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From what I've read, Amazonia is probably the best active substrate for keeping live plants, but the ammonia leaching means the aquarium needs to cycle for awhile before any critters are added. Does anyone know of any way to prepare it for an established aquarium to minimize the resulting issues and make it safe for the inhabitants?

If not, are there any other active substrates that are great for plants that won't cause such issues? Heavier substrate that'll actually keep my plants from floating way would be a huge plus as well. I have Fluval Stratum, but several people have expressed a dislike for that as an active soil for shrimp keeping. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Recommendations for an inert substrate for my other aquarium are welcome as well, I currently use eco-complete, but also have flourite black sand. Is either better than the other for plants?
 

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I would avoid it, gave me alot of trouble, it will release alot of amonia into the water colum. it gave me a hudge diatom problem. and ran my ph down to 5.5 which crashed my biological filter. my tap water although has a ph of 7.6 it has a low gh/kh so there is hudge ph swings. if you do put in your tanks start changing your water more often. May I suggest flourite red with some root tabs the flourite red is very high in iron. I purfer seachem over eco-complete.
 

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Amazonia has a new formula now. Which doesn’t have the ammonia mixed in but is separate.
From memory there is "Amazonia Light" which has lower fert levels (but not zero) and "Amazonia v2" which comes with a little bag of pellet ferts inside the main bag to spread under the soil. If you don't add those there will be lower fert levels, but again not zero.

I recently tried pre-emptive cycling of Amazonia v2 in a bucket with an air-stone and a mesh bag of Matrix hung on the side, plus a dose of Seed every few days. My idea was to shorten the cycling time needed once the soil was in the tank (I was waiting on other tank bits to be delivered so couldn't start the cycle in tank, hence I though in bucket was the next best thing). It did seem to help building bacteria more quickly once the tank was setup, but after 3-4 week in the bucket and lots of water changes, there was still Ammonia leaching out. I had seen a Youtube video where someone did something similar with Amazonia to see how long it would take to leach all the ammonia before they could add it to their existing tank setup. Their conclusion was, from memory, that 2-3 weeks in a bucket would leach off enough of the ammonia. My conclusion was that it would take a fair bit longer, maybe 1-2 months.

So there is an option there maybe - soak Amazonia Light / v2 in a bucket with lots of water changes for 1+ months, keep measuring ammonia levels before a water change until it reduces to what you think is near enough to zero that the bio-filter in your existing tank will be able to cope with it. Then add regular Prime to detoxify the ammonia every day or two, and bacteria to help boost teh bio-filter up to the new higher load.

But moving the soil from bucket to tank will probably stir up a whole new ammonia release...

Or just don't have any fish or critters in the tank and let your existing plants enjoy all the extra ammonia!
 
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