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Old 02-10-2010, 07:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Is crushed coral ok for substrate?

hello,

I have a 100gal. with crushed coral substrate. It has crushed coral because I originally wanted to put african cichlids in it. I realize that a bio-substrate is preferred but unfortunately I already have the crushed coral. The cost of replacing the substrate is a bit out of my budget now. The tank has been running for about a month with 3 fish in it (they'll be taken out) to build the bio-nutrients. I think I'm ready to put plants in it but wanted thoughts on whether this substrate will sustain plants like crypts, anubias, and other flora often used by aquarist on this site. No doubt this will not be the ideal biotope for the plants I seek but I just want to know if I'm sending these plants to their immanent death or will they adapt? Bear with me folks as I'm new to all of this. I appreciate any thoughts on this and will take all responses seriously.

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Old 02-11-2010, 04:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is crushed coral ok for substrate?

I would just wait, get the appropriate substrate, and then start planting. Whenever I have tried to set up an aquarium on the cheap with components that I knew were not ideal I have regretted it.

That said, you will probably get some anubias to grow. Some crypts may survive. If the crushed coral makes the water very hard with a very high pH (as preferred by cichlids from the african rift lakes) it will limit the types of plants that will live. A period of trial and error may be necessary to see what will work for you.

For a cheap substrate get a bag of top soil (no fertilizers or chemical additives) from Lowes or Walmart and make a 1 to 3" bottom layer. Then cover the soil with 2" of small gravel substrate (I just got 50 pounds of used substrate at an aquarium club swap meet for $5). Check craigslist for aquarium stuff and before long you'll be able to find some cheap used gravel substrate. Maybe you could even trade your crushed coral for substrate that would work better for a planted tank.
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Old 02-11-2010, 09:00 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is crushed coral ok for substrate?

Crushed coral is fine for a hard water tank. It is heavy enough to hold the roots down, but has very little CEC. It will make the tank water harder, higher pH. This is fine for plants, not so good for soft water fish.

Look into Rainbow fish, livebearers, Rift Lake fish (not just the aggressive Mbuna sort of set up) and others.

I have one tank that is about 50% coral sand, and 50% Turface, and even this tank has hard water. Usually Turface removes the KH and drops the pH, but not blended with the crushed coral!
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Old 02-11-2010, 10:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is crushed coral ok for substrate?

Thanks for the advice diana k and geeks 15. I would love to change the substrate but right now I just can't afford to. I figure it would cost at least $100 to change the substrate. A quick update, I did some water testing today (which I don't normally do but should do regularly) and the pH was 7.6-ish, no nitrate, nitrate, and ammonia levels (parts pert million) recorded. Unfortunately, I don't have a hardness or alkalinity test kit yet. I also did a little research on anubias, rotala, and java ferns and found that they may be suitable for this tank. I have 1 anubias coffeefolia and 2 rotala stem bunches and 5 java ferns tied (but not achored yet) on volcanic rock which I put into the tank today. These plants can easily be removed if necessary. The tank is still bear of fish but is still circulating the nutrients from when fish were in it. I'll feed (with iron supplement) today and see where it takes me. This tank was primarily set-up to house Hap. livingstoni's which are still in another tank.

By-the-way, what does "CEC" mean? Also, is turface some kind of substrate additive?

Thanks again,
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Old 02-11-2010, 11:47 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is crushed coral ok for substrate?

With that pH the water is probably not extremely hard and many plants should do fine if that is the case. Growing anubias and java fern can be done with the most basic setup (low light, no fertilizers, any substrate). Just don't bury the rhizome in the substrate or it will rot. Growing stem plants will often require more light, ferts, etc., but not all stem plants will have this requirement.
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Old 02-11-2010, 01:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is crushed coral ok for substrate?

hey Mike, i purchased substrate for my tank from this website: petsolutions.com, they had a great deal then, like 18 bucks per bag of eco complete and the shipping is not by weight, check it out!
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is crushed coral ok for substrate?

Thanks for info. and positive assurance geeks 15. Hey Damain, I'll check out that website...I really can't afford a arm nor a leg at this time but if only the sacrifice of a few fingers are needed, hmmm.

Thanks again folks,
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Old 02-11-2010, 10:08 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is crushed coral ok for substrate?

Thanks Damian for the heads up on petsolutions.com. I went to the site as you had suggested and saw the eco complete substrate. I think it ran for $23 for 20lb bag. I would need about 5 bags to put a good layer down in my 100gal. tank and possible a 6th bag. I think I payed around the same price for the bio-substrate thats in my smaller tanks which I purchased at Petco. Anyways, sometimes you just have to use what you got and be happy you have that much. Perhaps in the spring or early summer I will be able to swap out substrates and when I do I defintely will use a more appropriate substrate for keeping a larger variety of aquatic plants. As always, it's nice to hear from you Damian and we'll defintely keep in touch.

See ya around,
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Old 02-12-2010, 06:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is crushed coral ok for substrate?

Use a base of topsoil and cover it with the eco complete. You'll save lots of money and get a more nutrient rich and long lasting substrate (IMHO).
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Old 02-12-2010, 04:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is crushed coral ok for substrate?

Hi folks,

I want to thank everyone for their input. It really gave me a lot to think about. I realize I sort of got off on the wrong foot with my selection of substrate but that was what I had on hand. No doubt crushed coral isn't the ideal substrate but surely it has it's uses in growing aquatic plants. Please continue to give feedback and tips as I read all of this and find some way to take what I can use and leave the rest behind.

Also, this thread is currently running in the substrate forum (probably where it belongs in the 1st place) so please enter any further responses in that thread. It's hard to keep up with 2 threads of the same topic.

When I figure out how to insert pic.'s I will display where I am currently at on this tank.

Much thanks to all that helped,
RapidSixGuns (aka. Michael)
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