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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I want to rescape my 29 gallon tank and I was thinking I should swap out the old pool filter sand and try an aqua soil. I can't find anything local but Flourite or Eco Complete here. No ADA Amazonia or Tropica or anything like that. I'm probably mostly do a dwarf sag carpet with high light and CO2. I'll throw a few stems & some anubius in there to break things up a little around the hard scape.

Currently there are some platties in there I'm trying to re-home. I'm planning on putting in a pair of Albino Blue Tail guppies from Twin City Guppies when they go back in stock next month.

Which substrate will be best? I'm not ready to try a sand capped dirt tank yet. It sounds like a lot of work I'm not ready for yet.

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
They are REALLY close to the same, and I no longer remember which are in some of my own tanks. Biggest difference is Flourite's need for rinsing. And rinsing. And rinsing.
I guess it's Eco Complete then. I can get that from PetSmart.
 

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For what it's worth - have a look at my build thread below. The first post should show you the date I set up the tank with Eco Complete (did not look like much back then). I am still using the same Eco Complete. No, probably not the best substrate available, but it seems to work for me.
 

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I wouldn't consider Eco Complete or Flourite aqua soil. They're basically inert porous gravels. They are nothing like ADA Amazonia or Tropica. They provide very little if anything for your plants and they have a low CEC. Nothing wrong with them, just a lot of bad info out there. I bought loads of Flourite and a little EC. I absolutely hate planting in both of them. It's a world of difference for me planting in Black Diaimond Blasting sand plus a 50 pound bag cost about half as much as a 15 pound bag of Flourite. Don't believe all the hype on the bag.

Think of it like your china dinner plate. There's a lot of minerals in there that your body needs. Don't count on them to nourish you.

I've had the same experience as Blue Ridge Reef. Pretty hard to tell the difference out of the packing. Flourite you have to rinse, EC you're paying for the water.
 

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I use eco-complete and it works out just fine and the carpet plants don't have any trouble at all. I would recommend it if you want something easy- you just pour the bags straight in the tank, no rinsing or anything complicated.

The next tank though, I might switch over to black blasting sand- can't beat the price!
 

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For what it's worth, I've had a lot of success with Eco Complete. It depends on what you're going for, I guess. I have a low tech set up and have had good results with Dwarf Sag, Swords, Anubias, moneywort, crytocoryne, and dwarf lilies. I used Flourite setting up a betta tank, and it was disastrously cloudy. It seems to be performing fine, but I would never buy it again. I've never used any of the fancy scape soils, but I wouldn't say I've had any issues planting into the EC.
 

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FWIW, I am using a bag of both in my 20long. It's all I could get around here. I like the look of it and the swords are growing remarkably well in the low tech tank. Of course on this forum, if you ask two people about Eco Complete you'll get three different answers. :D

They are REALLY close to the same, and I no longer remember which are in some of my own tanks. Biggest difference is Flourite's need for rinsing. And rinsing. And rinsing.
And rinsing, and rinsing, and rinsing, and rinsing....
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
FWIW, I am using a bag of both in my 20long. It's all I could get around here. I like the look of it and the swords are growing remarkably well in the low tech tank.
That's the issue I'm having. I actually called the LFS and asked if they have aqua soil and the person who answered the phone had no clue what I was talking about.

Of course on this forum, if you ask two people about Eco Complete you'll get three different answers. :D
Hahaha! It's the same everywhere for any question... >:)
 

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FWIW, Of course on this forum, if you ask two people about Eco Complete you'll get three different answers. :D
Differing opinions are great, differing facts not so much.

There are definitely a lot of opinions on EC on the forum. I think a lot of the misinformation is a direct result of marketing. Caribsea makes it sound like this gravel will provide everything that your plants needs. Your plants will thrive like the ones growing on the side of the tropical volcano where this gravel comes from. I think there might be more involved in that tropical ecosystem than the substrate. They even list all the minerals contained within. Never mind the fact that your plants can't access any kind of meaningful amounts of these. Although carefully worded so it's not an outright lie the description on the bag is very misleading. Even the name is pretty much a lie. If you read the bag it makes it seem like you can put this in your tank, add plants and water, and everything will thrive. I don't know why these companies feel the need to do this.

The other thing I see stated on this forum a lot is that they have high CEC and they do not. I think the mulm layer that can form between the particles has a high CEC so maybe the end results are the same.

I know some people plant in EC in Flourite with no issues. If I put ten plants in I could expect to be replanting about half of them several times through the week. With sand if I plant 10 plants I might have 1 or 2 of them floating over the next couple of days. I would usually end up doing some damage to the roots by the multiple replanting. I know this is a problem for others as I've read several accounts of it here.

I've never had a real problem with Flourite clouding the water. I did use a lot of used stuff and that would definitely eliminate that, but I've bought at least a half a dozen bags new also. Just rinsed them and put them in the tank. I do know clouding can be a real problem though because of the amount of times I've read it here!

Nothing wrong with the products for growing plants but a lot of people get mislead not realizing it's basically inert.

As always YMMV. Good Luck!
 

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Differing opinions are great, differing facts not so much.

There are definitely a lot of opinions on EC on the forum. I think a lot of the misinformation is a direct result of marketing. Caribsea makes it sound like this gravel will provide everything that your plants needs. Your plants will thrive like the ones growing on the side of the tropical volcano where this gravel comes from. I think there might be more involved in that tropical ecosystem than the substrate. They even list all the minerals contained within. Never mind the fact that your plants can't access any kind of meaningful amounts of these. Although carefully worded so it's not an outright lie the description on the bag is very misleading. Even the name is pretty much a lie. If you read the bag it makes it seem like you can put this in your tank, add plants and water, and everything will thrive. I don't know why these companies feel the need to do this.

The other thing I see stated on this forum a lot is that they have high CEC and they do not. I think the mulm layer that can form between the particles has a high CEC so maybe the end results are the same.

I know some people plant in EC in Flourite with no issues. If I put ten plants in I could expect to be replanting about half of them several times through the week. With sand if I plant 10 plants I might have 1 or 2 of them floating over the next couple of days. I would usually end up doing some damage to the roots by the multiple replanting. I know this is a problem for others as I've read several accounts of it here.

I've never had a real problem with Flourite clouding the water. I did use a lot of used stuff and that would definitely eliminate that, but I've bought at least a half a dozen bags new also. Just rinsed them and put them in the tank. I do know clouding can be a real problem though because of the amount of times I've read it here!

Nothing wrong with the products for growing plants but a lot of people get mislead not realizing it's basically inert.

As always YMMV. Good Luck!
Just when Eco was getting some love, a complete takedown :laugh2:

Definitely misleading, in some ways similar to Seachem Flourish. They even state "Comprehensive supplement for planted tanks" Comprehensive does mean complete which is why so many newbies thing it's all you need. i guess it could be in certain situations.

Not defending Eco, but is there definite proof that nothing is extracted by the plant roots from the eco. Certainly not complete in any stretch of the imagination just wondered if it is completely (pun intended) inert.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
All of this discussion is all why I originally wanted to try Amazonia or Tropica, but damn that price is steep. I have my son looking for me in Phoenix. I'm still going to need it shipped all the way up here to the northern nowhere.
 

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Differing opinions are great, differing facts not so much.

There are definitely a lot of opinions on EC on the forum.
[...]
Nothing wrong with the products for growing plants but a lot of people get mislead not realizing it's basically inert.

As always YMMV. Good Luck!
Just when Eco was getting some love, a complete takedown :laugh2:
[...]
Certainly not complete in any stretch of the imagination just wondered if it is completely (pun intended) inert.
I think this is absolutely right for the experience level of the tanks that populate this forum. There's no way to argue that either of these substrates are "comprehensive" in the sense we're talking about. I still use root tabs in the low tech I have with a 50/50 mix of EC and Fluorite for my swords.

That being said, there's some context I don't usually see that is good to remember. It's kind of a trick of marketing ethics because the demographic both Seachem and Caribsea are targeting are customers at big box stores like PetSmart and PetCo. They make their sale by mapping with other products in retail to sell a complete package to people in the store. The idea being, "All of our [store's] plants will grow well with that substrate." And most of the time they do. Most of the plants those stores sell are low tech items like swords and anubias, with the odd crypt TC thrown in. Of course this language doesn't translate well to virtual storefronts or small businesses. In this sense, they are providing "comprehensive care for [low nutrient demand] aquatic plants by providing the minerals [not present in many municipal soft water supplies] for optimal growth [with natural fertilization by the nitrogen cycle]." Of course pitching their fertilizers doesn't hurt either. "This product will work 'best' when supplemented with....."

All that's to say be an educated consumer and look out for who those companies are targeting and the language they use. It's easy to fall for marketing language that's specifically designed to make a targeted pitch to a single demographic apply to the broadest audience. I personally think these tricks are pretty skeevy. So I studied it. Bottom line is the more you learn about horticulture and hydroculture, the better off you are. Decide what your plants are going to need first, then get substrate to match.

All of this discussion is all why I originally wanted to try Amazonia or Tropica, but damn that price is steep. I have my son looking for me in Phoenix. I'm still going to need it shipped all the way up here to the northern nowhere.
Since you're planning on injecting CO2, are you dead set on aqua soil? You won't need any of the carbon from decaying organic compounds, and if you're going high tech anyway, it might be worth considering inert options. Some are quite nice and your plants will do really well with root tabs and/or EI dosing. That's all this tank is. I know it might feel like a step back since you're trying to get away from the PFS but I wouldn't rule it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Since you're planning on injecting CO2, are you dead set on aqua soil? You won't need any of the carbon from decaying organic compounds, and if you're going high tech anyway, it might be worth considering inert options. Some are quite nice and your plants will do really well with root tabs and/or EI dosing. That's all this tank is. I know it might feel like a step back since you're trying to get away from the PFS but I wouldn't rule it out.
I already ordered the 2 bags of EC, so that's what it will be. If I ever get that rimless 72 gallon Waterbox I keep drooling over I won't be able to afford anything other than PFS.
 

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Not sure I understand, what carbon and what benefit are you referring to?

When you inject CO2, depending on how much you want to use it, you no longer need to create CO2 by allowing organic compounds to decompose. It really frees up substrate choices by not having to have an organically rich substrate that you rely on to create your CO2. If you’re cool with a fertilizing regimen you’re good to go. Which is not to say that aqua soil isn’t still beneficial, but if the choice you have is basically inert with a low CEC anyway, there’s no reason not to go with whatever you find most aesthetically pleasing at a lower price point.


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When you inject CO2, depending on how much you want to use it, you no longer need to create CO2 by allowing organic compounds to decompose. It really frees up substrate choices by not having to have an organically rich substrate that you rely on to create your CO2. If you’re cool with a fertilizing regimen you’re good to go. Which is not to say that aqua soil isn’t still beneficial, but if the choice you have is basically inert with a low CEC anyway, there’s no reason not to go with whatever you find most aesthetically pleasing at a lower price point.

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Other than dirt organic potting mix, etc.), there really isn't any discernible co2 produced from active soils, like ADA, Landen, Tropica etc. This has been born out by thousands upon thousands of setups. Even if your using dirt your only generating a small amount maybe 5-8ppm so your still limited in what you can grow. Co2 tanks generally run 20-40ppm.
 

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Just when Eco was getting some love, a complete takedown :laugh2:

Not defending Eco, but is there definite proof that nothing is extracted by the plant roots from the eco. Certainly not complete in any stretch of the imagination just wondered if it is completely (pun intended) inert.
First off I should state that I pretty much consider flourite and EC to be the same thing. Once you get them in the bottom of the tank, underwater, I don't think there are
any differences. This might not be right but I think the studies of Flourite hold true for EC I've not seen anything close to proof for either argument of nutrient extraction or completely inert. I have seen some studies that at casual glance looked legitimate. They showed some uptake of trace elements through the roots but it was minor amounts. I don't have any copies or sources. I do find it curious that EC is supposed to provide all these nutrients, but never runs out or needs replaced.
 

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I'm running one tank with each right now. The Eco Complete is AWFUL to plant in. It's very light and the texture damages the plant roots. It's so bad if I didn't have the tank all stocked and planted I'd dump it and start over. I never liked the original Flourite color but Flourite Black is my new substrate of choice. It's easy to plant in, the grain size is good, and once you've got it rinsed and the dust has settled it's absolutely gorgeous.
 
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