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Complete vs capped substrates


28 Aug 2007
Leeds, England
Hi all, I am just choosing a substrate for a 200L. I was going to go with a complete substrate such as Tropica Soil as it makes moving plants around easier. I have found with base layer / capped substrates when I pull a plant out it pulls the bottom layer up which leaks into the water and takes a while to settle.

Putting me off the complete substrate it that it will only last a few years before it runs out of nutrients (from what I have read). Will a base layer and capped off substrate last longer?
I do not know if if a base layer and capped off substrate last longer. I am using it in a 55 gallon tank.
What I regret not doing was putting the base layer in plastic zip bags. This would have eliminated the issue of it being pulled up and out.
I am using Tetra Active and Complete substrates.
You can make any substrate last a long time with replenishment via root tabs and lean column dosing.

EI can use Amazonia in a year …
Amano kept Amazonia for 7 …

Plant choice etc. (some plants need more nutrients than others, growth rates, you name it).

Just pick 1, plant it, go!

I recently used some soil if you will in paint bags as the base layer to my tank. And then capped it with active/complete soil (need a few inches) - I love it.

Journal here:
Thread 'A reflection - putting it all into one scape'
A reflection - putting it all into one scape
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All commercial substrates have their pros and cons and you're at risk of a nasty surprise if you're not familiar with the chosen one. An eternal safe bet is washed silica sand. And if you really must fertilize directly to the roots, Osmocote would do the job satisfactorily.