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What's best soil substrate?

kevfiz

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Hi can anyone tell me what is the rolls Royce of soil substrate? Also if plants are not doing great in a gravel substrate can they come good if I replant them in the soil or will I need to get new plants? I have african sowrds and anubis. Anubis are doing OK but the African sowrds have got very thin with like a black rim around them. I don't think they are dieing tho.
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kevfiz

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Not plant tablets but I tried kugeln balls. I didn't like them. When I done water changes the water got really cloudy and when it cleared it left a dusting over the plants. Are the tablets good?
 

Retired Viking

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So far yes they seem to help the plants. Most of my plants get what they need from the water instead of the gravel but I also have African Swords and use the tabs for them.
 
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kevfiz

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What tablets are you using?
 

Byron

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An enriched substrate is not necessary, and it can cause serious issues for fish. My tanks all have a regular dark-toned play sand, and the plants thrive.

Your problem in the photos is primarily the imbalance of light/nutrients generally, though there may be some need for a nutrient additive. The black rim is a form of black beard/brush algae (there is more than one form of this, and I have battled them a few times). The yellowing of the older outer (on sword plants) leaves is normal when the plant is growing as it puts its energy into the new leaves (which arise from the inside of the crown of the plant) and they have the ability to transfer nutrients from the older outer leaves which then gradually die off.

Swords are heavy feeders, and substrate tabs do wonders for them. For ten years now I have been using Seachem's Flourish Tabs, with one tab inserted close to the crown of each plant and replaced every 3-4 months. I have never had issues like cloudy water with this brand. The API tabs have been known to cause issues, but not Seachem's. And the nutrients do not leech into the upper water column, which is better for fish and helps prevent problem algae.

On the algae, we need to know the data for the tank lighting (type, watts, spectrum, duration...) and if any plant additives (like liquid fertilizer) are being used. The aim is to keep "problem" algae in check, and once the balance is established this will occur.
 
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kevfiz

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So what do you do just put one tablet under with the roots?
 
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kevfiz

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What about the Anubias would you still put one under the sbustrate where Anubias sit since you don't actually plant there roots?
 

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I believe Anubias gets what they need from the water. Flourish also has plant food you can add to the water. I have a bottle but have not used it yet since my fish are supplying plenty of food (waste)
 

Byron

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Yes, only plants that actually root in the substrate will benefit from substrate tabs. Plants that have their roots free-floating (Anubias, Ferns, Mosses, floating plants) assimilate all nutrients from the upper water column. Some are taken up via roots, others via leaves.

The problem with liquid fertilizer is that it gets into the water and can cause problem algae if the plants do not take all of it up. And plants get nutrients from several sources, so this is best done with a slow approach, adding minimal amounts until you see some reaction in the plant growth. And as the photos indicate there is an imbalance here already, the first thing should be to deal with the light/nutrient balance. [Substrate tabs will not factor in to this much as the nutrients do not get into the upper water column.] There may be too much light (intensity, duration, spectrum factor in) or too much or too little nutrients.
 
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kevfiz

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My pH is 7.6 and the rest are zero as of yesterday. I am not sure of the the light as I am not at home right now. What I do know is its an l. e. d fluvial controllable with app. I have it on 6 hours per day
 

seangee

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Can you reduce the intensity of the light? At 6 hours reducing the period probably won't help. My swords do badly if they get too much light (and they do very well in low light). The white / light substrate will increase the problem if it is too much light as this reflects it. An alternative may be floating plants such as water sprite or frogbit to filter the light. Your tetras will really appreciate this as they do not like bright light.
 

Byron

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Agree on floating plants, this is the best way to deal with problem algae that is not really bad.
 

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