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Hello, My name is Mike Gast. I currently have a 65 gallon Balloon Mollie, one dwarf bristlenose pleco, one longfin pleco tank setup and some cory cats. The tank has been going for over a year now and the livestock has been doing excellent. Along with the mollies and plecos I have mystery snails, nerite snails and some zebra thorn nerite snails.   In the last month or so I have been adding live plants to the setup. I have three Anubias, three amazon swords and some Vallisneria. My current substrate is medium to coarse river rock. Doing some research, the river rock can be a challenge to handle plants. The plants I have in there besides the three Anubias are planted in the clay pots. I want to move to a better substrate so I can put the plants in the substrate instead of the clay pots.


More background or information on my tank.

When I started adding plants I removed the carbon from the filter and only run floss for polishing, I have a filter bag of crushed coral to help buffer the water for the livebearers. I have two large sponge filters operating in the tank as well.

As of this message my tanks parameters are as follows 

60-80 PPM NO3

5-6 dKH

7.8-8.0 PH

16-17 dGH - I know this measurement is a combination of magnesium and calcium moving forward would it be wise to check separate parameters?

Tank temperature - I try and stay between 75 and 77

I upgraded to a 46 watts 6500K Fluval 3.0 light just this week. I have the planted tank program running for starters. This should give me good medium light.


Watching some aquarium coop You Tube videos I am trying to determine the best substrate mixture. The last video I watched a seachem product came up called Grey Coast which I believe is more geared towards marine tanks but I liked the buffering aspect for calcium and alkalinity for the livebearers and snails. My first thought was a 50/50 mix between the grey coast and some Flourite or Flourite red. I was going to give 2 inches of depth in the substrate.  My initial plan is to keep adding medium light plants both that feed from the water column and plants that feed from the substrate. I understand over time the nutrients will need replenished like with roots tabs and such. Also would this be a mix to move forward with eventually a more advanced lighted tank.


Any feedback would be much appreciated!

Thanks again, Mike Gast

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What are you fertilizing with currently? The plants you've listed can be easily grown in the substrate you have.  From what I've seen, most people think they need a better substrate, when they actually just need more time with plants, learning fertilizers and light etc.  Over time you'll see in my fish room, I'll be growing plants in all types of substrates. Just to reinforce this point for everyone. Just to show that I believe people put too much reliance on the substrate. It can be an important piece in a carpeting high tech tank. It won't hurt other style tanks usually. However, it's rarely the answer people are looking for when having problems.

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I switched to use your product easy green all in one fertilizer and I have been using Thrive Caps to insert into the clay pots. I know by far I need more experience with plants. My intentions is to try and get the tank to the best setup so I can to move forward with a more advanced planted tank. I have been dosing the easy green per the standard instruction on the bottle at the moment for about two weeks now.

I will move the plants I have currently from the clay pots to the river rock and see how they do. I attached some pictures of another plant I have in there. I believe it is some type of Ludwigia.


Much appreciation on any feedback you provide,

Thanks again, Mike Gast

Can you link any other you tube videos I could watch as well to further my knowledge.



Edited by Mike Gast
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