New Substrate

Biglog

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I used black gravel from an old tank when setting up my new one but it is starting to chip so I am looking for something new. I was looking at this CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate but wanted to check if anyone had any other recommendations. I have corys, ghost shrimp, a dwarf neon gourami, roseline sharks, neon tetras, and angelfish and Java fern, hornwort, green cabomba carolina, dwarf sagittaria subulata, and cork screw vallisneria plants so would sand be better? Also would this be a good time to add an under gravel filter?
 

OliveFish05

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Hi! Since you have Cories, I would highly recommend sand! It is better for the sensitive barbels. Not only that, but it looks beautiful and is very good for plants roots too I believe. I highly recommend Caribsea Super Natural Crystal River sand, it is super fine almost like powder. It looks very nice and is a lovely pale color. If you prefer a darker color, I have heard of people using Black Diamond Blasting Sand or something. Your plants are not especially hard to grow so you should not need the added nutrients in the Eco Complete, not to mention I have heard it is very rough and has been known to scratch up bottom dwellers bellies
 
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Biglog

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I was thinking about adding an under gravel filter to get some more biological filtration so would that work with sand?
 

OliveFish05

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I was thinking about adding an under gravel filter to get some more biological filtration so would that work with sand?
I don’t think so. I think it would suck up the grains of sand and it would settle down in it and hinder its ability to provide adequate filtration. From everything I have heard, undergravel filters aren’t that great anyway
 
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PheonixKingZ

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I have a penguin 200 bio wheel but was thinking about adding the under gravel to get some more biological filtration since my tank is pretty heavily stocked
I wouldn’t, if you still plan on getting sand.
 
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Biglog

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I was originally thinking about getting sand but was for the corys and shrimp but was worried the plants wouldn’t grow in it and not have the extra biological filtration that’s gravel gives
 

Byron

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I was originally thinking about getting sand but was for the corys and shrimp but was worried the plants wouldn’t grow in it and not have the extra biological filtration that’s gravel gives

This idea of "extra biological filtration" is a myth, as I will briefly explain. But first, do not use any so-called "plant" substrate with cories or other substrate-feeding fish. "Plant" substrates in reality provide no tangible benefits for plants to begin with, but some of them can cause serious issues for fish, from bacterial problems to roughness.

I am not aware of any "undergravel" filtration plates that work with sand as the sand clogs the plate making them useless as filters. But there is no need for "extra" biological filtration because it does not exist. The biological filtration is carried out by nitrifying bacteria/archaea and live plants. Plants take up ammonia/ammonium, and fast-growers can assimilate an incredible amount of ammonia/ammonium. Assuming the tank is not biologically overstocked or somehow biologically imbalanced, no filter would be better than adding a filter. In such tanks, filters are primarily there to ensure adequate water movement involving surface disturbance, and providing mechanical filtration (keeping the water "clear" which is not the same as "clean") by passing the water through media like sponge, foam, etc..

With respect to the bacteria/archaea, which consume ammonia/ammonium, produce nitrite which other bacteria/archaea then take up producing nitrate, which is then used by other bacteria and removed via water changes, these bacteria will colonize various surfaces, primarily in the filter, but also elsewhere, and they will multiply to the level sustained by the amount of their available "food." They will not increase beyond this, regardless of the number or size of filters. The substrate is the prime source of the bacteria bed--involving many other species of bacteria beyond nitrifyiers--and the smaller the grain size, the more "space" and effective the filtration. Filtration referring to all types, not just nitrifying.

Plants will grow as well in sand as any other medium in an aquarium, and better in some cases. Here again the grain size can impact plant growth if it is too large for example. Sand is your overall best substrate medium for fish (there are a very few exceptions where larger gravel may suit the species) and plants.
 
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Biglog

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This idea of "extra biological filtration" is a myth, as I will briefly explain. But first, do not use any so-called "plant" substrate with cories or other substrate-feeding fish. "Plant" substrates in reality provide no tangible benefits for plants to begin with, but some of them can cause serious issues for fish, from bacterial problems to roughness.

I am not aware of any "undergravel" filtration plates that work with sand as the sand clogs the plate making them useless as filters. But there is no need for "extra" biological filtration because it does not exist. The biological filtration is carried out by nitrifying bacteria/archaea and live plants. Plants take up ammonia/ammonium, and fast-growers can assimilate an incredible amount of ammonia/ammonium. Assuming the tank is not biologically overstocked or somehow biologically imbalanced, no filter would be better than adding a filter. In such tanks, filters are primarily there to ensure adequate water movement involving surface disturbance, and providing mechanical filtration (keeping the water "clear" which is not the same as "clean") by passing the water through media like sponge, foam, etc..

With respect to the bacteria/archaea, which consume ammonia/ammonium, produce nitrite which other bacteria/archaea then take up producing nitrate, which is then used by other bacteria and removed via water changes, these bacteria will colonize various surfaces, primarily in the filter, but also elsewhere, and they will multiply to the level sustained by the amount of their available "food." They will not increase beyond this, regardless of the number or size of filters. The substrate is the prime source of the bacteria bed--involving many other species of bacteria beyond nitrifyiers--and the smaller the grain size, the more "space" and effective the filtration. Filtration referring to all types, not just nitrifying.

Plants will grow as well in sand as any other medium in an aquarium, and better in some cases. Here again the grain size can impact plant growth if it is too large for example. Sand is your overall best substrate medium for fish (there are a very few exceptions where larger gravel may suit the species) and plants.
So should I go something like this that is made for plants? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0018CLX3C/?tag=ff0d01-20
 

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