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Substrate question

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by adechazal, Oct 7, 2009.

  1. adechazal

    adechazal Prolific Poster

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    Hello all, when I set up my 180g Oceanic 2 1/2 years ago I followed the advice of the LFS person and laid down heating cables, covered them with sand then put Eco Complete over the sand.

    My unscientific observation has been that plant growth isn't much different with or without the heating so I figure why have the added expense of running the cables. After reading the popular opinion on this forum regarding the pointlessness of heating cables I subsequently unplugged them and haven't used them for over a year. I am now at the point where I believe I need to uproot the plants and do a good deep vacuuming (it's been 2 1/2 years, and there are spots in the aquarium where plants just will not grow presumably due to lack of substrate cleaning). So I'm thinking I will remove the heating cables while working with the substrate, but since I have this bed of E.C. over the sand I am wondering what to do;

    Options: (all options include the removal of the heating cables)
    1. Get the sand back down under the E.C. as well as possible
    2. Mix the sand up with the E.C. (will the E.C./sand mix be good?)
    3. Remove the sand and just have E.C.
    4. Switch to a new substrate since I'm in there anyway

    Your thoughts would be appreciated. In general plant growth has been good over the couple of years I've had the E.C. I'm getting mixed feedback on whether or not the E.C. has any nutritive value left after the few years I've had it. My guess is it's inert by now.
     
  2. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Yum... sand and eco-complete.

    I'm not sure what the guy at your LFS was thinking. I try not to listen to them most of the time. Mixing sand with eco-complete is pointless, given that eco is mostly inert, and most plants root just fine in it. The ones that don't tend to sit on top of everything anyhow.

    Personally I'd scrap the load and get some ADA AS if possible. Failing that, use sand and MS, or pure eco/fluorite. I'm not saying the mix won't work, but sand offers enough problems of its own, and it's far more pleasant to either deal with a pure substrate, or get the benefit of high nutrient loads under the sand/gravel cap for MS.

    -Philosophos
     
  3. adechazal

    adechazal Prolific Poster

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  4. Brian20

    Brian20 Guest

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    simply put the aqua soil in the bottom of the tank and then cap it with another substrate, can be inert gravel. I prefer a substrate more "strong" I make a substrate that simply is mineralized soil and clay. Also have variants. It is simply to make, the bad is that you need to wait a lot (1-6 months depends of method) to make one by yourself. You can use other ingredients to the mix but be sure that this strong substrate have a layer of inert substrate on top. can be gravel of your preference, eco complete, flourite, etc. Also this substrate have by itself a ecology inside becuase have bacterias living here. My father and I are using this homemade substrate with excellent results over eco complete. Plants roots love it. One downside of this method is that you uproot a plant that have 1 month or more the roots can brings out a lot of this substrat because plants tends to grow a lot of roots in the nutritive substrate. Simply you need to cut the root, try to leave only 1 inch of roots.
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, that was due to the client also.
    And the design of that particularly tank.

    If I'd had my way, things would have been done different and changed my conclusion towards it.

    In most of home tanks, I use ADA AS, one of which is a 180 gal.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    He's had problems with it, but I've seen AS work in tanks the size of yours. I've even seen DIY AS from akadama used in 120-ish sizes. Definitely look into the issue if you're concerned about it; there's no sense taking uncalculated risks when you've got time to think. When fogging isn't an issue, I've found ADA AS to be the most pleasant substrate to work with of any.

    -Philosophos
     
  7. adechazal

    adechazal Prolific Poster

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    Thanks for the feedback. I'll have to think about it, I'm really not excited about clouding issues. I have 320watts of HO fluorescent above the tank so things grow pretty quickly (sometimes including algae) necessitating frequent uprooting which of course would stir things up. On the other hand, it's supposed to be all about the plants... decisions, decisions.
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    With decent filtration, the clouding is not an issue, you simply trim and if you uproot a fair amount, then do so in stages and do water changes thereafter.

    Get good canister filters like the Ocean clear or Nu pro.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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