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Sphagnum as substrate?

7407 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  kyle2088
When enquiring at a local garden centre about fertilizer-free potting mixes, the staff person who was helping me, said that she used sphagnum moss (capped, of course) as the 'soil' in her home aquarium. She also stated that it lasted a long, long time before breaking down. Does anyone in this group have experience with using sphagnum in this way? What would the benefits of this be, if any? My intuition tells me that it would provide little in the way of nutrients, and would just be another source of rotting vegetative matter in one's aquarium.
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I have no personal experience with using sphagnum in my tanks. However I did just find this article from a person advocating its use in a breeding tank.
I have used Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss as a substrate in an aquarium.

It does not break down. It lasts a long time.
It is so light that ANY disturbance makes it fly (swim?) around the tank, then settles out on top of all the leaves. Waving my hand near them dislodged it, but then it was swimming around again, and settled out on the leaves again.

It will drop the pH, unless your tap water KH is very high.
It can remove a certain amount of Ca and Mg in a similar manner to a sodium exchange water softener. Peat adds H+ to the water, so lowers the pH. This effect seems to vary. Some Peat is very active, other peat is less so.

My set up was closer to a riparium. There were a few rocks and a slab of oak bark acting as a retaining wall. The peat was in the back half of the tank, growing emersed carnivorous plants. The front part of the tank had only a very few fish, and some small aquarium plants (not carnivorous).
Sphagnum and / or peat moss has been used in aquariums for a long time prior to the specialized substrates like ada , fluval stratum etc...

I am currently using Laguna Peat granules. They are compacted PEat moss so it doesnt easily mess up the tank by moving peat around and sinks faster. A little more expensive but Plant roots grow and gug this stuff like crazy.
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