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Is Inert Substrate With Root Tabs Enough?

Discussion in 'Sediment / Substrate' started by LadyDay, Sep 8, 2019.

  1. LadyDay

    LadyDay New Member

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    Hi guys.
    I am saving up to putting some good lights on my 325 liter aquarium. I already inject pressurized CO2 and will start EI dosing soon (lower doses since I only have a moderately planted tank and for the next couple of months low light). Anyway, I'd like to be able to grow some medium difficult plants once I've got it all going with stronger light, CO2 and EI. But my worry is if my substrate will work. I have coarse sand, completely inert, and I put in root tabs. Will this be enough or do I absolutely need an "active" substrate?
    I would like to grow plants such as Alternanthera 'mini', Staurogyne repens and Rotala.
    Thanks guys.
     
    livingstone likes this.
  2. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    Active substrate not required, could most likely ditch the root tabs too.
     
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  3. LadyDay

    LadyDay New Member

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    Awesome. It would be such a pain to put new substrate in!
     
  4. Dave A

    Dave A New Member

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    Do a little research on osmocote too. It's easy on the wallet.
     
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  5. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    Osmocote Plus also has macro & micro ferts!
     
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  6. LadyDay

    LadyDay New Member

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    Hi :)
    Thanks for the suggestion.
    Do you mean the granulated stuff or the potting soil? How would I use the granules (if that)? Would I put a layer under my sand (yikes, big project in a big aquarium!), or put it into capsules and use it as root tabs like I can see some people do?
    It's always good to save money!
     
  7. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    Yes!!!
     
  8. Dave A

    Dave A New Member

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    I've only used the pre-made tiny spheres.
     
  9. LadyDay

    LadyDay New Member

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    Excellent. This I can do.
    Thanks guys.
     
  10. DesertPupfish

    DesertPupfish New Member

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    Both the Osmocote spheres & DYI gelatin capsules will float. You can try using tweezers to insert the individual spheres under the substrate (Dennis Wong does this for carpets) But that that would be a huge pain for a big tank. If you make the DYI capsules, just use a pin to poke a hole in both ends, hold it under water long enough for the air to escape, then shove it unto the substrate around the plants you want to fertilize. Otherwise it'll pop right back up.....
     
  11. Allexx46

    Allexx46 New Member

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    Careful with those Root tabs. Do you have a fish\invertebrate load? If so you may already have plenty of fish fertilizer in your sand. Unlike dosing, that can easily be reduced if you see problems, Root Tabs and osmocote continuously give off fertilizer in the form of inorganic salts that can build up in your tank and burn your animals. Water changes can rapidly reverse dosing mistakes, but not so with root tabs and Osmocote. Water changes suck more fertilizer out of them and do not help. My experience is that the animals react in the following order: 1. Snails stop feeding and head to the top and climb out of the water. 2. Shrimp slow down and stop feeding. 3. Fish with burned gills head to the top and become susceptible to any disease you might have lurking in the tank. First fish disease to show up is usually a fin and tail rot way before they head to the surface.

    There is a direct Correlation to pH and how clean your tank is. The higher the pH the more fertilizer the water can hold without burning animals. The more animal waste the more it can reduce the fertilizer to a safe form. Keep in mind that all plants absorb food via surface area or leaves and roots and some essential nutrients are only soluble in the pH range of 6.8 and 7.2. Many of the inorganic nutrients you add need to be in reduced to organics before they can become soluble. The Guru class fish keepers, who have planted tanks, talk a lot about high quality fish food because the foods add the trace elements the plants need in the animal waste.

    You can measure the Oxidation potential and track the un-reduced fertilizer in the water with an ORP meter but it is not needed if you pay attention to your snails and fin and tail rots in your fish. Safe ORP is 250-450. At 450 snails and fins and tail rots start to react at 500 shrimp start slowing down and at 525 fish start to react. Prolonged exposure to oxidizers could be compared to burning your lungs while treating swimming pools and hot tubs with Chlorine. Shrimp are forgiving of spikes just like you are but prolonged exposure will kill. If you are just growing plants they are much more forgiving and probably will not react until you have killed your animals.

    PS CO2 mixes with water to form carbonic acid, a strong oxidizer which is rapidly reduced by the organics in your tank and taken in by the plants. If your tank is too clean it can cause issues as well. Click on my picture to see that I have lots of big fish in my 165 gallon tank. I do not use root tabs because of the experience I had with my own tank.
     
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  12. DesertPupfish

    DesertPupfish New Member

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    Good advice. Like anything you add to your tank, you wanna start low & slow. Because you have a coarse, inert substrate, tabs & Osmocote could well leach into the water column as @Allexx46 says. So you want something that dissolves slowly, and insert it as deep as you can (down to the glass) directly under but not touching the roots. Rather than loose Osmocote, definitely put it in some gel caps. I mix it with half or more of the SafeTsorb I use as my substrate--which will absorb the nutrients as they're released so they're available to the roots slowly over time. Some people put Osmocote in the middle of clay balls for the same effect.

    But start with just a few, and then measure ammonia/nitrites/nitrates religiously to see if they go up as a result of the substrate feeding. That way you can do water changes, add purigen, etc if those levels start getting too high. But if you've started with a small amount, even if it does get into the water column it shouldn't be enough to endanger your lifestock.

    Good luck!
     
  13. Phishless

    Phishless Lifetime Member
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    What essential nutrients are we talking about here.

    Many tanks never see a pH as high as 6.8
     
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