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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know a lot of people here use the sms black substrate from Lesco.

I really like the idea of it and know that it is one of the better substrates to use (also cheap).

However, I do like natural looking tanks and was concerned, since I never saw a black substrate used in person, that the charcoal/black would look un-natural.

What light temp do most of you use?

Is the black natural looking?

What, if any, color backgrounds do you use with it?

What about rocks? What color goes best?
 

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Its semi natural. there are some specks of red and tan here and there. its more of a well as the name implies Charcol grey rather then black.
Heres a pic of it in my 75. (excuse the mess)
Tank has a mix of 75/25% split on lighting 7100K and 8000K respectivly.
depending on how densley you plan on planting its color may not even be an issue. But I think natural tanish rocks go well in it. Like lace rock and also driftwoods are good too. I have lace and Mal. DW.


 

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There is a layer of Ecocomplete under the SMS so some grains have made their way thru. Aside from that the SMS comes just like you see there.
 

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Nice. I just ordered a 50# of the turface yesterday to go in a 125 I'm starting. Will be mixing it with old eco that's in my 55 now. How's the coverage on the turface BS? I hope 50# plus the 55's 6 (iirc) will be enough. Looks like it matches great though. How's the cloudies on the SM?
 

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I used SMS in my tanks ~ regular ten gallon tanks. With one bag, I covered four of them 2" (front) to 4" (back) deep plus gave my stepson enough to cover his the same depth. I still had enough to do two nano tanks (3 or so gallons each). One of the ten gallon tanks is my shrimp tank (link in my sig). I like the way it looks, the SMS ~ not quite black, but very dark.

Regarding the cloudiness, Bob ~ I rinse it first, then cover it with plastic wrap to fill up the tank. Works really good ~ almost no cloudiness at all that way. To go into detail more, I put about a large coffee can's worth in a bucket, put the bucket under the faucet in the tub, and stir the SMS with both hands as the water runs over. I'll dump the water out, refill and stir some more about four times or so. Then just dump it in my tank, cover with a piece of saran wrap all the way to all four sides, and use my gravel vac to fill it (put the bucket of water above the tank and siphon it into the tank), putting the end of the vac hose in the middle of the plastic wrap.

I've done three tanks like this. The first one wasn't any cloudier than a LIGHT new-tank bacterial outbreak. The second one was cloudier, but I think that's because I used the same piece of plastic wrap ~ since it was wet, it was harder to get it laid out flat all the way to all four sides, and maybe that affected it. Regardless, it was still MUCH better than the first tank I did with it, filling with a plate after rinsing the SMS.

There's another thread on SMS around here somewhere, fairly recent, too (within this past week or two) and JenthePlantGeek said she doesn't even have to rinse hers. She's where I learned the plastic trick ~ she says it works great for her even without rinsing.
 

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coverage is great with SMS Its alot lighter then Eco so its weight goes alot further as far as spread goes. lb for lb I think SMS probably covers 2.5 times the surface.

you deff want to rinse it very well. I'd never put it in my tanks without rinseing it well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
THANK YOU GUYS!!!!

CampCreek, great advice and trick. I tried the plastic wrap and my water was crystal clear from the start!

Also, the SMS is a HUGE improvement over the Shultz Aquasoil I was using.
 

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How do you pull out the plastic wrap without disturbing the soil? I'm interested in using SMS because there's a lesco's 3 minutes from here. Is there anything darker? I'd like the substrate (or the top of the substrate anyway) to be pretty dark, kind of like aquasoil. Is eco-complete darker?
 

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How do you pull out the plastic wrap without disturbing the soil? I'm interested in using SMS because there's a lesco's 3 minutes from here. Is there anything darker? I'd like the substrate (or the top of the substrate anyway) to be pretty dark, kind of like aquasoil. Is eco-complete darker?
Yes Eco-comp is darker (darker than SMS), but it also has finer grains. In time it will begin to settle towards the bottom and the SMS will begin to show. There are other substrates, I believe 3M has some sort of black gravel that some people have used for the top layer.
 

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Isn't that a cool tric, Zabak?! Glad it worked for you, too.

Fishscale, the plastic floats up as you fill the tank, so you just pull it out of the top level of the water when it's full. There's not any SMS darker than the charcoal. I don't know about other substrates.
 

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Aside from Eco. SMS is probably the darkest substrate. ADA might make some stuff as well but well.. its up to you really.

Eco has more varance in its grain size. from sand like to small pebbles. the pebbles will work their way to the top and the sane stuff will stay low.
Heres an upclose. you can see how the large ECO has worked its way up. you can also see how little diff in color there really is.



I totally recomend it. Cost vs volume there is nothing that comes close. If you live near a lesco thats even sweeter. Can't beat 50Lb of good substrate for 16.50.
 
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