Help me choose a substrate... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-11-2008, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Post Help me choose a substrate...

Hi...I would love some help in picking out a substrate for a new 75gallon tank that I just got yesterday. I'm pretty excited about this and would like to do this right from the gound up. I'm having trouble deciding on what substrate to use. I've been reading around and I seem to notice SMS charcoal as a good substrate. This would be great if there was a local source nearby. However, there isn't...so my options are these:

1) Drive 300 miles roundtrip for SMS charcoal and pick up some bags (more than enough for future use)

2) Buy SMS red from a local store (I prefer darker colors but am open to consider it)

3) Buy another substrate of your choice (similar price if you can; ADA is way out of my budget).

Considering the gas prices right now, I'd be crazy to drive the 300 miles since I'm already going to drive to another city later this week and back home on Sunday, but if you can convince me enough, I would do it.

I hope this isn't too long of a post and I would appreciate any help I can get...thanks
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-11-2008, 06:04 PM
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Have you checked with your local store to see if they'll get the charcoal color in? I've read that some people have ordered SMS online and picked it up at the store.
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-11-2008, 07:50 PM
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I'm designing a 75g myself right now, and am facing the same question: ADA is simply too expensive (especially after shipping), SMS is absolutely impossible to find (at least where I am) but it seems like most other substrates fall short...At this point I'm leaning towards eco-complete for mainly the following reasons:

1 - well known substrate that has been used time and time again with good results

2 - none of my LFS care at all about planted tanks, so none of them carry more than a few supplies (and no one has substrates) - however, i found a guy who will order it for me so i don't have to pay shipping

3 - it looks nice

I do have some concerns, however - most importantly its tendency to raise KH, GH and pH...I'm still undecided, and will probably wait until the last minute to decide...I've got time.

Then again maybe I'll win the lottery and buy some aquasoil (in which case I'll send you some as well)...most people who use it seem to have great things to say about it, which can't necessarily be said for eco-complete...

I'm interested to know what you decide, maybe I'll follow suit if you present a good case! And good luck!
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-11-2008, 08:03 PM
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You might look at Aquariumplants.com house brand substrate. It's supposed to be the same stuff as SMS. I use it in my 55G and it's working out well. It will lower your KH/GH a little. I've got Eco in my 15G and they are both performing about the same. Color wise, the Eco is black while the AP is more gray. It comes in a 5G bucket and is enough to do a 55G to around 3 inches. When I ordered it, they were doing free shipping too.
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-11-2008, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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I'll call and ask if they would be willing to ship from one store to another but chances are they won't...but I"ll try.

I have eco in my 20 gallon and it has worked well in the past but even then, I would need at least 3-4 or more bags and that will run me at least 100 bucks.

I'll check out the aquariumplants substrate and see what they're about. Thanks for the replies and if you guys have more opinions or options, please let me know..thanks
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 12:45 AM
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The former manufacturer of SMS (OilDri) emailed me that they are no longer making SMS or any similar product but said that Turface is a comparable product. www.Lesco.com should carry Turface now if they are out of SMS, pretty much the same price.

Schultz Aquatic Soil from Home Depot/Lowes, etc. is also in the same price range. Soil was developed for use in fish ponds.





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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 01:18 AM
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Laura Lee, are you sure they said they are getting rid of it all? or is it just the charcoal color?

Also Lesco too is being converted to John Deere, making it hard to get SMS from them or even Turface.

There is another option if you like the reddish coloration of the oil dri products. Special Kitty, kitty litter from Wal-Mart. I bought 25pounds for $2.75, thats actually the highest price I have heard of people paying for it. Even at that price though it is 1/10 cost of eco complete, fluorite, ADA, and 1/2 cost of SMS and profile roughly(in my local area). If you choose this kind, its the red bag, make sure it is the unscented type, with the only ingredient being ground clay. Better read up the post actually on kitty litter, it is lower on this page, seems I dont have the right one. Seems to be working though for me, testing it atm.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 01:32 AM
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This is the email I rec'd a few months ago:

Hi,

Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate your interest in Pro's Choice
products.

Pro's Choice Select - Charcoal is being discontinued for business reasons,
and it is no longer being produced.

As we do not have a similar product to recommend, we must refer you to
LESCO, a nationwide network of stores - who carry a comparable product:
Turface Pro League Gray, at $23 for a 50 lb bag. www.lesco.com

Thank you,

Paula

--

Paula Jasinski
Fulfillment Coordinator
Oil-Dri Corporation
[email protected]


However, I just now went back to OilDri's website and they have a page that was not there before, with several interesting products: http://www.oildri.com/proschoice/products.html

I actually like the looks of the Turf and Ceramic products... I might have to email them and see how they compare to both the old Select as well as Turface?

I still think I'd go with Colorquartz from www.3M.com over their Ceramic product, though... the T grade Colorquartz looks to have a larger grain size than the ProChoice Ceramic...





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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 01:44 AM
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Ahh yeah thats the letter you posted earlier, I read that as discontinuing only the charcoal color only. Thanks for posting it up again.
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 01:59 AM
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I originally read it as they d/c their Select line all together, as I couldn't find any at all listed on their website at the time?

Seems odd that they would refer me to an entirely different product by an entirely different manufacturer if they still carried the product just in a different color, but who knows?

They do now have a product listed as "Select" on their website, and it's reddish in the pic...





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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 02:56 AM
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I like Flourite the best

Pros:
  • Nice, natural look
  • Can't see fish poop on it (unlike white sand/gravel)
  • Contains MANY nutrients for plants to survive
Cons:
  • Clouds like when you first put it in, even after rinsing alot
  • People say it's a bad substrate
Lol, I really can't think of any more...but I'll add some more when I think about more

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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 03:05 AM
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isn't Flourite an inert baked clay? I wasn't aware it contained anything.

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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 03:19 AM
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No, Flourite isn't inert at all- it's more similar to Eco Complete except that it is a manufactured substrate- but it's nutrative (if that's a word- I might just have made it up! LOL)

Here's a good link for substrate comparisons: http://home.infinet.net/teban/substr...rate_Materials

And another really good link:
http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Fertilizer/





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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 03:35 AM
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Quote:
Flourite™ is a specially fracted stable porous clay gravel for the natural planted aquarium. Its appearance is best suited to planted aquaria, but may be used in any aquarium environment. Flourite™ is most effective when used alone as an integral substrate bed, but it may be mixed with other gravels. Gravel modifiers such as laterite are not necessary. Flourite™ is not chemically coated or treated and will not alter the pH of the water. Although pre-washed, it should be rinsed before use to remove residual dust. Dust can also be minimized by filling tank slowly and dispersing water so that the Flourite™ bed is not disturbed. Slight initial cloudiness is normal and will clear rapidly (2–12 hours). This bag is sufficient for about a 5 cm (2 inch) deep bed in a typical 40 L (10 gallon) tank. Recommended use is 1 kg (2 lbs) for approximately each 200 cm2 (31 in2) of tank bottom at a depth of 5 cm (2 in).

Sizes: 7 kg

Plant Dosing Chart. Click here.
Download the Plant Dosing Chart as a printable PDF here

Concentration of nutrients in Flourite™
Aluminum 10210

Barium 124

Calcium 195

Cobalt 6

Chromium 13

copper 17

Iron 18500

Potassium 2195

Magnesium 2281

Manganese 64

Sodium 223

Nickel 12

Vanadium 15

Zinc 29

Units=mg/kg, source: Plasma Emission Spectrometer, EPA Method 3050, Univ. of Georgia Chemical Analysis Lab
I stand corrected. I have never used it and never had the need to research. Thank you.

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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 03-12-2008, 03:42 AM
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No prob. I researched the crap out of substrates recently figuring out a way to have a nutritive substrate yet not spend a fortune for my 90gal... Ended up biting the cost bullet and mixing 2/3 Eco with 1/3 Colorquartz, just FYI.





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