate, or fine gravel or pea gravel for the larger Central American species works.

Now to sand types. I was disappointed with the black Flourite on two counts. First, plant growth was not improved over my sand and gravel tanks. Second, every spec of detritus and "stuff" showed up. Third, this is too sharp for substrate fish or cichlids.

I use play sand, now in 6 of 7 tanks, the 7th has fine dark mix gravel. These mixed sands and gravels hide detritus, and in the case of play sand the appearance is near identical to many Amazon streams, so it is natural.

Other types of sand can work, but be careful of the roughness. Play sand is made for kids to play in, so it is probably about the best you can get on this count. Now, before others jump in, I'm not saying all pool sand, etc is rough--but some of it is.

Byron.
 

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Tank looks great. When I clicked on it, I noticed a picture on the bottom with black substrate. What substrate is that and is it suitable for planted?
I used "Black Diamond Blasting abrasives"; which I purchased at Tractor Supply for $8 a 50 pound bad. There are different sizes from extra fine to extra course. Get which is best for you.
 

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What problem did it give you? Not going to try to troubleshoot but I am curious.

Jeff.
It was as dirty as can be. By the time I was done washing it, all the softness was gone; It was sharp. and it was an ugly greyish color in the tank. I believe I used quickcrete, which I've seen suggested many times.
 

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I used another brand.... the sand was made up of a lot of clear/white quartz mixed with some red, brown, darker and odd colours along with some shell material... so it's an interesting mix in the tank. I actually have a picture of it here. I tagged on a picture of pool filter sand too, for camparison. I find it too light for my taste.

I did buy a bag of the Quickrete product and found it finer grained but never washed enough of it to see what the end colour was like or how dirty it was. It did have black limestone in it instead of white shell parts and it is a more homogenous colour pre-washing.

Interesting note, lots say that PFS is too sharp... if I were comparing the two sands side by side, I would have guessed that the play sand is far "sharper" looking.

Jeff.
 

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Different forums push different substrates. This one is heavy on the play sand, while others push the PFS.
 

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I used "Black Diamond Blasting abrasives"; which I purchased at Tractor Supply for $8 a 50 pound bad. There are different sizes from extra fine to extra course. Get which is best for you.
Should have said that that stuff (black diamond) is black; for tan sand I used THT pool filter sand from Ace Hardware. Both were exceptionally clean!
 

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I think it ends up being a personal preference and a tolerance for the washing process.

I did call the local pool place and talked to the owners, they advised against the filter sand. They said that they had planned on using it for one of their tanks and the manufacturer mentioned that the sand was treated with something and not suitable for use with fish. I never investigated that further so I don't know what it was about.

Jeff.
 

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I have 3 different brands of pool filter sand - They're all fantastic. It's WIDELY used. I don't recall ever hearing about pool filter sand being treated with anything.
 
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