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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am putting together a new 75 gallon tank and I need some advice on some of the particulars for the things I need for this tank. First of all I would like for you guys to help me figure out which Substrate will best suit this tank.

The types of fish that will live in this tank will be Danios, Barbs, a Pleco, and one or two Loaches. Will certain substrates be more likely to hurt these types of fish?

I want this to be a planted tank so nutrient value will be important. From your experience which substrates provide the greatest constant level of nutrients while allowing good root growth?

I've taken a look around and the following are the types of gravel I have relatively easy access too:
Jade Gravel
Onyx Gravel
Onyx Sand
Flourite
Flourite Red
Flourite Black
Flourite Dark
Flourite Black Sand
Eco-Complete
Flora Max
Volcanit Gravel
Flora Base
Aquariumplant.com's Freshwater Plant Substrate

Maybe if you guys could give me your top three picks, and why you like each of them. From that I can make my final choice based on cost, esthetics, etc.
 

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stay away from the flora base or max which are little balls that become mud after some time. stick with the ecocomplete, the flourite, or aquariumplants.com. second if your planting dont use plecos. they will eat the roots of the plants.
 

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Dear FishLady,
I have had aquariums for more than twenty years and I believe that the best substrate is the simplest,hardest,natural gravel you can find in the market.I live in Greece so I can't recommend a particular brand name because they are not always the same.However,the gravel I prefer is usually light brown and white,very hard and not porous.Most plants do great with it and my advice is to start with some anubias,tiger vallisnerias and a few cryptocorines.Anubias take time to grow but they are very tough to hardships and even herbivorous fish can't eat them easily.Also,they don't need to be planted in the gravel, just to be anchored so as not to float around.A good piece of wood or a stone will keep them in place.
The only disadvantage I have found with this type of gravel is that is slowly destroys the barbels of the small corydoras because of the friction on it as they move.
You can have small plecos instead of big ones of the gender ancistrus.They don't grow big and they don't destroy the roots of the other plants.
I don't recommend the use of sand,because whenever the bottom is disturbed the particles are absorbed by the filter and clog it.
The nutrients for my plants are created by the remains of the food and the excretes of the fish.Of course at the beginning of a new aquarium I use some fertilizers which are soluble in the water.Later just very small quantities.
I will be happy if I have been of any help to you.
 

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I agree with you Harry, except for the point that all plants do will in gravel alone. I've been doing aquariums as long as you, and in my experience with planted tanks not all plants do will in plan gravel. A lot of you more exotic plants require a rich sub. and high lighting. The difference is night and day when it comes to planted tanks. I think we differ in the understanding what is a planted tank. An aquarium with plants in it, is a planted tank. However a true planted tank generally is a tank that has been designed from the ground up, with the thought of having the a dense forest of plants for the fish to play in. I like to think that a planted tank is along the lines as FW coral tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Would a mix of the gravel and the rich substrate work? I have small sized gravel (1/8 in. diameter) gravel that sounds very similar to what your were describing Harry. I tried some basic plants in it and they grew for a couple of months then would fade out and die (part of this may be due to a lack of added fertilizer, I am not sure).

If I mixed the gravel I have with a planted substrate product would I still get enough nutrients? Would my pleco's get hurt?
 

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Dear Fishlady,
If you want to create a planted aquarium that will sustain a big variety of plants,hardy ones,others of average difficulty to keep or even sensitive ones,djrichie is absolutely right.
My advice is useful I think for somebody in particular a beginner who wants to create a result like the one you can see in my aquarium only with hardy plants.Not all plants for sure.
They often grow that much that I have to uproot many tiger vallisnerias and prune the anubias to their halves cause they become huge.Watch my short video to get the idea the moment it is heavily pruned.
I only put some tablets close to the roots of some plants and some diluted fertilizer in the water when I started it and nothing else in the gravel.
For some years now I rarely add a bit of diluted fertilizer and not at all CO2.
Yes,I believe that a mixture of the gravel and the rich substrate would work well for you.Usually we put a layer of gravel first then a second layer of the rich substrate and on top a third thicker layer of gravel to keep the rich substrate a bit more in place and not in direct contact with the bottom swimmers like plecos.
I don't think that this would hurt your plecos in anyway even if they are just mixed but I would love to listen to djrichie's opinion as he is very experienced too.
 

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I think that if you want to have a planted tank the kinds you see in the Mags. You have to start at the very beginning. It hard to convert a tank after it all set up to a planted tank. Finding a place for the animals and plants you have, even if you have a bunch of tanks, generally we have fish in all of them. Any second thing you have to do is realize what works for me may not work for others. With different water sources alone make this hobby very flexable. Third thing you'll want to discide what type of tank you going to want, that means fish, time available, funds available are just a few.

It can take me anywhere from 4 months to a year set up a tank once I get the actual tank. Buying all the things IMO are required for a Planted Style of tank. Lighting is important, Sub is important, equipment is important, and before that you should look and see what plants you want to grow. Heck, find the right DW and/or stones can take forever where I live, Than when you get it together I have found that you have to plant it. and you need the right tools for that. Than everything goes crazy for awhile and you have to figure that out and then you have to prune it weekly and WC's and test the water for right ferts to balance everything out, and keep the plants happy. Than maybe the tank has cycled so you can start to stock it when fish. The great thing about that is you already know your water perams.. I personally like to try and have a couple schools of fish with a good maintence crew to help get those hard to reach areas. Try and balance it out. I just set up a 70 us gal 3 weeks ago, and going thur the crazy stage right now... But my main fish selection for this tank is whitestar tetras kerri tetra and golden tertas.... cleaning crew is 5 otto zegras and 5 panda cories (want 3 more ) and 3 chain loachies. Only have the panda and zebra and golden terta, kerri and whitestars are hard to find, but I will find them. I ordering the Co2 system I need the jsut the tank at this point, and the chain loachies are this weekend work away. This build has taken 5 months and I still not done and as always I will replant when everything is balanced. I love this Hobby... I think I have this tank system just under 500 right now... but the tank was a freebee....
 

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richie is right take your time and get everything you need because if you dont you will spend more money in the long run trust me when i first started i had that instant grat problem and ended up costing me more in the long run. a lot more. so just get what you need and everything will follow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
More Substrate Questions...

richie is right take your time and get everything you need because if you dont you will spend more money in the long run trust me when i first started i had that instant grat problem and ended up costing me more in the long run. a lot more. so just get what you need and everything will follow.
This is exactly what I am planning on doing. I have a list of all of the components I am going to need and I am planning on researching each component (with your guys help, of course) and making sure to get what I need and will work the best. Don't be surprised to see many more of these types of threads from me asking about different aquarium items.


On another note...

Okay so after giving this awhile to get responses, and taking a look at costs and such locally it looks like Eco-Complete is the all around winner. I just have a couple of more questions.

I know the i want to terrace the substrate, with about 3" at the front and 5-6" at the back. Should I use a layer of gravel then the eco-complete, or should i mix some gravel in with the eco complete, or should I have gravel on top of the eco-complete, or should I just go plain eco-complete?

Also, what is your guy's take on heating cables in the substrate? Is it helpful, absolutely required, or just plain dumb?

Lastly, should I mix in some fertilizer pellets with the substrate, or will the eco-complete provide everything I need right off the bat?
 

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Eco-complete instructions say just use it..... It has different sizes of gravel in it from sand to 3mm.... I fyou want a pure black gravel get the eco complete black.... the orginall is a mix of browns blacks and greys, looks very natural.

The reason for sloping the sub is it gives depth to the tank.....
 

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i've finally got my 130gallon tank up and running. I used mainly eco-complete and black flourite. I started by placing plant tabs on the bottom and then adding the flourite and then the eco-complete. The eco-complete and flourite will seperate in time and you will find all the fine on the bottom and course on the top. I then toped it off with a lawyer of red razor gravel or you could use the gravel of your choice. I was told a course gravel on top helps anchor the plant and the roots will find there way down to the eco-complete. My first tank video is on youtube titled chuck's tank. You can see all my video's by doing a search for partyonman1959 and it will show you what I did setting up the new tank too. I'm not a pro I 've just always been interested in aquatics.
 
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