First Aquascape! Looking for advice on the plants I want to get!

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OliveFish05

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Do you have any suggestions for the cap? I was thinking of getting some coarse sand to use as a cap and do about an 1-1.5” of it.
I agree with Byron that it would be best to use just sand, with no dirt. Dirt is messy and hard to work with. It can cause a lot of issues very quickly. Sand would be your best choice for pygmy cories. They are bottom dwellers and gravel can damage their sensitive bellies and "whiskers". They also use the sand to feed
 
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snake90890

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Ok sadly you guys are right. I don’t think I can do Corys anymore because they need the sand. Very sad as they are cute but I will keep looking to see what fish would do best. This means snails and shrimp for my clean up crew. For all those interested, fine sand will 1) not let the soil breathe and cause anoxic zones in the soil which is very bad news and also like Byron said 2) the sand if smaller in size than the soil eventually will switch places with the sand so it sucks as a cap to keep soil at the bottom.

There is only going to be plants in the tank until a balance is reached so having excess CO2 only is beneficially for plant growth. Since my tank is not established I need the ammonia to cycle the tank. So that’s a win win
 

Byron

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Yes. At this point, I would like to offer some advice to consider, as this is exactly why I never tried soil and never will.

The only actual benefit is more CO2 and ammonia from the decomposition of the organics in the soil, during the first few months. This can often be hazardous especially to fish, which is why many soil advocates recommend a dry start, and no fish in the tank for six months. Eventually the soil ceases to have any benefit, within one year if not sooner. Diana Walstad, who I suppose pioneered the soil substrate natural aquarium concept, has written in articles that after the first year, there is absolutely no advantage of soil over inert sand or fine gravel substrate. So, one is going through a lot of fuss and bother for no real benefit.

As for plants, they will grow just as well in any substrate (provided the granule size is not too large, say pea gravel, which can cause issues). Sand is the best substrate medium for aquatic plants (in an aquarium). Substrate3 fertilizing tabs are advantageous for large plants like swords, aponogetons, lilies, etc., and a comprehensive liquid fertilizer may also benefit, more for floating plants and plants not rooted in the substrate, which would gain no benefit from any substrate regardless.

Then there is the fish and bacteria issues with soil. Fish that dig and substrate level fish can be seriously harmed.

Some members here have gone with a soil substrate, and some will probably say it has not been problematic. But given the definite risks... its up to you. :fish:
 
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snake90890

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Thank you for the advice! I think I’m still going to do soil because there are just too many benefits in my eyes. Plus as a biology/ecology guy it is too cool not to have a ecological system in my own tank!

I have found that there are a few ways of treating soils to get around the extended periods of ammonia being released at toxic levels. One of which is mineralizing the soil by accelerating the process that organic material is decomposed. Wetting and then drying it out over and over makes humus and the organic matter turns into a way more stable substance. I’m currently wetting my soil and then removing anything that floats after stirring as well as changing the water so that tannins will be removed as well. Even after 3 days worth of leaving the stirred material overnight and then skimming and doing a water change the soil is tremendously more stable and less toxic. Obviously the longer you do the process the more stable. This is all things I have read about and have been tried by others with success.

I also agree with you and Diana that soil has no benefit over other soils if it is drained of it’s nutrients and it becomes inert. It happens around 6 months of being in the aquarium. People still have 10 year old and up walstad tanks without changing the soil because they over feed their fish and the fish food is replenishing nutrients in the soil. Plus the fish are eating and pooping and that gives nutrients. The soil when mixed with a high CEC compound like safe T sorb is replenished from this. The CEC compound absorbs nutrients from the water and then the plants can use the nutrients from the STS. It’s like having recharging root tabs.

With regards to fish and bacteria problems I don’t think that digging fish will be ones that I get for my tank but I’m that MTSs do a really great job at keeping the substrate aerated. Which I think is what you mean by bacteria problems. That anaerobic conditions causes lots of problems. That’s why I can’t do fine sand in my aquarium but with coarser sand or gravel the aeration is better. Plus having heavily root reliant plants in the tank keep the soil oxygenated as well.

Overall the walstad way is more complicated, therefore riskier, and a lot more work especially at the beginning. For me I enjoy the challenge and I most certainly love the concept too much not to try. I’m hoping that it goes well and that I can return with a success story but we shall see. Thanks again for the help I really do appreciate it and I’ll try to keep updating and active.
 

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