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Do I have it right yet?


LittleShadow

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Okay, so when it comes to planted tanks, here's what I feel like would be a good idea to use:

  • Some type of CEC medium - Flourite, Laterite, non perfumed or clumping kitty litter  (which do you prefer and why?)  I like this idea simply because I've only been using a CEC medium (fluorite)  without any issues.  Since I want the look of a sandy tank as well as less sharp things for fishies to try and swallow, I would like to be able to cap it.  Fluorite is too coarse (so course I have an anubias nana Buried in it rhizome and all, and it's sprouting leaves!), so that means I'm looking at laterite or kitty litter.  I've heard it's a good idea to cap kitty litter because it turns to mush after a while.  It is also cheapest, so should I just go ahead and go with this since I want a sand cap anyways, or is there something better about laterite?

 

  • Plant growth medium: Tropica or ADA substrate would be my ideal, but it's so pricey everywhere I look, and to fill a 55 it just seems like a ludicrous amount of money when I'm doing so good on CEC alone.  The Fluval Stratum seems reasonably priced and has a lot of good reviews, but I've read it's also very difficult to get plants to stay in it for a while - not good with grazing goldies lol.  There's also Organic choice miracle grow, which (I feel with goldfish, probably not so much with tropical) likely needs a cap as well, and from what I understand has a lot of the same goodies as this expensive aquarium stuff. 

 

  • Pretty stuff on top:  Probably some type of inert sand, maybe with some lake gems or another gravel in the back to help the plants stay situated?  I keep hoping to find some type of gray sand (not too dark not too light; I feel like a yellow sand would make my fishies oranges not seem so bright). 

So, do I have the idea right yet?  Lol! What would you guys use?

 

I am all up for going the nontraditional route if I'm not sacrificing a whole lot in the way of quality.  I still want something with CEC value because I feel that it's important to have something to help absorb the stuff out of the water column as well, although I'm a little confused as to where it's placement would be.  If I remember right, laterite goes on the very bottom.  However, I feel like if it was on the bottom it would be more likely to soak up nutrients from the nutrient rich "soil" on top of it, so to me it would make more sense to have it as the second layer (but I'm probably wrong in my way of thinking, I'm no pro!) 

 

Okay, rambling done!  I appreciate anyone's input!

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I use ADA aquasoil. It works out cheaper than things like Flourite here and is the superior product in my opinion. 

 

If you have access to the Tropica products, are you able to get Tropica Substrate? (Not to be confused with Tropica Soil, which is basically Tropica's version of ADA aquasoil.) The substrate version is basically dirt and is intended for use under a layer of sand or gravel. You don't need as much as the aquatic soil products; it is really just a nutrient layer comparable to how one would use organic potting mix.

 

Before you start spending money though, what do you intend to grow? Sans things like cryptocoryne and echinodorus, a lot of plants are happy feeding from the water column. I'd ask myself what I want out of this. If you are starting to get more serious or intend to branch out and try new species in a few weeks/months time, I would opt for one of the speciality soils. But if that is not where you're at, go for Tropica Substrate, organic potting mix or even just inert sand.

 

Just to put this out there since you've liked Flourite so far, it does come in a sand version. ;)

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I haven't decided exclusively on any certain type of plant I want yet:  Other than I know I like my crypts and my anubias the most out of all the plants I've had so far.  The banana plants are also pretty good IMO, I just wish my fiance would actually let them grow to the waters surface, the poor things have a bunch of nipped stems sticking out from where they were "too tall" for him, lol! 

 

I've also really wanted to have some type of carpet in the tank for a while now.  I had  just started a small hair grass and I think maybe micro sword carpet  when I first got Frankie, and when it was just her it was fine, but when we added Arnold and Jelly Belly it kind of got torn up.  They didn't eat it, it just ended up floating all over the place, so I was thinking maybe if I left it alone long enough to get settled, it would work out better?

 

Some other plants I liked the look of so far (without regards to the possibility of GF consumption, or me Actually getting) are: 

Also, for me here, the only place I can find Tropica substrate is here: http://www.bigalspets.com/plant-growth-substrate-3-kg.html?gclid=CMa92cGFwMkCFZOBaQodPlsCkw

 

and here:

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=Fluval+stratum&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.XTropica+substrate.TRS0&_nkw=Tropica+substrate&_sacat=0

 

There were like one or 2 other places that it showed up, but these two were the easiest to find.  It won't even show up on Amazon.com for me, and the cheapest I've seen it is at Big Al's pets, for $25 USD for a 2.5L bag.  I would only need 2 bags of this for a 55 gal (208L) though, right?  If it means I don't need to change it out every year (like I hear you have to with dirt), I would be willing to try it.  And it's the CEC stuff as well, so I would be saving on not having to buy laterite as well, correct? 

 

And I was thinking about going with an inert top as opposed to fluorite so I don't have a 55 gallon mud pie ;)

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Yep. If you follow their filling guide, you'll only need 5 litres or two 2.5L bags. Tropica substrate does have a good CEC rating, but don't get wrapped up in what is CEC and what is not -- it's not essential. So, I wouldn't bother with laterite here. If you DIY a substrate system then sure, but I don't see the point when you're using a speciality soil/dirt.

Hair grass isn't the toughest thing; I don't know how it would fair with goldfish. I had a full carpet (very thick) of the stuff in my high tech tank and my little corydoras would constantly uproot small portions. It was never enough to do damage, but enough to know there are better rooting plants. The same goes for pygmy chain sword or helanthium tenellum (erroneously known as echinodorus tenellus). So far the best rooting carpet plants I've grown have all been types of staurogyne. Currently I have staurogyne sp. porto velho, which is lovely but less readily available in the US. Staurogyne repens is very easy to come by, easy to grow and will do well in almost all conditions. It has an incredible root system too. Tom Barr has theorised it's more like a cryptocoryne insofar as it doesn't take environmental changes well and dislikes being uprooted (something most stems don't mind).

With the banana plant, trim its leaves as low down to the base of the plant as possible (same goes for lotuses, lilies, crypts, echinodorus, etc). If you leave significant stems/sticky bits, the plant still puts energy into maintaining that section. If you remove those sections, it puts energy into new leaves. :)

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Thanks guys!  Banana plants are trimmed, and one of the leaves is almost to the top already, yay!  And I can't believe I didn't think of the staurogyne - I'm pretty sure I've seen that used as a carpet before as well - thanks:)

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