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armour72

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Hi there! I'm excited to have found this forum because I'm finding so much conflicting information about substrates that my head is spinning. My grandson and I had a beta in a 5 gal aquarium for 2 years and really enjoyed him. I started adding live plants and loved it. When he passed I got 3 neon tetras, a reticulated hillstream loach, snails, and cherry shrimp. I have been wanting to upgrade but wanted to be totally prepared before I begin. I purchased a Fluval Flex 32.5gal. I have read a lot, watched a bunch of YouTube videos, and spoke with a couple people at our local fish stores and have changed my mind numerous times about the substrate over the last month...so I haven't set up the tank yet. I did a trial small tank with Stratum and my plants would not stay even with weights, and the water was so cloudy I had to take breaks to let the filter clear the water enough so that I could see what I was doing. I was planning to use a layer of the Stratum in mesh bags then a layer of Eco Complete and cover with sand. I was told to put large gravel under the Stratum first and I someone else told to put styrofoam under the Stratum instead. With so many experienced people on this forum I'm hopeful that I will finally be able to choose my sustrate and start setting up my tank. I will greatly appreciate any advice! Thank you!
 

Fray

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Hi and Welcome!
Lots of brains to pick on here, and someone always helps.
And that prob won't be me!
Do you want to keep cories? If so sand is the way to go.
I only use sand now, (cause even if I say I won't, I always end up with some cories in a tank), and don't have any trouble having plants thrive.
The tank pictured is approx 7 or 8 months old, only sand substrate, and as you can see the plants are happy.
One piece of advice I do have is, unless you have a very good local fish store, don't listen to what they tell you!!
Good luck!


Tank.jpg
 

emeraldking

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Hi and welcome to TFF... :hi:
You can post any related question on this forum and sufficient members who are willing to help you out.
 
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armour72

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Mar 10, 2023
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Location
Erie County, Pennsylvania
Hi and Welcome!
Lots of brains to pick on here, and someone always helps.
And that prob won't be me!
Do you want to keep cories? If so sand is the way to go.
I only use sand now, (cause even if I say I won't, I always end up with some cories in a tank), and don't have any trouble having plants thrive.
The tank pictured is approx 7 or 8 months old, only sand substrate, and as you can see the plants are happy.
One piece of advice I do have is, unless you have a very good local fish store, don't listen to what they tell you!!
Good luck!


View attachment 313235
Thank you! Yes, I do plan to have cory catfish. Your aquarium is gorgeous! Do you use root tabs or liquid fertilizer? Thanks so much for the advice!
 

Fray

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Thank you!
I used root tabs under the sword and the crypts, only put one lot in to start them off, but found they separate and end up all over the place.
I use liquid ferts, but at a far less rate than they recommend.
Once everything is established it is it's own ecosystem.
If it looks a bit dull, I'll fertilise, but apart from trimming I leave it alone.
I looked into all the alternatives but it all seemed to be so much of this, and more of that, so I took the easy way and it seems to have worked.
The amazon sword is threatening to take over the tank, but it is so lovely and the harlequins love it so I can't regret it!
 
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armour72

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I agree, I wouldn't regret it either! I'm still researching what plants I want to put in my aquarium. I'll admit I'm really nervous and want to figure out my pH problem first. My small tank consistently reads 7.6 with the API test. It's immediately dark blue, so I wondered if it was actually higher than API can result. Then I bought a pH meter/ tester and found that my pH was actually 8.4! All of my fish were ok, but I was afraid to bring home any more fish. So I read that I should do water changes with distilled water. I did this for 4 days and my pH went up to 8.7! A few of my tetras died! Now I'm using my tap water (well water) again and I'm back to where I started. I plan to just have plants for quite a while in the new larger tank. I want to make sure I have the chemistry right from the start then adjust with the addition of fish. I'm considering Fluval peat granules. I wanted to use root tabs for the new plants, but some people have said they can accidentally cause ammonia spikes. I plan 4-5" of substrate and don't think they can be dug up easily if I bury them in the first inch, but I don't know. Ugh, there is so much to consider!
 

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