Nutrient rich substrates

Discussion in 'Substrates' started by andy, 12 Jan 2008.

  1. andy

    andy Member

    Messages:
    261
    Location:
    Lewes, East Sussex
    How important are nutrient rich substrates in a high tech planted tank ?

    I'f i was growing mainly stem plants with a few smaller crypts (no swords or aponogetons), and daily dosing ferts either as a complete feed or using the EI, could i do away with having stuff like eco-complete and just have sand....or have a different substrate such as 50/50 coarse sand/JI 1 potting compost (for example).

    3 WPG, pressurised CO2, good water movement, high fish stocks and 10% weekly water changes using RO/tap water mix.

    Any comments or observations would be welcome

    Andy
     
  2. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Messages:
    1,276
    Location:
    Bexley, Kent
    For years I've just used silica sand and water column dosing with great results. Plants such as crypts do OK but do benefit from root tabs or similar. With this Akadama I'm now using, crypts seem to do a lot better.

    Manufacturers will make all sorts of claims because they are trying to sell a product, but in reality most need nutrients to be added to the water column especially if you have 3WPG of lighting. Even ADA Aqua Soil doesn't have that much as it is a clay based substrate, but together with Powersand which contains peat, it works very well. Tropica substrate is similar being clay based with spaghnum moss. Not sure what Eco Complete has but it has a good CEC so will take a lot in from the water anyway.

    Substrates can be daunting with many opinions to complicate matters more. I feel with a high light setup using CO2 and water column dosing substrate choice isn't so important. But having a good one with nutrients will be of benefit, but how much that benefit is worth is up to you. If money is no object than go with ADA AS or similar, but if you go with an inert substrate you can still achieve great results.

    James
     
  3. andy

    andy Member

    Messages:
    261
    Location:
    Lewes, East Sussex
    Thanks james....top notch reply.

    I was even thinking about using 50/50 peat/eco complete with 1.5" coarse sand on top...just to let the plants get their toes into something soft and the eco-complete providing a few nutrients.

    However, surely the nutrients in the substrate (eco complete, akadama etc) will deplete after a certain amount of weeks/months and need replenishing with root tabs for the heavy feeders

    Money is, unfortunately, a big issue but being a gardener, i have access to stuff like peat, JI or even standard potting composts (free of charge :D ).

    What are your opinions on using standard peat based potting composts as a base with sand on top...they usually have enough nutrients to keep terrestrial plants for around 6-8 weeks. Could they give an algea problem with the nutrients ?

    Sorry for all the questions but i'm trying to work out the best set up whilst being on a budget.

    Thanks again

    Andy
     
  4. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Messages:
    1,276
    Location:
    Bexley, Kent
    You only need a sprinkling of peat at the bottom. Too much will be detrimental. Most potting composts contain ammonium or urea so can cause major headaches. I tried cactus compost covered in sand which worked very well but caused a mess when uprooting plants so I gave up on it.

    Yes if you have a substrate where nutrients are added then they will run out over a period of time. If you add nutrients to the water column then the substrate will last longer. Akadama is fairly nutrient free by the way, but does take in certain nutrients from the water.

    If money is an issue the the cheapest options that I can think of are Akadama, silica sand 1-3mm, or tropica substrate covered with silica sand 1-3mm. I really wouldn't go down the compost + sand route as with high light and stem plants you are going to be doing a lot of planting which will make a mess. With low light and slow growth this method works quite well.

    If you look at my website all the pictures of my tank have just inert silica sand and nothing else.

    James
     
  5. andy

    andy Member

    Messages:
    261
    Location:
    Lewes, East Sussex
    Thanks james....i am familiar with akadama as i'm a Bonsai nut so i might just give it a go.

    Thanks for your help

    Andy
     
  6. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Messages:
    1,276
    Location:
    Bexley, Kent
    Let us know how you get on with it.

    Thanks
    James
     

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