substrate for planted tanks

john10001

New Member
Joined
22 Aug 2018
Messages
11
Location
Leeds
Evening. Just three quick separate questions.

1) Can anyone advise on a good substrate for a small 25L Thailand style betta planted tank?

2) For a bigger tank I would like to have with sand, does anyone know if there is a good substrate that is suitable for going underneath with sand on top that won't rise to the top?

3) Is there any substrate for plants that would be suitable to use in a BiOrb on top of their ceramic biological media? Something that won't scratch acrylic, will let plants take root, won't clog up the filter and biological media. Don't hate me :) Tall order I know.
 

john10001

New Member
Joined
22 Aug 2018
Messages
11
Location
Leeds
People tend to forget, but why not sand only? And fertilize the watercolumn.
That is an option I guess though I was thinking of something underneath for the big tank because sand only might just be good for the water column plants but not so much for the rooting ones that feed mostly through the substrate?
 

alto

Member
Joined
24 Dec 2014
Messages
5,896
Plants can grow in any light, any substrate

BUT

you won’t find many ADA/Amano/Filipe Oliveira etc style aquascapes with sand only substrates

Tropica Inspiration page does show many layouts with Tropica Growth Substrate layered beneath a fine gravel (Räda sand I believe) - take note of the gravel/sand texture which allows for “aeration” of the substrate
This is a significant feature of the Tropica and ADA Soils (only ones I’ve used - there are several other brands) - the soil particles pack quite loosely ... especially if compared with reef sands (& several other sands)

If you’re diligent about water column fertilizing, good growth will happen, note that plants will grow differently in aquarium soil “regular” vs “powder”, so also expect the sand/gravel to be a factor
 
Joined
26 Feb 2013
Messages
3,373
People tend to forget, but why not sand only? And fertilize the watercolumn.
That is an option I guess though I was thinking of something underneath for the big tank because sand only might just be good for the water column plants but not so much for the rooting ones that feed mostly through the substrate?
I am a total convert to sand only tanks. I noticed that in a year, or 2 max, the sand itself becomes rich enough to act like soil and plant roots love it too. For example I keep crypts, which some say are heavy root feeders, but they flourish in "old" sand. A soil tank can become messy and the longer it goes, the worse it gets. Where with sand, the longer it goes, the better it gets. Simple as that. If your one of those people that re-do their tanks every so often, any substrate can be tried. Long term sand is best.
Plus fish absolutely prefer sand to anything else. If you decide to siphon the sand down to the very bottom, you can too, which is impossible in a soil tank. Although with heavy root feeders I'd only hover over the sand and not disturb it.

you won’t find many ADA/Amano/Filipe Oliveira etc style aquascapes with sand only substrates
I suspect that could be because they're after fast results and the tanks they setup don't last in the same state/aquascape for long to allow the substrate to become "rich", hence they start the tank off with already enriched substrate.
 

alto

Member
Joined
24 Dec 2014
Messages
5,896
Let’s do the challenge then :p

I’ve ~ 4week Elatine hydropiper in Tropica AS Powder
Who’s up for the doing the sand substrate version?
 
Joined
26 Feb 2013
Messages
3,373
Let’s do the challenge then :p

I’ve ~ 4week Elatine hydropiper in Tropica AS Powder
Who’s up for the doing the sand substrate version?
I do but you've got to give me a year to reach the same results :p However, we evaluate again after that in some more years :)
 

alto

Member
Joined
24 Dec 2014
Messages
5,896
OK
March 2020 then

Though you’re right, by then I’ll likely have rescaped my 60P :oops:

Don’t forget that Takashi Amano started his planted tank journey with various sand and gravel substrates

If you check out Adam Paszczela Idea Studio Poland (George Farmer video - though now I’m thinking this may’ve been in the fuzzy live discussion that was never posted on his YouTube channel) the big aquarium is ~4 years old
 
Last edited:

Fred13

Member
Joined
13 Jul 2016
Messages
202
Location
Athens
Plants can grow in any light, any substrate

BUT

you won’t find many ADA/Amano/Filipe Oliveira etc style aquascapes with sand only substrates

Tropica Inspiration page does show many layouts with Tropica Growth Substrate layered beneath a fine gravel (Räda sand I believe) - take note of the gravel/sand texture which allows for “aeration” of the substrate
This is a significant feature of the Tropica and ADA Soils (only ones I’ve used - there are several other brands) - the soil particles pack quite loosely ... especially if compared with reef sands (& several other sands)

If you’re diligent about water column fertilizing, good growth will happen, note that plants will grow differently in aquarium soil “regular” vs “powder”, so also expect the sand/gravel to be a factor
Could you please explain the difference between growing plants in powder or growing plants in regular soil ?
I will put 1cm of powder on my regular soil even I am not planning to plant carpeting plants at this setup so I really wanna know what the difference could be for a stem plant or a cryptocorine :)
 
Joined
26 Feb 2013
Messages
3,373
OK
March 2020 then

Though you’re right, by then I’ll likely have rescaped my 60P :oops:

Don’t forget that Takashi Amano started his planted tank journey with various sand and gravel substrates
I still think he changed due to the need of fast results. That's what customers want. Generally, the ADA soil is clay loaded with nutrients and baked from what I remember reading some time ago, unless they've changed recently. It is not actual soil, as in the type of soil out of the garden, which is actually superior to both clay and sand. But it is the long term benefits of sand I like...When years start turning, the majority of the soil will be out of the tank anyway, as it tends to break down eventually to tiny particles which the filter media loves attracting...
 

alto

Member
Joined
24 Dec 2014
Messages
5,896
Green Aqua and Jurijs mit JS mention this in their videos/discussion

My version (of what I heard ;)) - some plants prefer the finer texture for rooting, some plants will grow more densely over time

I’ve heard Filipe Oliveira say much the same, though I don’t think he added any ADA Powder in his recent scape at the Green Aqua Gallery

I suspect this applies more to “sensitive” or “advanced” plants (which designation Tropica applies to plants that seem to have fuzzy preferences, ie all expected growth conditions are met, but thrive in Scape A, while decidedly don’t thrive in Scape B)

I doubt this would have much impact on stem plants ... OTOH when I added Tropica Nutrition Capsules to the base layer (as shown in Jurijs mit JS videos) I did note significant root differences in the various plants :wideyed:
 

alto

Member
Joined
24 Dec 2014
Messages
5,896
When years start turning, the majority of the soil will be out of the tank anyway, as it tends to break down eventually to tiny particles which the filter media loves attracting...
How many years?
I’ve 3 yr old Tropica Soil that’s much similar texture etc to new

I still think he changed due to the need of fast results. That's what customers want
.
I’ll disagree on this point, this was long before ADA or any other commercial enterprise, he wanted “better” growth character and more plant types to thrive etc
 

alto

Member
Joined
24 Dec 2014
Messages
5,896
As for “garden soil” - you’ve not seen mine :lol:

Sorry for the odd post architecture, but I “lose” all ability to continue within the text box for some reason
 
Joined
26 Feb 2013
Messages
3,373
How many years?
I’ve 3 yr old Tropica Soil that’s much similar texture etc to new
Well, its not soil, its clay. They bake it well is my guess :p

I am not denying the benefits of ADA soil and if in the ball form, it probably doesn't break down but It comes with its price. Sand has lower CEC ability than clay or soil but it is better texture for plant roots in comparison to clay balls. Powdered ADA soil is going to run out through the hose eventually. And then to mention again that fish will like sand the most if they are given a choice.
 

Edvet

Global Moderator
Staff member
Joined
15 Aug 2013
Messages
5,149
Location
Lelystad, Netherlands
I have always done my tanks with sand, riversand preferably because it has different sizes, from 2-3mm to small pebbles 6-7 mm, and is rounded of.
I have had the same sand in my large tank for about 20 years now. I''ve had swords in there with rootpackets of about 1 square meter. I feed through the column with a few clay balls in rare occasions ( once every few years).
The sand is 5-10 cm deep.
The only thing wich would improve growth is if i would add CO2. When i did that i had a realy good looking tank. No soils needed.
 

Zeus.

Member
Joined
1 Oct 2016
Messages
3,210
Location
Yorkshire,UK
Think when I do my next tank I would be tempted to just go for sand too.

Having said that did one recently for daughter in her fluval edge 60l low tech. Tank doesnt have a very good light so used a large piece of DW and super glued most plants on that and just used riversand with a few root tabs here and there, weekly fert dosing
upload_2019-3-3_18-3-11.png
 

akwarium

Member
Joined
20 Feb 2010
Messages
187
Location
Haskerhorne, Netherlands
Inert sand or gravel does nothing for your plants other then holding them in place. Plants can only survive and grow in there as long as you ad enough ferts.
Plants with large roots are doing fine in there because they can store nutrients in there roots, so if you don't dose (enough) for some time they can cope with that. Stem plants will suffer much sooner.

The main advantage of substrate is mainly the ability to store nutrients from the water column and make them long term available for your plants, and a little neglect now and then does not make your plants suffer any shortages.

A substrate layer does not have to be expensive or complicated, a very thin layer of clay like bentonite or laterite can already make a difference.
 

Zeus.

Member
Joined
1 Oct 2016
Messages
3,210
Location
Yorkshire,UK
Inert sand or gravel does nothing for your plants other then holding them in place. Plants can only survive and grow in there as long as you ad enough ferts.
Plants with large roots are doing fine in there because they can store nutrients in there roots, so if you don't dose (enough) for some time they can cope with that. Stem plants will suffer much sooner.

The main advantage of substrate is mainly the ability to store nutrients from the water column and make them long term available for your plants, and a little neglect now and then does not make your plants suffer any shortages.
Yes, But
have had the same sand in my large tank for about 20 years now
How many tanks with AS can last that long?

But like you say

A substrate layer does not have to be expensive or complicated, a very thin layer of clay like bentonite or laterite can already make a difference.
 
Joined
26 Feb 2013
Messages
3,373
Inert sand or gravel does nothing for your plants other then holding them in place
Not quite true. Once it matures, it does exactly what soil would do. It just takes longer time. Plus, as Zeus mentioned, it is much longer lasting. Remember, you can clean sand if you want to, very easily with the siphon. Try cleaning up a 10 year old soil.....If one is after re-scaping and fast results, soil is the better option.
 

akwarium

Member
Joined
20 Feb 2010
Messages
187
Location
Haskerhorne, Netherlands
Yes, But


How many tanks with AS can last that long?

But like you say
Aqua Soil and other baked soils, are more or less 4 things in 1:
1. a substrate with high cation exchange capacity, (so it can store nutrients)
2. a fertilizer, it already contains lots of nutrients
3. a top layer, unlike many other substrates it should not be covered with a layer of inert sand/gravel.
4. a water conditioner, it buffers/regulates KH and pH.

The last 3 are limiting the lifespan of Aqua Soil, purely seen a substrate it can last many years more. But without the positive "side effects" many aquascapers appreciate.

it is not necessary, you can have beautiful plants in nothing more then clean sand, but a substrate will make your life more easy, and a Aqua Soil even more so.
 

Similar threads

Top