Recommended substrate

kellyboy47

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Joined
9 Mar 2008
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216
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Essex
I currently have normal black gravel as my substrate which has not been replaced for approx 12 years. Would it be possible to leave the gravel in situ and add another layer of substrate on top such as CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted or something else or should I remove the original gravel and use a new substrate. The tank is a Juwel Vision 180 so I was just enquiring as to the amount I would possibly have to purchase .
Any help / recommendations would be appreciated. T
 
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South Carolina
I guess it depends on your plans for planting. Some gravels are okay to plant in and others not so much because they are not conducive to root growth because of compaction
 

Easternlethal

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15 Mar 2016
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Hong Kong
It's fine to do that, except you just need to make sure the substrate doesn't become too thick as the bottom layer will get anaerobic.

Sent from my LM-V405 using Tapatalk
 

alto

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24 Dec 2014
Messages
5,897
CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted
Despite the label claims, this is not an enriched substrate (rather it has a decent CEC index so can be nutrient loaded - I’ve found it performs better with a nutrient rich base such as Sera Floredepot etc)

Detailed description/photos of your existing substrate might yield more informed replies :)
 

alto

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5,897
Nice picture :)
(though I’m not good at estimating actual size range, eg, 2-10mm or 4-20mm?)

Various sizes of gravel so it shouldn’t pack tightly (less chances of anaerobic areas forming) but it also allows small particles to sink into the gravel bed - you can check for this by pushing your siphon tube deeply into the gravel as one end of the tank (during a water change)

(I use a Python water changing system so that’s the size/type of siphon tube I’m assuming for this substrate check)

I looked and found your algae/plant topic, this + the 12year old substrate makes it more likely that there will be loads of built up debris

I don’t recall what filter you have on the tank, this may need to be well rinsed to remove any built up debris

Obviously it’s more economic to clean your current substrate, but it’s also fairly water/labour intensive
Filipe Oliveira VLOG Step by Step Rescape



Although his substrate is Aquarium Soil rather than gravel, I suspect you’ll see similar (or possibly even more) levels of debris

EcoComplete is a “natural” substrate which acts very differently than the coated “black” gravels - if your old substrate is coated, I’d likely just bin it
Then consider budget and plant goals, fish needs, maintenance goals etc

Carib Sea also has a Soil based product “Samurai Soil” which you might investigate - CS claims “without the muddy texture and crumbling often seen with other brands.” - but I’ve not seen the product or know much about its use (maybe check US forums)
If you compare a product to ADA Africana, it’s easy to maintain Samurai Soil claims ... but if compared to Tropica Aquarium Soil (which I consider one of the best integrity Aquarium Soils), is Samurai Soil better/worse performing .....

As you have larger fish, do they dig/sift through substrate?
- look at species behaviour as well as what you’ve observed personally - if your present substrate is less compatible with sifting behaviour, you may see little substrate disturbance with present fish, then when you replace the substrate, this may change

Given your fish list, I’d stick with fairly sturdy plants, if you don’t want to add CO2, choose plants with low CO2 requirement (Tropica website usually includes CO2 as low, medium, high) - of course these will also be slower growing plants, so only low levels of fertilizers are needed

I’d probably rescape your tank with defined plant areas (using Aquarium soil or combination of Aquarium Soil and fine gravel (upper layer)), some epiphyte plants (Anubias, Buces, Microsorum etc) on large pieces of wood, then a thin sand layer elsewhere (easy to clean or replace occasionally (if you choose an off-white color), good for substrate sifting)

Some very nice tank scapes in this journal :)
Scape corner @Jayefc1
https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/scape-corner.57131/
 

kellyboy47

Member
Joined
9 Mar 2008
Messages
216
Location
Essex
Nice picture :)
(though I’m not good at estimating actual size range, eg, 2-10mm or 4-20mm?)

Various sizes of gravel so it shouldn’t pack tightly (less chances of anaerobic areas forming) but it also allows small particles to sink into the gravel bed - you can check for this by pushing your siphon tube deeply into the gravel as one end of the tank (during a water change)

(I use a Python water changing system so that’s the size/type of siphon tube I’m assuming for this substrate check)

I looked and found your algae/plant topic, this + the 12year old substrate makes it more likely that there will be loads of built up debris

I don’t recall what filter you have on the tank, this may need to be well rinsed to remove any built up debris

Obviously it’s more economic to clean your current substrate, but it’s also fairly water/labour intensive
Filipe Oliveira VLOG Step by Step Rescape



Although his substrate is Aquarium Soil rather than gravel, I suspect you’ll see similar (or possibly even more) levels of debris

EcoComplete is a “natural” substrate which acts very differently than the coated “black” gravels - if your old substrate is coated, I’d likely just bin it
Then consider budget and plant goals, fish needs, maintenance goals etc

Carib Sea also has a Soil based product “Samurai Soil” which you might investigate - CS claims “without the muddy texture and crumbling often seen with other brands.” - but I’ve not seen the product or know much about its use (maybe check US forums)
If you compare a product to ADA Africana, it’s easy to maintain Samurai Soil claims ... but if compared to Tropica Aquarium Soil (which I consider one of the best integrity Aquarium Soils), is Samurai Soil better/worse performing .....

As you have larger fish, do they dig/sift through substrate?
- look at species behaviour as well as what you’ve observed personally - if your present substrate is less compatible with sifting behaviour, you may see little substrate disturbance with present fish, then when you replace the substrate, this may change

Given your fish list, I’d stick with fairly sturdy plants, if you don’t want to add CO2, choose plants with low CO2 requirement (Tropica website usually includes CO2 as low, medium, high) - of course these will also be slower growing plants, so only low levels of fertilizers are needed

I’d probably rescape your tank with defined plant areas (using Aquarium soil or combination of Aquarium Soil and fine gravel (upper layer)), some epiphyte plants (Anubias, Buces, Microsorum etc) on large pieces of wood, then a thin sand layer elsewhere (easy to clean or replace occasionally (if you choose an off-white color), good for substrate sifting)

Some very nice tank scapes in this journal :)
Scape corner @Jayefc1
https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/scape-corner.57131/

Thanks for your reply and apologies for not responding sooner. Yes the 'old substrate' is coated. I have checked out how much substrate I would need for example using the calculations on the Tropica site I would need some 30 litres of Tropica Aquarium Soil for my tank and the cheapest price I've found for a 9Litre bag is £29 so this would cost be some £90 if my calculations are right which is pretty expensive :(

My fish stock consists of Cichlids, Corys, Bolivian Rams and Rainbows and I have been using plants just recently such as Anubias, Java Fern, Crypts to try and deter the fish from nibbling :) and they don't appear to sift through the substrate although the Corys probably would.

I don't use injected CO2 but instead use Easycarbo and EI Macro / Micro Ferts.

Tropica says if you use their Aquarium Soil then youve no need to use a layer of substrate on top of it. I've often wanted to change the substrate for sand as I think this would help the Corys.
 

john dory

Member
Joined
16 Nov 2014
Messages
351
Cory will kick up "dust"when kept on tropica soil.
I used tropica growth substrate,with a unipac river sand cap.
Super clean and good for planting in.
 

kellyboy47

Member
Joined
9 Mar 2008
Messages
216
Location
Essex
Nice picture :)
(though I’m not good at estimating actual size range, eg, 2-10mm or 4-20mm?)

Various sizes of gravel so it shouldn’t pack tightly (less chances of anaerobic areas forming) but it also allows small particles to sink into the gravel bed - you can check for this by pushing your siphon tube deeply into the gravel as one end of the tank (during a water change)

(I use a Python water changing system so that’s the size/type of siphon tube I’m assuming for this substrate check)

I looked and found your algae/plant topic, this + the 12year old substrate makes it more likely that there will be loads of built up debris

I don’t recall what filter you have on the tank, this may need to be well rinsed to remove any built up debris

Obviously it’s more economic to clean your current substrate, but it’s also fairly water/labour intensive
Filipe Oliveira VLOG Step by Step Rescape



Although his substrate is Aquarium Soil rather than gravel, I suspect you’ll see similar (or possibly even more) levels of debris

EcoComplete is a “natural” substrate which acts very differently than the coated “black” gravels - if your old substrate is coated, I’d likely just bin it
Then consider budget and plant goals, fish needs, maintenance goals etc

Carib Sea also has a Soil based product “Samurai Soil” which you might investigate - CS claims “without the muddy texture and crumbling often seen with other brands.” - but I’ve not seen the product or know much about its use (maybe check US forums)
If you compare a product to ADA Africana, it’s easy to maintain Samurai Soil claims ... but if compared to Tropica Aquarium Soil (which I consider one of the best integrity Aquarium Soils), is Samurai Soil better/worse performing .....

As you have larger fish, do they dig/sift through substrate?
- look at species behaviour as well as what you’ve observed personally - if your present substrate is less compatible with sifting behaviour, you may see little substrate disturbance with present fish, then when you replace the substrate, this may change

Given your fish list, I’d stick with fairly sturdy plants, if you don’t want to add CO2, choose plants with low CO2 requirement (Tropica website usually includes CO2 as low, medium, high) - of course these will also be slower growing plants, so only low levels of fertilizers are needed

I’d probably rescape your tank with defined plant areas (using Aquarium soil or combination of Aquarium Soil and fine gravel (upper layer)), some epiphyte plants (Anubias, Buces, Microsorum etc) on large pieces of wood, then a thin sand layer elsewhere (easy to clean or replace occasionally (if you choose an off-white color), good for substrate sifting)

Some very nice tank scapes in this journal :)
Scape corner @Jayefc1
https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/scape-corner.57131/
I was thinking of having fine black gravel without Aquarium Soil as I have had no luck with stem plants. I have had Anubias, Java Ferns and Crypts in the tank previously as the fish I keep tend to leave these hardy plants alone. Is there any particular make / gravel size that you could recommend ?
 

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