Lets talk substrate

Discussion in 'Plant Problems' started by GDJ, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. Fanie Jordaan
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    Fanie Jordaan Noob

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    Re: Sera Floredepot Long-term gravel substrate

    Does anyone have first hand experience with Sera Floredepot Long-term gravel substrate with growth promoter for freshwater aquariums?
    I intend using it in a discus aquarium.
    http://www.sera.de/index.php?id=301&L=1
    Your feedback would be appreciated.
     
  2. neilh
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    neilh Algae harvester

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    What is it with you and Sera? ;D I have yet to see a bag of it in JHB LFS's. Would hate to think how much you're going to pay for a bag for a once off order

    SeaChem Flourite. Its available locally
     
  3. wearsbunnyslippers
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    wearsbunnyslippers Administrator Staff Member

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    i used it in my 100l initially, it didnt seem to make much difference either way. not enough that i wanted to use it again coz it wowed me anyway...

    there is a nice range from prodac as well, substrate, additives, humus - algae wizard is using some of this...

    this tank is setup using prodac.

    [​IMG]

    red sea has a product called florabase, which is also pretty good, but it degrades, and turns to mud within a year, and it informs you of this on the packaging, saying it needs to be replaced yearly. i will be redoing my tank for the 3rd time in about a year, but i would not normally do this by choice, so i do not think this is a great product in that sense.

    anyway, back to the sera, it has to be capped, what look are you going for?

    what are you trying to achieve with your discus planted setup?
     
  4. wearsbunnyslippers
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    wearsbunnyslippers Administrator Staff Member

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    it comes in yellow buckets if you are looking for it - pet masters has it.
     
  5. neilh
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    neilh Algae harvester

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    Doh!Don't know where my head was at, I was thinking of a mineralized substrate for some reason

    Used it in my 4ft and in a 40l. Swords took off with it with a relatively low light setup. +1 on it turning to mud and making a mess if you not careful
     
  6. Fanie Jordaan
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    Fanie Jordaan Noob

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  7. Pikkie
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    Pikkie Algae harvester

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    Dude I don't think there is a single person in SA that have used a Hagen product to cap a substrate. Where will you get this sand? and what will the cost be? Most people I know of will use the flourite on its own and if they use a soil based substrate they'll cap it with Pool filter sand or coarser gravel.

    Regards Izak
     
  8. Fanie Jordaan
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    Fanie Jordaan Noob

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    All good things come to those who are willing to try and dare to fail...
     
  9. neilh
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    neilh Algae harvester

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    Flourite + Sugar fine Pool filter sand

    Would rather spend money on plants and fish than spend huge amounts on a bag of sand. But thats me
     
  10. BioLogic
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    BioLogic Algae harvester

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    Hi All

    I have experimented for the last 10 or so years with growing media for various plants (mostly terrestrial and emergent aquatics) and in the last year with aquatics (intensively) there are a few basics that always hammer home! With terrestrials the most important things are water infiltration and holding capacity, oxygen availability and nutrient holding and release - cation exchange. To this end I devised growing media that were composed of three basic components: sand, clay and organic matter. Sometimes I added extra components to increase the aeration - polystyrene bubbles worked perfectly to increase the air-filled porosity. In short this is what worked for me - won't bog you down with the various mixes for different things. Let me justify the three components: sand to add body i.e. support for the roots, clay for the cation exchange and to supply various nutrients and finally organic matter for humic acid that enables the cation exchange. Clay and humus together create loam and with the addition of sand you have excellent media for growibng things.

    OK I'm not going to go into the chemistry of growing media under water - the Krib is full of that info. What I will give is my recipe for growing medium that has stood up well and is delivering fantastic results. I will list the ingredients and the reasoning as well as ratios.

    Coco peat: compressed blocks available from nurseries or even Pick 'n Pay
    Red brick or pottery clay - either from a brickfield or from a pottery supply store or aklternatively old red bricks that are disintegrating - just pound them until fine (a few lumps wont hurt the end result). Dry it and then powder it.
    Vermiculite - available from a nursery - Stodels etc.
    Polystyrene bubbles - the stuff they fill bean bags with - check the Yellow Pages - any place that sells polystyrene will have the bubbles as well.
    Coarse river sand or fine silica gravel

    OK the coco "peat" must be re-constituted according to directions on package. Now take this and add a few Neutrog Bounce back pellets to it and decompose it. The Neutrog is basically a food source for the micro-organisms that will then decompose the coco peat. During summer if kept moist and warm this will take a few weeks - it is ready when it smells like compost - sweet like good garden soil and it will be blackish and not red-brown. This important because it will now release humic acid and no longer rot when submerged.

    Moisten the vermiculite and rub it until fine - your hands will be coated in "gold dust". This is to increase the surface area of the vermiculite - it also has excellent cation exchange.

    Now take 3 parts decomposed coco peat add 1 part pulverised vermiculite and 1 part powdered clay. Mix well. Add 1 part coarse sand/fine gravel and 1 part polystyrene bubbles. Mix well. And there you go! ready to go into your tank - a 5cm layer towards the front and as thick as 10-15cm elsewhere. Top off with a 5-10cm thick layer of your chosen substrate - not too fine that it will lump - preferably a substarte with variously sized grains!

    This substrate is fluffy and will allow for excellent root penetration and will also contain enough nutrition for the first few months of growth. If you notice glassy leaves just insert balls of clay about the size of a 10c piece a few cm's away the root collar of the plant - this is especially the case with Echinodorus and Cryptocoryne spp.

    This substrate will discolour the water - to avoid this you must first soak the coco peat for a few hours to remove most of the leachate and then squeeze it dry and proceed as above.

    There is still room for improvement such as adding micro-nutrients - experiment with it and let me know how it goes. Lastly laterite is the red clay that they use for roads and pathways - Durbanville is full of the stuff - out near Phisantekraal is full of it. When they do roadworks just check for a large pile of red gravelly clay that they sometimes use as a base-layer - that's laterite. Red-brick clay does the same thing and is easier to get hold of.

    Cheers

    Robin
     

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