its like comparing a Yugo to a Cadillac (and Eco ain't no Yugo!).
As rex said, coarse sand, like pool filter sand, will grow plants but you'll likely need some substrate fertilization if you grow any heavy root feeders.
Regardless of whether you used eco or sand, you'll still need water column fertilization. How much light you have will dictate nutrient dosing needs, and whether you need a CO2 system.