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Rootbound tanks

>Will a deeper substrate help slow down/negate the tendency for very dense
>root mats?  In nature the substrate is very deep and plants seem to do
>fine for millions of years with no one uprooting them.  Would a substrate
>thicker than about 4 inches help at all?  Somewhere in the 6-8 inch range

Deeper substrates will somewhat delay the time it takes for a tank to
become rootbound.  But remember that in nature, a stand of a single species
of plant is likely to be larger than the entire footprint of your tank.  As
a stand of plants grows and crowds into another species, sooner or later,
one species wins, and one loses and dies back.  Without our interference,
eventually, the same thing happens in the aquarium.  A single species will
dominate, and take over, crowding out other species.  It will usually be a
plant that can survive well on the particular mix of nutrients available
from the water column in spite of a totally rootbound substrate.  

Most of us prefer to maintain a "garden" tank with a number of different
species.  In order to achieve this, we must interfere, and periodically
uproot species that are taking over to make room for others.  This is
exactly what we do in the flower garden as well.

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association