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Re: Substrate poll

As a general substrate for use with fast growing stem plants and a
variety of other plants, I'd suggest a fine gravel substrate and
supplement it with clay fertilizer balls under the plants that I wanted
to stimulate such as Anubias and Crypts. An even better option would be
to prepare some small pots with soil, a clay fertilizer ball or two and
a topping of gravel for Anubias, Crypts, Swords or Aponogeton. This is
particularly good for Crypts since they can tend to invade the rest of
the tank unless contained.

The reason I'd recommend the plain substrate is that its easier for
beginners, less prone to early biofilm problems, less messy. Its also
easier to use pots with Crypts.

For a Crypt species tank, I'd certainly go with clay and peat mixtures.
Anubias also does well in these conditions. Sword plants tend to get too
large for my taste if they have too much substrate nutrients (N & P)
(assuming plentiful CO2, light, Ca, Mg, K etc. in the water)

For my own use, I usually test some kind of soil, clay and peat mixture,
more for experimental purposes than short term success. Soil substrates
can give you a lot of biofilm so you need to have lots of snails. You
should also prevent infestation by filamentous algae since soil
substrates can exacerbate algae problems particularly if you want to
keep species tanks where you can't keep SAEs and other algae consumers.
A soil substrate can also mean less fussing with chelated Fe and Mn
supplements however some folks may find dosing more fool proof. A dosing
mistake is much easier to fix than a substrate goof.

In short: it depends! It depends most of all upon your experience and
Steve Pushak                              Vancouver, BC, CANADA 

Visit "Steve's Aquatic Page"      http://home.infinet.net/teban/
 for LOTS of pics, tips and links for aquatic gardening!!!