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>Commenting on my substrate combo:
> 1 Root Tab plus Iron
> 1 Substrate Gold Nugget
> 1 Flourish Tab
> 1/2 Jobe's stick (13-4-5 formula)
>Thomas Barr wrote <<You can add this to water column and get the same
>results pretty much but you have to keep an eye on it and your plants.
>Doing both the gravel and the column would give you the best of both worlds
>I didn't mean to imply we don't use water-column fertilization; we do. Did
>you really mean to say that Jobe's sticks can be put above the substrate? 

No, I have found using water column fertilizers can be used with no
substrate fertilizers at all and still get good results. My 90 gallon has
nothing in the gravel although I have been adding some jobes to it lately.
My other tanks, a 20 gallon has nothing added ever to the gravel nor has had
anything added. By adding KNO3 plus TMG (water cloumn) I get very good
growth. You can also add K2PO4 to the water column essentially adding what's
in the jobes(N-P-K) and the TMG has the rest. I have tried this with gravel
additives and flourite etc and it works better using both, especially
flourite. I have added jobes above the substrate but this is risky I think
generally speaking. The main reason for saying this is due to how fast I am
trying to run some of my tanks. 20 gallons with 110 watts of PC's is very
fast. You can watch things crash very fast and also watch nutrients get
sucked out fast also. Jobes, tabs, etc are fine in the balanced portions for
the substrate but for the water column adding the these will prove
problematic I think. KNO3,K2PO4 and Tropica master grow will supply all you
need for the water column. Jobes are great for the gravel and cheap.
Flourite cost less in the long run(no iron balls, laterite etc) and you
never have to worry except for the jobes sticks or tabs when reworking the
tank's gravel. If you feel better you can laterite etc also. I see very,
very little signs of iron deficiency with flourite though. Several months of
no iron added and the A.reineckii is blood red and the tennelus is doing
fine. Fish food is the only source to the column.

>As to keeping a front-to-back gradation of depth with deeper in back, I've
>found this is really practical to do only with some kind of terracing. In
>one back corner we have a terrace made with two pieces of driftwood placed
>at a something over 90 degrees. This gives us three planting areas: deep
>gravel on the corner terrace for a large ozelot sword and a crinum; Java
>fern on the diftwood; C. undulata on the lower gravel in front. Were I to
>do our 135-gal over I would make greater use of terracing. Karan Randall
>has also written on the difficulty of maintaining a slope without
>terracing. Doesn't your layer tend to even out with currents, vacuuming,
>replanting, etc?  

I don't vac my gravel ever.
My current is slow and even from the bottom up. Not much current is really
needed IMO.
Replanting is not much of a problem for me as I just keep up on pushing the
gravel back.
I like Flourite due to it not moving around very much also. Profile, turface
etc is very light and moves all over the place. Nice color and is good for
plants but I don't care for it. Flourite stays put and has the iron and has
proven itself to me at least on many tanks now. I also use a trowl to push
the gravel back from the front to keep up on the slope. If you use lots of
stem plants you often prune large areas that you can readjust the gravel
when you do the pruning. Yes, it can be work. So can pruning which is trying
to do the same sloping thing except with the plants. Glass slats, rocks,
wood work great IMO though. The trowel is a very much used Amano tool and I
would suspect a Dutch tool for getting/keeping the slope in your tanks. A
simple metal or plastic one can be bought at the local hardware store for
50cents to about 3-4 $ for a nice stainless steel one. Look for the painting
supplies and you'll a small scraper that fits the bill nicely. It's not as
long as Amano's or Aquarium landscape's model but does the same thing and
there are many more widths to choose from.

If it works for you, keep doing it. It matches your balance for how you take
care of your tanks.
We all have a little system that works for us but may not work for others.
The underlying principles are very similar or the same often though. 

Tom Barr