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Re: Do substrates get any respect? -- or - Dirty Secrets

Dennis Sheridan asked:
> Just out of curiosity, why does substrate seem to always
> come last? After
> reading here a couple of months, I get the impression
> that substrate is just
> something to hold the plants in place. It seems that more
> time and money is
> spent adding this fert and that nutrient and trying to
> maintain whatever
> else isn't there because the plants can't find it in a
> natural substrate.
> When I started my tank, the substrate came first, lights
> 2nd, CO2 3rd. I
> used a flourite and florabase mix in an attempt to
> provide the best planting
> medium, which I figured was the highest priority..  But
> I'm new at this so
> what do I know? I'm just curious because it seems like
> people have to go to
> a lot of trouble, and over time spend even more money and
> effort, just
> because their substrate doesn't deliver what the plants
> need.

It's true that substrate is sometimes treated like dirt.  I
put it down last on the priorities of where to spend
limnited dollars.  You can get by with spending the least
on substrate.  Cheaps lights or a lack of l;ights can be a
headache but any convenient inert sand or gravel and some
amendmemts can serve you well without costing a lot.

I also assumed one wanted to grow in a fast grow tank.  You
could opt for a slow grow tank and use less lights but
still add CO2.

You could go for and even slower grow tank and skip the CO2
and grow a la Walstad or one of the ways that Roger Miller

BTW, as I recall, Walstad suggests getting some dirt from
the backyard to use under the gravel.  That won't cost

You can spend a lot on substrate, but if you're
prioritizing your dollars, I'd suggest moving that one down
to the bottom.

Anyhow, that was my reason for saying so.

Scott H.

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