The Planted Tank Forum banner

So what is the actual difference between ADA AS and Soilmaster?

1270 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  crazy loaches
OK, Ive been reading all the post about "best" substrate. But in terms of "real" differences, and I mean "better growth/simplier mantenance", what is the difference between the two substates? Assume that one would use the same water, light and fert parameters and plant the same plants in two different tanks, one with ADA AS and one with Soilmaster with peat and laterite, what would I "see" as the difference?

If you can describe these diffeneces using a 1-10 scale for reference, that would be great ... help me understand the relative differences.

1 - 8 of 8 Posts
aquasoil contains ammonia, but is clay based. It is soft and will not scratch the glass, it will lower KH... it makes plants grow like crazy with only additional potassium being dosed. some plants don't like aquasoil cause it is acidic and will not grow well or at all in it, some plants like erio's or tonina species seem to really like the acidic substrate conditions created by the aquasoil.

turface is just about inert other than iron, it is hard baked clay. it will not significantly impact KH. using EI, or some other regimen to dose macros is mandatory with the substrate.
it'll probably be argued that both grow equally well depending on how much you're willing to do. but i guess the simplest answer, based on aquanut's comments, is that aquasoil will be the easier one to grow plants in, unless they don't like acidic conditions.

Soilmaster is as they say: a thermally optimized Montmorillonite clay that is baked around 1000 to 1500 F.

This is 2 US Montmorillonite Clay chemical makeup (should be close to Soilmaster)

Texas Montmorillonite
SiO2: 70.1
Al2O3: 16.0
TiO2: 0.22
Fe2O3: 0.65
FeO: 0.15
MnO: 0.009
MgO: 3.69
CaO: 1.59
Na2O: 0.27
K2O: 0.078
P2O5: 0.026
S: 0.04.

Montmorillonite (Wyoming)
SiO2: 62.9,
Al2O3: 19.6
TiO2: 0.090,
FeO: 0.32
MnO: 0.006
MgO: 3.05
CaO: 1.68
Na2O: 1.53
K2O: 0.53
F: 0.111
P2O5: 0.049

The CEC is 19, PH is 6.

Laterite is a natural, high Iron Weathered material, not really a clay.
You can see it’s composition , CEC and PH at:

I was on the phone today wit my contact for Soilmaster
He is supposed to send me lot of infos and marketing package around their products and I ask for the chemical analysis
See less See more
Perhaps I've not been clear with my question ... and thanks for the technical data. But I was looking for something like ... "plants grow (20%,30%, 40%, ???%) faster and bigger in X", or "You end up using X less addatives (list) with X substrate", or "I've been able to grow these plants in X that I wasn't in Y" ... that type of observations. Something that will give me a QUALITATIVE comparison with a little more substance than "X is better".
Well in that case Aquasoil will grow plants better with less ferts and is super packed with nutrients so root feeders would be in heaven!
Aquasoil vs Soilmaster

You have to look at the physical process of these products to understand their properties.

Soilmaster is clay fired at 1000 to 1500 F at this temperature clay start to vitrify and will be inert and not leach nutrient (or in very small quantity, depend of temperature). It’s almost inert like quartz sand

I beleive that Aquasoil is a specialy prepare clay mix with nutrient in the form of oxyde to ressemble what we use for trace elements and fired at lower temperature where constituant water is gone. At that point the clay lost any plasticity forever and will not be easily dissolve by water.

By playing with the amount of iron an manganese you can control the color from red to dark brown or black.

Here in presence of water and acidic environment you have lot more leaching of the constituant elements, making Aquasoil a rich complete substrat compare to inert Soilmaster.

Laterite is a kind of natural clay that lost is plasticity and constituant water by natural geologic transformation.

The good point with Soilmaster it’s is CEC
Cation exchange capacity:
What CEC actually measures is the soil's ability to hold cations by electrical attraction. Cations are positively charged elements, the positive charge indicated by a + sign after the element symbol. The number of + signs indicates the amount of charge the element possesses.The five most abundant exchangeable cations in the soil are calcium (Ca++ ), magnesium (Mg++), potassium (K+), sodium (Na+) and aluminium (Al+++).
Cations are held by negatively charged particles of clay and humus called colloids. Colloids consist of thin, flat plates, and for their size have a comparatively large surface area. For this reason they are capable of holding enormous quantities of cations. They act as a storehouse of nutrients for plant roots.
For example Laterite have a CEC of only 2.7 and I beleive that Aquasoil is maybe around 5.(It’s an educated guess) but the slow leaching of nutrients feed the roots with some quantity of nutrients.

Soilmaster have a CEC of 29 to 41, meaning that any nutrient in dissolution in the water will be store in the substrat and readily available by the plants.
See less See more
...some plants don't like aquasoil cause it is acidic and will not grow well or at all in it.
Just out of curiosity, what plants dont like aquasoil?
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.