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SMS Charcoal failed...:(

2378 Views 15 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  forddna
3 weeks after ordering SMS charcoal from Lesco's, they tell me that it is not possible to get just one bag. So, back to the drawing board in terms of substrate.

Things to consider:
Size: 55 gallon
Scape: Rock hardscape, sand foreground, hc lawn on hills around hardscape.
Plants: HC carpet, dwarf hairgrass, dwarf sag, blyxa (not sure what species yet), rotala indica, hygrophilia polysperma ceylon, ludwigia repens x arcuata
Cost: Low. ;) I can't afford 100 dollars of aquasoil.

Some options:
1. SMS red - is it really that ugly? Anyone have any pictures to show?
2. Oil-dri - apparently, similar to SMS. Anyone in SE Michigan know where to get this stuff around here? Or, anyone anywhere know where to look for this stuff?
3. Ecocomplete? Available locally, although not really much less expensive than aquasoil. I'd like to avoid this option.
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Also, ideally, there will be no substrate showing when the plants grow in.
The SMS clay (red color), is not all that bad, but its kind of "Big Top Circus". If your going for the natural look, I would say this is not the way to go.

The guy at Lesco's is being lazy. I ordered one or two bags at a time numerous times and had absolutly no problem. You can order it through the website you know... just have to set up an account. but shipping 50 lbs can't be cheap, however, you may be able to bypass the flaky employee at Lescos by ordering through the site and have it delivered to that local Lescos. I would contact them directly and plead your case. Tell them you are in an aquatic club and that you were charged with testing this type of material as a possible substrate for the club. This will usually "charge them up" to satisfy your request.

Nothing wrong with ECO...but $$$$ compared to SMS. Never worked with oil-dri, but SMS is made by oil-dri, so its got to be very similar. I would look at local autoparts suppliers in your area and see if you can get it through them.

Good luck!
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If you order one unit on the site with a credit card, they will almost certainly take your money. You can check the site for the stock list of your local distributer and pretty much work around the local guy completely. They are alway oblivious as to what's going on anyway. That's how I did it, I showed up once i saw that there was one bag in, and the guy had no idea why he received only one bag, almost acted like it was a set back or something.

Its that color under water. Its not a great pic for color but it was easy for me to find. :)

I personally dislike the color. No matter how well you plant the tank you will see the color underneath because you know its there. :)

A nice black color would be great. Thats why I bought a few bags of Aquasoil to replace the SMS.
Oil Dri makes Soil Master Select. They are actually two VERY different products. Not sure how many times I will have to cover this very same stupid ground. Also Lesco is just ONE of MANY distributors of Soil Master products. If one simply calls 800/233-9802 Oil Dri is more than happy to tell you who is your local distributor.
There are more then Only lesco. try to find any other stores
Lesco was just the closest one. There are also other Lesco's a little further, and I will look into other distributors.
If you are taking the store reps word for it don't. If you order it online they will throw one bag on their stock truck with your name on it. Then when it shows up they will have to call you to come get it. And you will get the benifit of seeing their stupid look on their faces.
Exactly, they're oblivious to the fact that you can order one unit online, they think they only serve golf courses etc. They never called me though, the guy was so dumbfounded by the concept of one bag arriving that he just let it sit there. That's why I say log into the Lesco site and watch their inventory, in the left column you can enter your zip, then click on 'view current inventory' under your distributor that pops up below. One unit of SMS is hard to miss in the list.

I have an unopened bag of SMS Charcoal. I'd be glad to give it to you. :thumbsup: Just PM me.

My local leesco rep was quite nice for me. I originally went in to order one bag of the stuff. When I got there, I figured, it's cheap, I'll order 4 bags.

Gave him the credit card, he charged me right there. (I wasn't too happy about that) BUT! after the card was approved, he got on the phone, and told them to throw 4 bags of the stuff on his order coming to his store next week.

They can do it. It just depends on the guy working the desk.
fishscale, you've seen pics of my substrate is SMS but no idea what color it is called.

Edit-apparently it only comes in charcoal and red, so mine must be the red. :)
There's a lot of close up pictures in my can just browse if you want. Gallon Freshwater Tank/ sure is. Thanks!
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