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Old 07-15-2020, 08:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Help regarding new planted tank substrate


I have never kept a planted tank before but they always inspired me a lot. The main reason of it the availability of resources. Some mandatory things required for good planted tanks (as i've read on multiple forums) are not easily available in my country. Now, cutting the long story short, I'm planning to setup a planted tank and is in dire need of your expert opinions.

I have an approx. 50~55g (Width 38 x Depth 18 x Height 22 inches) slightly curved from front fish tank. I'm thinking of using following as a substrate. 1 ~ 1.5 inch of vermicompost capped by 1 ~ 1.5 inch of sugar sized black sand.

I'll be using following plants;
Vallisneria (Spiral is preferred but simple will also be fine)
Dwarf Sagittaria
Hygrophilia Sunset & Ludwigia Repens (Need suggestion / recommendation about these)
Water Wisteria or Guppy grass.

Now, the main reason of selecting these plants & substrate is the availability issue. I can do whatever is suggested, keeping in view the limitations of availability.

I can do "Dry start method".
Can cycle tank for weeks or even months without fish.
I will not disturb plants once rooted.
Will follow any other precautions as suggested.

Will it work ??
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Old 07-16-2020, 08:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help regarding new planted tank substrate

Do you have access to the book "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium"
by Diana Walstad? If Amazon is available there you can get it as a paper copy or a book reader copy. That is a great way to get started knowing you are not making big mistakes. For example, you are probably going to have problem with the substrate as you are now planning. You need to use a natural soil, or a man-made soil that doesn't include fertilizing chemicals, and has only very small amounts of the nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus in it. And, 1.5 inches of it is too much. About an inch or less is best. The "sand" on top of it should be coarser than sugar - about 2-4 mm particles. Finally, a dry start only works well will low growing "carpet" plants.

If you can't get that book, this forum is also very good:
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Old 07-17-2020, 05:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help regarding new planted tank substrate

Agree with all Hoppy says. Your best bet is to use ordinary garden soil that is not treated with chemicals or fertilized. I have used vermicompost, but only 20% mixed with ordinary soil. Vermicompost is too fertile to use by itself.

Vallisneria cannot be grown with dry start, it has to be submerged at all times. I think the same is true for guppy grass, but am not completely certain.

"Ecology of the Planted Aquarium" is a great reference. It explains a low-tech method that can be used without most specialized aquarium products.
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