How to Start a Planted Tank – Step 2; The Aquarium Substrate

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How to Start a Planted Tank – Step 2: Getting Started with the Substrate

Previously, we talked about creating balance in the aquarium to sustain the ecosystem, and the quicker that that balance is achieved, the easier it is to be successful with your own planted aquarium. (click here to read Step 1 again)

In order for you to take action on those core principles covered in Step 1 (Bacteria, Water Chemistry and Nutrients), you need systems in place. Systems that set you up for success right away without you having to suffer through tougher-than-necessary learning curves that keep you away from enjoying a beautiful nature aquarium.

Often, we’ll get questions from customers who want to give aqua soil and the ADA substrate system a try and have been using other planted tank substrates like eco-complete, fluorite or the fluval varieties. Usually, the question is something like this:

“I’ve been using a nutrient rich soil, but it just always seems like for the first 6 months I struggle with my setups and plants, and then only after a year or so does the aquarium stabilize and I don’t have as much algae and aquatic plants are growing steadily…why does that happen and will aqua soil make it easier for me to grow those plants?”

Our hobby lends itself to over-thinking most of the time, but the answer is a lot simpler than you might think.

An aquarium that is 6 months to a year in age has simply matured; the ecosystem is intact and nutrients are being properly absorbed by both aquatic plants and beneficial bacteria is thriving to maintain the aquarium. Once the aquascape has reached maturity maintenance becomes easier, algae problems mostly disappear and the only real task left to do is trim the layout into the image you want it to be in.

However, when an aquarium is setup at first, none of this stability exists; plants are newly transplanted, the bacteria system hasn’t become established and nutrients go unused and are in varying amounts, leading to algae blooms and stunted growth.

Therefore, the solution is to more quickly stabilize the planted tank, leading to maturity faster. The primary difference then between ADA Aqua Soil and the ADA Substrate System and other products isn’t just the nutrient balance of aqua soil itself, but the entire lineup that is dedicated to solving the problem of quickly stabilizing the aquarium.

Bacter 100 seeds the aquarium with over a 100 different beneficial bacteria from the get-go directly into the substrate to “jump-start” the maturation process of the soil.

Clear Super provides the pre-seeded bacteria from Bacter 100 with a food supply to thrive.

Tourmaline BC removes excess toxins and waste that accumulates in the substrate, while also adding minerals like iron and manganese to help with aquarium plant growth.

Power Sand becomes the porous, high-surface area material, (similar to biological filtration media in your canister filter) for the bacteria to live and thrive in, while also encouraging root growth in aquatic plants in giving them something to cling to and expand from.

Finally, ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia provides all of the primary necessary nutrition for plants to grow and thrive.

The specialty aspect of these products, is that they are specifically designed not only to jump-start your planted aquarium and reduce ‘growing-pain’ problems in the growth of your nature aquarium, but also they are designed to specifically work together. In other words, by using the system together, you are able to give yourself the best possible chance for success.

That’s all for today, and until next time, stay tuned for Step 3!


Frank Wazeter

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