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Newbie starting a freshwater planted aquarium


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Hello, I’m a big fan of Aquarium Co-op!  I enjoy researching topics related to freshwater planted aquariums. I’m currently deciding between a 75 or 90 gallon aquarium for my low tech plant setup. I look forward to learning from members of this forum. I want to learn how to do things the right way before I buy my plants and fish. Hopefully it will save me some headaches down the road 🙂 

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I need help with deciding what substrate I should use. I know that fine sand is not good for planter tanks because it can compact. Is coarse sand an option if I want it for Corydoras and other sand sifting fish? If yes can you please tell me a specific brand. There’s so many options for gravel. What brand and size do people use with success?

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Substrate is a very personal choice based on lots of factors like cost, aesthetics and what type of plants you’re going to grow. My top choice for a larger tank is some commercial aquasoil like Fluval Stratum capped with an inert medium like pool filter sand, blasting sand or gravel. That gives you some of the benefits of the expensive enriched aquasoil, but saves money by using the cheap sand or gravel. Check out the YouTuber MD Fishtanks he sets up the majority of his tanks with this method. His results are spectacular. 

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I think that Fluval Stratum eventually breaks down but even then it has a high capacity to hold onto nutrients from the water column. The 75 gallon tank in my sig uses Stratum capped with sand. The Stratum is still holding shape after almost two years. The plants are still growing strong.

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Welcome!

The tricky thing with substrates is there isn't really one "best" setup or type. There are a few things to consider like what your tap water is like, the types of fish you want to get, and the look you're going for.

Sounds like you want corys? One thing to consider is that they like to dig around so things may get moved around of you have aquasoil that's uncapped. A lot of it is pretty light.

Most aquasoils are also made to try and hit specific water parameters so they'll lower your pH and I think soften the water. It's a good idea the see what your local tap water is like and look into the types of fish you want to see if that would be a good thing.

I would also suggest trying a 10 gallon first fur a bit. You can make your mistakes in something that is much easier to just tear up and start over. Then you'll get an idea of how much tank you are willing to take care of. Plus you'll probably want a quarantine tank in the future and that 10g will be perfect for that.

 

Also, when you do start putting together supplies you should consider adding an aquarium journal on here to track is progress and get advice along the way as you get things set up.

Edited by Schuyler
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