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I've used both. Eco Complete is inert whereas Stratum isn't. It just soaks up ferts to release slowly. Stratum seems to hold stems better on initial planting (though it's still a pain in the ass) and I've seem to get a little better root growth at the onset in the newer tank I set up a few months ago. That could be my imagination too. LOL...
 

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Stratum is light and can be difficult to plant in. It will also break down over time. Eco complete is heavier and will not break down. If you don't need to keep PH low I'd go with eco complete. But if you need a lower PH for shrimps or plants I'd go for stratum. I've used both but my overall favorite for buffering substrate is Brightwell
 

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Are those the only two options? If so, is it because you're restricted to a particular retailer?

If not, Flourite (comes in a few different colors) is a much better - and usually cheaper - inert substrate option than Eco-Complete.

If you need an active substrate for some reason, there are much better options than Fluval Stratum at the same or similar price points.
 

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I strongly advise people to avoid eco-complete. It is too coarse for most fishes I keep but perhaps you are keeping an oscar or something.... certainly most cory and cichlid would prefer something finer. Can't comment on stratum never used it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I strongly advise people to avoid eco-complete. It is too coarse for most fishes I keep but perhaps you are keeping an oscar or something.... certainly most cory and cichlid would prefer something finer. Can't comment on stratum never used it.
What substrate are you using? Does the lava rock hold in nutriments better than just normal gravel? Is their appeal that its porous so the roots have something to go into better than gravel?

My issue with Eco-complete black lava rock one is that they get sucked up in the siphon during water changes and stops the flow of water.

Are those the only two options? If so, is it because you're restricted to a particular retailer?

If not, Flourite (comes in a few different colors) is a much better - and usually cheaper - inert substrate option than Eco-Complete.

If you need an active substrate for some reason, there are much better options than Fluval Stratum at the same or similar price points.
I am limited to my local Petco's selection. Maybe Petsupermarket might also be an option if I drive further.

Stratum is light and can be difficult to plant in. It will also break down over time. Eco complete is heavier and will not break down. If you don't need to keep PH low I'd go with eco complete. But if you need a lower PH for shrimps or plants I'd go for stratum. I've used both but my overall favorite for buffering substrate is Brightwell
It will break down? I thought they were some sort of rock structure? What to they break down to and do the planted like/grow in the broken down material?

Are you saying you have to constantly add more of it just to keep even?

Thanks.
 

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It will break down? I thought they were some sort of rock structure? What to they break down to and do the planted like/grow in the broken down material?

Are you saying you have to constantly add more of it just to keep even?

Thanks.
Fluval Stratum is a clay & soil-based substrate that will eventually break down over time. If you don't disturb it, it won't break down quickly. But as a first substrate, it's probably not the best option. It also alters your water parameters in a manner than can be drastic - depending upon circumstances.

If you want a dark substrate, look for regular Petco black sand. Usually comes in 20lb bags and is usually $10-$20. I think it's a much better option than Fluval Stratum or Eco-Complete. If you don't care about color or just want something that appears more natural, Caribsea Peace River is really fine/small gravel that's sometimes available at pet stores. There's also pool filter sand from your local hardware store. Usually $5-8ish for 50lbs.

Flourite is also clay-based but it's fired and doesn't really break down. Easy to plant in. Comes in a "sand" option that is really just ground up and fired Flourite and Flourite fines.
 

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What substrate are you using? Does the lava rock hold in nutriments better than just normal gravel? Is their appeal that its porous so the roots have something to go into better than gravel?

My issue with Eco-complete black lava rock one is that they get sucked up in the siphon during water changes and stops the flow of water.
I doubt it. I have one tank with it but it isn't fair to compare since i've added co2 injection to that tank. Here is a tank without it (low tech):
Plant Pet supply Terrestrial plant Aquatic plant Grass
Note there are no difficult to grow plants in this tank but it does fine. In my experience eco-complete does not provide any enhancement of plant growth.

In my experience unless you are growing very delicate plants (in which case you would want a soil like substrate and probably woudln't be asking this sort of question); any inert substrate that 'breathes' (i.e, doesn't form anaerobic pockets) will be equivalent and fine.

The 3 substrates I am using that I like are estes stony river black; carib sea torpedo beach; carb sea crystal river. I used to use carb-sea moonlight but will no longer use it as it seems to quickly form anaerobic pockets.
 
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