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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone!
Been a while since I've posted anything but glad to be getting back into things. Recently moved so I had to break down my tank and am starting a new one. My first "planted" tank was a little unconventional as I did a gravel substrate with an UGF system (literally just added plants into an existing system). This round, I wanted to do a substrate of the Caribsea eco-complete black. Do you need to top this with gravel or something else? Also wanted to get a canister filter. I have a 29gl tank. Any recommendations?
 

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I would discourage the usage of eco-complete unelss you have large fishes like oscars which is unlikely in a 29. A substrate that i found that does much better and is a bit finer is estes stoney river. Like eco-complete this substrate is jet black but the grains are much smaller but still large enough to allow the plant roots to breath. The problem with eco-complete is two factors first the substrate is so coarse it is difficult for fishes like cory and pleco that like to dig into it and second it takes more effort to root plants in it.... Not really answering your question but ....
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As for canister filters on a 29 - you could put an eheim 2217 or 2215 or one of the smaller fluvals - 207? 307?. Personally i would put in an HMF or hob on such a small tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I would discourage the usage of eco-complete unelss you have large fishes like oscars which is unlikely in a 29. A substrate that i found that does much better and is a bit finer is estes stoney river. Like eco-complete this substrate is jet black but the grains are much smaller but still large enough to allow the plant roots to breath. The problem with eco-complete is two factors first the substrate is so coarse it is difficult for fishes like cory and pleco that like to dig into it and second it takes more effort to root plants in it.... Not really answering your question but ....
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As for canister filters on a 29 - you could put an eheim 2217 or 2215 or one of the smaller fluvals - 207? 307?. Personally i would put in an HMF or hob on such a small tank.
Thanks for the feed back! The reasons I liked the eco complete was because it already had some nutrients. Does the stoney river have the same? I wanted to do a canister because I would like to upgrade my tank in the next year (I have literally had this tank for 20+yrs and its showing its age) for something bigger so I was hoping to get a canister that might be a little large for my 29 but would be able to work on a 50 and also allow me to get familiar with how they work. Good idea or no?
 

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Thanks for the feed back! The reasons I liked the eco complete was because it already had some nutrients. Does the stoney river have the same? I wanted to do a canister because I would like to upgrade my tank in the next year (I have literally had this tank for 20+yrs and its showing its age) for something bigger so I was hoping to get a canister that might be a little large for my 29 but would be able to work on a 50 and also allow me to get familiar with how they work. Good idea or no?
Eheim 2217 would work well in your case.

I would also avoid using Eco-Complete, it has no nutrients, it's hard to plant into, it has very poor CEC, it loses it's colour in my experience, it is a perfect home for algae to take hold in my experience, it is a master at trapping organic waste, it's rough and has very inconsistent granule sizes and it's vastly over priced with no added value.

The only thing it really has going for it is it's initial appearance and the bacteria fluid that comes in the bad, oh, and no rinsing required.


Plain sand or gravel will grow plants as good, if not better then Eco-Complete.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Eheim 2217 would work well in your case.

I would also avoid using Eco-Complete, it has no nutrients, it's hard to plant into, it has very poor CEC, it loses it's colour in my experience, it is a perfect home for algae to take hold in my experience, it is a master at trapping organic waste, it's rough and has very inconsistent granule sizes and it's vastly over priced with no added value.

The only thing it really has going for it is it's initial appearance and the bacteria fluid that comes in the bad, oh, and no rinsing required.


Plain sand or gravel will grow plants as good, if not better then Eco-Complete.
I guess I'm confused. I thought the Caribsea eco-complete has nutrients, but youre saying it doesn't? I was looking to put a substrate in that had some nutrients already in it hence why I thought that would be a good choice... but yeah, if it doesn't then its not worth the $$$
 

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I guess I'm confused. I thought the Caribsea eco-complete has nutrients, but youre saying it doesn't? I was looking to put a substrate in that had some nutrients already in it hence why I thought that would be a good choice... but yeah, if it doesn't then its not worth the $$$
It is an inert substrate which supplies no nutrients to the plants.

Flourite is no different.
 

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So the better plan would be to do plain sand and just dose/use root tabs?
Yes, that is a very good plan. Sand or plain gravel is about the "easiest" and most user friendly option for both the short and long term of the tank.

It gives you complete flexibility in your dosing options, your maintenance options and plant selection options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yes, that is a very good plan. Sand or plain gravel is about the "easiest" and most user friendly option for both the short and long term of the tank.

It gives you complete flexibility in your dosing options, your maintenance options and plant selection options.
Alright...any particular type of plain sand? I read a couple of the substrate articles and it seemed to reference different ones... does sand need to be topped in anyway? I have some multi colored gravel left from my previous tank but with the gravel I had issues with the plants getting uprooted and then floating around the tank...
 

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Yep, eco-complete and flourite are both inert. Eco-complete does come with some liquid in the bag that is supposed to contain enough nutrients to get plants started. From what I read the claim is about 6 months worth of nutrients but I think that depends a lot on your plants to eco-complete ratio. All my plants seem to be doing very well so far but my tank is only 1 month old and I have root tabs to hand for when I notice any change. The main reason I opted for flourite as a top is that I like the clay texture.
 

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Alright...any particular type of plain sand? I read a couple of the substrate articles and it seemed to reference different ones... does sand need to be topped in anyway? I have some multi colored gravel left from my previous tank but with the gravel I had issues with the plants getting uprooted and then floating around the tank...
You can use pool filter sand or any inert sand of similar granularity and that should hold your plant roots in place nicely. I have done that in my second tank. Sand is also less messy than flourite.
 

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Alright...any particular type of plain sand? I read a couple of the substrate articles and it seemed to reference different ones... does sand need to be topped in anyway? I have some multi colored gravel left from my previous tank but with the gravel I had issues with the plants getting uprooted and then floating around the tank...
If you like the dark substrate look, go with Black Diamond brand Blasting Sand (BDBS) in the medium grit.

Rinse it very well prior to use.

If you like a lighter look, go with a pool filter sand.

Rinse is very well prior to use.

Or, you can spend a little more money and use an aquarium specific sand that you like the look of.

Some play sands can work, but they are typically messy and the grain size can be too small for our liking.


Sand does not need to be topped with anything
 

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eco-complete doesn't really have nutrients it is more of a marketing gimick. My tank with eco-complete did no better or worse growing plants. Here are two pictures - the one with black substrate is ecocomplete and the one without has crystal river (an inert white substrate):

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1027627



As others mentioned above BDS and pool sand are cheap alternative. The only catch with them is making sure you find a pure form. Some of them have additives that is not good for the fishes and some BDS comes with a bit of iron. Not sure if the iron is 'bad' but i've always shied away from it.


Thanks for the feed back! The reasons I liked the eco complete was because it already had some nutrients. Does the stoney river have the same? I wanted to do a canister because I would like to upgrade my tank in the next year (I have literally had this tank for 20+yrs and its showing its age) for something bigger so I was hoping to get a canister that might be a little large for my 29 but would be able to work on a 50 and also allow me to get familiar with how they work. Good idea or no?
 

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Flourite and eco complete are clay base substrates, they are inert, only means they don't react with the chemical or dissolve in the water, but over time they will break down into small particles and what locked inside are needed by the plants, and this is how they work.
If you dose, not real matter if you use sand, BDS, flourite or eco complete, but if you don't, sand or BDS are not good choice, ...
Personally I like flourite better than eco complete, because flourite last longer, ecocomple only good for about 2-3 years and too light.
 

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Flourite and eco complete are clay base substrates, they are inert, only means they don't react with the chemical or dissolve in the water, but over time they will break down into small particles and what locked inside are needed by the plants, and this is how they work.
Personally I like flourite better than eco complete, because flourite last longer, ecocomple only good for about 2-3 years and too light.
Could you point me to the source of this information please?

Caribsea and Seachem both advertise their substrates are good indefinitely for the life of the aquarium, and they both state that their substrates will not break down with time.
 

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Eco-Complete, despite being 90% hype and 10% difficulty for newcomers, doesn't break down. It's not clay-based. Effectively crushed volcanic rock.

Flourite, though, is definitely clay. But I've had some Flourite tanks running since probably 2007 or 2008 and it all looks as good as new. Really depends upon how you treat it.

I tend to think EC is great but only if it fits your aesthetic and you either already have some on-hand or get it super-cheap. It's nice for building up slopes and for holding up hardscape that tends to sink down. I wouldn't pay retail for any reason. Okay... I might pay retail if it were crushed a bit more finely. Because that'd make it cheaper than buying black lava rock fines that many of us love. But planting in lava rock? Ugh, I'm having heart palpitations just thinking about it.
 

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“Caribsea and Seachem both advertise their substrates are good indefinitely for the life of the aquarium, and they both state that their substrates will not break down with time”
Think about the above statement....”not break down with time”......does not say they are referring to the fertilizer part. Rock and sand also do not break down over time.
I have Black Diamond in all my heavily planted 6 tanks because no matter what brand name substrate you use the fertilizer portion will become inert after 4 or 5 months and you are stuck with expensive sand. Stick with the 50 pound BD for $10 and save your money.
Use frets for the first 6 months until your plants settle in and then you most likely will not need much once the tank gets into rhythm. I use ferts in my heavily planted tanks once a month because it is a “feel good” thing to me.
 
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