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Modifying substrate in established tank

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I'm thinking about planting the left-hand side of my 75 gallon. The right side is dirted, performance hasn't been anything to complain about, but pulling up runners of crypts is...not good. Makes a big mess. SO! If the left side gets planted, I don't want to go with straight dirt.


I was thinking of either siphoning out the sand, adding aqua soil, then capping with the sand as the buffering capacity doesn't matter much to me, it would be more to add a layer of nutrients for roots. The other option is to just deepen the sand layer and utilize root tabs - but that seems like it would be inefficient in the long run. I can dose the water column but would like to keep it simple. What do you all think?


Here's a picture for reference.


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53 minutes ago, Cory said:

Is there a reason you don't just do aquarium gravel The plants you have are easy to grow and would thrive and you wouldn't run into the problem of uprooting aquasoil when you want to trim and move plants like you are now with the dirt. 

Hey Cory!


My goal was to go with as little plant maintenance as possible. So my thought process was to plant mostly root feeders (similar to what's seen on the right side) and provide them with nutrients in the substrate rather than water column dosing. Either via root tabs, some sort of soil, or perhaps both. I did the mixture of aqua soil and sand in a 40 breeder, but it gets heavily fertilized, huge water changes, and a slather of co2 injection.

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I totally get the low maintenance, Murphy's tank and my 800g, no soil of any kind, no root tabs, just normal inert coarse sand, sustains great growth on fish poop alone.  I've done that a bunch with aquarium gravel tanks as well, as mulm builds you, you're making natural "soil" essentially.

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