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Discussion Starter #1
I have 18 Gallon tank doing fish-less cycle. I am planning to make my tank low tech Non-CO2 tank. So kindly can you suggest me good substrate for me, including how much I should add.

I also like to know from your experience, how to add substrate when tank is fill with water
 

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Soo you are doing a fish less cycle with a bate bottom tank now??

What fish do you plan on adding after it cycles? Some fish prefer/do better over different substrates.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
No it have small stone as substrate. I am preferring some guppies or neon tetra, rest still I did not decided
 
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The best thing to remember when adding substrate to a tank that is "full" is to remove some water before hand so you don't have a big spill. ;) otherwise, be sure to wash it beforehand so it doesn't make a mess, and then put it in.

For plants, most substrates I believe are capable of growing plants. If you buy something inert and not specifically for plants (no nutrients), you'll want to use root tabs and fertilizers (which you will want to use eventually anyways. You don't want the grains of substrate to be too big or too small. Some sands are almost too small and basic aquarium gravel too big. Although, all should work fairly well either way, the best size is in between, at least from my research. If you're keeping harder water fish like guppies I'd suggest Eco complete. The granule sizes vary which is nice. I have also heard ADA aqua soil and fluorite. Many people also put organic potting soil underneath their substrate. There's really a lot of choices! If you have the right lights and some ferts you can grow many plants either way. :) If you want cories I believe you're stuck with sand (or that's the best).

For depth I tend to think 2 inches is good but if you have big rooting plants you may want more.
 

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what i remember for substrates (notes are home, i'm not)
for minimum recommended depths

1/4" for a shrimp tank
1" for stem plants
2" for other plants
3" for heavily rooting plants

as for what to use, ... i'd recommend sand, play sand for cheap
pool filter sand is cheap too, but i'm queezy about it's sharp edges

after that if you want colors or anything specific, the price starts to go up.
you can get stuff as simple as play sand, ... or as expensive as (i'm intrigued by this one) sand-blasting glass beads, or ceramic beads (foundry casting media - cerabeads)... if i have the cash i am thinking cerabeads in the future (light weight, round, small/fine - sadly i'm expecting an expensive bill :(

if your looking for more exotic stuff, chromite, sub-round shape so it's not too rough (relatively speaking as it can be fine grade as well)

most sand-blasting media i'd stay away from due to being very angular (sharp edges - even on sand-sized particles)

then there is basic cheap sand, play sand, ... one of those KISS concepts (keep it simple s___ )

Edit:
as austin said, i'd recommonend organic soil underneith any cap of sand your adding

in a tank full of water, i'd recommend removing all ornaments & fish, just dump in some soil, let it settle, place in some paper towel (not bleached) cover with your substrate cap, ... put your oraments back, plant any plants you have, give the tank time for things to settle down (i honestly have no idea how long) add fish & whatever critters your after

easier to lay down your substrate in an empty tank (no water)
 

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Have you seen any benefits to adding the layer of potting soil? I'm wary of doing that or adding any "layers" since I am sure they will get mixed up. Won't they rot down there? I guess not since many people report success.

Anyways, about the blasting sand. I've researched it a lot and it sounds like some varieties are sharp while others are good for even things like cories. Black diamond seems to be the one I read about. And it is inexpensive. ~$8 for 50 pounds. Not sure if we're talking about the same things.
 

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It is less than half inch.
For the fish you are wanting or are thinking about I would just use to same small pebbles you are using now and bring it up to no more then an inch.

How are you doing the fish less cycle by the way? If you are just adding straight ammonia then I would go ahead just add another inch of the gravel. Just rinse it off and then add it to the tank. If you using flake foods then I would wait till after the cycle to add add the gravel as you are going to want to siphon out that old food first before adding more gravel.
 

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organic soil at the bottom of substrate, ... i agree with the concern about it rotting, that's what we are familiar with for composting.

yet, it's like something else is going on and what comes out is healthy. ... i think.

walstad method, is the biggest name for this (or started this, i dono) concerns are satisfied with very fast growing plants, i don't get the details, but apparently safe for fish in a week or so i think... so i may not get the details about what's going on, but the results say good things.

so worries about rotting, ... i think there's more to it. we are familiar with rotting under certain circumstances, then what is so different about a pile of leaves or grass clippings or other composting projects, ... i haven't explored any details, i am encouraged by the results though
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Do you think sand will help to grow plants very fast
 

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easier for the plant roots to anchor themselves into i think

"faster" i think is more nutrient based than if the substrate is sand (course or fine), or even gravel

actually, not something i have looked into, just gone with what seems more natural & inline with nature
 

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Sand alone will not make the plants grow faster. That is based on nutrients and lighting. The brighter the lights the faster the plants grow as long as the nutrients are there for them to do so.
 

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No it have small stone as substrate. I am preferring some guppies or neon tetra, rest still I did not decided

If it were me (and it's not) I would do the procedures in the link in my signature. Only drain the tank, remove the existing substrate and then reuse the water.

that would prevent mixing up the new substrate in the water column.

FWIW the substrate i use is 1" peat moss, 1" play sand, 1" pro choice select. Each layer filled with water but nothing floating, leveled and the tank cleaned then then next layer added.

And plants added then the tank filled.

my .02
 
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