cheap substrate for a 48" tank

Discussion in 'Substrates' started by mindscape100, 21 Mar 2008.

  1. mindscape100

    mindscape100 Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    West Yorkshire (huddersfield)
    Hi All,

    My first post in this forum!!
    Im wondering what my options are for a cheap yet effecive substrate for my 4" tank Ive just purchased. Im aware of eco complete and other brands like that but really cannot afford to budget the £60 odd it would cost for the material (well the missus cannot justify the £60 odd!!)
    Is there any other mixes/options available for me that would be effective for heavy plant growth. Ill have co2 and high light conditions.
    Any help would be greatfull.
    Regards John
     
  2. Luketendo

    Luketendo Member

    Messages:
    463
    Location:
    West Sussex, England
    I'm not sure, but Adakama?
     
  3. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Messages:
    4,126
    Location:
    Aston, Oxfordshire
  4. mindscape100

    mindscape100 Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    West Yorkshire (huddersfield)
    The akadama is looking a good choice I think....I was just a little curious as to whether anyone has carried out long term trials on this substrate as I heard someone mention it turns into a silty/clay material after a while when used in bonsai planting. Would this process be speeded up when fully submersed?
    If I did use this stuff, where would be a good place to get it?
    Thanks for the fast replys..just been glancing through the site really good work to everyone who makes it what it is! :D
     
  5. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Messages:
    4,126
    Location:
    Aston, Oxfordshire
    Not sure about long term use. ADA AS will also soften over time. You are right though that this substrate doesn't lend itself to having the plants moved around lots. EC doesn't break down at all, but that is expensive.

    Sam
     
  6. mindscape100

    mindscape100 Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    West Yorkshire (huddersfield)
    Yeah Ive had a look at the eco complete..Id need around 2 40lb bags and that would be around 80-90 pounds!
    At the moment I have a tank with top soil mixed with vermiculite and playsand on the surface, the plants do great but I want to move away from sand because its a nightmare to keep clean without sucking up loads of sand...unless theres other alternatives?
     
  7. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Messages:
    4,126
    Location:
    Aston, Oxfordshire
    Have you thought about a base layer substrate like tropica substrate or tetraplant substrate? These you top with an inch or so of gravel or whatever you want. Much cheaper.

    Sam
     
  8. mindscape100

    mindscape100 Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    West Yorkshire (huddersfield)
    Thats another choice I guess...
    The Tropica is around £19 for a 5litre bag and thats for a 240litre tank so that could be something I look into....
    My god there is just so many options with this. I guess theres no exact answer?
    Man Im so confused, I just dont wannt go ahead and buy something to regret it the following week after setting everything up! Ive done that many a time :arghh:
     
  9. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Messages:
    4,126
    Location:
    Aston, Oxfordshire
    Yeh it can confusing, however if you have a budget then find out what you can get and go for that one. All the plant substrates do basically the same job, and anything is going to be better than just gravel or sand on its own (Although you can grow demanding plants in gravel and sand without a plant substrate, the substrate just gives you more room for manoeurvre). I've used EC and ADA AS, now AS is supposed to be the best and I don't doubt that, but am I able to tell the difference? No. All the big name brands would probably do. If you can afford it and want it get the tropica substrate, its probably the best of the base layer substrates and wont break the bank.

    Sam
     
  10. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    You're right there is no exact answer. I think your last sentence sums it up. Have a look at what you like the look of and other people are using successfully and copy them!
     
  11. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Messages:
    1,276
    Location:
    Bexley, Kent
    I've had my akadama in my tank for over six months now with no signs of any deteriation. There are some types of akadama that are quite soft and crumbly so you need to make sure you get a good quality one. The type pictured in my journal is the one to go for.

    Akadama by itself is inert and so if you wish to have a low light setup with a lean water column then akadama isn't the choice to go for but a nutrient rich substrate is. Alternatively if you go for a water column dosing method like estimative index then akadama works well as it also pulls some nutrients out of the water column and holds them for the plant roots.

    I like the water column dosing methods so akadama for me is a great choice as it is even cheaper than using aquarium gravel or sand. If I was going to use an enriched substrate then it'd be ADA Aqua Soil every time.

    James
     
  12. mindscape100

    mindscape100 Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    West Yorkshire (huddersfield)
    Im not aware of any bonsai dealers that are really close enough to travel to (Im nearHuddersfield if anyone knows anywhere?)
    But are there any online suppliers that are good with price and delivery? Also How many bags would I need in my 120x40cm tank?
    At the moment Ive just bought some aquatic soil(which Im soaking at the mo) I have some spaghnum peat on order some vermiculite and also some grit which I was going to mix. Then top with a layer of Kiln dried sand (yes Im contemplating the sand again!) Ive bought all this because its cheap enough and also If I do opt for the Akadama I can return it if needs be. Unless some of you out there think that the mix I have could work quite well???

    Thanks all for the help/advice.
     
  13. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Messages:
    4,126
    Location:
    Aston, Oxfordshire
  14. mindscape100

    mindscape100 Member

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    West Yorkshire (huddersfield)
    Right...Ive ordered myself 2 bags as mentioned!! Ill add a thin layer of the spaghnum to the first layer. Ive made the order also for the plants fromn Greenline hopefully they will be here before friday. I may also add the material from my filter to the first layer. I guess Ill make a trip back to B&Q to return the sand and gravel etc...Hope I can find my damn reciept! IS there anyone else out there thats used the Akadama for a long period? Again thanks for the advice just hope Ill have enough with the 2 bags??

    Thanks again guys..
    No doubt Ill probablly change my mind when it all arrives and just dump 20kg of horse manure in there in the end that should work I reckon :wideyed:
     
  15. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Messages:
    4,126
    Location:
    Aston, Oxfordshire
    No probs :) check out James akadama thread in the planted section there are links to several people on APC that use it, don't know if they've used it long term or not, but worth a look :)

    Sam
     
  16. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Messages:
    1,276
    Location:
    Bexley, Kent
    When I did my 4 foot tank it took just under 3 bags of akadama to get what I'd call a decent coverage. In my journal I have a calculator than can be used to work out the number of bags:
    For a 3 inch depth for your tank size comes out at about 2.5 bags. See how it goes with 2 bags, it may just be enough if you have it shallower at the front.

    Some people have been using akadama for years. Indeed Takashi Amano even used it before he did his own aqua soil. I reckon it should last a good 2-3 years after which it's probably a good idea to change it anyway.

    Let us know how you get on with it.

    James
     
  17. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Messages:
    4,126
    Location:
    Aston, Oxfordshire
    You could always mix in some gravel to bulk it out, I doubt it'll make much difference.

    James - if used for 2-3 years is that its longevity in terms of nutrients given to the plants or its ability to hold its shape and not break down?

    Sam
     
  18. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Messages:
    1,276
    Location:
    Bexley, Kent
    2-3 to it may start to break down. Don't know for sure as yet as I haven't had it that long. Regarding nutrients it'll probably keep holding on to them for yonks. I find the older a substrate gets the better it starts to work as mulm starts to build up in the substrate which contains loads of goodies for the plants. But it gets to a point that there is too much mulm and a good cleanout is required.

    So as long as the akadama doesn't start to crumble in 2-3 years, which I'm fairly sure it won't, then it won't matter to me as it's so cheap for me I'll just change it anyway.

    James
     
  19. Themuleous

    Themuleous Member

    Messages:
    4,126
    Location:
    Aston, Oxfordshire
    Yeh I find there is a point where you need to give the tank a right old clean and start fresh. And you're right about it being so cheap it doesn't matter if you replace it regularly!

    So you've not found that it crumbles like ADA AS over time? The time I used the tropica substrate, when I took the tank down it was one complete mass of substrate!

    Sam
     
  20. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Messages:
    1,276
    Location:
    Bexley, Kent
    How much it crumbles is most likely down to how you treat it. If you're always replanting, moving rocks around etc it will crumble a lot quicker than if left completely alone. I've had a tank now for 6+ months with akadama and it's still holding up perfectly well with no crumbling that I can see and I'm constantly fiddling around with the plants in it.

    James
     

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