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Suggestions for [bulk] substrate for discus tnak


kapp
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Hi all,

My new tank installation should be going ahead in the first week or two of December and I need at least 100kg of substrate. I want the tank looking like an Amazon biotope and so was looking at laying down Pisces Golden Sand, however the manufacturer is out of it.

Can anyone recommend a substrate that would look good that doesn't have ADA soil-like pricing levels?

Thanks.

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1 hour ago, kapp said:

100kg of substrate

?

100kg of anything will cost you heaps.

What about Bunnings play sand? Bought by the ton ?

You will just need to find other ways of reducing pH instead of relying on buffering substrate.

 

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In my tanks I just use the prebagged washed play sand. Because the sand is not really clean I give it a good wash in a  bucket with hose water, but this can help you loose a fair bit of the sand since there is a lot of light floaty sand that if it went in the tank just makes the whole tank murky with tiny granules even floating in rafts on the surface.

Because a thick bed of sand can cause anaerobic bacteria to flourish (and pockets of stagnant "off" air can be trapped underneath any structures you have in the tank like rocks of even timbers) I often add washed river gravel to the sand especially where I have any rooted plants. My tanks are also quite infested with MTS which are supposed to be good for turning over the sand and keeping it air rated. I find most plants have no issues growing through my sand/ gravel mix and often the roots of any plants extend to nearly the entire base of the tank.

If you don't like the look of white sand in the tank (and discus can look better and be calmer with dark substrate) you could look at still doing a sand/ gravel substrate and then "top" it off with a leaf litter capping. The leaves should give you the desired pH and also make the black/ tannin water which I believe is what most discus thrive in. Leaves that could be used include good reliable IAL, tried/ dead mulberry leaves, paper bark leaves and even grevillea leaves, you could even add the nuts/ cones off she oaks for added pH.

Just curious but will the tank end up being a brightly lit heavily planted biotype or a dimmer light possibly more of a spotlight affect with limited plants lots of timber structure. leaf litter and tannin stained water and just a few hardy plants that can tolerate the dimness? In PKF (Practical fish Keeping Magazine) I have seen some stunning black water biotypes using just the later setup.

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Hi guys, thanks for your replies.

So normal sand doesn't include any lime or other material that would increase hardness?

 

@jayc Atm I'm not looking for a soil that provides pH buffering, as I'll keep the pH around 6.8-7, which Sydney tap water is close to and I'll have a CO2 system to help micro balance to that range. So just need a soil or substrate that looks good for discus that's good for plants too.

@Baccus The tank won't be "heavily" planted as I don't want to distract from the fish. And from what I've seen on YouTube of their normal habitat, that prefer to hang around submerged logs than hide in dense vegetation. But there'll definitely be a lot of plants just not really really dense. The tank will be bright rather than dim but should have a blend of such areas due to shadowing from branches, etc, I put in there. Have done tanks like you've suggested with IAL, etc, but they were my apisto set ups. Am still working on the design for this tank.

 

My latest thinking is to use Dupla Ground as a base and to build up the back or back corners and then to put the Pisces Golden Sand as a top cover once it becomes available again.

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3 hours ago, kapp said:

Dupla Ground

Dupla ground is a great option.

But if it was me I would not put the pisces sand over the top of that. The sand will fall through the small gaps and disappear. Either use one or the other.

 

3 hours ago, kapp said:

So normal sand doesn't include any lime or other material that would increase hardness?

Play sand bought at bunnings is fairly neutral. At least the last batch I bought for a friend 1 year ago. This is from a Sydney store however. I hear different Bunnings in different states use different quarry suppliers. So test the sand out first if you are concerned.

 

You can also check out "Scoria" which is basically volcanic rock, that you can get in 7mm.

If Bunnings doesn't have it, don't forget to go to your local Nursery to look for sand or scoria.

 

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Just as an alternative you can use pool sand as the base and put the pisces on the top of that. Keep the pool sand away from the glass and nobody will know it is there. I have found it to be much cleaner than play sand, no clay content, so nothing is lost when giving it a wash and cost about $23 for 20kg bags. The other advantage is that it is a rounded sand, to allow water to flow through it, so is less likely to get anaerobic build up in your deeper sections.

As an added bonus you can add live black worms from your LFS and they love to go deep in the sand. This helps to aerate the sub and is a source of food for your fish as well. My shrimp tank has a grass mat of worms poking up every morning as they dont eat them but i do see some worms poking up in our angle/gorami tank every so often so i know they are still in there.

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@Madmerv you just get pool sand from pool supplies places? Great tips though, thanks. 

@jayc thanks again. I'll check out that Sonia, sounds like it could be a good addition to assist aeration into whichever base I go with. 

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1 hour ago, kapp said:

Sonia

Scoria. LOL!

Yes, nice and cheap to use to bulk up the base. 20kg is only $8 or there abouts.

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1 hour ago, kapp said:

@Madmerv you just get pool sand from pool supplies places? 

Yes some pool supply shops have it but it is getting harder to find as they are going to flurite or something like that now for sand filters. Clark rubber shops have it also usually.

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48 minutes ago, jayc said:

Scoria. LOL!

Oh for goodness sake. Autocorrect on my phone has not been my friend this morning...

 

Thanks for all the info, much appreciated.

50 minutes ago, Madmerv said:

Yes some pool supply shops have it but it is getting harder to find as they are going to flurite or something like that now for sand filters. Clark rubber shops have it also usually.

Thanks mate. Just called the local pool shop who actually service my complex's pool and they have sand in their shop. Going to go check it out tomorrow. Much appreciated.

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2 hours ago, kapp said:

Oh for goodness sake. Autocorrect on my phone has not been my friend this morning...

HAHA, I had to double check my own post to make sure I didn't type the wrong thing. That would have been embarrassing, asking you to check out Sonia. What is this a dating site? ?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all,

Quick update. So I got Dupla Ground for areas of the tank I'll have plants - final designs still being worked out. And Pisces Sahara Gold sand for the other areas.

 

Word of warning to anyone after the Pisces Sahara Gold though - their quarry is now hitting darker sand. There's now no gold in the latest batches of Sahara Gold. It's actually more like salt & pepper colour. Not sure why they sent it out with the same name instead of discontinuing the old line and saying it wasn't available anymore. I ended up getting it still as it was an ok match for the background I'm getting for the tank and there's nothing else out there with a similar golden colour, however anyone really wanting the old colour will be very disappointed.

 

@mods - not sure why this topic has been moved to fish health and care as this topic isn't related to either.

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