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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
I put black onyx sand UNDER eco complete as my substrate.....I know...FAIL......so what now?

My idea is to take everything out of the tank, and of course as I do this the sand and the eco complete will mix. I COULD try not mix them if it would be beneficial to use them separate when im redoing it. Everyone is saying to use organic soil on the bottom. What do I buy? I cant afford aqua soil, or ada. BUT what potting soil can be used? Brands? prep for the soil before it goes into the tank? ALSO, do I cover the soil completely with the sand and eco complete? Or do I gently cap it leaving soil exposed before adding water? I was thinking if I didnt cover it completely with sand/eco that it would float, or cause the water to be really murky. Yall please help me, I already effed it up, and I have never done dirt before, so please in LAYMANS terms. :) <3

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Would a sifter work? I was able to separate play sand from traction sand using a metal kitchen screened sifter. If the 2 items are differently sized, it might work.
 

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It doesn't have to be a fail, both the sand and eco-complete are inert. If you like the look you can leave it. If you want to pull it out to put down aquasoil or dirt you can do that to and they will mix and thats fine as well. Anyway over the course of a year most of your sand would go down the bottom anyway because its denser and smaller in particle size then the eco-complete.

If you want to use dirt you can do so by digging some up from your garden (assuming no pesticides used) and just bake it in your oven to get it up to at least 200 degrees to kill anything alive in it. Then add it to the tank. You want a VERY thin layer, 1/8th of an inch deep is plenty. Personally I hate dirt after using it in a few tanks and will never go back. A bag of aquasoil is 20-50 dollars and can reproduce the same thin layer but without all the crazy water parameters and algae issues you get with dirt.
 

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Sorry I’m not really familiar with it, but Isn’t eco complete supposed to be similar to aquasoil?

If it is, I don’t think you necessarily have a problem, And I don’t think you’ll need any soil.


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Sorry I’m not really familiar with it, but Isn’t eco complete supposed to be similar to aquasoil?

If it is, I don’t think you necessarily have a problem, And I don’t think you’ll need any soil.


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It's definitely not like aquasoil, eco complete is an inert gravel with relatively high (for gravel) cec. It has no nutrients in it beyond a little bit of ferts in the bag it came in.
 

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It's definitely not like aquasoil, eco complete is an inert gravel with relatively high (for gravel) cec. It has no nutrients in it beyond a little bit of ferts in the bag it came in.

Can you just use root tabs?

And also properly fertilize with macros And micros?


I think plants pull most of their nutrients from the water column anyway correct?


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Can you just use root tabs?

And also properly fertilize with macros And micros?


I think plants pull most of their nutrients from the water column anyway correct?


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Sure, lots of folks do this including myself. I prefer to have a source of nutrients in the substrate as well as dose the water column. Currently in one tank I have a thin layer of fluval stratum (aquasoil) topped with sand and I'm dosing ThriveC once a week. In another tank I have Dennerle Scapersoil (aquasoil) topped by sand, and dosing Eeasy Green once a week. Both are growing plants easily with minimal maintenance on my part. In the past I've done root tabs in just plain old sand and dosed the water column as well. What works best for you will vary based on your water parameters, your light, the plants you are growing, and the ferts you use. Thus no one is going to be able to write the 'Definitive' guide to growing everything, but you can with a bit of trial and error figure out what works best for you.
 

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Sure, lots of folks do this including myself. I prefer to have a source of nutrients in the substrate as well as dose the water column. Currently in one tank I have a thin layer of fluval stratum (aquasoil) topped with sand and I'm dosing ThriveC once a week. In another tank I have Dennerle Scapersoil (aquasoil) topped by sand, and dosing Eeasy Green once a week. Both are growing plants easily with minimal maintenance on my part. In the past I've done root tabs in just plain old sand and dosed the water column as well. What works best for you will vary based on your water parameters, your light, the plants you are growing, and the ferts you use. Thus no one is going to be able to write the 'Definitive' guide to growing everything, but you can with a bit of trial and error figure out what works best for you.

Yeah I mean I’m aware.

I currently have a temporary tank running where my substrate Is just what I scooped out of the main tank when I was breaking it down to re scape. It’s a mix of 2 year old aquasoil but tons of sand in it too, if not mostly sand, and It’s all mixed up and not layered at all. I’m not having any issues growing plants. So not knowing OPs level of experience, I guess I was just thinking that they might not even have much of a problem.


Just trying to make suggestions so OP could possibly avoid removing all the substrate, running it through a sieve stack to separate and then restarting... Just might not even be necessary.
 

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As others have said, I don't think you get much benefit from using Aquasoil, especially if it isn't in your budget. And using MGOPS or something similar is a huge pain in the butt. It has been years since I messed with it, but you have to painstakingly sift out all the mulch and cover it with sand, and then you still get a cloudy tank any time you have to uproot or replant anything. If you like the way the Eco over sand looks, just keep it that way and use root tabs.
 

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As others have said, I don't think you get much benefit from using Aquasoil, especially if it isn't in your budget. And using MGOPS or something similar is a huge pain in the butt. It has been years since I messed with it, but you have to painstakingly sift out all the mulch and cover it with sand, and then you still get a cloudy tank any time you have to uproot or replant anything. If you like the way the Eco over sand looks, just keep it that way and use root tabs.
I actually love the way it looks right now and I have used eco complete in the past with great results. I thought having sand under the eco complete would be easier on the roots on amazon swords and crypts. Would you remove the sand under the eco, and add JUST the eco back to the tank, or do you think I will be ok with the sand under it the way it is? I bought the potting soil, but I am skeptical to use it because I usually frequently re-arrange my tank as the plants grow and I dont want to end up with a big mess.

Bump:
"Where is that happening?"

I was just saying that alot of people are telling me to use potting soil on the bottom.... I put sand on the bottom thinking it would be easier for the roots of swords and crypts to grow in, but I guess I was wrong?

Bump:
Yeah I mean I’m aware.

I currently have a temporary tank running where my substrate Is just what I scooped out of the main tank when I was breaking it down to re scape. It’s a mix of 2 year old aquasoil but tons of sand in it too, if not mostly sand, and It’s all mixed up and not layered at all. I’m not having any issues growing plants. So not knowing OPs level of experience, I guess I was just thinking that they might not even have much of a problem.


Just trying to make suggestions so OP could possibly avoid removing all the substrate, running it through a sieve stack to separate and then restarting... Just might not even be necessary.
thank you for the suggestion. I have thought about just mixing the sand and the eco together and just doing that as substrate instead of layering it. I may end up doing this.
 

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I actually love the way it looks right now and I have used eco complete in the past with great results. I thought having sand under the eco complete would be easier on the roots on amazon swords and crypts. Would you remove the sand under the eco, and add JUST the eco back to the tank, or do you think I will be ok with the sand under it the way it is? I bought the potting soil, but I am skeptical to use it because I usually frequently re-arrange my tank as the plants grow and I dont want to end up with a big mess.

I think You’ll find that if you properly fertilize the water column and just use root tabs, that you’ll be growing plants with no issues. No need to mess with the substrate at all.

Adding in MGOPS is probably likely to cause more problems than it solves, at least at first. With enough time and dedication to any method, I’m sure you’d figure it out, but it might be a headache for a while.

What I would personally do:
Just give it a shot without worrying about getting in there and messing with the substrate in terms of adding MGOPS or trying to layer ... give it about 6 months or so, just using whatever you got in there now plus root tabs and proper fertilization schedule. During that time, I’d put a little money aside every couple weeks.

If at the end of the trial period, I just wasn’t happy with the results, and I was relatively sure it’s the substrate, and not a different reason for poor growth.... then I’d take the money set aside and get some aquasoil. Then go through the hassle of removing the substrate and replacing.

UNS controsoil is $40 for 10L I think, just FYI. A little better than ADA.

Also, just so you can see. Here is my current random mix of 2 year old aquasoil and sand. It was thrown in this tank about a month ago and having no issues growing Monte Carlo, DHG, long hairgrass, AR mini, anubias and crypts. Just yesterday I made an effort to redistribute the sand on top, but for no other reason than for looks




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I actually love the way it looks right now and I have used eco complete in the past with great results. I thought having sand under the eco complete would be easier on the roots on amazon swords and crypts. Would you remove the sand under the eco, and add JUST the eco back to the tank, or do you think I will be ok with the sand under it the way it is? I bought the potting soil, but I am skeptical to use it because I usually frequently re-arrange my tank as the plants grow and I dont want to end up with a big mess.
How deep is the layer of sand? If only an inch or two, you should be fine to leave it. If deeper than that, you run the risk of developing anaerobic pockets in the sand. I have done an inch of sand under gravel in many tanks in the past with no issue. In the instances where I used MGOPS, I actually put down a layer of sand on top of it and then covered it with gravel and did my plantings in the gravel to try and minimize disruption. I don't think the results were necessarily better than just planting in sand or gravel.

I should caveat this by saying that I'm just getting back into the hobby after a long absence. My current tank has very old Ecocomplete that I probably should have trashed (or at least removed and washed thoroughly). It looks great with crystal clear water, but I can't get the ammonia and nitrates under control. I'm hoping it will be OK once the filter cycles longer and I do additional water changes.
 

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In agreement with a couple of the posts above, I don’t see a problem at all. Do not add dirt unless your really wanting to use dirt and just forgot about it before you added the substrate you have. What you have is fine and would just require some substrate fertilizer and water column fertilizer


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