Substrate is 1 year old, change it?

SpongeBob SquarePlants

Prolific Poster
Dec 11, 2006
I have plans to rebuild my 130g aquarium and will be designing a new aquascape. I plan to add a second Ehiem filter and will be adding all new pvc piping etc, etc...

My question is, my current substrate is Flourite (red) mixed with a few bags of black moon sand and covering the bottom at about 4" depth throughout. My substrate has been in the tank, heavily planted, for 1 year now. Since I will be taking the tank down to plumb and re-scape should I replace the substrate with new stuff? or should I use some substrate additive and leave it?


Tom Barr

Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
Well, you have a nice opportunity to do so.

I'd go with the ADA aquasoil.

Save the mulm, add that and dusting of peat and you are good to go.
You can prep the Ehiem by doing Ammonia in a bucket and add some mulm to the intake while you set the system back up.

Add lots of Zeolite also to the filter(after you finish the NH3 treatment for colonizing the bacteria).

Sit down and reallt hink hard about what you want and your goals with this tank.
Then plan and go for it.

Tom Barr


Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Jan 24, 2005
Sacramento, CA
If you like the look of flourite why change substrate at all? It is basically inert, so the most you should have to do is wash it, but I wouldn't even do that. Why wash the old substrate, then add back the mulm to give it a good start? Much better to do a limited gravel vacuuming to get the really bad buildup out, then just reuse it. But, if you want to try something different, or like the appearance of a different substrate better, then changing the substrate makes good sense to me. Just my opinion, of course.

SpongeBob SquarePlants

Prolific Poster
Dec 11, 2006
Even though I have one Eheim canister already full of bacteria the tank will get Ammonia->Nitrite spikes from the new substrate? I will definately add the mulm to the second Eheim to get things going.

What is the best method for using the Zeolite? Should I fill one of the baskets in the canister filter with it?

I'd really like a professional competition style scape this time around. I have been considering the ADA aquasoil, I'm don't really care much for the Flourite I have now, it seems too coarse. I added some onyx sand because some plants just seemed to have trouble staying in the substrate.

Any info on's substrate? This caught my eye only because of what they claim for the price. A 5 gallon bucket of substrate that is supposed to be comparable to ECO-Complete & Flourite (but finer grain) for $45. 2 buckets should do the trick, so to cover a 130 gallon tank for $90 is tough to beat.

AQUARIUMPLANTS.COM's own Exclusive: Freshwater Planted Aquarium Substrate
All natural. No artificial coloring.
Contains minerals and nutrients and rich in iron. Very condusive to optimum fresh water aquatic plant growth.
Used with our exclusive "'s own Substrate Fertilizer Tablets" we GUARANTEE success.
Black in color
Will not break down or dissolve or turn to mud like others do.
Does not cloud water
How do I calculate how much I need for my aquarium?
5 gallon bucket will cover:
4 sq ft at a depth of 3"
(a 55 gallon aquarium measures 48" by 12" or 4 sq ft.)

Is this stuff junk? If so I'm going with ADA.

One last question, my tank is 72"x18" how many liters of ADA aquasoil would I need for 3-4" of substrate?



Guru Class Expert
Feb 3, 2007
Dixon IL
I don't think it is junk. I have read on other threads it is "oddly" similiar to soilmaster select. So alike it is almost as if it was repackaged and sold for more. I personally have no experience with it so I can't make those allegations. I can tell you if it is like soilmaster select it grows plants well however I would not use it for a show tank. I think the aquasoil or eco-complete has a much more appealing look.


Guru Class Expert
Jun 8, 2007
I changed out my substrate completely in my 10g (I had about 2 - 3" of gravel before) and had a full fish load, and didn't get any measurable quantities of ammonia or nitrite afterwards. I held off forever on doing it because I didn't want to end up re-cycling my tank because I had fry, but it didn't have to cycle again anyway. Plus that ended my bga issues so all in all I was quite happy that I did it.