Thank you for the 'tap' @natemcnutty
I've used calcined montmorillonite clay substrates such as Soilmaster Select Charcoal (discontinued) and Turface Pro League (grey) starting in 2009. I started using Safe-T-Sorb in tanks starting with my 10 gallon low tech in August of 2013 so a little over five (5) years. I set up my 75 gallon with Safe-T-Sorb in the spring of 2014. Currently all five (5) of my tanks use montmorillonite clay substrates.
Here is my low tech ([email protected]
/ 2X 10 watt CFL; no CO2 but ferts and Excel/glutaraldehyde) 10 gallon when I set it up in August 2013
Here it was four (4) weeks later on 9/13
And here it is on 10/17
My 75 gallon (high tech with CO2 and [email protected]
) on 3/21/14 shortly after planting
And the 75 gallon on 7/19 about 4 months later
I personally have not tried Eco-Complete however is does contain a goodly amount of nutrients like clay substrates however I do not know the CEC of the product. It could be good or it could be like Seachem Flourite and have a low CEC.
I agree that Safe-T-Sorb and for that matter all calcined clay substrates are relatively 'light' however I've used ADA Amazonia in the past and I would describe calcined clay to be about the same weight or maybe even a little heavier than Amazonia. My ADA Amazonia 'broke down' after about 3 years and when I did a complete 'breakdown' of my 75 gallon this spring (after 3 years) I re-used my Safe-T-Sorb but in retrospect I think it would have been smarter to start with fresh because the Safe-T-Sorb was just starting to break down and will likely not go another 3 years (unlike Soilmaster Select which is still going strong after almost 9 years).
As mentioned calcined clay substrates will absorb minerals from the water including carbonates resulting in a drop of pH and dKH and dGH as well; I had to add baking soda and GH Booster for several months until the substrate stabilized. Also they are the most 'dirty' substrate I have come across during my decades in the hobby, but as the pictures above show the results can be excellent. Safe-T-Sorb is very inexpensive, 40# for $6.49 at Tractor Supply
. I screened mine with 1/8" hardward cloth to remove most of the 'fines' and dust for the 75 gallon, this resulted in not using about 50% of the bag but provided a much more uniform sized substrate that cleared very quickly after filling the tanks and didn't 'dust up' anywhere near as much as unscreened STS when moving plants. Hope this helps! -Roy
Hmm, an interesting thought came to mind; maybe set up a 10 gallon with one side Safe-T-Sorb and the other side Eco-Complete with the same plants on both sides and see how they do "head on head".