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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently bought a 75gal bow front aquarium. I'm planning to have a heavily planted setup with Co2 injection and good light. I'm really torn between Eco-complete and ADA Aquasoil for the substrate.

Please help me justify the price difference between these two.

ADA Aquasoil:
ADA recommends 4 x 9 liter bags of Aquasoil + 3 x 2 liter bags of Power Sand for 75 gal setup. That costs around $217 shipped. That's a lot. :rolleyes:

If I choose to buy just the 4 x 9 liter bags of Aquasoil, that'd be $150 shipped. (I'm not sure if that'd be enough for 75gal, please correct me)

Eco-Complete: I guess I have to use 5 x 20 lb bags (please correct me if I'm wrong) for 75gal. It costs less than $130 (Cheap price of $105 shipped at petsolutions.com. Can someone vouch for them?)

As you can clearly see, the price difference is a lot. Would you justify the price premium of ADA Aquasoil? Is it going to make a huge difference if I use Aquasoil over Eco-complete??

Please ENLIGHTEN me, Planted Tank GURUS :D
 

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ADA Aquasoil has been found by many people to be the best of the commercial substrates, primarily because it grows plants very well, but also because planting in it is easy, and it holds slopes better than most substrates. What that is worth is up to the buyer. At one time Aquasoil was priced about the same or lower than Eco complete, so I suspect EC's price has dropped a bit. I haven't used either of those because neither is worth the price to me, but to others it is worth even more.
 

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You can also try www.aquariumplants.com own substrate. They come in 5 gallon buckets and 2 might do your 75g.
I can vouch for that stuff. I used 1 bucket (5 gal) for my 50 gal (48x12 footprint) and it gave me about 3" depth. It has worked VERY well for growing plants. The only draw-back is that it is so light-weight. But, for the price and root development I get with it, I will continue to use this in future set-ups. They also offer different size containers of it.

-Dave
 

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I can vouch for that stuff. I used 1 bucket (5 gal) for my 50 gal (48x12 footprint) and it gave me about 3" depth. It has worked VERY well for growing plants. The only draw-back is that it is so light-weight. But, for the price and root development I get with it, I will continue to use this in future set-ups. They also offer different size containers of it.

-Dave
Is the weight of this substrate similiar to the Schultz aqua soil?

The black substrate on your avatar is the same from aquariumplants.com?
 

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I use both eco complete and the Aquarium Plants substrate and I prefer EC because of the weight and the ease of planting in it. The AP substrate is still good but it's harder to keep smaller plants anchored it it. I've never used ADA products so I can't comment on them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you folks for your wonderful insight.

I learned from other sources that 1x9L bag of Aquasoil is almost equivalent to 2 bags of EC. If you think of it that way, buying just 4 bags of 9L Aquasoil bags for 75gal would work out cheaper($149 shipped).
Also Tom Barr from barrreport.com recommended Aquasoil over EC for some reasons.

I wish I could try the aquariumplants.com substrate, but I can't risk it. ADA Aquasoil and EC are proven winners. That's the reason I was torn between only these two.

I'm kind of leaning towards Aquasoil at the moment. But I'll be waiting for a while for the GREEN signal from the Finance Minister(Wife :hail:) to spend $150 on dirt. Thanks all for your valuable response.
 

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I'm kind of leaning towards Aquasoil at the moment. But I'll be waiting for a while for the GREEN signal from the Finance Minister(Wife :hail:) to spend $150 on dirt. Thanks all for your valuable response.
HAHAHA! :pound: I know exactly how you feel!!

-Dave
 

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If money is no object then go for the aquasoil. I've never used it but hear wonderful things about it. That said though I'm happy I do not have it in my 72 gal high-light, pressurized CO2 tank as I simply do not have time to go home every day at noon to trim my plants! I'm joking of course but I get such good growth with my existing substrate that any increase in growth rate would be WAY too much! I'm trimming every week as is, why would I need any better growth?

I currently have a base substrate of red flourite which I used at first a year ago, which I than covered with a layer of white sand a couple months later to control the cloudiness whenever I went to plant anything or move something, plus I liked the bright clean look. Recently though I put a 2" layer of SMS on top of that as I decided I now wanted a darker and more simple top substrate (the red flourite was starting to come through on the sand). I do shove in intermittently and in various spots the occassional root tab but am not sure how much that's helping. As is I am getting amazing root growth and very fast growth from my plants (crypts, ludwigia, bacopa, cabomba, myrio, swords, vals, etc.) watching my CO2 and doing EI dosing.

I think proper CO2, good water movement and flow, and a good fert regime is foremost to what substrate you use in the end. Not that it is not important I think it's a few notches down the list, is all. Some people even use just pure sand and get great results.

So if the budget is being stretched do not stress and go the cheaper route. It's not like you'll be staring at dull, lifeless, slow growing plants because you went with eco- or flourite, and be wishing you got ADA instead because of that alone...
 

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I hear you on that one, too. I refer to that process as "getting the purchase through committee."

One factor that I didn't see discussed in this thread but has been discussed in many other threads is that some batches of EC contain contaminants that adjust water chemistry. For instance, my first batch of EC leaked Ca into the water column. It added about 4 degrees of kH to my water in the first 24 hours and continues to increase the kH more slowly after that initial increase. On the plus side, when I contacted the Eco-Complete folks (Carrib-Sea?), they were excellent. They sent me a new batch (9 bags!) at their own expense and never even asked to see a receipt. Great folks, but their quality control seemed to need improvement at the time. I haven't bought any more of the stuff in a couple of years so I can't comment on anything recent.

Anyway, just another factor to figure into the overall equation. Best of luck,

TB
 

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I have Eco Complete in my tank and I definitely do not recommend it.

I guess that I bought some of that bad stuff out on the market (along with lots of other people). I set up my tank and after a couple of weeks discovered that something was leaching out into my tank causing the pH to rise. I adjusted it 8 zillion times but it kept rising. The last thing I suspected was the substrate; since, Carib Sea claimed that it did not cause a change in pH. I removed the filter elements from my filter thinking that they were designed for a salt water aquarium but still pH went up.

Finally I went to the Internet and came here where I discover that lots of people were having the same problem with the substrate.

I contacted Carib Sea and they said that the substrate was contaminated with limestone and they would replace it but that meant tearing down my aquarium, which had already been up six weeks and was already stocked with fish and plants. I do not have another tank available so I wasn’t ready to do that.

My tank has been up for about six months now and it is pretty stable but is still leaching out a low level of alkaline substances.

Even if the substrate didn’t leach junk into my tank I still wouldn’t recommend it because the particle composition doesn’t anchor the plants well enough. I frequently, accidentally pull a plant out of the substrate.

In the future I’ll look for an absolutely inert substrate and add anything I think will be desirable myself.
 

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Think about 3M Colorquartz black sand for that inert substrate. I haven't used it, but I probably will if I ever decide to change substrates.
 

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I've tried them both and for my purposes, Eco Complete is better. It's more durable over time and seems to be a bit denser. ADA's stuff is probably better at growing plants, at least for the first several months, but after that, it's probably no better.

Some recent batches of Eco haven't been completely solid black. If that happens, send them back to CaribSea and they'll swap it out for you. Their customer service is outstanding.
 

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I've honestly never tried aquasoil. Usually I try to cut a corner here and there and I'm not going for ADA-style show tanks...yet...so I found kind of a happy zone with eco-complete. It's a good plant substrate, it's a chunk cheaper then aquasoil, and it's solid black and I like the look of it. I figure any substrate isn't going to be as nice and nutrient-rich as it was new, so the long term issue is aesthetics and how well plants can root and do well in it.

From my limited exposure to Aquasoil, it looks pretty awesome and grows plants really well. Personally, I'd use Eco-Complete or Flourite and invest the money somewhere else. However, in the options that you presented, I don't really think you have a bad choice available to you.
 

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i bought 4 bags of ADA soil and 1 bag of powersand M for my 75 gallon.
honestly though, you can get by with 4 bags of ada soil. i still have 1/3 of the powersand and 1/2 of the ada soil left over.

i say if you're gonna do it, do it without any regrets. cuz if you're not happy, you'll just end up changing it later and will be spending more money in the long run.

the only thing about ada soil is you can't abuse it like other substrates. you have to be careful when uprooting plants.
 
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