Cheap substrate?

Planted tanks, fertiliser and lighting.

Cheap substrate?

Postby Ger k on 09 Feb 2015 22:57

Im contemplating converting my marine tank to freshwater planted. Kinda like the idea of the walstad method. Does anyone have experience with using garden soil or what would you recommend. Wanna keep costs to a minimum and save some money on the leccy bill as well
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Re: Cheap substrate?

Postby MrJackDempsey on 09 Feb 2015 23:44

Hi Ger there's a few "cheap" substrates, one is John Innes compost ( under sand or gravel otherwise tank is a mess), there are different numbers ( No. 1, No.2 and No.3) that are to do with the frets added to the compost with 1 the lowest, next number doubles the fertiliser, next number the same)
Another cheap substrate is remineralised soil ( soil is mixed with water to a paste, dried in the sun and crushed to a powder and repeated a number of times- quite labour intensive but meant to be very good). Worm castings is another cheap substrate ( soccer pitch after rain). Chicken manure can be added to enrich the substrate but will cause ammonia spike when introduced but maybe useful to get the nitrate cycle started. What ever happens enjoy it as very relaxing
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Re: Cheap substrate?

Postby Ger k on 09 Feb 2015 23:56

If I go the hohn innes route do I just dump the required amount in then cover it with sand or something? I read somewhere that some people use cat litter?
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Re: Cheap substrate?

Postby MrJackDempsey on 10 Feb 2015 18:23

With John Inness you just place it where you want plants, capped it with a layer of sand and good to go, making sure the sand isn't too fine. Cat litter can be used but it's very light so can move with the current or become suspended in the water column then slowly sink especially if you're planting or at plants. Cat litter has no fertiliser but can draw it from the water column in time. Are you planning to fertilise the tank or going low tech? You could also use Osmocote pushed into the substrate to help the plants with nutrients as it is a slow release fertiliser
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Re: Cheap substrate?

Postby Ger k on 11 Feb 2015 14:02

I was hoping to go low tech really, After all the hastle and mishaps with marine I just want a nice looking tank. Not bothered with fast growth as long as plants do ok and tank looks natural. How long would the compost soil keep up with fertilizing the tank?
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Re: Cheap substrate?

Postby MrJackDempsey on 12 Feb 2015 01:13

Not very long in fairness, some plants like swords really show when the ferts run out being quite heavy feeders but some plants don't seem that badly affected but you can add fertilizer to the water column or as mentioned Osmocote pushed into the substrate near plants will slowly release the fertilizer ( really cheap
In garden centres or plant sections in Co-ops). Seriously think that a marine tank is more work than even a high tech planted tank that it would seem no bother to you. Look into it as plants do really well when they have everything they need
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Re: Cheap substrate?

Postby thesenator on 12 Feb 2015 09:15

Hey Ger
http://www.aquaworld.ie/ is closing down and selling off their stock. They did a lot of stuff for planted tanks. You might pick up some substrate there at discounted prices.

There are a lot of plants out there that are happy taking ferts just from the water like Anubias, java ferns and mosses. If you designed your aqua scape first you could just the fertilised substrate were you need it and save a few bob.

Be careful if you do buy a planting substrate as some of them leach ammonia in the beginning worth. reading up on.
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Re: Cheap substrate?

Postby Ger k on 12 Feb 2015 22:40

Cheers lads, will get reading!
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Re: Cheap substrate?

Postby MrJackDempsey on 12 Feb 2015 23:34

While you're in a reading mood Ger, here's a little more
http://www.ukaps.org/index.php?page=guide-to-substrates
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Re: Cheap substrate?

Postby Burkie on 05 Dec 2015 00:48

Hi all,

Came across the Walstad Method as I want to keep my plants growing & try to curtail algae. :mrgreen:

I've located J Arthur Bowers Aquatic compost for € 10 for 20 litres as I've been reading up (I took your advice from previous post David :geek: ) & saw that the aquatic compost doesn't have as much of an ammonia spike,

QUESTION :?: ....as I don't have any method to measure ammonia,should I take remedial measures just in case,and does anyone have any suggestions or tips on using this Walstad Method,I read that Bone meal or a calcium additive be used in soft water areas,I have some cuttlefish bones that I could crush & add to soil

PS I'll be covering the compost with a layer of 3 to 10mm river gravel

Cheers

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Re: Cheap substrate?

Postby MrJackDempsey on 06 Dec 2015 13:37

Hi Eugene and if you are planting heavy it should use up the ammonia very quickly but keep a eye on the fish and do a big W/C if they seem distressed. A lazy way is put the compost into ladies tights or similar and tie a knot when you have the required amount in there and put it under the sand or gravel and just poke a small hole in the tights when planting
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