The Planted Tank Forum banner
1 - 20 of 35 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,985 Posts
It depends what your looking for. If you want a source of ferts you can use the Walstad method, ADA Aquasoil, mineralized topsoil, red sea flora base, etc., etc.

If you want high CEC you can use fluorite, Eco complete, turface, oil dry, Shultz aquatic plant soil, kitty little, etc., etc.

If you don't have much cash to spend you could use gravel, pool filter sand, play sand, black beauty sandblasting media, etc. , etc.

It all depends on what you are looking for in a substrate. All have different pros and cons and all work. It depends on how you will or won't be dosing and wether you want to refresh the substrate once depleted and if you want to replace the substrate after 1+ years.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,098 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It depends what your looking for. If you want a source of ferts you can use the Walstad method, ADA Aquasoil, mineralized topsoil, red sea flora base, etc., etc.

If you want high CEC you can use fluorite, Eco complete, turface, oil dry, Shultz aquatic plant soil, kitty little, etc., etc.

If you don't have much cash to spend you could use gravel, pool filter sand, play sand, black beauty sandblasting media, etc. , etc.

It all depends on what you are looking for in a substrate. All have different pros and cons and all work. It depends on how you will or won't be dosing and wether you want to refresh the substrate once depleted and if you want to replace the substrate after 1+ years.
Thank you JCGD. I was thinking about Eco complete from Petco. What's CEC btw? sorry I am newbie.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,706 Posts
Thank you JCGD. I was thinking about Eco complete from Petco. What's CEC btw? sorry I am newbie.
'Cation Exchange Capability'

It refers to the ability of the substrate to store minerals and other nutrients and make them available to the plant roots. Things like Flourite, Eco-complete, kitty litter, clay based substrates are all valued for this capability.

Something with high CEC is likely to be used to 'store' nutrients rather than as a source of nutrients.

Things like Aquasoil, mineralized top soil, potting soil, etc. are sources of nutrients.

Things like play sand and aquarium gravel are inert and do neither - they are not high CEC and they don't have nutrients built in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,706 Posts
Thank you JCGD. I was thinking about Eco complete from Petco. What's CEC btw? sorry I am newbie.
I have Eco-Complete in several tanks. The primary benefits of the Eco-Complete are that it is high CEC, it has a grain size that works well for plants (it doesn't compact like sand so it is better for roots to grow in and better in theory for bacteria colonization) and that the grains/pebbles/whatever of the Eco-Complete are more rounded and assumed to be safer for the health of bottom dwelling fish - especially those with barbels like catfish and loaches.

The drawback to using Eco-Complete by itself is that it isn't sufficiently nutrient rich. People debate whether it has useable nutrients in it (it claims that it does) but it definitely does not have the large nutrient source that something like Aquasoil does. Top soil and potting mix obviously are very nutrient rich as well.

If you want a heavily planted tank (especially with some harder to grow plants) and don't want to have to heavily dose fertilizers in the water then I would reccomend having a nutrient rich substrate.

Summary: there is nothing wrong with Eco-Complete and many people really like it but it may not provide everything that you are looking for in a substrate package. This depends upon your needs and what you plan to do with your tank.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,098 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have Eco-Complete in several tanks. The primary benefits of the Eco-Complete are that it is high CEC, it has a grain size that works well for plants (it doesn't compact like sand so it is better for roots to grow in and better in theory for bacteria colonization) and that the grains/pebbles/whatever of the Eco-Complete are more rounded and assumed to be safer for the health of bottom dwelling fish - especially those with barbels like catfish and loaches.

The drawback to using Eco-Complete by itself is that it isn't sufficiently nutrient rich. People debate whether it has useable nutrients in it (it claims that it does) but it definitely does not have the large nutrient source that something like Aquasoil does. Top soil and potting mix obviously are very nutrient rich as well.

If you want a heavily planted tank (especially with some harder to grow plants) and don't want to have to heavily dose fertilizers in the water then I would reccomend having a nutrient rich substrate.

Summary: there is nothing wrong with Eco-Complete and many people really like it but it may not provide everything that you are looking for in a substrate package. This depends upon your needs and what you plan to do with your tank.
Thank you so much Madness. I appreciate the information. So if Eco -Complete stores nutrient, can they get the nutrient from fish poo? At this point, I am just looking at carpeting low-tech plants, which include Dwarf Hairgrass, Dwarf sags, moss, etc. Thank you again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,985 Posts
Thank you so much Madness. I appreciate the information. So if Eco -Complete stores nutrient, can they get the nutrient from fish poo? At this point, I am just looking at carpeting low-tech plants, which include Dwarf Hairgrass, Dwarf sags, moss, etc. Thank you again.
It can... the Eco will pull nutrients from the water column (mostly) as they become available. Generally, the older it gets the better. If you want to can always add some root tabs at first or even charge it in a nutrient rich water solution. At the same time if the plants pull more nutrients than are available, the substrate will become the source and be depleted. It goes both ways or the CEC would be moot.

I like the high CEC gravels because they are usually a bit cheaper and are a little heavier, so easier to plant. If you uproot a lot that can be nice. I like the granular soils like Aqua Soil if I wont be moving things around. I find it lighter and can cloud the water for a bit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,186 Posts
being new to planted tanks EcoComp is a great starter substrate and as mentioned simply by adding root tab ferts to the base (most last about 3 months) and light dosing of the water column you will enjoy the tank more as you learn rather than fighting with the tank. Eco can be used later if you chose to add a rich base for the plants as a capping material so nothing lost.
 

·
Fresh Fish Freak
Joined
·
24,403 Posts
Thank you so much Madness. I appreciate the information. So if Eco -Complete stores nutrient, can they get the nutrient from fish poo? At this point, I am just looking at carpeting low-tech plants, which include Dwarf Hairgrass, Dwarf sags, moss, etc. Thank you again.
Hairgrass can carpet in low light, but generally does need CO2 to do well- plus needs to be "mowed" on a regular basis to encourage it to spread; same way the grass in your lawn works.

Mosses, Dwarf Sag, other dwarf chain swords (Helanthium sp, formerly Echinodorus), Lilaeopsis mauritiana, and Marselia minuta are the species I've had carpet best for me in low light without CO2.

Flourite black is my own personal favorite of the commercially available substrates to date. The fired clays are all pretty much the same, though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,186 Posts
When soil "goes bad" over time, what actually is wrong with it?
In the terms I would relate to your question going bad over time would be not supplying enough nutrients for the plants, that would be my take on it.
But how to determine if this is the case?

A tank that for months or years that has been steadily producing stable growth and good healthy plants then having a shift in conditions. Plants failing, growth stalling, older leaves becoming riddled with holes, losing color or algae starting to attach to plants is a sign of weakness and deficiencies.

Running a tank long term in a steady routine that works and then problems arise I would look first at my energy source. Are my lights in good shape or are the bulbs at the end of useful life? Changing the bulbs do things improve? If not then I would look to my primary nutrient source as the issue. To confirm this you could water column dose if you're not already or up that amount adding more on the established schedule. If things improve the substrate has been exhausted.

HTH
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,186 Posts
yes, you're post that I responded to had 'soil' in it and soil can be depleted. It just should take a long time to happen. NPT/MTS comparisons ignite firestorm threads with devote method followers raining blame on the user when longevity of a method is questioned and problems reported. MTS is reputed to be FAR superior to NPT by many and with the efforts involved in creating a substrate like that as apposed to simply throwing dirt in a tank I guess that's understandable. I saw a shift in growth on one of my NPT's after a little more than 2 years, nothing major just a reduction in growth rate and problems with the floaters. A devote follower of the Walstad method 'blamed' my not feeding my fish enough for the 'failure' of my system. I saw it as a shift not a failure and the debate lasted for about an entire page in the string LOL. The tank is still unchanged, no nutrient source was added or boosted, nothing added to the substrate of any kind. Growth has simply slowed down. The tank is again stable at the new growth rate and conditions are good, plants are healthy just slower growing and maybe a little smaller.

Following the process I listed above in the other post I found improvement in the tank conditions dosing the water column of a tank based with MTS. It had lots of plant problems starting with fast growers. Amazon swords were failing, Leaves were a mess and stunting.
Adding to the water column algae issues decreased and the condition of the plants improved. I added root tabs to the substrate and replace/update them now every 3 months. The tank looks great again.

HTH
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
172 Posts
I have a question about using top soil. Do you HAVE to go through the whole process of making it mineralized or is there a way to buy it already ready to go? We are lacking in the sun department over here this time of year, so it would take me FOREVER to actually soak and sun-bake the dirt once, imagine 3 - 4 times.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,223 Posts
Ack, yes, sorry, I mean substrate in general. I use Eco Complete, but it is probably 4 years old now. I just keep seeing people talk about these nutrient enriched substrates going bad after X months/years. Was curious what that actually meant. Does it break down? Leak bad stuff? Or just lose its built-in nutrients? :)
 

·
Fresh Fish Freak
Joined
·
24,403 Posts
I have a question about using top soil. Do you HAVE to go through the whole process of making it mineralized or is there a way to buy it already ready to go? We are lacking in the sun department over here this time of year, so it would take me FOREVER to actually soak and sun-bake the dirt once, imagine 3 - 4 times.
You can buy a bag of Miracle Gro Oraganic soil and don't have to do anything other than cap it. That's how my own 90 and 46gals are set up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,186 Posts
Ack, yes, sorry, I mean substrate in general. I use Eco Complete, but it is probably 4 years old now. I just keep seeing people talk about these nutrient enriched substrates going bad after X months/years. Was curious what that actually meant. Does it break down? Leak bad stuff? Or just lose its built-in nutrients? :)
It affects the cycle obviously because it will also strip the substrate of all bactera too but if your EcoComp gets to where it's filthy and you think that's an issues hehehe you can clean it and any other inert substrate too.
You need a 5g bucket and a weekend.
About $3.00 worth of 3% H2O2

Put the eco in the bucket with enough water to cover it and about 3-4" on top of that then pour in 3qts of H2O2 and stir the bucket with a broom handle or board, what ever. I even reach in to the elbow and roll the gravel by hand then rinse my arm.
Stir every 1/2 hour or so to mix things up and let it sit overnight and repeat then rinse really well like removing the dust from new Flourite.
H2O2 burns up much of the organic material clogging the gravel cleaning it. You will be amazed how much will rinse out after sitting in H2O2 for nearly 48hrs. I've done this with the gravel and sand out of my quarantine tank after clearing a nasty problem.
 
1 - 20 of 35 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.
Top