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Hi all, I know there have been threads in this before but I can’t find any recent ones. Getting to the point. Starting either a 10 or 15 gallon planted tank (not sure in stocking yet). Leaning towards sand as substrate. Any reason to go with eco complete instead? Looking for something I don’t have to change out, unless I want to, of course.
Also any stocking suggestions will be welcomed.
Thanks!
 

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Hi all, I know there have been threads in this before but I can’t find any recent ones. Getting to the point. Starting either a 10 or 15 gallon planted tank (not sure in stocking yet). Leaning towards sand as substrate. Any reason to go with eco complete instead? Looking for something I don’t have to change out, unless I want to, of course.
Also any stocking suggestions will be welcomed.
Thanks!
I would have to recommend sand over Eco-complete. I've had Eco-complete in 2 tanks for many years. I recently switched both tanks over to Black Diamond blasting sand. At Tractor Supply Co. you can get 50lb for about $10. Give it a good rinse and you're good to go. BDBS is MUCH easier it is to plant in and keep plants anchored. Also, the majority of waste settles on top rather than sneaking through the gaps like eco-complete. This makes maintaining a pristine substrate much easier. I didn't really have a bad experience with eco-complete, but for an inert substrate, I feel like the advertising is misleading and it's overpriced compared to most sand options. I feel like the jet black color of the BDBS is more appealing as well. Hope this helps!
 

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I vote sand as well. If you want something 'more' then you can put down a thin layer of aquasoil and then cap it with sand. This is what I do in all of my tanks. No need to replace the aquasoil, it recharges from fertilizer used in tanks and can be put in future tanks if you prefer (though by then it will be mixed with any sand).
 

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I started my tank with eco-complete. I like the look but it's a pain to plant in, I'm constantly breaking stems while trying to get them deep enough. I topped it with a little BDBS and it helped at first but then mixed together over a couple of weeks. My new tank is going to use eco-complete in a mesh bag to help make a slope and the rest will be BDBS.

I'd recommend just putting some Osmocote+ balls on the bottom before adding sand or placing root tabs into the sand. Or just do what minorhero suggested.
 

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I have used Eco-Complete and sand, I vote for sand 10x over Eco-Complete.

Eco-Complete is tough to plant into, expensive, offers nothing for plants and IME it turned an off- grey colour and didn't look as nice as blasting sand.
 

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I've not used sand yet, but I do have eco-complete in most of my tanks. I'd say the main thing I dont like about it is the hard time I have with stem plants. They dont stay planted well, and it's easy to damage the stems when planting or re-planting. The upside is it doesn't break down
 

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I’ve kind of had the opposite experience. I have issues keeping my plants down in the black diamond sometimes, but I haven’t had any issues in the Eco complete. I also keep a low tech tank, so I like that the dirt and debris settles down in the eco-complete, it feeds my crypts. I don’t gravel vac or do water changes, just let fish poop fertilize. I have two tanks with eco-complete, and one with BDBS.
 

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I’ve kind of had the opposite experience. I have issues keeping my plants down in the black diamond sometimes, but I haven’t had any issues in the Eco complete. I also keep a low tech tank, so I like that the dirt and debris settles down in the eco-complete, it feeds my crypts. I don’t gravel vac or do water changes, just let fish poop fertilize. I have two tanks with eco-complete, and one with BDBS.
Good info.

As someone who is looking to possibly move to sand may I ask:

What size mesh BDBS did you use? I understand the fine mesh can be very light but I thought the medium was ok.
How deep was your BDBS substrate?
 

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Good info.

As someone who is looking to possibly move to sand may I ask:

What size mesh BDBS did you use? I understand the fine mesh can be very light but I thought the medium was ok.
How deep was your BDBS substrate?
I used the medium bdbs. It’s about 3” on my 55 gallon. I also keep the eco complete about 3”. I would agree with others that the bdbs is probably easier to plant stems. If you’re the kind of person that keeps your substrate pristine, the sand would probably be easier. But like I said, I really enjoy the way stuff settles in the eco-complete to feed my plants.
 

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I've used both. I'd go with whatever makes the fish and hardscape look best. For example I have some c. habrosus originally in a black sand tank and could never see then unless they were actively moving. Now I have them in a light natural sand and I can see them swimming about. I have cherry shrimp that really pop in another tank that has eco complete. Both sand and eco complete can be a pain in the ass to keep stems in, but once they are in and growing it's okay.
 

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I agree with everyone here. I've tried Eco Complete and BDBS(Fine and coarser grit). Sand by far is the easiest to work with. 1240 size BDBS I found to be the medium sized grit. I've bought 2040 size before and it is way too fine, works but not a lot of water flowing through. Check their website out here for more info blackdiamondabrasives.com/products/black-diamond-coal-slag .
 

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BDBS for sure! I too have used both,and much prefer sand.As long as you're using sand,you might consider miracle gro potting soil under it.I've had great success with that combination.
 
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