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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 8 or so bags of used eco complete from previous tanks in my tank currently. I'm changing up tanks to a smaller footprint. I have pool filter sand in a non high tech tank, just extremely simple plants and it's a dream to plant in and the bottom feeders LOVE it.

I'm trading my 67 (3 foot square) for a 65 breeder.

I have pressurized co2 available, 192 W. PC, and GW dry ferts. I'm using the Eco now and am doing fine, however I'm curious if I could get away with switching to PFS.

If I did PFS it's be a low tech tank, either 96 watt only or only short bursts of 192w. Co2 Maybe, if needed. Ferts if needed, and basically loaches, cories, and rainbows.

Focusing on dwarf sag, anabuis (SP), ferns, maybe crypts and stems.

Do you use the Eco( prob. 3-4 yrs old) or go PFS?

Thanks
David
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What got me thinking this is my Red Melon sword will grow terrible and throw green leaves every few weeks, toss in a jobes stick and right away RED. 2 weeks Later... green
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
in the current tank they have 192 watts, good co2, good water movement, and kno3+ greg watson micro's
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
but for the rest, do you stick with eco? It changes from fine to course all over and is harder to plant in compared to sand
 

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I can't stand sand, personally. I think it's too fine, has zero nutrient content or CEC, and is a pain to keep clean. I also prefer black substrates, so I'd go with Eco. Even used, it's got more nutrients than sand. If you want to boost nutrient content, then you can always underlay it with peat or some of the other supplements like the new Ferka line GLA has now.
 

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That's going to come down the a personal choice as ether will work fine. The important part is all the rest, light/C02/ferts once those are 'non-limiting' as Tom Barr likes to say any of the good substrates will do the job so it comes down to the one you like to look at best.

- Brad
 

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Pool filter sand makes for a mess, offers no nutrients, and it'll probably hit anarobia at shallower depth if you try to put organic matter of any type underneath. Sand is nice for decoration, but otherwise I personally avoid it like the plague.

Personally I'd go with the EC, maybe lay down some MS below if you don't plan on playing with the tank much. I've heard of people using eggcrate between MS and larger grained material to reduce intermixing. Either way, having good sediment if you've never tried it before will go farther than you'd think in terms of stability in plant health.

-Philosophos
 

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Pool filter sand is nothing like playsand, don't confuse the two, you're talking quite a few millimeters difference and it makes a big difference in compaction. Even then, I have swords busting out of tanks that have nothing but play sand (fine silica), and no ferts at all. I've had them grow like crazy in high tech tanks too, with Eco. It's all personal preference IMHO. Get some Malaysian Trumpet snails if you're worried about compaction. You can get nasty anearbobic spots in Eco too, over time. I'm guessing a third of Eco is finer than PFS, if not finer than play sand.
 

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I've seen pool filter sand, play sand, etc. I'd still rather use something larger if possible. It's all been used successfully, and plants in nature grow in worse conditions than we'd ever expose them to in our tanks.

Still, there's a reason we use inert substrates or stable compounds rather than taking a chunk out of the river bottom. Right off the start I'll say that I avoid silica based sand because of how it irritates the gills of the fish after moving things around; quartz crystaline sand is not the same as the fine silica you'll find in clays that have been rounded off. I've even experimented with my own lungs for years working with stone; dust from fine clay sediment will leave you hacking up less phlegm and tasting less blood in your spit than quartz crystal. :icon_cool

Now getting into rooting, finer substrates with a lack of porosity aren't going to function well in terms of ionic exchange or behaving as microseives. There's less surface area, and less nutrient retension. A smaller grain size is also going to reduce flow throughout the upper parts of the substrate, which is not as desirable for initial planting since it reduces how fast oxygen will reach the chopped off stub you'll be planting. Requiring roots to supply more of their own oxygen isn't doing any favors to the plants rooting process. To my understanding, this is why people who grow bonsai trees look to clay with good drainage, which is exactly what ADA aquasoil is; akadama.

Just my thoughts and observations.

-Philosophos
 

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Well, those are all good observation, but I've watched Toninas, swords, crypts, hairgrass, you name it, grow just fine in silica sand. I think it's all hype, pictures are worth a thousand words. I'd like to see a source for this gill irritation too, my cories and rummynose don't seem to care while their rooting around in it, must be a pretty in depth study that figured that one out, sounds about as mythical as corydoras barbell erosion in sand. :sleep:

People have been knocking sand and a bunch of other things on forums for a long time, I've been using it for a long time too and can tell you that you can grow anything in it. The CEC of SMS blows most subs 'out of the water', but it never made it any easier for me to grow plants than sand did. Science doesn't always prove what will or will not work in a PT, growing plants does.
 

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I agree the funny part about sand is that the difference between 'sand' and 'gravel' is the size of the grain, that's just about it. As long as you stay within the 1mm to 3mm range your find with any substrate. The reason we recommend PFS over play sand is because PFS ranges from 1mm to 1.5mm where play sand ranges from .5mm to 1mm normally so for our purposes PFS is the better choice.

- Brad
 

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PFS is also totally inert, a requirement for it to do it's intended job, so you don't have to worry about silicates or anything else that might be unwittingly added by play sand or any other non-aquarium related substance. IME, diatoms that are feeding off silicates don't take long to totally consume the silicates and disappear anyway, but I've read some unconfirmed reports that there are some industrial types of sand that will feed diatoms endlessly. I have only seen that happen in SW anyway, the FW diatoms I've had were not in sand tanks and seemed to be related to biofilter problems.

I used to be a big proponent of high CEC substrates here, alittle anti-sand for that reason, but over the years I have come to realize that I wasted a lot of time with that thinking, because the sand tanks I've had throughout that time have done great, even better than other tanks sometimes, and caused me absolutely no problems. I don't feel like a special case either because I've done it more than a few times and have watched others have the same success over and over. It mucks up the water just as bad as anything else when disturbed enough, and probably falls back to the bottom faster as long as it was rinsed before use. My only gripe is that it shows organic debris much better than a dark sub, but I like that most of it sits on top and can be whisked into the water column to be sent into the filter or removed during a water change. I've used it in low tech tanks with the help of root tabs from the start, but would probably recommend a nutrient rich sub for anyone who wants to start a low tech with absolutely no fert assistance. That said, sand is capable of holding nutrients in the form of organics over time, you just have to leave it alone to allow microbes to convert everything. I bet if you did a controlled, side by side growing experiment, Aquasoil would be the only thing to shine way above sand or anything else. If anything, you might see some cyano and/or fungus pop up on top of the Eco.

Bottom line, plants are weeds, easy to grow as long as they have some steady nutrients and adequate light, I think we over think this stuff a lot, especially when it comes to substrates and lighting. I don't use half the light that I used to when I started learning from forums, "3wpg" is a bunch of hype, too.
 

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I pretty much agree with all that has been said so far, but for what it's worth, Eco-Complete can definitely be reused over and over again, and I swear it actually gets better over time. I'm sure this is because of its CEC rate, and the fact that with every new tank it gets recycled into, it has collected more mulm, poop, and nutes from the previous one.

If you want to, click on the 10g link in my sig, and you can see how fast I've been growing a field of microsword using EC in its 3rd incarnation. I have to say, the benefits of Eco Complete seem to outweigh any disadvantages, for me.
 

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I agree with you aidexl, there is nothing wrong with sand I've used it quite a bit along with SMS, Turface, Flourite, and Eco mixed or non-mixed without any problems and I have quite a few more tanks (all planted) in my dedicated fish-room than most of the naysayers. Usually what I find is that the people who adamantly oppose sand or recommends Eco for every situation tend to only have a couple of tanks and have never used anything else or if they did something went wrong one time and they haven't tried again.

There's nothing wrong with Eco or Fluorite there great substrates but if someone says they have limited funds and/or a big tank then the cookie cutter answer isn't the correct one especially when your looking at a little 15lb bag verses a much cheaper 50lb bag that will have the exact same results over the long haul.

- Brad
 

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Well, those are all good observation, but I've watched Toninas, swords, crypts, hairgrass, you name it, grow just fine in silica sand. I think it's all hype, pictures are worth a thousand words.
Wait… you’re saying because you can grow nice plants in a substrate that is hypothetically inferior, that it must not be inferior? That doesn’t follow rationally; nowhere did anyone state that pool filter sand couldn’t grow nice plants. All the same, why not use a substrate that should work better based on known factors in plant health when it’s available?

I'd like to see a source for this gill irritation too, my cories and rummynose don't seem to care while their rooting around in it, must be a pretty in depth study that figured that one out, sounds about as mythical as corydoras barbell erosion in sand.
http://www.aquarticles.com/articles/management/Lawler_Hyperplasia.html
Notice who the author is and his credentials. Notice corys specifically being mentioned. This is not a new concept; this is not an unproven concept. Gill tissue is far more sensitive than barbells, and it’s some of the most sensitive tissue on a fish. In this case the fish is developing hyperplasia through the same method you would develop a callous. I’m betting having your alveoli irritated by fine, sharp little crystalline particles with a hardness of 7 until they develop calluses would cause some breathing problems, don’t you? In the case of fish, there are no alveolar sacs with narrow openings to aid in protection; just direct exposure to vulnerable tissue.



-Philosophos
 

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Wait… you’re saying because you can grow nice plants in a substrate that is hypothetically inferior, that it must not be inferior? That doesn’t follow rationally....
Is this some kind of trick question? You said,

"finer substrates with a lack of porosity aren't going to function well in terms of ionic exchange or behaving as microseives. There's less surface area, and less nutrient retension. A smaller grain size is also going to reduce flow throughout the upper parts of the substrate, which is not as desirable for initial planting since it reduces how fast oxygen will reach the chopped off stub you'll be planting. Requiring roots to supply more of their own oxygen isn't doing any favors to the plants rooting process"

..basically repeating or trying to teach me scientific things about CEC and nutrient exchange that have already been swimming in these forums for years. My response was another way of saying, it all doesn't matter as much as you think it does [IMO], I don't even try and still grow nice plants in it. So, maybe I am saying it isn't inferior, why would it be, because the science we have all been regurgitating for ten or so years says so? Let me ask you, how many sand tanks have you kept planted, and how bad did it actually turn out for you? If they failed, are you positive the sand killed your plants and not some other more obvious culprit? This is not agriculture we're dealing with, it's weeds in a box of water no matter how good your trimming skills are.



Notice who the author is and his credentials. Notice corys specifically being mentioned. This is not a new concept; this is not an unproven concept. Gill tissue is far more sensitive than barbells, and it’s some of the most sensitive tissue on a fish. In this case the fish is developing hyperplasia through the same method you would develop a callous. I’m betting having your alveoli irritated by fine, sharp little crystalline particles with a hardness of 7 until they develop calluses would cause some breathing problems, don’t you? In the case of fish, there are no alveolar sacs with narrow openings to aid in protection; just direct exposure to vulnerable tissue.
Not acceptable, he says "a rough substrate can stimulate hyperplasia from the constant irritation of rubbing against a rough surface", but nowhere in there is a single cite to research done that proves pool filter sand, or more likely play sand, causes hyperplasia. The rest of your post is you betting on things. I'm not saying it isn't possible and the information to sway my views might not exist, I was in pool construction and refinishing for years and am fully aware of what it's like to breath particles all day, just saying this link isn't enough for me to believe I have anything to worry about right now. I have never heard of anyone complaining about their cories in sand for the last twenty years, either, so it may not be a new concept to you, but it's obviously slipped right past everyone I've ever known.

I'm going to creep out on a limb here because now I cannot find or offer any of the cites for what I'm about to say, but some research suggests there are a variety of wild substrates for cories to potentially scrape off barbells, so one would assume that if hard or sharp subs had anything to do with it, natural selection or adaptation would take care of it in short time and there would be no issue to speak of. This is part of the debate against sand causing barbell erosion and is also why I am not totally buying into the gill hyperplasia thing. It's known that cories in the wild are not always sifting through the finest materials, so why do they flourish there if they have adverse reactions to it? Somewhat related side note, if you're ever interested in a natural colored sand substrate that is already a bit rounded as if polished by water in a river, see if you can find this stuff (see second paragraph). It's much smoother than most similar things I've tried, like it was run through a tumbler or something, not to mention there's a nice color combo in the grains, after seeing it in a tank it would be nicer if it had more browns, IMO.
 

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If you want to, click on the 10g link in my sig, and you can see how fast I've been growing a field of microsword using EC in its 3rd incarnation. I have to say, the benefits of Eco Complete seem to outweigh any disadvantages, for me.
I have to agree, I've never had microsword grow as well as it did in Eco, can't say it wasn't some other factor since it was a highly lit and dosed tank with CO2, but I have never had to rip such thick carpets of it out like I did when I had it in Eco. It actually made me sick of microsword for a while. :hihi:
 
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