I'm about to start my aquarium (4ft and will have black moors/fantails in). I was about to put a 12mm layer of Laterite in the bottom with 50mm of black gravel on top but have been told that after a year the laterite becomes mud which flies up and makes the water cloudy when gravel cleaning.
I'd rather not use any substrate if possible, but I really want a plant filled aquarium, is this still possible if I don't use a substrate?
When you say you don't want a substrate do you mean you want a bare bottomed tank, or do you mean you don't want to put anything under the gravel?
I've used a base layer of laterite mixed with fine gravel, with a layer of fine gravel on top, which has not turned to mud. It's true laterite generally makes the water cloudy when you hoover but this soon settles down.
I've had latterite in my tank for several years now and the latterite is still granular and doesn't cloud the water. Then again I had a tank with mud as a substrate and the water in that one was clear too (after the initial 6 months)
Yes you can grow plants without a planting substrate but you will be limiting the species and your success levels somewhat. You may find you become more reliant on root tablets or have to stick to plants that root to wood or rocks.
OK my two penneth worth here, I too use latterite, but under a sand/gravel mix, I have never had a problem with cloudy water yet. I just put it in and forgot about it. But I do believe it does benefit the growth of plants greatly by being there.
As my tank will only have rogers(moors)in, and I understand they aren't capable of any effective digging (or am I wrong?), I therefore like the idea of 12mm laterite then 12mm of coarse sand (I presume the sand keeps the laterite down, but it isn't thick enough to compact and have anaerobic areas) and then 50mm of my black gravel which the rogers will never be able to penetrate through. What d'ya reckon mates?
That is quite a deep substrate but I've not had any experience of anything other than soil with gravel on top - would be interested to hear what others think. Would be interested as well to hear if Jaguar's set up had/has any digging fish in it - there's a strong possibility I may have to move my tanks sometime soon so I'm wondering if I should go down the laterite route when I set them up again, give the plants a better chance. Will be following your updates with interest
ETA - going back to the gravel vac question, sorry, forgot earlier - how easy is it to gravel vac with laterite under the gravel? I sucked up the soil I had under the gravel on many occasions, mud pie anyone?
I have JBL aqua basis, topped with 1inch of white gravelon top, if i dig really deep when cleaning or pull the plants out this really really disturbs it, it does cloud the water, but this clears after a 1hr or so, so now i just run a chop stick through before hoovering to stop compacting,
but i make sure i do it just before the water change so can hoover it out the water.
I dont really have digging fish, only 5 Corys they have never bothered it..
when the time comes to change the tank, i will def use a substrate,root tabs seem a pain until the plants grow roots mine kept floating,
I would not use jbl Aqua basis again its really good works well, not tat i have used any others, but it bugs me when removing plants which i do quite often, due to the growth rate of some of my plants shich i split and plant in my other tanks,
i would also not go all the way to the front and side edges of the tank with the latterite, leave a 1 inch gap just so you can clean the glass with out mixing the latterite, and your top substrate, that is one thing i have earnt from experiance
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad! I dont keep fish i keep water the fish are only there for decoration