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My advice is to use aquasoil of your choice in a thin layer (1 or 2 cm) and then cap it with 2+ cm of sand (as much sand as you want). This gives you all the benefit of aquasoil without the expense. I've honestly not noticed a difference between doing this and using a pure aquasoil substrate tank. This way you need only a small bag.

As for which aquasoil? Honestly... anything seems to work fine. I've used denerele scapersoil and fluval stratum. Both worked fine for me and were cheaper then tropica.

Your primary nutrients for plants should be coming from ferts you add to the tank each week. The aquasoil in the substrate is just there to recharge from the water column and be available for plant roots they contact.

I've done dirt tanks and frankly I'm never going back. Dirt is definitely cheaper then aquasoil (since you can dig it up for free anywhere there is an empty patch of ground), but the aquasoil needed to put down 1 or 2 cm in a 25 gallon tank will cost somewhere between 20 and 40 dollars most likely. For that price dirt is just not worth the headaches of having algae outbreaks and ugliness whenever you need to pull a plant. Just my 2 cents.
 
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