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I know that this question has been asked THOUSANDS of times on this thread so, I'm sorry. I did alot of research on Aquasoil vs. Eco-Complete and I thought that I settled on Aquasoil, but now I'm not so sure. Since then I keep reading that Aquasoil causes ammonia spikes, green water, tannins and the fact that its light and hard to get plants to stay in. I know that nutrient wise, its great for plants but how bad is Eco for them? The closest place to me, that sells Aquasoil, wants $36.00 a bag. I can get Eco cheaper and from a closer place.
I guess what I'm asking is how much better is Aquasoil vs. Eco, for the plants? If there is'nt too much of a difference, I might as well get Eco cause its cheaper, closer, and I've heard less horror stories.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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In your shoes, I'd go with Eco.

ADA AS has superior nutrient content, but you can make up the difference with dosing the water column if that's the direction you want to go. The 2 cost about the same over on the West coast, but on this coast we pay quite a premium due to the shipping charges.

My own personal favorite is Flourite black. ;)
 

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I have Aquasoil II and I haven't had any green water and my plants don't have any trouble staying in the substrate. My aquarium was cycled within 3 weeks and the only bacteria I've added were from aquarium plants I put in the tank.

Now I do have tannins, but tannins are beneficial and will lower your pH to a level that most plants and fish prefer. And you will also get tannins if you add a piece of driftwood to your tank. Check my 16 gallon Journal, that's the tank I have the ADA Amazonia II in.
 

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I personally would go with AS. As long as you don't stir it up it's pretty much the "Substrate for Dummies" in terms of growing plants. Just provide light and co2. Just change water once a week religiously. The only thing I've really added to the water column for the first six months is Potassium and micros so you save money there. Also at startup if you do everything you should do the tank will cycle quickly with few issues.
 

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AS is good stuff, but I'm biased towards potting soil in my tanks. It has just as much, if not more, nutrients than AS and contains enough to last for several years. And no ammonia spike to deal with.

Anyway, the benefits of AS have been pretty much already stated. Eco's not bad, but it has a tendency to harden your water, rather than soften it like AS. If you're planning on discus or something, Eco may not be the best idea.
 

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Guns,

A couple of things that I read here.

1) Eco complete is easy to work with.
2) AS is easily distrubed and for a beginner who is likely to be moving things around a lot, AS can create headaches.
3) after a while, AS becomes depleted and you are back to having to fertilize your tank.
4) A tank with either will have to cycle, Eco can take a few seed fish quickly, AS ammonia spike may kill them.

I have never used either. Reading here from those who have, including Tom Barr I drew these conclusions:

-AS will get you a fast start with plants, may prove a nuisance to work with as you learn and will eventually need fertilization anyway
-Eco is easy to work with and will work fine, though you will have to fertilize right off the bat.

Given the eventual need for fertz in with both subtrates, I would go with Eco. Look up Tom Barr's posts where he discusses this. His conculsions are based on some research.

You can't go wrong either way really. For s first planted tank, I vote for keeping it simple with Eco.
 

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since everyone here is giving there friendly opinion.
i think its good if your trying to grow hard plants and or have water on the harder side. or to soften your water and breed some rcs or crs or other expensive shrimp/plant.
i have it in my 40 breeder and the plants are doing very well but i just wanted to try the best and see for myself.

i kinda think its overrated unless you have specific goals that you couldn't acomplish with the other mainstream substates or RO
 

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I know that a lot of people like AS, some people REALLY like it and I'm a little concerned I'll get jumped on for saying this, but... I used AS from the start on my 30 gallon high tech tank, and I don't think I would ever use it again unless I was doing a small (10 gallons or so) high tech tank with very difficult plants. AS does grow plants well, but it was a real PITA for me to work with. Any time I disturb it even a little, I get a giant mud cloud. In the beginning, the cloudiness was so bad that I could do a full water change and still not be able to see the back of the tank. The cloud was brown and the ammonia was fine, I never had an ammonia spike with it, but I also started the tank with Bio-Spira so that could be why. It was just a big, ugly cloud of mud. It still gets nearly as bad, if I even move a few things around, there's a cloud. Forget trying to change the hardscape or move well rooted plants. You pull up anything and it looks like the mud version of some avalanche footage. It's ridiculous. This is why I say I'd consider it for a small tank - I can easily change out all the water if necessary. Some people have told me I must have got a bum batch, which is quite possible, but I've heard of the mud issue from enough other people to think that if it is a manufacturing issue, it's not worth the risk versus the expense. It's not like you can tell it's going to be muddy until it's already in your tank and wet.

I was also never able to get AS to hold a slope or anything. I made the mistake of being duped into buying "powersand" to go underneath it, which afterwards I realized was totally unnecessary, and the ugly powersand all ended up on the top of the AS anyway. Apparently it's lighter or something, because any time the substrate was disturbed at all, tons of powersand would come up. I could never get it to stay reburied, I had to resort to picking it out by hand because it was so ugly, and I eventually gave up on that because there was always more to come up. And once that powersand is on the surface, it grows algae like crazy, so then I had chunks of ugly, green powersand instead of ugly, biege powersand sitting on the top of my substrate. I could have done a clado foreground with the chunks of powersand if I wanted to. The moral of the story: if you DO go with AS, don't add powersand.

Also, in my experience, fert dosing was still necessary even in the beginning. I tried without ferts, and that did not work because my tank started to get different kinds of algae based on nutrient deficiencies in the water, and my plants started to show deficiencies. This stuff wasn't cured, it would just go from one problem to the next until I gave in and started dosing EI. Since then I've also tried PPS-Pro, and that works too, but whatever the case is it became clear to me that there needed to be some balanced nutrients in the water despite the fact that I had Amano's miracle substrate. The way I hear it, Eco Complete doesn't have much in the way of available nutrients, but it does absorb what's in the water. If I have to go to the trouble of dosing the water column every day anyway, why not go with a cheaper and easier to work with substrate that will absorb things anyway. I could be wrong about the technicalities of how it works, that's just my understanding from what I've read here. Whatever the case is, I've seen PLENTY of excellent looking tanks using Eco Complete, and I've seen Eco Complete tanks growing pretty much any kind of plant you can think of, I personally believe that's probably based more on lighting, CO2 and nutrients than the substrate itself, especially considering that most difficult plants are stem plants of some kind.

These are just my experiences, but I'd go with Eco. I'm doing an Eco cap on a MTS tank now. I know some people are asking why I'd do MTS if I had a problem with mud, but see, if I'm going to have a mud cloud I want it to be because I actually DO have mud in my tank. If I voluntarily put the mud there, I'm okay with it. :tongue:
 

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I have eco in my 20 gallon. I have to say I haven't had problems thus far with it. It's not cloudy or anything when messing around with it. I do use root tabs and dose regularly though. I also just started a 5.5 gallon and went ahead and used a 3L bag of ADA amazonia II just to see what its about. Its been running for only a day but my water is not cloudy at all. As long as you don't start pouring water vigorously I don't think you will have a problem. I used a big cup and poured water on a rock in the hard scape and let it trickle down the sides. The only problem I saw with the ADA is that a few pebbles want to float. No big deal. I also noticed that the ADA kind of sounds like rice krispies when adding water. Snap crackle pop. There seems to be a lot of air trapped in it to. When I adjusted a rock and planted some plants, lots of air bubbles came out. Kind of like if I was adding co2. I don't know, I guess I will have a more informative opinion in the coming months.

I would suggest starting small with any fish tank and get the basics/characteristics down of a product before going full throttle with it in a big tank.
 

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Well if i would set up a new tank i would go with eco. AS seems like its for experienced planted tank ppl and it takes time for the amnoia spike and such. I have eco in my 29 gallon and in my old 10 gallon before it cracked. Looks great and very easy to work with. Holds down plants good and look good to. No cloudyiness and i put fish in 12 hrs after i put the substrate in. Keep in mind eco is not a good choice if u have hard water. My tanks ph is 7.6 and the water is hard on the gh side. If ur gonna have co2 then eco will work just fine.
 

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I inherited some used aquasoil from a mate of mine and other then the bloody powersand stuff growing great globs of algae, the substrate itself did not get really cloudy (other then the initial three days when I dumped it in) when I moved plants around and it held them down very well. Plants grew gangbusters in it. It also looked more pleasant then Eco. I had Eco and after 6 months I yanked it out, the stuff is just plain ugly, it looks like somebody swept a parking lot and threw it a bag and threw some water on it. Now I just use Colorquartz since I column feed anyway.
 

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It usually takes about 4 weeks to cycle a new tank if you don't have a seeded filter or can add other equipment from an established tank. And it doesn't matter what substrate you have. I didn't get a huge ammonia spike with ADA that was out of the ordinary, in fact I dosed extra ammonium hydroxide to feed the bacteria and like I said mine was cycled in 3 weeks.

I have also never had problems with cloudiness, crackling like rice-crispies, floating granules, or air pockets trapped in the substrate (which in my opinion can occur with any substrate).

IMO the only thing, aside from nutrients, that is important to consider is your tap water pH and hardness. If your pH is already below 7, you want to be careful using ADA Aquasoil or it might drop too low for most livestock.

Initially the pH, kH and gH will really drop, but it will all go slightly back up the first 2-3 weeks after setup.
 

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There's a full analysis of aquasoil, both old and new just released over on thebarrreport.com in the newsletter section. Neat findings.

Anyhow, I've used EC and ADA AAS I for my tanks. Aquasoil definitely mucks up, but I find it clears with good filtration; be sure to include a fine layer of filtration in your canister. I have not had an easier time growing plants than with this substrate, and it's especially useful for dry starting a tank.

EC is still definitely a good choice, and it does have a certain amount of cation exchange capacity (CEC) that will uptake nutrients if you dose the column around EI levels. If you have lower levels of filtration or you expect to move things a whole lot, EC is a good choice. I recently recommended it over AS to a LFS while doing work on their tank for this precise reason.

Once you find yourself able to start a tank, make a couple changes now and then, but largely leave the tank alone, then you should consider a switch over to AS. Keep the old EC around though; it's handy stuff. Someone somewhere near you will eventually want to start up a planted tank of their own, and nutrient loaded EC is a great gift to someone just starting.

The one thing I will say is that I have been repeatedly disappointed by EC's quality control. Over half the bags of it that I've bought have raised KH/pH in my tanks for months at a time, sometimes up to a year. In the latest bag, I actually found small marine crustacean shells mixed in. I complained to carib sea, and they did not even have the decency to give me a response. I strongly recommend checking over any EC you buy very carefully. Rinse a small quantity of it repeatedly, soak it out, and test it compared to your tap water. If the pH is still high after a few days of doing this, take the stuff back.

ADA AS has had its own issues, though I've never run into them. I haven't heard so many problems with it lately; perhaps the issues have been fixed. It would be nice to hear an update from ADA as to whether the issues have been corrected.

-Philosophos
 

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interesting philosophos. As my tank water with EC has very high GH readings compared to my tap. But it has slowly gone down and is now only 3 drops higher than my tap water. I kind of wondered what would make it so much higher. That might be it. Oh well everything seemed to be doing fine. That question was just always in my head though.
 

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The GH could be increasing as a result of fertilization. The biggest hints are pH and KH IMO. You could soak some RO or DI water in EC for a few days then test it through GH; that would probably give you a clue.

-Philosophos
 

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I had the same result as philosophos with EC, it spiked my kH insanely high for 6 months. Upon closer inspection, I also found small chunks of shell. I had a very different experience from their customer service dept though... called them up, they were polite and quick to send me replacement bags. (plus an extra bag!)
I still have the bags, as I've since switched to aquasoil amazonia. AS is pretty amazing stuff,far and away gives the best results for me.

I'd also echo philosophos" statement about Tom Barr's recent report on AS, some very interesting findings there. I'd recommend giving it a read, sometimes our assumptions aren't correct. :)
 

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The one thing I will say is that I have been repeatedly disappointed by EC's quality control. Over half the bags of it that I've bought have raised KH/pH in my tanks for months at a time, sometimes up to a year. In the latest bag, I actually found small marine crustacean shells mixed in. I complained to carib sea, and they did not even have the decency to give me a response. I strongly recommend checking over any EC you buy very carefully. Rinse a small quantity of it repeatedly, soak it out, and test it compared to your tap water. If the pH is still high after a few days of doing this, take the stuff back.
There was also the issue of the contaminated bags a few years ago. The fluid inside the bag along with the substrate was a milky white. It raised PO4 and threw parameters way out of whack.

As far as at ADA Aqua Soil is concerned, there had seemed to be a possible issue with the Amazonia Aqua Soil II. It broke down very quickly. I believe the bags were recalled by the vendors and replaced. I really haven't heard of an issue since. Although these descriptions of muddiness are making me wonder a bit. Aqua Soil should not be muddy.
 

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The subscription is well worth it. I've gotten more for $12.95 than I have out of any subscription or book that I've bought for the same price. There's a lot more than just ADA product analysis to the members section.

Aquasoil breaking down is a new one to me. I wouldn't mind hearing the details. Still, broken down aquasoil hasn't lost it's value; I'm sure we all remember this tank:


The aquasoil underneath turned to mud from being overworked. I wouldn't want to risk disturbing it, but the slopes he got out of the aquasoil sure were worth it. Here's an interview with Peter Kirwan talking about the entire process and pictures showing some muddy aquasoil:
http://www.aquascapingworld.com/magazine/Magazine/Interview-with-Peter-Kirwan.html

-Philosophos
 
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