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Substrate for Crypts


12 Aug 2018
West Yorkshire
I am planning a tank for epiphytes on wood and crypts with a few shrimp, ottos and snails. I will pick up a second hand 60x 35x 40 next week and am accumulating the rest of the bits and pieces slowly from ebay.

When I turned to the seemingly simple task of buying substrate I hit a brick wall. With my first tank I bought my ADA Malaysia substrate from TGM on sale (17 pounds for 9 litres), I don’t think I realised just how good the sale price was. I should have stocked up on the stuff – but I didn’t. I am now having to research the arcane science of substrate selection.

On reading the forum my thought process was as follows:

Akadama would be a good solution (extra hard version) providing an alternative to ADA, then I realised that it used to be a cheap substrate. Then I read about Tesco Value cat litter (non-fragranced) which is just molar clay – which is the main ingredient of most substrates. Then I read about JBL Manado which seemed reasonably priced until I read that it is just expensive Tesco Value cat litter and is difficult to plant in. Anyway, I understand that molar clay is pink/ orange and garish or a tasteful colour of pink (according to your view). Perhaps I should buy alfragog and top it off with a known substrate, however, it’s almost as expensive as substrate? So should I go Walstead and use John Innes 3 mixed with sphagnum moss then capped with sand instead– or just something inert because who cares by this point and lets just go full EI and use really well washed volcanic sand?

At this point flow wasn't occurring.

I would like to use a substrate which looks reasonably natural, can be replanted in and can be reused and doesn’t cost more than the tank (i.e I won’t have to sell a non-essential organ to buy the substrate). I am taking a balanced approach using fertilizer (lean dosing) and want a substrate that can support plant life and doesn't need capping.

Help – comments or advice would be very welcome.
IME if you are only growing crypts you can pretty much use what you want. You could add fertiliser tabs near the crypts if using just plain inert gravel and they should do fine.
Tropica soil powder? Nice to plant in, a natural looking brown and provides some nutrients. Depends what you mean by natural... that covers a lot of colours. Just fine gravel and root tabs would work too though.
Akadama is £16 for 14l bag where I get it from but there is about 8 quid postage and they have only 2-8mm grade atm
If U can't find unscented cat liter have a look for Danish pink that is moler clay (but very light)
As long as the medium is not too fine <2mm
U will be fine with everything and some ferts (liquid or osmocote in substrate)
Regards Konsa
One of my old low-energy scapes (Cryptic Haven) using a mix of 1:1 peat moss and aquatic compost, capped with Unipac Limpopo Black sand. 4 months growth...

Thanks for all the advice and support. Given that I am rather reluctant to sell a non essential organ to buy substrate or mention to my significant other that I have spent 80 pounds on two bags of soil (she really wouldn't understand). I have purchased a 25 ltr bag of John Innes 3 for the princely sum of £3.25 and am now shopping around for a bag of black sand.

To be absolutely clear if I mentioned that I had paid 80 pounds for clay she would expect it to be in the form of an exquisitely formed vase full of her favorite flowers. Not in a plastic bag.

Ok, so I am now drinking red wine and listening to Idir (for the Arabic/Francophiles on the forum) and thinking how to discuss where we need to position the aquarium.
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Haha good luck the trick is to let her think it's a decoration a peice of art for her living room and let her feel like she is making the choices