Let's talk Substrate

OscarRomeoFiveTwo

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Trying to change my substrate in my 150L and Looking at different soil substrates that the plants will do well in.

It's a minefield with lots of choice. Inactive vs active.

From what I've seen the "best" substrates all seem to leak ammonia or change the water kh and ph so would need to be careful and balance this for the fish. (I'll be putting the fish in a temp tank for a few hours while doing the change them putting them back)

The inactive ones all need fertilisers?

Am I'm looking at this all too technical?

Just wanting a soil I can plant in and and top with some fine gravel/sand that won't overlay adjust the water parameters

Any suggestions/advice
 
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The active soils will eventually run out of nutrients but will initially give plants a boost in the beginning. Most plants do well in just sand or fine gravel with root tabs placed evenly beneath them and a decent liquid fertiliser, it depends on what plants you're growing and what kind of set up you're running
 
The active soils will eventually run out of nutrients but will initially give plants a boost in the beginning. Most plants do well in just sand or fine gravel with root tabs placed evenly beneath them and a decent liquid fertiliser, it depends on what plants you're growing and what kind of set up you're running
At the moment I have vallisneria. And just a heater and filter.

So I may as well just use an inert soil topped with whatever and add root tabs as eventually I would have to add them anyway?
 
Using all sand or all gravel would also work - in terms of growing plants they are the same as inert soil.

One other point - if you intend keeping fish which dig in the substrate, two layers would end up mixed.
 
For vals you don't need aquarium soil. I have in the past used Tropica soil and I will admit my plants really took off, but after it was in the tank for a year some of the soil structure started to break down and I started to have issues with keeping the tank clean.
 
There are no plants that need soil, all will grow in inert sand or fine gravel. And there are serious issues with any soil, bacterially and water quality.

Substrate must be suitable to the fish. Substrate fish like cories, loaches, cichlids are best with sand. All fish will be fine with sand. So this is your best option. Just make sure it is inert, unless it is going into a hardwater species tank.
 
After what I researched and what you have said I stuck with what I had and a fine gravel. I did add some tetra plant sticks into the substrate for some nutrients
 

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