That you had a mindset shift based on my written words is a deep compliment to me, thank you for your words!
I am not familiar with other products that achieve the same effect, but I do believe in the past year to two years or so there have been some alternatives developed out of other companies, though I believe their availability is primarily in SE Asia.
If you know other hobbyists in the area with established tanks, you may 'seed' your substrate with a sample of theirs, however, this does carry the risk of contamination of whatever type of algae's they may have in their aquaria (which is inevitable to get anyway if you are trading plants / and or in commercially available plants, etc etc). With this strategy you would do the same as the additives - place the sample underneath the substrate.
Over time, these bacteria will occur naturally and will be seeded into the aquarium via the roots of the plants you place in the tank - as these bacteria are symbiotic with the roots of the plants (if they did not exist, it would be more difficult for the plants to absorb raw nutrients through roots, the bacteria actually break down the raw nutrients into a usable form by the plants).
There is a case where this is most prevalent - in the case of species of Anubias, which have a great deal of trouble growing via Tissue Culture because they are so reliant on symbiotic bacteria to grow. In this case, during the tissue culturing process, the plant is made sterile, removing contaminants, fungi, etc for a healthier plant specimen free of pests. However, with Anubias, this also has the unintended side effect of killing off all the beneficial bacteria in the rhizome, rendering the growth of the certain Anubias species largely ineffective. Other, less dependent species, are much easier to propagate via tissue culture for these reasons - or perhaps because they are regenerating from cells at a very basic level. My measured scientific knowledge on the subject, while expanding, is still limited, but this is as best I know how to describe it.
What the additive Bacter 100 does is it speeds the process along at the start when the aquarium / new ecosystem is at its most vulnerable. From the get go by having a super punch of bacteria from day 1, you effectively aid the development of the ecosystem getting established. This then speeds the development of plants along in the aquarium by way of increasing nutrient absorption capabilities through the roots.
So in your case, trying to seed it with some samples of someone elses soil would help you out quite a bit. Alternatively, if you raised enough ruckus in with your closest European distributor of ADA, they might get you some Bacter 100 to shut you up!
Dear sir, I read the e-book text made from this thread and I just wanted to thank you for the philosophical bits you put in there. I'm really amazed how a couple of well written lines can change a mindset. Thank you again!
One question that bugs me and I doubt you can answer it fully. Is there a way to replicate the function of the bacterial substances you employ to construct that wonderful substrate?
In my country these products are not readily available and my understanding is that I must order over seas for these products as the last shop that used to sell them told me there is a huge shortage of your product mostly in Europe and they will not attempt to bring them again because of a lack of request.
I'm planning to make do with other alternatives for the key ingredient: bacteria
I was hoping you can give some pointers of what type of product might provide something close to its function.