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compensate
Junior Member
Username: compensate

Post Number: 25
Registered: 03-2006
Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 11:05 am:       

In planning for my future 38g moderately planted, medium light (45 watts, 6700K) FW tank, I have become confused about substrates. I know I don't want to use sand.

I would like to use a good substrate, maybe a combination of one or two, topped with natural pea gravel (none of that painted/varnished junk for me). Here are the substrates I have found:

Flourite
Laterite
CaribSea Eco-Complete

From the manufactuer's self-supporting text, the Eco-Complete appears to be the only substrate I would need, but I know nothing about this topic.

Does any substrate "last" longer than another? Am I going to have to replace it every year or two or will fertlization negate that need?

Back in my younger aqua-days, I never used substrate (pea gravel only) and grew some pretty healthy low-light plants.

Thanks in adavance for any advice from the plant experts.
What is popular isn't always right, and what is right isn't always popular!
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sully
Ancient Plus
Username: sully

Post Number: 8342
Registered: 01-2003


Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 11:17 am:       

i use flourite mixed with some interesting gravel i found at a stone store.

I have heard you are not supposed to mix flourite with other substrates--i don't really care. Been mixing it with stuff for years without problems.

hope that helped.
"I usually read the obituaries first. There is always the happy chance that one of them will make my day." -- Richard Ames
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Brad
Advanced Member
Username: brad

Post Number: 1703
Registered: 03-2005


Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 11:26 am:       

Erin will probably ring in with her link for ''budding aquatic gardeners'' but I`ll give a very small amount of info for now.

You can grow plants just fine in any substrate. I do, and if I can, you certainly can. There are things you can add to help give you an edge though. Any special substrate will basically be clay. All the ones you looked at included.

Laterite turns to mush, is messy and you need to cap it to hold it down and out of the water colomn. Any time you uproot and move plants, you run the risk of having a cloudy tank for a few days. Too big of a pain for me.

Eco Complete has plenty of nutrients but will, for a few weeks, buffer your water. (make it harder) Depending on what fish you keep, that may or may not be a problem. It is all you`ll need. No need to cap.

Flourite is in the same category. I beleive it has less nutrients but the good thing about clay, is that it will grab them from other places and release them over time to your plants (google CEC or cation exchange capacity) It is also the only one you`ll need, although some people hate the colour so much they`ll mix with another gravel.

If you do mix gravels, keep in mind that the finer grains always find their way to the bottom.

If you`re going to mail order it, I`d suggest looking into ADA`s Aquasoil too. It`s really not that expensive and a worthwhile purchase.

Lesco stores also carry ''soilmaster select'' which is cheap and decent.

Eitherway, any of those would be good choices, and if you don`t plan to move anything, even Laterite can do the trick.
Ever feel like you`re flying and drowning at the same time?
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compensate
Junior Member
Username: compensate

Post Number: 26
Registered: 03-2006
Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 11:28 am:       

That helps.

Do you mix the two together or is the flourite laid as a bottom layer, topped with gravel?

What other substrates have you mixed flourite with?
What is popular isn't always right, and what is right isn't always popular!
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compensate
Junior Member
Username: compensate

Post Number: 27
Registered: 03-2006
Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 11:32 am:       

Thanks, Brad. That was very informative.

I think I'll skip the laterite, but now have decide between the other two.

I did read on some product-review site that you can rinse the Eco-Complete before use to remove some of it's buffering qualities. It comes packed in some sort of "Amazon" water that I think causes the buffering effect. May not be a bad thing in a new tank just beginning the nitro cycle. Am I correct?
What is popular isn't always right, and what is right isn't always popular!
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Brad
Advanced Member
Username: brad

Post Number: 1704
Registered: 03-2005


Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 12:08 pm:       

It may not be bad at all. However, if you keep discus, or some of the harder apistos, it just may be a pain.

Flourite needs to be rinsed until your knuckles bleed before you add it but after that, it`s done. You can mix it up to 50/50 with whatever you want.


I like Sully`s ''who cares, it works'' mentality.
Ever feel like you`re flying and drowning at the same time?
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compensate
Junior Member
Username: compensate

Post Number: 28
Registered: 03-2006
Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 12:54 pm:       

That's a lot of rinsing for the flourite!

I also like Sully's mentality on the topic! LOL!

I'll let price decided which of the two I'll use, since both seem good.

Thanks for the input!
What is popular isn't always right, and what is right isn't always popular!
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sully
Ancient Plus
Username: sully

Post Number: 8348
Registered: 01-2003


Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 02:04 pm:       

i did a quick rinse of flourite. tossed it in bottom of tank. Added gravel. Mixed the two of them together. stuck the plants in, added water, had it splashing of of one of my bride's dinner plates (shotgun stayed in closet--but the looks could kill), added fish, turned on filters. The next day I pulled the media out of the filters and rinsed it in conditioned water--all done. After it all settled down a day later i had some flourite on the surface of the substrate and some of the leaves. Quick gravel/leaf vac solved that issue and it has been just fine since.

I've done it in many tanks that way. It is easy to stir up a cloud if you go mucking about in the substrate. Slow and easy usually solves the problem for me.
"I usually read the obituaries first. There is always the happy chance that one of them will make my day." -- Richard Ames
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cindy
Ancient Plus
Username: cindy

Post Number: 9561
Registered: 05-2003


Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 02:50 pm:       

First off, I have to point out that 45W for a 38 gallon tank is low light, not medium light, and pea gravel is a substrate.

In my first couple of planted tanks, 10-29 gallons each, I mixed laterite with the finer size of Meramec Warrior gravel, which is mined here in my state and only $10-12 for 75 pounds:
meramec grvel
....at a rate of one ounce per pound, as First Layer suggested. The plants grew fine.

In my 55, I just used straight flourite when I set it up in July of 2004. Four bags cost over $110, since I didn't think about Big Al's On-line, and the plants grow just fine. Laterite is cheaper, flourite (IMO) is much prettier. I wouldn't mix it with anything, and don't know how you all keep layered substrates from mixing anyway.

If I were you I'd pick one and stick with it.

"The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." --- Albert Schweitzer

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sully
Ancient Plus
Username: sully

Post Number: 8349
Registered: 01-2003


Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 03:35 pm:       

go to a landscaping outlet or a "stone" center. Gravel is much, much cheaper there. And, you get a much better variety.
"I usually read the obituaries first. There is always the happy chance that one of them will make my day." -- Richard Ames
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compensate
Junior Member
Username: compensate

Post Number: 31
Registered: 03-2006
Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 03:48 pm:       

I'm all clear on the substrate! I think I'll mix landscaper pea gravel with fluorite. I've got a landscaper that sells a variety of gravel by the pound a few miles away.

I suppose I'll have a low-loght tank then, because I won't be able to afford lighting that costs much above $50 (including the lighting strip AND bulbs). Unless someone knows of a quality lighting strip/bulbs where I can get 90 watts or so for about $50. The budget is rather tight with kids and debt!
What is popular isn't always right, and what is right isn't always popular!
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cindy
Ancient Plus
Username: cindy

Post Number: 9565
Registered: 05-2003


Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 04:31 pm:       

You can get 24" or 36" Jebo lights (not sure of the length of a 38 gallon tank) that are 65W-110W on e-Bay for $30-$50 plus shipping. Shipping is usually under $20. Some of the auctions start at 99 cents and if you watch and wait and snipe one that closes in the middle of the night, you can get even better deals. I have gotten 2 48" 220W Jebos on e-Bay for less than $75 each, including shipping.

"The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." --- Albert Schweitzer

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compensate
Junior Member
Username: compensate

Post Number: 35
Registered: 03-2006
Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 04:40 pm:       

I saw some Jebos, but that brand name sounded like something that won't last very long.

I take it that Jebo lighting is reliable and should last for years and years? if so, good deal! Just the external ballasts on some models seem annoying. What do you do with an external ballast, especially if the power swtich is on it and not on the light strip?

By the way, thanks for all the advice! I feel like a kid in a candy store for the first time.
What is popular isn't always right, and what is right isn't always popular!
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compensate
Junior Member
Username: compensate

Post Number: 36
Registered: 03-2006
Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 04:49 pm:       

I found a Jebo single bulb 95W strip (separate ballast) for a pretty good price, but I am confused on which bulb would best suit my needs:

(1) blue actinic
(2) 10000K
(3) 50/50 (don't know what this is - seller listed this as a bulb type)


Also, does a Jebo lighting strip need to be elevated on the "legs" for proper cooling of the bulb, or can it be laid directly on top of a glass cover?
What is popular isn't always right, and what is right isn't always popular!
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sully
Ancient Plus
Username: sully

Post Number: 8350
Registered: 01-2003


Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 05:19 pm:       

6500K ought to be plenty of intensity.

actinic (blue) light is good for reef tanks.

50/50 is half "natural light" and half actinic,

don't have a clue on cooling of a jebo.
"I usually read the obituaries first. There is always the happy chance that one of them will make my day." -- Richard Ames
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cindy
Ancient Plus
Username: cindy

Post Number: 9566
Registered: 05-2003


Posted on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 10:08 pm:       

The name Jebo "sounded like something that won't last long"?!

You got me there. The brand name "El Cheapo" sounds like that to me, but Jebo just doesn't strike me negatively or positively. I have had two for two years (this summer) and like them fine. Brad here has a low opinion of them, but has never owned any. Everyone wants top-of-the-line quality for bottom dollar, but you have to be realistic and decide if cost is your limiting factor or if you can really afford to snub a modestly priced brand.

Aren't the ones that use 2 55W or 65W bulbs cheaper than the ones that use the single 95W bulb? I know I switched out the actinic and 50/50 bulbs for 6500K ones on the planted tank and 10,000K ones for the 120 gallon native fish tank. It's 24" deep and dim at best, even with 220W of 10,000K light. No plants, and the monster pleco keeps it algae free. Most sellers won't let you switch now, so make sure you read the fine print carefully. 6500K would be my first choice, 10,000K my second choice, and the 50/50 my third choice. Don't get the actinic.

The 95W bulb might need legs, since you'll have it sitting on plexi (I honestly don't know how it takes heat compared to glass) but my 220W are fine on my glass canopies. Warm, not hot, to the touch when I pick them up.

"The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." --- Albert Schweitzer

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compensate
Junior Member
Username: compensate

Post Number: 40
Registered: 03-2006
Posted on Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 07:35 am:       

I see your point about quality vs cost. You do generally get what you pay for, but I know almost every industry has its less expensive quality products. I'm hoping that Jebo is one such company as they seem the most affordable for decent wattage lighting.

Thanks again for the input!
What is popular isn't always right, and what is right isn't always popular!
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Brad
Advanced Member
Username: brad

Post Number: 1708
Registered: 03-2005


Posted on Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 10:01 am:       

Cindy`s right, I do have a low opinion of them. I`ve never owned one, but I`ve seen them, which is why I don`t own one.

They are cheap, and generally speaking, you`ll probably be happy with it. It`ll grow plants just fine. If I had 5 tanks to light, I probably would get Jebos. I have 1. I could afford to get a Coralife so I did.

Watch Jebo is 3-5 years though. I think they`ll be running with the big boys.
Ever feel like you`re flying and drowning at the same time?
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Matt
Junior Member
Username: squirrel_guy

Post Number: 98
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 11:22 am:       

I use a little bit of laterite with my gravel. Its basically to keep the iron content decent for my water (again with the strange Great Lakes water, it lacks any iron at all from the tap). I have Amazon swords, and the iron keeps them growing well. Otherwise I could get by just adding nutrient fertlizier.

It doesn't matter how you add laterite, it WILL make a mess of the tank for at least a few days. It will also work its way to the bottom of the substrate very quickly.
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