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Old 01-16-2014, 11:26 PM   #46
DarkCobra
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Does anyone know if ActivFlora also turns to mud after a few months/years, like EcoComplete? If not known, [NanoDave], could you try repeatedly freezing/thawing a small sample in water to test for long-term stability?
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:54 PM   #47
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Does anyone know if ActivFlora also turns to mud after a few months/years, like EcoComplete? If not known, [NanoDave], could you try repeatedly freezing/thawing a small sample in water to test for long-term stability?
Why would Eco Compete turn to mud? It's essentially crushed lava rock, which is hardy stuff. It should stay stable nearly indefinitely.
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Old 01-17-2014, 12:06 AM   #48
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The Trigger:
I actually first found this at a Petco in NJ that had been converted from a big LFS and was selling off all remaining products. Bought one 16lb bag for $7 on clearance! Needless to say went back and bought their last 6 bags the next day after I fell in love with it! I've used all 6 bags and now have 50lbs of eco sitting in a bucket in the basement :-P. Had my LFS order some more for me and my friends. Selling at $25 a bag where Eco-Complete is $33 0.0....YATZEE!
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$18+ shipping 0.0! I'm excited to pay $20ish with my discounts. Beats the heck out of $35 for Eco-Complete hah. Not to mention I find ActivFlora a far superior substrate.
FWIW, though that bag of ActivFlora is a 16 lb bag, while the Eco Complete is a 20 lb bag. You'll also likely need more ActivFlora with any sort of shaped scape, because it's smaller and denser. I had to buy two bags of ActivFlora to fill my tank to same level as one bag of Eco. (I should get more coverage out of the two bags of AF combined, but one bag vs. one bag, the Eco offers more, so you ultimately pay more for the ActivFlora.)
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Old 01-17-2014, 12:42 AM   #49
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kman: Yea I should have mentioned that you do usually need a little more than eco. Also note though you don't have to deal with settling. I've made 8" tall scapes with eco in my 29 and within a few months after water changes and such it turned to 6". Eco has a very un-uniform consistency which will lead to settling of smaller debris and leave you with "boulders" at the top :-/. ActivFlora will never settle and hills stay the shape and size they are made at which is a big plus for me in scaping.

DarkCobra: I don't see why it would turn to mud, It's not like aquasoil (which eventually does). Like kman mentioned it's basically lava rock which is fairly hard and won't break down much if at all. I def don't mind experimenting with some though as now you have me curious. If you could briefly explain to me how freezing and thawing will help show time deterioration. Also if you could explain what type of container, how much substrate, how much water, etc I could give it a try. I would imagine a plastic tupperware with 1" of substrate and 2" of water possibly?
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Old 01-17-2014, 03:49 PM   #50
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My mistake - was confusing EcoComplete with Aquasoil. Sorry for the confusion.

A Tupperware container should be fine. Very little substrate is needed and just enough water to cover, though more doesn't hurt. The substrate must first be soaked for a day or two so all the internal pores are filled with water. Then fully freeze it, and fully thaw it. Repeat.

If after a half dozen freeze/thaw cycles it doesn't appear to be falling apart, try crushing it. And if it's still as strong as substrate that hasn't undergone this process, then the repeated expansion of ice within pores wasn't enough to fracture it; meaning it's strong enough as a result of being fired to a high temperature that it should be stable indefinitely in the aquarium.

That doesn't mean the available mineral content will last forever, but some might appreciate the option of continuing to use the substrate with supplements rather than replacing it. If it turns to mud instead, there's really no getting around replacement.
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Old 01-18-2014, 02:00 AM   #51
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Ineteresting. I'll most likely start this tonight, maybe freeze a time or two and do some more over the weekend. Sounds easy enough. I'll make a quick video to make sure everything looks good and a follow up one of the result.

UPDATE: The gloss experiment is working quite well but at the same time inconclusive. All 4 plants I planted all have sprouted a new sprout! The Eco got the first sprout and the ActivFlora got the second two then followed by the Eco getting it's second one. I will note that the ActiveFlora did seem a little hazy the first 3 days after the experiement began but has cleared up. As for the Eco, an oily film has appeared on the surface but isn't too noticible, especially with a IPad camera . I'll post photo's Sunday when I post all my updates on my tank journals.
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Old 01-20-2014, 04:52 AM   #52
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UPDATE: Heres pics taken this Sunday.




The Eco-Complete grew the first new plant followed by ActivFlora growing the next two and finally Eco-Complete with the last one. Both have 4 plants in each glass so plant wise it's a tie. Just in the past day or two I have noticed the Eco-Complete plants starting to show signs of nutrient deficiency. I haven't added any nutrients to the containers so next week should be interesting. I did do 2 water changes thus far by simply running both containers under the faucet on a slow trickle. I wasn't planning of doing water changes but the Eco-Complete developed a slime coat almost and felt it was needed. The ActivFlora did have a little bit of settlement when I rinsed so both benefited I feel. I have noticed the Eco-Complete's substrate has really separated with the fine grain moving towards the bottom.
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Old 01-22-2014, 12:13 AM   #53
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Looking good so far. Watching for continued updates.
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Old 01-22-2014, 12:34 AM   #54
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I swapped out my Eco Complete in favor of Activ-Flora this past weekend.

So far I like it a LOT better than Eco. Heavier, more resistant to moving from movement in the water column, smaller granules so WAY easier to plant in, and truly black (which I like), unlike Eco which has a bunch of red lava rock mixed in. (Note there were a few small red flecks, but very minor, very few (so far easier to remove), and far less annoying than the red in the Eco Complete.)

It'll be interesting to see how well my Glosso carpets.
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Old 01-22-2014, 04:45 AM   #55
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I think your biggest argument in favor is cost and looks, it's much nicer looking than EC, which is tacky. Growth, both are fairly inert, geological mineral analysis is different than say nutrient or fertility/availability.

You should have had a plain rinse sand control and then a ADa AS or a mud, clay loam with a tiny bit of some osmocoat.

This would give you an upper and lower range comparison.

Also, you would be best off growing the plant emergent, this would remove any CO2 dependency between treatments. As long as the light was the same, then it'd be all up to the sediment type.

I'm sold, but for the above 2 reasons, looks much nicer/cheap.
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Old 01-22-2014, 05:05 AM   #56
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It would be great to compare them to ADA or Stratum but I simply don't like rounded substrates and I've heard they turn to mud after years of use making water changes no fun. I would probably try them though if anyone carried them around here but even still I find it hard to justify the high cost of either.

I would love to see this thread lead to others conducting "experiments". Especially on the more technical and controlled side for more defined conclusions. I consider myself still fairly new in the world of aquariums (1 1/2years) and unfortunately don't have the knowledge yet to do so myself. That is truly one great thing about this hobby that I love. Theirs always new things to learn, improved products, and better rational on problems.
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Old 01-23-2014, 09:29 PM   #57
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following, I'm in the market for some substrate right now and I want something black. Where can you get activflora? I can't find it anywhere nor EC for that matter.
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Old 01-23-2014, 11:39 PM   #58
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following, I'm in the market for some substrate right now and I want something black. Where can you get activflora? I can't find it anywhere nor EC for that matter.
I got lucky and my LFS had plenty on hand. I was striking out finding it online.

While I was researching, however, I did find posts that seemed to indicate is is exactly the same as SeaChem's Fluorite, which is a lot easier to find, but the Activ-Flora is sold "wet" and supposedly already has the active bacteria, etc. Take that with a grain of salt, but if you're planning to cycle your tank anyway, and just want the look (and texture), you might do fine with plain old black Fluorite.
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Old 01-24-2014, 04:03 PM   #59
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UPDATE: Not too much new growth but I do notice another stem/runner starting on each.





Can see noticeable deterioration and lack of nutrients it seems with the Eco-Complete as the days progress. Will be sure to update Sunday.
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:09 PM   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kman View Post
I got lucky and my LFS had plenty on hand. I was striking out finding it online.

While I was researching, however, I did find posts that seemed to indicate is is exactly the same as SeaChem's Fluorite, which is a lot easier to find, but the Activ-Flora is sold "wet" and supposedly already has the active bacteria, etc. Take that with a grain of salt, but if you're planning to cycle your tank anyway, and just want the look (and texture), you might do fine with plain old black Fluorite.
IDK, I just got a bag and it doesn't look quite the same as fluorite, but then I am comparing black AF to red/tan fluorite so maybe?
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