Let's start with A: Substrate
The ADA Substrate System:

Symbiotic Relationship between Plant Roots and Beneficial Bacteria

The most important point for substrate, a place to grow aquatic plants, is to supply appropriate nutrients to the roots of aquatic plants. Aquatic plants can take up only inorganic nutrients through their roots while organic nutrients are not absorbed directly by plants. A large number of bacteria living in the substrate break down the organic nutrients within the substrate into an inorganic form and help aquatic plants take up the nutrients from their roots. These bacteria are usually present around the roots of aquatic plants where oxygen and organic compounds are released. As these facts show, there is a symbiotic relationship between plants roots and bacteria. To promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, ADA Power Sand and additives such as ADA Bacter 100 are used for the substrate.

ADA Substratsystem

Substrate system that serves as the foundation of Nature Aquarium

Basic Set Up of Substrate

The substrate system using ADA Aqua Soil-Amazonia and ADA Power Sand has advantages of promoting rapid growth of aquatic plants and reducing the risk of an unsuccessful aquarium.

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1. Sprinkle a thin layer of additives such as ADA Bacter 100.
2. Spread ADA Power Sand and flatten uniformly.
3. Spread ADA Aqua Soil-Amazonia to make a slope.
4. Spread a thin layer of ADA Amazonia Powder on the substrate surface.

Set Up of Substrate using Cosmetic Sand

The substrate system using cosmetic sand and ADA Aqua Soil-Amazonia features a bright foreground and healthily grown aquatic plants in mid to background.

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1. Stand a strip of cardboard sheet in the aquarium as a partition.
2. Spread cosmetic sand in the foreground and ADA Aqua Soil-Amazonia in the background.
3. Align the levels of the substrate materials on both sides of the partition and then remove the partition.
4. Place some stones serving as a soil divider along the border line.

Reasons to Use Aqua Soil-Amazonia Powder Type

If the substrate is built only with ADA Aqua Soil-Amazonia with a large grain size, the roots of foreground plants spreading across the substrate can easily come out of soil and the growth of the plants may be affected. Spreading finer ADA Amazonia Powder on the substrate surface fills the gaps between the soil grains and helps aquatic plants to spread out their roots. The ADA Amazonia Powder is also used for Iwagumi layouts because of its feature where it can easily be poured between the stones.

ADA Powdertype NEON

Notes on the Use of Power Sand Special for Substrate

Containing more organic nutrients compared to ADA Power Sand, ADA Power Sand Special is good for aquatic plants that spread the roots vigorously such as Cryptocoryne. As a point to note, it is ideal to use a well-established filter with a fully functioning biological filtration. Nutrients leached from ADA Power Sand Special may not be treated adequately with a filter using brand new filter media. Although ADA Bacter 100 and ADA Clear Super are blended in ADA Power Sand Special, it is advised to use additional substrate additives to promote rapid growth of beneficial bacteria.

ADA Powersand ADA Powersand Crypto

1. ADA Power Sand Special contains an additional amount of organic nutrients.
2. Suitable for plants that absorb nutrients actively through their roots such as Cryptocoryne.

In a Nature Aquarium, substrate is very important as a place to plant and grow aquatic plants. Therefore, there is various know-how on setting up and maintaining the substrate. One of the largest factors that makes it possible to achieve a “Long-term maintenance of aquascape”, which is the underlying concept of the Nature Aquarium, is ADA’s unique know-how on substrate. Let’s have a look at this valuable know-how!

Maintenance of Substrate

In the course of long-term maintenance, sludge derived from feces of fishes and shrimps is accumulated on the aquarium substrate. An excessive amount of sludge buildup may cause poor permeability of the substrate and increased growth of blue green algae and other types of algae. To avoid these problems, the sludge should be suctioned out with a hose during water change. Particularly at the substrate area covered with dense foreground plants, you can find that a considerable amount of sludge is suctioned out when a hose tip is brought close to the substrate. Blue green algae grown between the glass surface and substrate should be scraped off with a thin spatula and removed before the algae come out of the soil and spread in the aquarium.

ADA Vordergrund absaugen Algen abkratzen zwischen substrat und Glas

1. Suction off the sludge buildup between the foreground plants with a hose.
2. With a thin spatula, scrape off algae grown between substrate and glass surface.

Nutrient Supplementation for Substrate

Substrate built with ADA Aqua Soil-Amazonia and ADA Power Sand is rich in organic and inorganic nutrients which are sufficient for a year’s supply. However, these nutrients gradually become deficient as the aquarium is kept for a long time. To supplement the deficient nutrients, ADA Multi Bottom and ADA Iron Bottom, are inserted into the substrate using ADA Bottom Release. ADA Multi Bottom is suitable for general aquatic plants while ADA Iron Bottom is ideal for Echinodorus and Cryptocoryne species.

ADA Düngestäbchen setzen ADA BottomRelease SWA

1. Insert a stick (ADA Multi Bottom or ADA Iron Bottom) of nutrients in a location slightly away from aquatic plants’ roots.
2. ADA Bottom Release allows you to push a stick of nutrients deep inside the substrate.

Source and Copyright of the article/photos - Aqua Design Amano - ADA