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First DIY substrate

2466 Views 4 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  dennis
Hello all,

I've been itching to try my hand at a better substrate for a bit now. I went out today and found a few things. First. Shultz Aquatic soil (profile) for $5 a bag (2 bags) some Spagnum peat (also shultz) a small bag of charcoal and some backed clay fragments, probably from bricks although it seems less porous.

I have been searching around all these posts and here is my plan:

-"Dig" up some mulm from an exhisting tank
-Soak the peat so it sinks and mix it with the charcoal, mulm and clay
-sprinkle some activated carbon on top of this
-add layer of around 2" of the Shultz Plant soil
-Cap that with a layer, 1.5-2" of Eco complete that i have laying around

I have a couple questions though, mailny concerning the amounts to use. This is a 10 gallon aquarium and it will be moderately-high tohigh light (probably 45watts NO florescent) and CO2 enriched. How much peat should I use? Are the clay fragments unnecessary, what about the charcoal? I was thinking of it a a porous place for the bacteria and nutrient reduction to happen. How much mulm should I try to gather and is there any that is better to use than others. Is just a good gravel suck from an established tank going to give me what I want?

Sorry for all the questions and thanks for looking:)
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Finally found it again. This is a post of Art's that I am basing my "base fert" layer on.

Aqua Soil is essentially a baked clay. Power Sand is a mix consisting of pumice stone, peat, charcoal and a bacterial additive.
Use ground peat, 1 handful.
You can use either sand and SAPS at 50:50 ratio or mix the EC and SAPS together etc.

EC and SAPS are both light weight, I do not care for that. The rest sounds fine.

Tom Barr
Thanks for chiming in Tom:)

I was using the Eco as a top layer because I have it already in other tanks and I like the look of it. Plus I have an extra bag lying around;) I do find it tru that Eco is lighter than regular gravel or sand but I have not really had it bother me yet. Everyting seems to stay down fine. Flourite I do not like at all, astetically that is. Seems like a good substrate technically though. Thanks alot for the info. I would like to do this tomorrow. Maybe I will do an update here if I can, maybe even some pics of the setup as I go to help other, less experienced like myself. Then you all can point to the pics and show what not to do:)

Thanks again.
Well, Sunday was the day. I set it up thanks to everyone's help:) Here is a link to a thumbnail gallery of the setup. Plesae excuse that the second pic is altually the last pic. It is labeled pic 10.

The captionsa re not very descriptive so basically what I did was:
-Soak 1 handful of ground peat
-Mix together the Shultz Aquatic Plant Soil and charcoal and wash them
-Added the peat to the boto of the tank the covered with the SAPS/charcoal mix.
-Drained any water so the peat stayed buried and did not float up
-Washed about 5lbs SAPS and covered, carefully, the base mix
-Added almost 1 bag od Eco Complete over this. Should have used the whole bag but oh-well

The tank is set up with 2x15watt No florescent lights, an AC mini and Press CO2 injected into the AC mini.

Hopefully I did it right and there are no problems. I set the tank up Sunday afternoon and this morning the water was a little cloudy, this afternoon the coudyness was gone and the water is practically crystal clear now. Hope it stays that way.

One thing for next time, I won't soak the peat. Most of it ws still floating after 1-2 hours and then youhave to get rid of the watter. It might have been easier to spread and to keep even on the bottom if it were layed on dry then covered. Also, SAPS is not bad looking actually. Kind of like flourite to me. Little red for my tastes but the grain sive is very uniform. If money were and object I would just use straight SAPS, especially for only $5 a bag. Keep this in mind new Iron Aquascaping people;)
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