Soil & Substrates Help Needed

DannyC

New Member
Joined
1 Jul 2019
Messages
5
Location
luton
Hi All

I apologise if there is a similar threat out there to this but i have scoured and haven't seen.

I've had a few aquariums but never a planted one. Its been something I've wanted to setup for a while and now i have the tank and the wood etc for inside i'm stuck on the Soil / Substrate.

I want to have a low tech setup and will add liquid co2 at most so will go for hard plants etc but not decided these 100% yet.

I'd like the substrate colour to be a white to make the base vivid but I've been looking at the JBL proscape plant soil vs the JBL sansibar. We're a hard water area so the plant soil sounds good for softening water but doesn't come in white. I plan to have some aquabasis plus underneath also (sorry just using JBL products for this as been recommended these so if you'd recommend others i'd love to know).

Basically can i have some white small stone substrate over the plant soil or would you just recommend something like the sansibar white. Has anyone had something similar.

Sorry for the basic question but its something i don't want to get wrong.

Thanks in advance

Dan
 

roadmaster

Member
Joined
18 Oct 2009
Messages
1,460
Location
United States
Any type soil based substrate ,under white top substrate or cap,, does not lend itself well to white cap be it sand or fine gravel remaining white for long IME
Assumes that the bottom soil based substrate is to help feed plant root's. Planting,uprooting and moving plant's,is tricky to keep bottom most layer on the bottom.
Make the top cap deep, and push plant's down through this to the soil based substrate below,and then resist moving the plant's, and maybe could maintain the white top coat.
Consider that in well planted tank from get go,(suggestion) that much of the substrate will be covered with plant's,and I might think much of the substrate will not be seen once plant's grow in.
Kept some Discus in a large tank with anubia attached to wood pieces over white sand some year's back so no bottom layer was needed for the plant's.(fertilized with liquid and fish waste) but wood as it aged,, produced it's own mess over time from leaching,and decay.My two cent's.
.
 

DannyC

New Member
Joined
1 Jul 2019
Messages
5
Location
luton
Thanks for the info. So if I wanted the white substrate better to use the thick layer of sansibar over the minimal nutrient layer at the bottom. Or go to a darker plant soil and maybe get some white stones in there (although I hear a lot of the white stones add to water hardness) thanks
 

alto

Member
Joined
24 Dec 2014
Messages
5,990
Check out Escape by Lauris
he didn’t use white gravel but did cap Aquarium Soil very nicely
(and it’s a very nice scape :D)

Even without any sort of soil, white gravel doesn’t remain brilliant for long
If you look at the aquascapes with white sand, it’s often a thin layer that’s replaced at intervals

Also most fish/shrimp aren’t particularly keen on gleaming white substrate - they’ll attempt to blend, often “ghosting out” coloration
 

Tim Harrison

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
5 Nov 2011
Messages
7,951
Location
UK
White substrate never looks great for very long. Like alto mentions most use it cosmetically for a small patch at the front or for a pathway etc that is periodically syphoned out and replaced, definitely not for planting in.
Some of the lighter coloured natural gravels would work though, so maybe you should give those consideration Hugo Kamishi Natural Fine Gravel may be an option for instance.
Using it as a capping material over a soil based substrate is probably the best way to go. If you're worried about it mixing with the gravel you can use a soil retainer. Details can be found here
 

DannyC

New Member
Joined
1 Jul 2019
Messages
5
Location
luton
Thanks for the replies. It sounds like I'll scrap the white part as I dont want to make it any harder for myself. I may get some white feature rocks and to give it some colour that will be easier to clean.

Am I right in thinking a lot of the white rocks increase water hardness quite a bit. I'm toying with getting a water butt to catch soft rain water but not sure I'll catch 30L in a week. And especially through summer so will have to soften water other ways.
 

Tim Harrison

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
5 Nov 2011
Messages
7,951
Location
UK
Well not always, for instance, river pebbles are usually inert quartzite silicates. If they are hard and don't leave a residue they should be okay. If on the other hand they feel chalky and leave a residue or leave a mark then they are probably composed of carbonates and they will likely raise TDS and pH somewhat. They will also react with vinegar. However, it's not usually a problem, since the rate they dissolve in to solution is slow and frequent water changes mean the impact on water chemistry will be minimal anyway. Take a look at collecting your own rocks...
 

alto

Member
Joined
24 Dec 2014
Messages
5,990
I used some of Hagen’s Marina Decorative Gravel “grey tones” in a shop display Fluval Flex tank, over a 6 month period, there was no apparent change in color, even of the lightest stones
(as in Lauris tank, I just placed it over the Tropica Aquarium Soil (Powder, so smaller particle than the gravel))
Tank was low light (obviously), nonCO2, low nutrient dosing, minimal water changes, and at least 40 assorted shrimp (variety sample from a breeder) so no visible algae


upload_2019-7-3_2-33-38.jpeg
 

Chris Tinker

Member
Joined
25 Jun 2019
Messages
223
Location
leeds
I used some of Hagen’s Marina Decorative Gravel “grey tones” in a shop display Fluval Flex tank, over a 6 month period, there was no apparent change in color, even of the lightest stones
(as in Lauris tank, I just placed it over the Tropica Aquarium Soil (Powder, so smaller particle than the gravel))
Tank was low light (obviously), nonCO2, low nutrient dosing, minimal water changes, and at least 40 assorted shrimp (variety sample from a breeder) so no visible algae


View attachment 125584


could i go to a local quarry and purchase stoned / pebbles, apart from what you mentioned a stone is a stone etc?
 

Tim Harrison

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
5 Nov 2011
Messages
7,951
Location
UK
I don't see why not, especially if you're thinking of buying silica sand or quartzite gravel. I grew up in an area of South Notts surrounded by gravel pits and often visited the active quarries to get pea gravel for my tanks. The quarry foreman would point me in the direction of graded and sorted stone and let me help myself, no charge. It was just the same as the stuff bagged up for retail.
 
Top