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So I recently added a bunch of plain black gravel to my 55 gallon. I really like the way it looks. My only worry though is that I just wont get good growth like when I use Eco complete. Ive tried using root tabs before and it just didnt do anything. I really like the way the gravel looks though and hate the way eco complete looks. What should I do?
 

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If you had nothing in the tank, I would do this:
Put a band of gravel against the front wall, and any sides that are seen.
Fill the middle with EC.
Use gravel as a cap.
Leave the EC exposed where you want fine plants such as most ground cover species. They will fill and cover, but do not do well in coarser substrate (like gravel.

Since you say it is already set up I would modify this.

Use a putty knife or similar tool to pull the EC away from the front of the tank by and inch or so. Fill this gap with gravel.
Add gravel cap in areas where it will be seen.
 

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Mix Eco-Complete in. If the tank is established, don't use the Eco-Complete as a cap as that can cause cycle problems. Just mix the Eco-Complete in with your hands and you should be fine.

I did this with my 29. I did it over 4 weeks ( divided the length of the tank into quarters, did one quarter per week. Also did this on water change day...) just to keep the tank in check as I added the new substrate. I added Flourite, Eco-Complete and Flora Max to small gravel.
 
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