Black substrate for Corys (and plants!)

Discussion in 'Substrates' started by Schmill, 25 Feb 2009.

  1. Schmill

    Schmill Member

    Messages:
    30
    Hi I am looking for a black substrate that will be good for corys, but also as I am changing my substrate I figured it would be worth me putting down some plant substrate as well.

    The combination I am thinking of to try and achieve the right look, with the right results, (and the right price!) is using JBL AquaBasis as a base layer, and then capping that off with the Black Roman gravel, as that seems to have a small grain size. Would this be ok?

    Other possibly relevant info:
    • Current substrate is largish gravel, with JBL clay balls push in around roots of main plants
    • Dosing watercolumn to EI daily with KH2PO4, NO3, and Trace (all from AE)
    • 2 x 39W T5 Lighting Tubes with reflectors
    • 300L Aquarium, (120 x 46 x 70cm (L x W x H) )
    • No CO2 Injection (I believe with my light levels I am on the border of needing / not-needing it?), but soon to start dosing with EasyCarbo
    • Plants: Ambulia, Cabomba, Java Fern, Java Moss, Twisted Vallis (melting :( ), Amazon Swords, Flame Moss, Glossostigma (although I think that has died and vanished into the gravel). Soon to add Riccia, maybe hair-grass for a carpet area.
    • Fish load is light at the moment, 5 corys, 8 dwarf Rainbows, but soon to increase to a higher stocking, likely around 30 ish small fish in total.
    Also if anyone can say why my twisted Vallis would be melting away I'd be grateful :)

    Thanks !
     
  2. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

    Messages:
    2,498
    Location:
    Bromley
    Welcome to the forum.

    I expect one of the experts will come across this thread soon enough, but in the meantime here is my two pennys worth...

    Yes. You can use inert substrate (i.e. gravel) with no problems. My tank runs this way successfully. However if you go this route you need to ensure that you dose enough plant nutrients inthe water column instead. It is good to see you are dosing EI.

    You can get black substrate that is nutritious (i.e. plant substrate) as well... eco complete is one option and I think some of the ADA varieties come in dark colours.

    Your proposal is a middleground of inert and nutritous, this sounds like a good idea to me. The plants will not get the benefit of the nutritous substrate until their roots hit it.


    At high light levels CO2 is a necessity, at your levels I would guess you can get away without it... unless you have a high plant mass or want to have a low growing carpet.

    This could be a number of things, but three spring to mind - 1/ low ferts (which includes CO2!) 2/ if the plant is new to the tank it could simply be part of it acclimatising 3/is it being shadowed from other plants and not getting any light.
     
  3. YzemaN

    YzemaN Member

    Messages:
    183
    Location:
    Copenhagen
    If you start dosing Ecel your Vallis will definitely be a goner. They don't like liquid carbon at all. Same goes for Elodea, Eleocharis and some Rotala species.
     
  4. Schmill

    Schmill Member

    Messages:
    30
    Oh dear, so in order to have the twisted Vallis in there its a case of either no carbon additive at all, or else full injected CO2 ?

    I was hoping the EasyCarbo would give me a 'middleground' before I see about getting into CO2 etc, but it seems not? I guess I'll just ahve to do without any carbon addition at all for now then? (Cant afford to go CO2 injection yet, and also dont have the space for the cannisters :( )
     
  5. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    These could be signs that you are over the limit of lighting with non-CO2.

    Or you could just live without Vallis or Riccia...there are loads of species to choose from.

    DIY CO2 via yeast is also a lower cost option.

    If you are avoiding all forms of carbon remember to delete water changes as well, assuming you have a good amount of plant mass.

    Cheers,
     
  6. Schmill

    Schmill Member

    Messages:
    30
    Delete waterchanges?

    Also I did start to look at DIY CO2, but I was told that as the tank is 300L I would need a stupid amount of DIY CO2 bottles to actually make it work.
    I never looked at it any further than that, but if its possible with a tank this size perhaps I could try it?

    I notice you mentioned the Riccia too... does this not like the EasyCarbo either then?
     
  7. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Yes, non-CO2 tanks do not have to have a water change any more than about twice a year as the plants recycle the organic waste. Carbon supplementation accelerates the plant metabolism which creates excessive organic waste, too much for them to deal with so the water needs to be changed. Water changes on a non-CO2 tank also destabilizes the CO2 level in the tank because new water typically has CO2 in it which is at a higher level, making it difficult for the plants to become accustomed to the low CO2 level. So basically, in a non-CO2 tank the plants detoxify the water by absorbing and processing waste but in a CO2 tank they create a certain level of toxicity as a result of their increased metabolism.

    You can use DIY CO2 on a large tank as long as the lighting is kept low. If the lighting is low the CO2 demand is low. It's when people try to use bright lighting on a large tank with DIY that they get into lots of trouble. Light is to a tank what an accelerator pedal is to a car. High light creates high demand for CO2 and nutrients. Low light reduces the demands and the stress. The real problem with DIY CO2 is it's inherent instability so one has to take great pains to ensure a steady supply by alternating bottles and so forth. Stupid amounts of CO2 are only required when stupid amounts of lighting is applied to the tank. It's not easy but it is doable.

    Riccia does not respond well to Excel or EasyCarbo which are essentially the same product.

    Cheers,
     
  8. Schmill

    Schmill Member

    Messages:
    30
    Thanks for another in-depth response, plenty of learning for me to do here!

    Out of interest, in your opinion where do I fall with regards to the lighting?
    As mentioned above I am currently running a lighting bar with 2x 39W HOT5 tubes on it, but I also have a lighting bar that I 'think' (its put away at the moment) is 2x 30 or 35W T8 tubes.
    Would I benefit from 'downgrading' back to the T8 tubes? I really prefer the look of the tank & fish with the extra lighting that the T5's give, but don't want to be causing problems with the plants...

    Thanks again :)
     
  9. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi,
    If you prefer the look of the T5's then that's what you ought to aim for. If you wanted to stay non-CO2 you could, for example, remove one or both of the reflectors which are actually multiplying the energy input to the tank. That alone might solve your problem. 80 watts T5 over a 75 USG tank ought to be able to withstand a non-injected environment but carpet plants simply don't do well without Carbon addition. Carpet plants are difficult enough even when CO2 is added so that's always going to be a challenge. The Vallis is more of a mystery because they normally can feed from the carbonates in the water column, assuming you're using tap water and not RO, rainwater or other de-mineralized water.

    The thing is that you need to investigate what works in your tank. Each is different, not because science works differently in each tank, but because there are unique combinations of environmental factors in each (not to mention unique hobbyists as well), so I would at least consider trying DIY just to learn what works or doesn't work. As I suggested, try the liquid carbon in combination with something other than the Vallis or Riccia in order to determine what does grow well for you. Don't get hung up on this species or that. A plant like Ludwigia Augustfolia for example is a strong grower and kinda looks like Vallis from a distance (if you close one eye :rolleyes: ).

    Cheers,
     
  10. beeky

    beeky Member

    Messages:
    879
    Location:
    Chippenham, Wiltshire
    That's not stricly true.

    A number of people have experienced vallis die back when using carbon supplements, but an equal number of people (including me) have seen no ill effects. There may be other factors at work, including variety susceptibility. I didn't overdose Excel and my (straight) vallis was well established. I didn't see any change in growth once I started using it (better or worse), it was still growing like a weed 6 months later.

    Regarding DIY CO2, I use one 2l coke bottle on my 160l tank and I find it's more than enough. For the first 2 days after renewing the mixture I disconnect it at night as my tank is heavily stocked and the bottle is pumping out about 1 bubble a second into the filter which I reckon is enough, going by the amount of pearling going on (not very scientific I know!). I use 2 T5 tubes with reflectors. Once the bubble rate starts dropping though (about 8 days or so) it's time to renew.
     
  11. Craster

    Craster Newly Registered

    Messages:
    3
    Overdosing Excel or EasyCarbo can be harmful to Vallis, but following the recommended dosage shouldn't be. Vallis won't use the carbon source provided by it though. If you have hard water, you should be OK because I believe Vallis like to take their carbon from the water column as carbonates.
     

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