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DIY substrate
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Fome
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Joined: 21 Nov 2004

PostPosted: 2004.11.29(Mon)20:37    Post subject: DIY substrate Reply with quote

fertilized substrate at the petstore is sooo expensive. Does anyone know how to make their own in a much more cost efficient manner?
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Steve Hampton
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: Jacksonville, FL

PostPosted: 2004.11.30(Tue)7:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are several options available.

1) Substitute Profile for Flourite. Profile is a clay soil additive that has some common properties with Flourite. It is very inexpensive, like about $15.00 for 40 lbs., and is much lighter weight so that pound for pound it takes much less Profile to reach the same depth in a tank compared to Flourite. Due to this "lighter weight" it is easily disturbed...even fish swimming by can kick up the Profile. It does provide a good substrate though not as good as Flourite or Eco-Complete IMO due to it's light weight...but it's a great inexpensive alternative when budget is the overriding issue.

2) Shultz Aquatic Soil. Not as cheap as Profile, but in some areas it is easier to find. It looks and behaves like Profile...it's probably the same substance just package differently and costs slightly more.

3) My favorite. I use pool filter sand/silica sand. It costs about $2.50 per 50 lbs. While plain sand can be used, I prefer to "enrich" my sand substrate as follows:

I use a coarse grade pool filter or sand blasting sand. I add a 1 inch layer of sand to the bottom of the tank and then add to the sand 1-2oz. of laterite per gallon of tank. I mix those two thoroughly and smooth it out evenly. On top this mix I add one handful of peat per 10 gallon of tank, a handful of garden loam, and as much plant mulm as you can harvest from another planted tank. If you can't get the plant mulm just add a bit more peat. Top this by adding another 1-2 inches of of sand. Personally I top the sand with a darker pea gravel mixture because I prefer a darker substrate. The substrate layering is visible when looking at the tank, adding wide black electrical tape to match the tank frame hides this very nicely.

The important thing to do is to keep those higher organic layers from being exposed to the water column.
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Irons
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Joined: 27 Feb 2003
Location: Buffalo, NY

PostPosted: 2004.11.30(Tue)8:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also used sand in my last setup. I added a thin layer of mulm and soaked peat. Just enough to cover the glass. Then 1 bag of flourite (this is for a 30gallon). Topped it off with a fair amount of sand. It seems to do well. I would suggest trying not to do anything to the top layer exposing the lower layers. I did that and had a massive algae outbreak.
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Fome
Regulars


Joined: 21 Nov 2004

PostPosted: 2004.11.30(Tue)17:08    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome Steve, thank you very much.

few newbie questions:

what is garden loam? I sorta know what plant mulm is but a concrete definite would be great.

just to make sure I have this correct:
sand, laterite, peat, garden loam and plant mulm all mixed together as layer 1. 1-2 inches of sand as layer 2. Then gravel as layer 3? how much gravel?

and finally, what other fertilizers and stuff will I need to add/do once I have this substrate in place?

sorry, I'm new at this. You're helping a ton though.
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TheVillageIdiot
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Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Location: Roswell, GA

PostPosted: 2004.12.02(Thu)13:23    Post subject: Reply with quote

fome,

this might be of some help to you: http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/plantcare/a/plantsubstrate.htm

I hope so!!!

My plans for my 20g are as follows... 1 inch sand/laterite mix, a thin layer of laterite, 1-1.5 inches of dark red and brown pea gravel...
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Steve Hampton
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: Jacksonville, FL

PostPosted: 2004.12.03(Fri)9:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fome wrote:
Awesome Steve, thank you very much.

few newbie questions:

what is garden loam?


I quess the best way is to describe what it isn't. Garden loam contains no fertilizers, isn't composed of clay and has a fairly low sand content. Commerical potting soil without the usually added vermiculite or perlite is a good example.



Quote:
I sorta know what plant mulm is but a concrete definite would be great.


If you have access to an established tank you can do a deep gravel vacuuming sucking out as much of the mucky material in the gravel as possible, saving to a large bucket. This material is decomposed or partially decomposed fish and plant waste. Allow the bucket to sit undisturbed overnight, then decant the water off the top of the layer of mulm in the bottom of the bucket.

Quote:
just to make sure I have this correct:
sand, laterite, peat, garden loam and plant mulm all mixed together as layer 1. 1-2 inches of sand as layer 2. Then gravel as layer 3? how much gravel?


Correct, the gravel layer is simply a top coat to cover the sand and it's depth and use is totally optional...I've skipped using the gravel completely on occasion. Normally I use about a 1/2 inch of pea gravel or even river rock if I want the "look" to remain bright.


Quote:
and finally, what other fertilizers and stuff will I need to add/do once I have this substrate in place?


How much additional fertilizer, if any, is driven by many factors such as how much lighting, CO2 injection, species of plants, overall plant mass, size and type of fish, frequency and type of fish feedings. There is no one size fits all answer here. However, the advantage of this type of substrate is the plants will immediately get nutrients from it as opposed to most commerical products.
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Fome
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Joined: 21 Nov 2004

PostPosted: 2004.12.03(Fri)13:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

alright, it's all making sense now.

How do you plant plants with large roots in a substrate like that without turning everything over?
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TheVillageIdiot
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Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Location: Roswell, GA

PostPosted: 2004.12.03(Fri)14:29    Post subject: Reply with quote

steve, what did you use to get the hill effects in your tank?
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Fome
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Joined: 21 Nov 2004

PostPosted: 2004.12.04(Sat)17:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

anyone know how to plant larger plants in a layered substrate without messing everything up?
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Steve Hampton
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: Jacksonville, FL

PostPosted: 2004.12.05(Sun)10:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fome wrote:
anyone know how to plant larger plants in a layered substrate without messing everything up?


I'm not sure I understand the question. Personally I can't imagine a plant so large that it would require a "big" hole to be transplanted into. Specifically what plants and size are you referring to?
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