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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Im going to be up grading from a 55G to a 125G. Im currently using Eco complete and would like to know if I should buy more bags of eco [might be expensive] or if I should try a different route. Or Mix eco and something else.

What are some good subtrates for Plants?
And should I mix them or use the 3 bags worth of eco someplace else?
 

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Soilmaster

I just purchased two 50 lbs bags of soilmaster at Lesco for 20 bucks for the two. I have a standard 75 gallon tank and barely used one bag and that is with the substrate about 6" in a few spots. Three bags sounds about right for you. Eco complete as most other plant substrates are ridiculously expensive in comparison. One warning though soilmaster is seeming to drop some peoples PH. I would do some research and search soilmaster on these threads. If you do your research and want to go that route you can go to www.lesco.com and find a store near you. It's actually like a farm implement store. Soilmaster wasn't initially intended for aquariums. The product is actually called pro league soilmaster select. When I bought it from the store the guy knew what I was buying it for and said everyone has been buying it for their aquarium. So either there are a lot of cranky fish tank owners out there or the stuff in pretty good. I'll post more as soon as I get my tank running.:icon_mrgr
 

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I just got the Soilmaster Select Red last week, and so far my plants seem to like it. I put a thin layer of peat underneath it, and just used root tabs under my crypts and vals. I have a 38 gallon tank, and only used about half a bag and its about 4-6" deep. It is alot lighter than I expected though, kind of a salmon color. If you want something dark, you might want to check out the charcoal color. Here's an article about it http://www.plantedtank.net/articles/Soilmaster-Select-Substrate/26/
 

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ada cost me around $200 for my 75, but im expecting some leftovers
 

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When I figured out the prices, Eco actually costs very slightly more than Aqua Soil, using online prices (cheapest I could find).
That's not uncommon. For the price, ADA AquaSoil has a lot more volume than Flourite and Eco, so you need less bags of it.

Back to addressing the OP. With Soilmaster Select, be advised that it (and the aquariumplants.com substrate) seem to buffer the water quite a bit, taking KH from 10+ down to 0 in a matter of days.

A similar material to the Soilmaster Select is Turface Pro League. It too is a fracted clay material originally sold as a moisture absorbant for sports fields, but it's pretty much inert and won't measurably affect your water chemistry. Like the SMS it can be bought for about $12/50# bag.

I used about 75# of Turface in my 120g tank, creating a front-to-back slope of about 6" down to 3"
 

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I just used pros choice soilmaster select and it did lower my PH and KH but not by an unacceptable amount. I already had very hard water and very high pH. If anything it seemed to bring it into the Ideal area. Obviously a lower KH isn't good but I don't beleive it lowered it enough to worry about. I'm just using cheapy hobby test kits and comparing it with my regular tap water. The water has been in my tank for about 7 days, and I washed the substrate extremely well.
 

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SMS. forget Eco. I used to like eco but you don't get 20Lb worth when you buy the 20lb bag. you get about 12lb of substrate and 8lb of water and twigs. since you already have the Eco I would just add some SMS to suppliment it and keep the same color.
you could go ADA but personally I don't see the need when you have much cheaper and effective substrates avalible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Oh I forgot it also looking for something that is not sharp. I have Kuhli loaches, MTS and might add Cory cats.

And MUST be good fertilization for my plants as Im looking at adding some very needy plants. Along with my swords and lace leaf
 

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You will need to add macros unless you are going to go with a low tech dirt based tank (not a good idea with loaches IMHO).
 
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