Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Northern California
Sorry, another ADA AS thread.
OK, I've done a bunch of reading on here, PT, and APD.
The qualities of substrate that make it "desirable" are:
1) Effect on the water, ie: kH, pH...
2) The amount of nutrients it contains
4) Ease of planting
I think those are the basic 5 components. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
I'm looking for a 3"-6" (depending on the area in the tank) layer of substrate for a 40 gallon breeder tank. 36"x18". I plan to have stem plants, java ferns, anubias, mosses, and possibly HC, glosso, dwarf hairgras...etc. A complete collection of plants pretty much.
Water buffering qualities:
We have hard water here in LA, so softer, more acidic water would be great for my plants. I believe I can achieve that through peat in the water, so are the buffering qualities of AS really worth it?
Amount of Nutrients:
From recent discussions, it's a given that ADA AS has more nutrients than the rest although Flourite and Eco-Complete come close. SMS has barely any nutrients since it's used as layering on baseball fields I think.
I'm aiming for a dark color, so ADA AS Amazonia, Eco-Complete, and charcoal SMS would fit the bill. I have a small amount of Flourite and I don't much like the color. True that it all gets covered, but I'd rather not. Also, it seems like Flourite would have the potential of scratching a tank.
Ease of planting:
What are you thoughts? I've heard Eco-Complete and SMS are harder to plant in? I'm also planning for either a nice glosso or HC carpet hopefully, so ease of planting is somewhat important.
Since I'm aiming for a 3-4" thick layer in a 40 gallon breeder tank. The cost of ADA AS, Eco-Complete, and Flourite are comparable to each other for what I want to use it for. Soilmaster Select is obviously much cheaper.
So, my bottom-line question is...with a cheap substrate like Soilmaster Select or even 3M colorquartz and root tabs and column fertilizing, could I get equivalent growth and vibrance as I could with ADA AS? Would I be able to soak anything in a nutrient bath then bake it before I used it...etc?
I want the best of my tank, but I also don't want to have to sell my kidney to do so.
Thanks for reading this huge, long post, and I hope it'll help someone else decide between the costs vs. benefits of the pricier substrates out there compared to cheaper ones.