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Re: Substrate

LeeAnn Talarico wrote:

> I have a 55 gallon tank with about 2-3 inches of rather (can't remember the
> dimesions)small regular gravel at the moment.  I am interested in growing
> average freshwater aquarium plants, nothing really fancy.  I don't have a
> CO2 system, and I have a double 48" flourescent strip light.  I have tried
> peat in my planted tanks before, and was not fond of it (I know, some people
> like it...I just didn't).  I would like to know if additional substrate
> would be beneficial to my plants:
> Nymphoides aquatica,Crinum thaianum, Echinodorus amazonicus, Nomaphila
> stricta, Rotala indica, Vallisneria spiralis, Hydrocotyle
> leucocephala(getting rid of this....), Lilaeopsis brasiliensis,
> Vallisneria tortifolia, Microsorium pteropus, and Vesicularia dubyana

The last two don't use the substrate.  The two Vals, R. indica, N.
stricta, and E. amazonicus will all flourish in a wide range of
substrates.  I think Lilaeopsis needs a rather fine substrate to root well
but you may have problems growing it with your light.  I haven't succeeded
in keeping N. aquatica healthy longer than two or three months, so I can't
tell you about it.  If you can keep the Crinum healthy it will outgrow
your tank.

A substrate of clean fine gravel won't provide your plants with much more
than an anchoring point.  If this is a new substrate then you will either
need to be patient enough to allow fertility to build up in the substrate
(which takes six months to a year), or you will need to amend the

> People mention many differant substrates, but never mention what exactly
> they are appropriate for.  Any suggestions? Also, can any of these
> substrates be added to already established aquarium with minimal effort
> (added to the top, or just lightly mixed into gravel)?  I would prefer
> substrate that would be appropriate at a neutral- 7.5 pH.  Thanks for the
> input!

You can add clay or laterite balls with or without added fertilizer, you
can pull out the top layer or your existing substrate and replace it with
something like SeaChem's Flourite, or you might try using Jobes sticks.
The APD archive contains extensive discussions of all those options.  The
Krib probably contains information on the same options in a more organized

If your setup is new and you don't intend to add CO2 later then you
probably should take a simple approach.  You won't need an evolved
substrate or additional fertilizer to keep most of the plants on your
list.  Just wait.  A one-year-old fine gravel substrate and appropriate
fertilizer in the water column should work.

But if you ever want to do more with this tank you probably will want to
start by improving the substrate.

Roger Miller