A couple questions


Junior Poster
Feb 8, 2008
Midland GA.
I'm new to planted tanks but have kept aquariums (FW community and SW reefs) for the past 20 years or so.
I have a 72 gal. bowfront that I would like to convert into a planted tank. I have been scouring all the planted tank forums I could find and have pretty much found the answers to most of my questions. However there is a couple of things I haven't found answers to and was hoping someone here could help me out.
First, the hardware I have acquired for this project:

4x65w CF ([email protected] & [email protected])
120 lbs of eco-complete
2 - 300 W heaters (leftovers from a reef tank)
Compressed CO2 system w/ DIY inline external reactor & DIY DC
2 canister filters (1 Fluval 305 for pushing through the reactor, and 1 Fluval 405 for tank filtration and circulation)

My question is this, what do you people put inside the canister filters??

I have always ran carbon in all my filters with no ill effects but I keep reading that this will strip nutrients from the tank.

Another question, should I fertilize the substrate if I plan on using the EI method? I have read both views but was curious what I might find out here.

Thanks in advance for you input.

Tom Barr

Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
EC is pretty much nutrient inert.
So you will need to add ferts to the water column if you plan on using EC.
If you go the sediment fert routie, you still need add things to the water column.
You do not gain that much.
But adding ferts to both locations is a wise option, makes both methods complementary, rather than "either or".

ADA aqua soil works best for this method.

Since you have the EC already, may as well add ferts to the water column only.
Adding ferts to a sand/EC sediment is messy sometimes. Best to go with one all in one sediment like ADA AS. Layering never looks good over time. You can certainly add things like soil and sand over that though.

I think the real problem si when folks with sediment ferts assume that since they have ferts there, you should not add them to the water column.
This is simply bad logic and can be shown to be false through rather simple test.

Likewise, some water column folks have suggested, namely PPS folks, that sediment enrichment is bad, and that you should only use water column ferts.

Again, bad logic and can be tested and shown to be false.

A wise person would use the aspects of both the sediment and the water column, to allow you to have more wiggle room for the plants and dosing.

Less drain on the sediments if you add ferts to the water column, and less drain and consistency issues if you add ferts to the sediment on the water column*(say if you forget to dose the water column etc). You have a back up for each method, thus more redundancy.

Carbon(removes tannins and DOC's, some claim trace metals, but does not seem to affect planted tanks much) and zeolite(removes NH4) are useful, they become spent after 1 month, about the same time frame as the cycling takes, and then become biomedia, they are porous etc.
You may use lava or sponge material as well.
Does not matter much.

So add them, consider ADA AS instead, folks often will buy the EC from you also.

Then focus heavily on CO2 injection.
Adding ferts is easy, same with water changes.
The CO2 and initial set up are the tougher parts over time.

Tom Barr


Junior Poster
Feb 8, 2008
Midland GA.
Thanks for answering my question Tom. Unfortunately I have already opened the EC so I'm pretty much stuck with it.
I planned on following your EI method for dosing ferts, so I just wanted to make sure that water column fertilization would be enough.