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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone
I am new to this forum but Ive been on other forums so Im not a total newbie =). Heres my question for you all, what in your opinion is the best substrate or substrate combo that youve ever used? Ive only had experience with fluorite and eco-complete but I would love to hear everyone else's opinion on this as I am planning on planting a 40 gallon and would love some opinions. Thanks =).
 

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Ptahkeem,

Welcome to APC! :D

IMO, there is no one "best" substrate. There are several substrates that perform very well in a planted aquarium setting.

Flourite, Eco-Complete, Florabase, Aqua Soil, Onyx Sand all work well and have their pros and cons. Heck, even good old sand/gravel + laterite will work well.

I prefer to use a two layer substrate because I like to have some organics in the substrate. Amano does something similar. I use a home-made version of Power Sand and cover the first inch or so of the aquarium's bottom. I then layer 3-4 inches of Akadama soil but it could be any of the above commercial products also.

This combination has worked well for me for many years. It provides an acidic substrate solution that keeps key nutrients in solution, avoids compaction, provides a good home for microorganisms that help recylce the organics into nutrients, etc.

HTH.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
When using more than 1 layer of any kind of substrate dont you get mixing though? With peat wouldnt this mixing be bad? Also, Art where can you get this akadama soil and power sand and what are they? Ive never heard of this substrate, I guess I am a newb lol.
 

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Substrastes will always mix together...small particles tend to move the bottom, larger at the top; so don't worry about mixing..it's a natural thing. Peat is great, it has a high CEC(ability to store and transfer nutrients) and it creates an acidic environment. Unfortunately, PowerSand isn't available in the US, but it's basically a mixture of pumice and peat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi Raul

is there a specifc kind of peat that you recommend for use? Also where can your normal averge joe get some peat and or pumice?
 

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Aqua Soil and Power Sand are Aqua Design Amano products. Unfortunately, they are not currently available in the US. Aqua Soil is essentially a baked clay. Power Sand is a mix consisting of pumice stone, peat, charcoal and a bacterial additive.

There will be a little mixing of the two when used in combination. This is harmless though.

I purchase peat and pumice from a local orchid supplier. Akadama is special soil from Japan and it is commonly used in Bonsai. You can purchase it from a few locations in the US.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
When using akadama soil does it have a lot of dust particles that need to be rinsed off? Also, what size do you use I did a little research and the soil comes in a small, medium and large grain size. Obviously the large grain size is too large at 1/2". Also, does the peat cloud the water in any way and does akadama soil affect any water parameters i.e. raise gH or kH?
 

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Some akadama does have a lot of dust that should be rinsed off. It really depends on the brand. I use the small grain akadama.

Peat typically does cloud the water somewhat but if you have it under three inches of soil, the clouding is minimal if any. I typically add a layer of crushed charcoal that eliminates the cloudiness.

Akadama is basically baked clay. As such, it will take up magnesium and calcium initially in a chemical reaction similar to what ion-exchange resins do. This decreases the GH/KH in your water. You must monitor these two parameters closely the first week or two.
 

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Akadama on top?

Hi Art,

Do you put some sand/gravel covering tha akadama oy you simply use the powersand, akadama and then the plants?

Thanks
João
 

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Art wrote :
I typically add a layer of crushed charcoal that eliminates the cloudiness
Could you please explain that? where do you put it? does it come that way or you need to crush it? etc.
Thanks
 
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