The Planted Tank Forum banner

1 - 20 of 37 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,417 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
OK, I've done a bunch of reading on here, PT, and APD.

The qualities of substrate that make it "desirable" are:

1) Effect on the water, ie: kH, pH...
2) The amount of nutrients it contains
3) Look
4) Ease of planting
5) Cost

I think those are the basic 5 components. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm looking for a 3"-6" (depending on the area in the tank) layer of substrate for a 40 gallon breeder tank. 36"x18". I plan to have stem plants, java ferns, anubias, mosses, and possibly HC, glosso, dwarf hairgras...etc. A complete collection of plants pretty much.

Water buffering qualities:
We have hard water here in LA, so softer, more acidic water would be great for my plants. I believe I can achieve that through peat in the water, so are the buffering qualities of AS really worth it?

Amount of Nutrients:
From recent discussions, it's a given that ADA AS has more nutrients than the rest although Flourite and Eco-Complete come close. SMS has barely any nutrients since it's used as layering on baseball fields I think.

Look:
I'm aiming for a dark color, so ADA AS Amazonia, Eco-Complete, and charcoal SMS would fit the bill. I have a small amount of Flourite and I don't much like the color. True that it all gets covered, but I'd rather not. Also, it seems like Flourite would have the potential of scratching a tank.

Ease of planting:
What are you thoughts? I've heard Eco-Complete and SMS are harder to plant in? I'm also planning for either a nice glosso or HC carpet hopefully, so ease of planting is somewhat important.

Cost:
Since I'm aiming for a 3-4" thick layer in a 40 gallon breeder tank. The cost of ADA AS, Eco-Complete, and Flourite are comparable to each other for what I want to use it for. Soilmaster Select is obviously much cheaper.

So, my bottom-line question is...with a cheap substrate like Soilmaster Select or even 3M colorquartz and root tabs and column fertilizing, could I get equivalent growth and vibrance as I could with ADA AS? Would I be able to soak anything in a nutrient bath then bake it before I used it...etc?

I want the best of my tank, but I also don't want to have to sell my kidney to do so.

Thanks for reading this huge, long post, and I hope it'll help someone else decide between the costs vs. benefits of the pricier substrates out there compared to cheaper ones.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
930 Posts
In my previous tank, i had eco-complete. I really enjoyed this substrate and it was loaded with the good stuff.

I didnt find it too hard to plant, except on certain occations with HC and glosso. This was mainly because the smaller "grains" eventually make their way to the bottom and the bigger ones stay atop. So sometimes it took constant replanting for the HC and glosso to finally grab the substrate(especially with bottom dwellers). Stem plants are a big ease with eco-complete to plant in, no problems at all. My plants loved this stuff and did well ALL the time.

I completely agree with you and understand on cost issues!!

My most and probably last project(45gal) for a LONG time, i decided to go all out. I order ADA Aquasoil and Powersand. No particular reason other than the benefits you listed above and the fact that i wanted to try ADA products.

I cant say anything about flourite or SMS because i have never had too much experience with them.

If you decide to go the eco-complete route I dont think youll regret it. I havent got my project tank completely setup so Im still lacking hands on experience as far as ADA (AS & PS) goes. Just my 2cents. Good Luck on your choice!!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
312 Posts
Man, I never thought ADA Aquasoil/Powersand was as good as people said it was, but I gotta tell you, I will never setup another tank w/out it. Seriously. I dont think anything else there really compares. I have had flourite (still have in one tank) and it's garbage comparing to the Aquasoil. The ph control, built in nutrients, size uniformity, lack of fugly big pieces, easy settling, not much crap in the column, water clear after 2 hrs without washing the substrate. It's just perfect. And plants just come alive. I have never seen growth like this.

People dont know how it is till they have it. Everyone who does not have it love to justify how it's not needed, but once you try, there is no going back.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,197 Posts
Its sounds like cost if your biggest concern. BUT if you are considering paying for eco- ADA AS cost almost the same and probably cheaper if you compare the amount you get in one bag.

Never tried the SMS stuff....but Ive read on the forum, it can lower KH, so it maybe worth using if you are on a budget.

1) Effect on the water, ie: kH, pH...
2) The amount of nutrients it contains
3) Look
4) Ease of planting
5) Cost

Seems like ADA fits all those things.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
298 Posts
I took the plung and go AS when i set up my new 46 bowfront when I moved. It only took two bags to get about a 2-3 inch depth. I have to say, it is the easiest substrate to plant in and the results are amazing even after 3 weeks. I have seen no problems with any of my water parameters at all. I will never use another substrate again. Oh, and it looks great.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,602 Posts
AS certainly looks good and I'm sure grows plants quite well, but I'm using it on a new tank for the first time (just set up last week) and the water is still cloudy after 3 days. I hope it clears up. I know I've read about some bad batches of it, where people's water turned milky and didn't clear up.
Another thing to note is that when you first put it in, some granules will float and you will need to push them underwater to make them sink. I've found that planting is quite a breeze with this substrate, although some stem plants tend to come uprooted fairly easy as the granules are fairly lightweight.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,417 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
ringram,

Have you tried a diatom filter? Someone I know used one and it cleared up a little faster than without one. =)

So basically everyone is saying ADA AS is worth the ~$144 versus $30 for 100 lbs of sand or $30 for 100 lbs of SMS? =P
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,880 Posts
How much is 9 liters anyway? I can't figure it out, i don't think liters is even a correct dry measurement. i tried googling it, but it doesn't recognize it.

Also, why do you guys put so much substrate in? I'm used to 2" max, but some here have 4, even 6 inches.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,315 Posts
There is a substrate calculator up in the 'calculators' link at the top of your screen. Its doesnt have AS but you can use it to calculate eco and flourite for example. Then do your own calc with AS which shouldnt be to hard since it is actually measured in volume and not weight (which is a releif, what the heck do we care how much weight the substrate is that we are buying, were trying to fill a volume not a certain amount of weight). For example, I have run some figures for my 240g.

96"x24"x4" = 9,216 cubic inches = ~150 Liters =

AS = 16.6 bags (17) = $442 ($26/bag)
ECO = 512# (TPT calcualtor) = 25.6 bags (26) x $18/bag (cheapest price I could find) = $468
Flourite = 320# (TPT calculator) = 21 bags @ $13(cheapest I could find it) = $273

So, AS is slightly cheaper than ECO, flourite definately the cheapest by far. If they had black flourite with a better consistant smaller grain size, I'd probably just go with that. But I want the best for the plants so I'll probably get the AS. With shipping, the AS will be more expensive than the bare tank is from glasscages.com!

Calculating substrate is so easy I cant beleive how many people have to ask. You needn't know a thing about aquariums or substrate, just elementary geometry (multiply length x width x hieght), a metric/US volume converter for AS (google it) and the calculator here on TPT for the other substrates.:wink:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
786 Posts
i've had gravel with laterite on the bottom, flourite and now AS. I will never go back. It grows things so well, looks so nice, you don't have to rinse, you don't have to worry about scratching the glass and it makes my tetras and apistos soooooo happy.

One 9-liter bag = two bags of flourite. I got 4 bags of AS for my 60 gallon (36" x 19" x 21") and used 3 1/2 bags for a substrate a good 3" high. The other half bag I'm saving to redo my 12 gallon tank one of these years.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,417 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Ah crap. Mounting support for AS.

I bet I'll be ordering the AS later today!

Did you use powersand or a thin layer of peat underneath?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
169 Posts
epic. Don't get the powersand.

I did and now have white rocks mixed in with my nice black soil. Looks like crap. I went really light on the PS and it still happened to me when I pulled up some plants.

One thing good to do is run activated carbon after you get it for a while to get rid of the tea stained color water.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,417 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the tip. I have a Fluval 404 and Magnum 350 w/ DE powder. I plan on running a ton of DE powder and charcoal. =)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,924 Posts
i used 3 3L bags of power sand with 2 9L bags of aquasoil to get a nice 4-5'' thick substrate and had to pull up a giant bush of crypts and didnt have any problem with pulling up the powersand.

i think its all about how you do it and how much aquasoil you have on top. i have a full layer of powersand in my tank with no problems with replainting the tank like three times now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,924 Posts
i have a 30g and probably have more then what you plan on putting in yours and it cost total about $125 -150 i believe but then again you have to pay shipping.
 
1 - 20 of 37 Posts
Top