02-26-2004, 05:44 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Yeah, it's really not necessary to spend all kinds of money on substrate. IMO, the perfect substrate needs 3 things: appropriate depth, source of nutrients, some kind of organic matter/activator.
I listed them in order of importance. Organic matter will eventually accumulate in the substrate via mulm and other bacteria sludge (scientific, huh?) and the nutrient store will occur without help via absorption/adsorbtion into the mulm, etc through your water column additions. It's not the end of the world if you don't add those things initially, but...
I still prefer to add those things to a new set-up-- at least I do now. Getting a tank through the first 6-8 weeks is critical, IME.
I've got enough stuff laying around to make hundreds of pounds of potent substrate. All I need is the filler/cap which is REALLY cheap. If I didn't have what I do, I could easily create 400lbs of potent substrate for much less than $100-- Maybe as little as $50. 400lbs of Eco-Complete would cost me $400. Yuck.