Difficult substrate decisions - eco complete, or not? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-30-2009, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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Difficult substrate decisions - eco complete, or not?

I'm planning on setting up a 54 gallon corner aquarium within the next few months, but I'm trying to plan my strategies well beforehand. I'm trying to decide on substrate now - I THOUGHT I was pretty sure about going with Eco-Complete, since it seemed to have the least hassle associated with it, but reading this forum I'm questioning that. One of my main draws towards Eco-Complete was that it doesn't get cloudy when you first put it in, or later when uprooting plants (I've used both Aquasoil and Flourite, and there are nightmares of mud clouds and hazy water for days if I even look at a well rooted plant with the thought of moving it).

Most of the posts complaining about cloudy Eco-Complete are from a few months back at least. Does anyone know if this is still a problem? Has Eco-Complete turned crappy?

If not Eco-Complete, then what? I want something dark colored, easy to plant in (i.e. not too light weight), that isn't a festival of particulate matter the moment it touches water (and yes, I rinsed my extensively Flourite before using).
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-30-2009, 06:01 PM
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Eco is fine if your OK with the price for a tank that big but your probably going to have some cloudy water no matter what substrate baring possibly PFS it's all about how you wash them and how you poor the water into the tank.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-31-2009, 01:18 AM
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eco complete doesn't cloud the water??? .....????

One bag made my 29 extremely cloudy.

That's my experience anyway. I would just use 3M colorquartz, it's cheaper and looks good. It will cloud the water, but not terribly if you rinse it out well.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-31-2009, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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I'm interested in Colorquartz, but confused about it. I've seen some great, high tech tanks here using colorquartz, but I thought it was inert and didn't offer anything to plants? Am I wrong on that, and if it is how is it any different/better than black aquarium gravel?

Bradac - What's PFS?
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-31-2009, 02:35 PM
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I use eco complete in both my low tech tanks. The newest one I just set up was only cloudy for an hour or so. And it was just the lower part of the tank.
You have to add the water very very slow and use a saucer or something like that for it to fill on.
I also have it in my 20 gallon and even though I did not use two bags like it recomends I am still pleased with how my plants do in it.
Good luck

My planted tank. 55 gallon fluorite substrate over soil, 64 watts of light, excel twice a week. Weekly water changes. Angelfish pair, guppies, BN plecos and otos. Redone 11/13/2012
One non planted tanks. 75 gallon.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-31-2009, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinq View Post
I'm interested in Colorquartz, but confused about it. I've seen some great, high tech tanks here using colorquartz, but I thought it was inert and didn't offer anything to plants? Am I wrong on that, and if it is how is it any different/better than black aquarium gravel?

Bradac - What's PFS?
Colorquartz is a proprietary "dyed" sand, made for adding colors to swimming pool plaster (?) to floor treatments (?), to roofs (?), etc. It is just quartz sand, colored by an artificial method. PFS is pool filter sand, made to be used in sand filters used for water cleanliness in swimming pools. PFS has its own set of specifications, among which have to be not adding stuff to the water that isn't desirable, not upsetting the pH of the pool water, allowing good flow of water through a deep bed of the sand, not packing down with use, etc. Both of these forms of sand are inert, and offer nothing to the plants except a good bed for roots to grow.

Black aquarium gravel can be black plastic coated gravel, or black blasting grit, or whatever else the LFS chooses to sell for that use. Whichever material it is has its own set of advantages and disadvantages - black blasting grit, for example, is very hard on cory catfish in that it cuts their mouth parts as they dig in it. Plastic coated gravel isn't permanent - the plastic can come off - and the particle size tends to be too big (in my opinion).

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-31-2009, 04:11 PM
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Justin, I use ADA aquasoil amazonia and have zero isses with cloudy water when rearranging / repositioning plants...

This is, however the first time I've used aquasoil so maybe I'm just lucky?

Larry
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-31-2009, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
Colorquartz is a proprietary "dyed" sand, made for adding colors to swimming pool plaster (?) to floor treatments (?), to roofs (?), etc. It is just quartz sand, colored by an artificial method. PFS is pool filter sand, made to be used in sand filters used for water cleanliness in swimming pools. PFS has its own set of specifications, among which have to be not adding stuff to the water that isn't desirable, not upsetting the pH of the pool water, allowing good flow of water through a deep bed of the sand, not packing down with use, etc. Both of these forms of sand are inert, and offer nothing to the plants except a good bed for roots to grow.

Black aquarium gravel can be black plastic coated gravel, or black blasting grit, or whatever else the LFS chooses to sell for that use. Whichever material it is has its own set of advantages and disadvantages - black blasting grit, for example, is very hard on cory catfish in that it cuts their mouth parts as they dig in it. Plastic coated gravel isn't permanent - the plastic can come off - and the particle size tends to be too big (in my opinion).

Great post Hoppy (as usual) the only thing I'd like to add to that is Eco is just another inert substrate the only trace it has is Iron since it's a fired clay product like Flourite/SMS/Turface/SAS. The only difference is it's put into a trace bath after it's fired so it does have some micro ferts on it for a little bit but that doesn't make it ADA or MTS by any stretch of the word.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-31-2009, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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Hoppy, if I used colorquartz, should I add anything underneath it, like laterite or peat? Would I need to use root tabs to fertilize things like cryptocorynes and anubias?

Larry, maybe they've changed it, or maybe you're using amazonia II? I used the first type of amazonia and I bought it a few years ago. It seems that there are a lot of "silt" particles in the aquasoil. Even when planting stem plants, once I get past the very top layer I encounter some mud. I'm sure the plants love it, and I can vouch for the fact that they grow great, but it makes rearranging things a pain because once I uproot something big, I can't see anything I'm doing. Rearranging stems isn't so much of a problem because they aren't heavily rooted, but I have a hard time with anything like crypts or swords, or rearranging any hardscape that's partially under the soil. In addition, when I first set up the tank it became so cloudy that it literally took over a month to fully clear, even though I performed several water changes and was running an ehiem canister filter filled with mechanical filtration media. I've read of others on this forum having similar problems, but others such as yourself don't seem to have issues.

Maybe it's possible that some bags just have more of these silty particles than others, since it is possible to break aquasoil up in your fingers, maybe rough shipping or other factors could come into play? Who knows? I'd still use it again for any stem plant intensive tank, but my goal in this one is to have more well rooted plants like crypts. Not a bad product, just my experience with it.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-31-2009, 07:03 PM
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I put a bag of EC in a 10g this May and was satisfied with how the water cleared, only a few hours.

I am setting up a 55g and would also like advice on substrate. I need something to cap about 1 in of MS but I want to avoid black. Something more like a natural gravel appearance. My LFS only carries EC and Flourite (red and black). With the MS, a cap of plain gravel would probably be sufficient but I would like to use something more beneficial to the plants. Any suggestions on a natural colored, clay based substrate?

Sand has become popular. but at one time it was thought sand would create anaerobic conditions in the root zone by compacting and preventing O2 from entering the substrate. Was this a falicy?

Thanks
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-31-2009, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karkrash View Post
I put a bag of EC in a 10g this May and was satisfied with how the water cleared, only a few hours.

I am setting up a 55g and would also like advice on substrate. I need something to cap about 1 in of MS but I want to avoid black. Something more like a natural gravel appearance. My LFS only carries EC and Flourite (red and black). With the MS, a cap of plain gravel would probably be sufficient but I would like to use something more beneficial to the plants. Any suggestions on a natural colored, clay based substrate?

Sand has become popular. but at one time it was thought sand would create anaerobic conditions in the root zone by compacting and preventing O2 from entering the substrate. Was this a falicy?

Thanks
Check out Pool Filter Sand (PFS) it's cheap $10'ish for 50lbs at any local Pool/Spa company and it comes in several different colors depending on the company you pick. It ranges in size from 1mm to 3mm which is perfect for what your trying to do. Most non-pool/aquatic sand is finer (sub-1mm) and can cause problems.

The cap only needs to be about 1 inch thick so it shouldn't compact or create pockets.

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-31-2009, 10:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinq View Post
Hoppy, if I used colorquartz, should I add anything underneath it, like laterite or peat? Would I need to use root tabs to fertilize things like cryptocorynes and anubias?

Only add peat if your looking to lower your pH otherwise don't bother so the colorquartz would be fine alone.

You would only need root tabs if your planting rooted plants the anubias doesn't need them since it's drawing from it's rhizom.

But overall I'd recommend a real fert water column regiment for any type of tank.

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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-01-2009, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Brad. I'm really liking the idea of colorquartz. I've actually been considering doing a MS setup since I've been reading up on it on this forum, and maybe topping it with colorquartz or similar. The last time I researched substrate was several years ago, and back then I never saw anything about MS, the decisions were basically between flourite, eco or aquasoil. This MS stuff sounds pretty awesome, though.

My problem is that I can't find any colorquartz that wouldn't require a six hour round trip to pick up. Online I've only been able to find one place that offers it, but it only offers S grade, and if I'm correct that is too small to be ideal? What I did find was this - it's not as cheap as colorquartz, but the shipping charges are included so it actually turns out being cheaper for me than buying something like eco complete locally. I'm just not sure if this would be appropriate since I've never used any kind of sand before:

http://www.coloredsands.com/Black_Aq...d_p/2000s4.htm

Does that look like it would be similar to colorquartz, or decent to use as a cap for MS? Also interested in pool filter sand since it's cheap and I actually COULD get it locally, but I've never seen a PFS setup that had dark colored sand. My substrate doesn't have to be black, but I would like a darker brown at least. Does anyone know of a particular brand that might be darker?
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-01-2009, 03:50 PM
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Thanks Brad. I'm really liking the idea of colorquartz. I've actually been considering doing a MS setup since I've been reading up on it on this forum, and maybe topping it with colorquartz or similar. The last time I researched substrate was several years ago, and back then I never saw anything about MS, the decisions were basically between flourite, eco or aquasoil. This MS stuff sounds pretty awesome, though.

My problem is that I can't find any colorquartz that wouldn't require a six hour round trip to pick up. Online I've only been able to find one place that offers it, but it only offers S grade, and if I'm correct that is too small to be ideal? What I did find was this - it's not as cheap as colorquartz, but the shipping charges are included so it actually turns out being cheaper for me than buying something like eco complete locally. I'm just not sure if this would be appropriate since I've never used any kind of sand before:

http://www.coloredsands.com/Black_Aq...d_p/2000s4.htm

Does that look like it would be similar to colorquartz, or decent to use as a cap for MS? Also interested in pool filter sand since it's cheap and I actually COULD get it locally, but I've never seen a PFS setup that had dark colored sand. My substrate doesn't have to be black, but I would like a darker brown at least. Does anyone know of a particular brand that might be darker?
I haven't seen that website before, and still haven't since it won't load properly for me. But, it does say they have black aquarium sand. Just be sure it isn't repackaged black blasting grit, which has very sharp edges, and it harmful to cory cats.

What you put under an inert substrate is up to you. You could use mineralized topsoil, if you have the time and place to work with it. You could use a very thin layer of ground peat and an even thinner layer of Osmocote pellets. (Thin means you can see the glass through the layer.) You could use Leonardite (Diamond Black is one trade name). You could use worm castings, mineralized first. Or, the easiest is to use fertilizer tabs poked under the plants. In any case fertilizing the water column with dry fertilizer chemicals would be a good idea.

Hoppy
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-01-2009, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Hoppy. I already have plenty of dry ferts for my other tank, so fertilizing the water column shouldn't be a problem.

Since you can't get the website to load for you, the site claims that it's coarse grained, made of granite and "coating," but doesn't specify what the coating is. Grain size is listed as .05 inches, which should be 1.27 mm. Isn't that a bit on the small size for plants?
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