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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just 2 bags of eco-complete substrate from my LFS. They will be getting the 3rd bag I need in on Tues. Should I add anything else to eco-complete while I'm switching my current substrate out with the eco-complete? I read in the sticky post for this section that eco-complete is lacking some of the needed plant nutrients that other soils have (like aqua soil). I use dry ferts following the EI method. Anyway, I could get something else instead of a third bag to mix with it... However, I have fish that I plan to put back in the tank after running my Eheim for a while. This is why I went with eco over aquasoil to avoid the ammonia spike. Do I need to top eco-complete with gravel or sand? It appears not, but I wanted to confirm.
 

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I just 2 bags of eco-complete substrate from my LFS. They will be getting the 3rd bag I need in on Tues. Should I add anything else to eco-complete while I'm switching my current substrate out with the eco-complete? I read in the sticky post for this section that eco-complete is lacking some of the needed plant nutrients that other soils have (like aqua soil). I use dry ferts following the EI method. Anyway, I could get something else instead of a third bag to mix with it... However, I have fish that I plan to put back in the tank after running my Eheim for a while. This is why I went with eco over aquasoil to avoid the ammonia spike. Do I need to top eco-complete with gravel or sand? It appears not, but I wanted to confirm.
You do not need to cap Eco. I can tell you it can be a pain to plaint in as it's pretty light. Recently I setup a tank and had 2 bags of Eco laying around and I mixed it with blasting abrasive which is cheap and black. The only thing I would add possibly is some root tabs but if you're already dosing ei it's not necessary but can help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply!

Why does the lightness make planting difficult? Does it not have enough weight to hold the plants in well (ie they float away)? Or does it kick up easy and cloud the water?
 

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From what I've heard Eco-Complete doesn't have any (or not very many) nutrients already packed in it. But it is a high CEC substrate, so that means it will pull nutrients from the water column and store it within the substrate.

I am not 100% sure if it also pulls carbonates (KH) from the water (pretty sure it does just being a high CEC sub), making your pH unstable (likely to go acidic with no KH).
There is a method called "pre-charging" (I believe Maryland Guppy has a method), which you basically let the high CEC substrate sit in water with nutrients and carbonates and let it absorb as much as it can hold until it's fully saturated (won't absorb any more unless it's "stored" nutrients and carbonates are used up by plant roots, then it would evenly replenish those used up minerals by taking more from the water column until it's full again). Once it's full/charged, it should be pretty stable (you should be able to return back to your normal KH once the substrate is saturated). You would keep dosing and/or doing water changes (or inject co2) to replenish mineral levels and carbonates until the substrate is saturated.

Or just leave it how it is (you can add the other bag) and dose nutrients like you normally do and it will gradually saturate, but nutrients will be striped from the water column and stored into the substrate, so plants might need to adjust with less/no water column nutrients to intake (only their roots). And also the substrate striping away the carbonates/KH (pH buffer) then your pH can fluctuate easily and would likely drop into the acidic range. The low pH and KH can become problematic for fish and nitrifying bacteria.

Though I am pretty sure there are plenty of people who were not aware of that and still used high CEC substrates without any major harm to plants or fish.
 

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Eco complete was all I ever used before going to dirt with sand,gravel cap.
No affect on pH.
So long as you dose the water with nutrient's,and maybe place a root tab near the heavy root feeder's like sword's,crypt's, You won't have any issues IMHO.
I might were it me(and it ain't),be tempted to place a sprinkling of Osmocote slow release fertilizer pellet's on bottom glass before placing the eco complete over the top of them.
Don't get crazy with the Osomocote,and this is good way to grow the weed's also IMHO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I makes sense that it will pull nutrients from the water. However, the labeling on the bags indicate that the makers already saturated the substrate with nutrients. I says it is soaked in Amazonian black water for that purpose. It lists a number of minerals that it contains (see attached image). So I think it will be OK as roadmaster says. I'll keep an eye on my kh and water parameters just in case.

It also says that it has bio culture bacteria added for nitrifying. How are the bacteria alive by the time I use it? Don't those bacteria need oxygen? It is in a sealed plastic bag. Yes, there is water in it, but I'd think the oxygen would get used up. For that matter how does it live in the bottles we buy as I think of it.
 

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People say that you don't have to wash it, but if you're planning on fish in cycling, I would recommend washing the substrate. Personally I love eco-complete. I miss the growth it gave me, and how well it hid all the poop!
 

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The 'nutrients' are not there. These are the actual minerals the EC is composed of, like claiming you get your daily minerals from your dinner plate. You need to add fertilizer.

Bump: Similarly, do not trust the claims about bacteria. Do the fish less cycle.

Bump:
 

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Hmm. Ok. I'll cycle it in a plastic bin with a power head. Any cheap DIY way to start the cycle quickly? Food food seems slow. I could pull a section of my existing substrate to put in the same bin to seed it. But still need a good ammonia source.

Brain storm. Move my current substrate to a plastic bin. Add new substrate to the tank (replant, add fish, water, etc.). Then set up a temp pump and poor man's overflow to the bin with my old substrate.

Hmm. Although if my current substrate is handling the bio load would it still encourage the new substrate to grow enough bacteria? Maybe I slowly remove section of my old substrate over time encouraging the bacteria in the new one to grow to take up the slack.
 

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Naw,,just keep a fist sized portion of the old substrate in toe section of ladies nylon and plop it in holding tank for fish during the swap with dechlorinator, air stone, and or some filter media from your filter,and /or then plop the fist sized bag of old substrate into the tank after you do the substrate swap and move fish back in.
Leave it there out of the way, (the fist sized bag) for next couple week's.
You already have bacterial colony in your current filter ,and on the substrate,hardscape,plant leaves,glass,filter hoses, all hard surfaces.(no need to cycle)
Just make the swap as quickly as you can so fish aren't in holding tub for too long.
Have moved whole tank's of fish like this many times.(couple hour's max) with or without plant's, but they are big plus for a planted tank NO?.
Feed fish sparingly for next few week's, once each day, or every other day, and do not attempt to add way more fishes than you presently have.
Monitor the water each morning for any ammonia and perform water change's as needed.
Would not attempt to do substrate swap with fish in the tank, for any disturbance of the substrate in mature tank, is likely to unleash organic matter into the water column and harm the fishes by creating elevated ammonia.
My two cent's.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So now I'm considering upgrading the 55ga I have. (I was saving it for salt-water, but I think that is still years off). But I don't want to spend any more $ on eco-complete. I have 3 bags. What do you think the best combo is with eco? top soil with eco cap? Black blasting sand? If sand, would the sand on top or bottom? Other suggestions. I'm trying to keep keep it it cheap now as I'll have to spend more on a 2nd light if I go with the 55.
 

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Hey there I thought I'd share my experience with the eco.

This was my first try at a planted tank and decided to go with the eco. I used 6 bags in my 75G.

After added the eco I started with just a few plants as the bulk of my plants were still on order. After I ran the filter for a day or 2 I transferred over a few Tetras and few corys from my 10G. With monitoring the water daily I found in the first few days my nitrites went up to .5 ppm and ammonia up to .25ppm. After about 5-7 days nitrites and ammonia had dropped to 0 and had a steady reading of 5 ppm nitrate.

I now am doing about a 20% water change weekly and all is well. Nitrites and ammonia remain 0. Tank is about 10 weeks old moderately planted and now have 6 beautiful discus in it.

I would agree it is tough to plant the eco initially but once plants are rooted they are tough to remove. My plants are growing like crazy and the eco looks great.
 
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