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Hello everyone, I have been going through the threads and understand there are numerous posts regarding substrate... I have read several and other site regarding them, but would like to clarify something before pulling the trigger.


I am starting a new low tech 54 gallon corner tank. This will be my first planted tank and I'm not ready for CO2, but may add in the future.



I am considering Aqua Soil, Eco Complete, and Flourite for my substrate.


Originally I was going to go Eco Complete soley, but found that this would not provide nutrients for plants. I could still use this, and top with something else if necessary.



Would it be advisable to do so, or would it be better to go with aqua soil and flourite?



My preference is for a dark, preferably black, substrate that will provide for plans. Also, I'm not looking to break the bank.


So would layering be a good approach? I would like to use enough to sort of add a little hill coming from the back corner to give it a bit of a scaped look.



Any advice would be greatly appreciated
 

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My preference is for a dark, preferably black, substrate that will provide for plans. Also, I'm not looking to break the bank.
Black Diamond Brand Blasting Sand medium grit. Rinse really well and you're set.

Cheap and perfect for planted tanks.

Eco-Complete AND FLOURITE = Overpriced garbage, 0 nutrients, very low CEC and very hard to plant smaller plants into.

Aquasoil is good, but it's an active substrate and will break down, requires a break in period and is more of a hassle.

Blasting sand has no real down sides
 

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Black Diamond Brand Blasting Sand medium grit. Rinse really well and you're set.

Cheap and perfect for planted tanks.

Eco-Complete AND FLOURITE = Overpriced garbage, 0 nutrients, very low CEC and very hard to plant smaller plants into.

Aquasoil is good, but it's an active substrate and will break down, requires a break in period and is more of a hassle.

Blasting sand has no real down sides

Thanks I have been looking for that in my area, but haven't found a source yet. In Austin so I would be it is around somewhere....

Does blasting sand have the nutrients for plants or would I have to add root tabs, fertilizer? I would prefer to plant with something nutritious. I understand I will have to fertilize regardless but I like to add as little to the water table as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Nice, is that a cherry shrimp?

I'm planning on stocking them in mine.

Thanks!
 

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I actually really like the look of Eco-complete and have used it in many of my tanks.

"Over-priced?" ~ Well yeah, that's relative to the person and their pocket-book. To you and others, the cost is too high; for me, I find its cost to be reasonable and am willing to pay it. I have it under sand in my 180 because I find it does a great job in giving plant roots ( like valisneria, swords, crypt spiralis--- plants with deep roots a solid base to grip onto). In my 60 gallon planted discus tank I use it because I find it natural looking, attractive.

"Garbage?" ~ again, relative to the needs of the person. I personally find BDBS ( coal slag) one of the most unattractive substrates that can be used in an aquarium. To me its ugly and unnatural. To your eye, it is attractive. To each his/her own. Coal slag is very popular as a planting media because of its low cost ( and, to some, its attractiveness); while. for others, it would be the last choice they would make.
 

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I actually really like the look of Eco-complete and have used it in many of my tanks.

Eco Complete was my first choice due to it's look. I still may use this underneath the Blastin Sand. It is something I am considering mainly due to cost. But I am still thinking about how it will do long term.



I would like to save some money somewhere, as I'm pretty much starting from scratch and it's looking like about a 5-600 dollar investment pre livestock....



But, I'd rather spend the money now vs having to redo something in 6 months...
 

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Eco Complete was my first choice due to it's look. I still may use this underneath the Blastin Sand. It is something I am considering mainly due to cost. But I am still thinking about how it will do long term.



I would like to save some money somewhere, as I'm pretty much starting from scratch and it's looking like about a 5-600 dollar investment pre livestock....



But, I'd rather spend the money now vs having to redo something in 6 months...
Cost is definitely a consideration. You should make your decision of substrate based on the budget you have for your project. As well as, of course, what substrate you find most attractive within that budget.
 

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Eco Complete was my first choice due to it's look. I still may use this underneath the Blastin Sand. It is something I am considering mainly due to cost. But I am still thinking about how it will do long term.



I would like to save some money somewhere, as I'm pretty much starting from scratch and it's looking like about a 5-600 dollar investment pre livestock....



But, I'd rather spend the money now vs having to redo something in 6 months...
Blasting sand is good for the life of the tank.

I found eco-complete traps a lot of crud.... a lot of it... it has uneven granule size, it's a pain to plant smaller delicate plants into and BBA loved to grow on it. It also lost it's attractive dark color and turned slightly lighter in color for some reason.

Laying it under the sand will eventually lead to them just mixing together... over time of course.

It provides nothing for plant growth, other than a granule for roots to "attach" to.

As to the sand, it stays it's nice dark color, super easy to plant into, uniform size and can easily be cleaned up of all crud that settles on it.

They both work well, but I wouldn't bother on mixing the two.

My tank with Eco comp (notice the "white" in the substrate:



Another tank but with black blasting sand:

 

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Discussion Starter #15
I like that look. It makes it look a bit more natural to me. But if both were colored black I don't think I could get the same affect.

Your tank looks very nice!
 

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You could use pool filter sand or, what I used, Caribsea Crystal River.

The substrate was very important in this tank mainly because of the fish I keep, they are earth-eaters and sift sand all day long for food.
They also move a lot of sand around the tank over a 24 hour period. So, any plants need to set down roots quickly and deeply.
The photos above are from about 6 months ago. The tank is quite overgrown right now. need to do so some clearing out and thinning.
 
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