ADA has a new product called "Light" which releases less ammonia. Ammonia release isn't bad, as plants like it (if you cycle with plants in) and it helps to cycle the tank.
I've also heard good things about SL-Aqua Soil and Prodibio.
That aside, there are two tanks here that are set up with Contrasoil. Can't give any input right now as the tanks have been set up for less than a week and need to cycle. Also working out some "bugs" with the first tank.... (error setting it up and issue with water from LFS...)
No doubt, though I've heard that it is even a bit more than necessary which prompts many to do some water change to help it along. I also wondered about once the substrate lost its "umph". Seems some people replace substrate, that might be weird with that ammonia leech. I know a lot of people just use root tabs. I haven't gotten that far since that is a ways out, hah!
There's a lot of consideration to all the little bits and pieces you need with ADA too, like the balls, layers of differing substrate, and powders. I wanted to make sure ControSoil is can equally make decent tanks. My LFS uses Seachem AquaSolum only and they have impressive tanks but that's pricey and I had concerns about once the lower layers break down into a "soil soil" composition. Which i understand to be a feature and I do see it in the LFS tanks.
I'll look into those other substrates too.
doesn't release as much ammonia
lesser water changes
perhaps more dosing, i did not use it long enough
boom in growth in ada not so contraoil
buffer 6.8, you may want lower
not much cons to this soil honestly
I assumed one way or another there would be water column dosing of some kind at some point.
You're saying that ADA has a larger boom of growth? That's ok by me, I'm not entering a competition with this tank or anything so I'm fine with "low and slow" as it were as compared to "hot and fast".
Well, I may want lower. I am certainly interested in Shrimp in my tanks. This is something I have not tackled yet. I really wish there was a PDF on planted tanks I could print and read on all the styles and subjects in one nice tome. I considered peat in my wet/dry *filter* (I'm going wet/dry (at least for now in my research) based on some things I have read/seen at Barrs site) but I changed my mind after reading some troubling information about the uncontrollable nature of peat.
Bump: Addendum: I did consider actual soil but honestly, one thing I did before was I did a lot of it DIY. Some things I see as DIY-able with success, some things I really regretted DIY-ing. I felt like they didn't perform and it left a somewhat bitter taste for me. Whereas before I DIY'd a lot, I'm far more cautious about it now. So much is anecdotal, it's just hard to know what's going to perform at the end of the day.