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Hi! This is my first post here, but I've been lurking around in the substrate section for a while now. :] I want to redo my 30 gal low light planted tank with horrible blue gravel (twas my beginner tank, have mercy), and I'm considering getting a 75gal tank but I don't know if I want to go all the way yet.

I want to get plant substrate, but I'm not sure what to get. I love the look of the flourite black sand, but it's too expensive and I can't justify the price. I looked at the substrate at aquariumplants.com, and apparently it's just a copy of soilmaster select, right? I've also heard the same but of turface pro which a very local store carries. $20-ish for a 50lb bag is great! That would be more than enough to fill up the 30gal tank right?

Anyway... back to turface... the color in the pictures at aquariumplants.com is black... the color of turface pro is grey. I've looked at some pictures (here & here) and when it's wet it's slightly darker, but it's still grey... I was wondering if anybody else had some more pictures to share of the wet turface? I really like the look of the black substrate, and in the aquariumplants.com website it looks grey, but not in these. o.0 I'm probably going to end up buying the turface but I just wanna see how it looks wet before going to that store! =D

Also, in a unrelated question, I'm looking for light fixtures and I keep seeing this fixture... a t5 ho odyssea light fixture on eBay. Does anybody have any experience with this fixture? Is it good for a planted tank? Would I need to replace the bulbs? Or should I just keep having a low-light plant on the 30 gal and splurge on the fixture for the 75gal?

Thanks! :D
 

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I can tell you the Turface Pro League I have is a tannish orange color. So make sure you are getting the right color before you buy 150 pounds like I did, lol! Sorry, I don't know about the fixture. Have you done a search on the forum for the odyssea?
 

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Soilmaster Select is more a dark greyish color even when wet. It also has some pieces mixed in that are reddish in color. It has a natural look to it but it's not going to give you a true black appearance.
I've used it in a couple tanks for a year or so now and like it overall. It's a bit light and can be frustrating at times to plant in, but it's a decent substrate for the price.

My experience with Odyssea fixtures would be to steer away from it. I have an older Odyssea t5ho light that I replaced pretty much everything. (Bulbs, endcaps, ballast etc.) I'd save you funds for a decent fixture for the future 75g personally.
 

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Turface is available in three colors that I know of. Red, green, and charcoal. Wet the colors are darker, but I's say they were terra cotta, greenish, and very dark gray or light black. The latter just caused three artists to have hissy fits, I'm sure. If you mix in a bag or so of black sand, it will look darker. Or cap it with black sand.

I talked to our local LESCO dealer (John Deere Landscaping) yesterday. Turface or what's left of the SMS at their warehouse, is $11.00 a bag plus shipping of about $5.00 a bag.
 
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