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Unable to decide on which substrate.


28 Jan 2009
Sittingbourne, Kent
Hi everyone,

I am in the process of aquiring equipment to set up my new tank juwel rio 240, so far i have purchased a ex1200 external plus some siporax as don't like the bioballs (will leave them in if you suggest they would be better) to run alongside juwel filter would prefer 2 externals but lacking space for now, bought 2 reflectors, wave co2 regultor with solenoid, 6kg drinks co2 bottle (bubble counter and difusser suggestions please) and i have a jbl co2 test kit just need more 4dkh solution. I plan to run this as a long term aquascape once i am happy with it, i have been reading alot on here and others sites and am unable to decide what type of substrate to use cost is going to play a big factor in my decision and i am hoping to continue using easycarbo and profito which i have plenty of. Current tanks are black gravel and sera Floredepot.

Water is also a big debate for me as tap is unreliable ph 7.0 - 8.0, no3 20-40+ppm, gh-20+. At the moment i am using hma from a friend, however for a short time could provide ro. My next small issue is the 2 tanks i am replacing 1 mine with neons and ancistrus, and partners has guppies (breeding nuisance). I have spoken to a few places including TGM who said they keep guppies in soft acidic water with no problems and they advised to use ada as amazonia 2, but cost could be a big issue slowly running out of budget i set myself.

Plants i have not decided on, but have had reasonable success with P.Helferi unfortunately got a bit tall due to amazon blocking out light but i do fancy trying it again in addition to another carpet plant aswell, maybe some moss and java fern on wood and a mixture of stem plants to rear and crypts in between.

Any help or advise will be gratefully received, only been in hobby for 10 months.
Yes, the best advice is to stop worrying about water parameters because they don't mean much and there are much more important things to think about than what your ph and GH are. I would suggest you forget about using and HMA filter because that only complicates your life (unless you plan on breeding dwarf chiclids). It's a huge blunder to target soft acidic water for a planted tank or for non-breeding fish. It's completely unnecessary. If your tap water is high in nitrates then this is an advantage for you, not a disadvantage. Plants like nitrates and fish have a very high tolerance. What plants and fish do not tolerate is dirty water so plan on doing large water changes.

If cost is an issue then use whatever cheap gravel you like and just concentrate on dosing the water column with NPK and traces. in you case you may not need to add a lot of N since you have high nitrates to begin with. Don't get sucked into the high cost Hoover. You can grow perfectly fine plants with nothing but sand if necessary but you must pay attention to nutrient dosing, CO2 injection and cleanliness.