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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently talked on the Phone with a Plant grower for one of the Plant sales web Sites, cant remember which one right off hand. He made some comments that Startled me a bit.

He said that Amano's Soils are and i quote "CRAP".
He said Eco Complete is a far better Product.
Also recommended Plain Pea Gravel over Amano Soils(with root tabs).
Said he used Amano's Line and Striped it out of the tank in favor of Eco Complete.

I just found those statements Shocking as i was under the impression that Amano was the Top Go To Guy in Planted tanks.Other than that only Advice i found to be Odd was he highly recommended In gravel Heating cords.Thoughts on this?I am in the middle of a disability claim and If approved i will be getting a big back check and was considering setting up a tank with Amanos Products but after hearing this from a guy who grows Aquatic plants for a living im not so sure.
 

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I don't understand what he's talking about. ADA AquaSoil is recommended as the best by far! I used pea gravel, flourite for years. Last year I switched to ADA AS and all I can say is WOW! I now have only difficult plants in my tank (barring a few). It's like a tank on steriods!!! LOVE IT! (Besides, who recommends heating coils now days??... your first clue....)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't understand what he's talking about. ADA AquaSoil is recommended as the best by far! I used pea gravel, flourite for years. Last year I switched to ADA AS and all I can say is WOW! I now have only difficult plants in my tank (barring a few). It's like a tank on steriods!!! LOVE IT! (Besides, who recommends heating coils now days??... your first clue....)
Well i admit that Coils are Old School But Old School isn't always bad. For Example i have 2 10g tanks setting Side by side, One has a New School HOB filter the Other Has An old School Bubble Filter(will be my Shrimp tank) the Water in the one with the HOB filter is Yellowish Where as the water in the one with the Bubble filter is Crystal Clear. Makes ya think.

Another Example. SW tanks are Known to be TOUCHY, Overly Sensitive Fish Etc. I know a gentleman Locally, Him and a Friend Both bought 150g tanks they found on sale the Same Day. Both Set up their tanks in a Similar Fashion. IE Live rock, Crushed Coral Substrate, Under Gravel Filters. 1 year later My buddy Was about to quite the SW hobby all together, because he kept losing fish. He went to his buddy's house to see if he wanted his tank, And When he looked at his friends tank he said "Oh your giving up too huh" His friend said no why. Well short Version you could not See in the tank, all 4 sides were completely over grown with algae, BUT when you looked in the top His fish had tripled in size, and were Beautiful Show quality fish.The Difference My buddy was almost always messing with his tank trying to adjust the water to what he read was "Perfect", His friend Set up his tank and Didn't even clean the glass, No Top off Nothing, the water was Down to Half, Salinity Was OFF the charts but the fish were in PERFECT health. So they clean the glass and Over the next Month Slowly refilled the tank to full a few gallons at a time. It is one of the Most breathtaking tanks i have seen, He Still to this day Doesn't change the water EVER but now he does keep it topped off.

The Moral of the Story. Anyone in SW Today(well MOST i know One other guy that Doesn't do water changes So 3 total because my buddy has stopped messing with his tank lol) will tell you to change at least 25% of the water Volume Weekly, They will tell you UGF is Outdated and Not Safe for your tank, They will tell you NOT to use Crushed Coral Substrate.This tank WAS started As a FOWLR NO CORALS were added, No Sponges were Added BUT they have GROWN in the tank on their own, From what was Left of them on the live rock. This is an OLD school SW set up. Doesn't even have a Protein Skimmer, and It is Thriving. So many Pods that he doesn't even have to feed his fish, the tank feeds it self. Old School isn't always bad.
 

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This funny debate comes up over and over again. Is Aquasoil better than the other substrates?

Fact is you can grow aquatic plants in very much any substrate.

The substrate that I've seen best growth in was gravel used as a base to build roads known as "chat". It's better to say that the growth was shocking, not just "best". About 4 lbs. of cuttings every week from a 55 gal. tank. The chat released tons of calcium and made the water milky. There was a constant 1" thick dirty foam on the top of the tank that could not be skimmed or removed. No fertilization at all. Lots of CO2. 110 watts of AHSupply CFs.

Bottom line -the chat grew plants like crazy and had issues. Same with EcoComplete (buffers the pH, releases Ca to high heavens), Onyx (releases crazy amount of Mg, also sold for saltwater tanks, go figure), Fluorite (what does that do again?), Peat/Laterite under inert sand (Old School is nice and proven, can't deny that fact, just like film photography), Clean sand (it works well once it gets dirty) and so on.

My point is that a substrate that can grow plants well and has minimal issues is the best one. Aquasoil does this best. Releases some ammonia in the first few weeks to help the just planted plants, provides an acidic environment for the roots, sequesters nutrients from the water but makes them available for the roots, can be dried and reused undefinetely. Only issue is - it lightly stains the water for the first few or several months. Saying this in car terms - Aquasoil is the Bugatti of substrates - it's "it". Everything else is the ice cream truck - it will take you where you are going if you are really, really up for the ride.

--Nikolay
 

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You talked to a sales person for another product- of course they tried to tell you theirs was better.

Or maybe that person did have better results for his specific needs with the ecocomplete. Not everyone intends to keep an amano tank. Maybe he had oscars and it created a really big algae bloom because thats not its intended purpose. Who knows.
 

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ADA products are overrated and overpriced. The person you spoke to seems to feel the same way, just not very tactful in communicating it. Save your money. There are other excellent substrates and aquatic plant products available.
 

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ADA products are overrated and overpriced. The person you spoke to seems to feel the same way, just not very tactful in communicating it. Save your money. There are other excellent substrates and aquatic plant products available.
Aquasoil is not more expensive than other commercial substrates. Because you get a fixed volume of Aquasoil in a bag, vs a fixed weight of the others, you can't compare price per bag. Besides, with EC you are buying water along with the substrate. I don't use Aquasoil, but I am convinced by the many who do and find it to be the best, that it really is the best.

Anyone who doesn't keep up with the latest information in this hobby, even if he does his hobby to make a living, is not a good source of information. That plant grower probably has developed his techniques based on EC and gets very good results. That isn't surprising since EC is also a good substrate. But, that doesn't mean his negative opinion of a substrate material he doesn't use is valid.
 

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If your going to go all out do it right with the best the first time, and save your second guessing for the flora and funa options.

ADA is the best.
 

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I think the sales man is behind where a lot of us are at. With sites like this we have the luxury of having experts and pioneers in the business at out disposal. Several of the people on here are leading the industry, thus why a lot of thing we use are house hold and not commercially available or just becoming commercially available. Just look at some of the tank the people on here have. I wouldn't argue with this guy just smile and get what you came for. I don't use ada either (out of my budget), but from what I have read it has to be handled differently than other substrates. It is also more forgiving I have even hear that some do not use ferts with it. I'm sure if you ask him this guy knows nothing of ei dosing or 4dkh water for co2 testing. Have you seen pictures of his tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I think the sales man is behind where a lot of us are at. With sites like this we have the luxury of having experts and pioneers in the business at out disposal. Several of the people on here are leading the industry, thus why a lot of thing we use are house hold and not commercially available or just becoming commercially available. Just look at some of the tank the people on here have. I wouldn't argue with this guy just smile and get what you came for. I don't use ada either (out of my budget), but from what I have read it has to be handled differently than other substrates. It is also more forgiving I have even hear that some do not use ferts with it. I'm sure if you ask him this guy knows nothing of ei dosing or 4dkh water for co2 testing. Have you seen pictures of his tank?
No i haven't seen his tank, but then again this isnt about "His" tank this is about the fact that he is the guy,in an Aquatic Nursery, Running the Nursery Growing plants to sell online he isn't just another hobbyist that said Don't use it. Talking to another hobbyist this was the response i got and he is the Go to guy about planted tanks in my local fish club.

"Amano products require a lot of very, very careful work. You can't disturb the substrate, lay it correctly, etc. It's just not worth it! Plus the price is just completely insaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaane. Skip the CO2 thing as well. You can do a complete CO2 setup with a 20lb tank for that price. Want a smell with it? Grab some substrate and wipe it on your chest like Vix Vapor Rub.

There are much, much better products out their for a very small fraction of the cost. You're paying for the name. Check out a lot of Amano's aquascapes. He doesn't use his own products! He may now but didn't for many years yet his tanks were amazing.

The only thing I'd think of buying is an ADA tank. Then again, you can get one made for a similar cost and your own dimensions.

Eco-complete is simple and has been proven thousands of times over as being an excellent product. Can't go wrong."

and when i questioned it he had this to say:

"Mention undergravel heating cables and people will call you old school!

It's odd. Some of the best tanks in the world have never had an Amano product near them. Sort of like the marine side of the hobby. You don't need a Bubble Master to have the best looking tank. Can you get similar results for a lot less money? Oh yeah!

Amano is great if you can afford it, want to do a pure Amano set up, or want to show it off like a prized car. Myself, and a lot of other hobbyist, really don't find the stuff needed. He has his own metal halide fixtures that people are saying are sooooooooooooo much better than any other fixture on the market. How? Yeah they have an 8800k bulb but why is the fixture/ballast so great? No one has given a true answer to that. To some, Amano = best even if it isn't. Pay for the name...

I've yet to see someone prove if his products are really THAT good or if it just isn't the person doing all the work on the tank making it that good."
 

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Eco-complete is simple and has been proven thousands of times over as being an excellent product. Can't go wrong."
Eco-complete is a decent product. It is also costs more than Aqua soil.

1 bag of Eco= $22 online to $30 or so retail. Fills 1 and less than 1/2 gallon bags.
3 bags of AS= $84 online to around $100 or so retail. Overflows a seven gallon bucket.
By my math, Eco cost $4-5 more per gallon.

These are real measurements from when I broke down my tanks, not some theory!

Anyone who says you can't disturb AS hasn't seen me aquascape, I'm not subtle to say the least!

This guy may have some good info on what works for him, but he is way off base with his anti-Amano rants.
 

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Talking to another hobbyist this was the response i got and he is the Go to guy about planted tanks in my local fish club.
I don't mean to come off as being offensive or condescending and I have no idea where your local club is located but part of the problem may be you are talking to the "local fish club plant guy". There are a lot of local clubs with very knowledgeable plant guys in them and there are some "local experts" who think having a couple Java Ferns and Anubias in their fish tank makes it a "Planted Tank". Whether or not your "plant guy" is an "expert" comes down to what his (and your) definition of a planted tank is ;)

There is nothing wrong with being "old school"...some still like to use heating cables, still like to put nails in the substrate for a source of iron, still believe you don't need CO2 to grow plants well (you don't if you pick the right plants) and still use shop lights with T-12 bulbs. Their methods work for them and the plants they choose to grow but may not work for me and the plants I want to grow. It really boils down to what type of plants you want to grow and what your local water quality is like. Here in Dayton, I can't grow many of the softer water species like Toninas and Eriocaulons very well because our water is so hard. Aqua Soil would probably help me grow those types of plants since it does lower the KH and GH (at least I think it lowers the GH) of the source water. However, I will probably be able to achieve very similar results by mixing RO water with my tap water, which is what I am in the process of doing right now.

In all reality, you can grow plants in just about anything...gravel, sand, dirt, etc if you learn how to use fertilizers. I prefer to use 3M's Color Quartz sand over the commercially available substrates like Eco Complete or Aqua Soil. The sand does not add any ammonia/ammonium to the water column nor does it increase or decrease the KH or GH of my source water. Using an inert substrate, like 3M's Color Quartz sand, lets me control my water parameters without any influence from the substrate. That way, the only one I have to blame for bad plant growth or algae problems is me ;)

I've used Eco Complete, Fluorite, Flora Base, Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil (SAPS), Soilmaster Select (SMS), plain gravel and plain sand and have not noticed a great deal of difference in plant growth between any of them. I have gotten substantially larger root systems using Eco Complete, Flora Base, SMS and SAPS over the Fluorite, gravel, and sand, but I'm not growing the plants to see larger root systems. Larger root systems would probably be more beneficial if you are relying on the substrate and fish waste as the only source of fertilization for the plants but it isn't as important if you add fertilizers to the water column.

In my opinion, substrate choice is a choice of aesthetics over anything else. Do you prefer to have a certain color over another? I prefer black substrates so that excludes Aqua Soil though I plan on giving it a try when I set up my next tank. Do you prefer to have a similar grain size or do you want a more natural look that a varied grain size will give you? Aqua Soil, SMS, and Sand are very similar in size while Eco Complete, Fluorite, and SAPS have a varied grain size. Appearance takes priority over everything else in my tanks...after all, I am the one that has to look at my tank every day ;)

Concerning the pricing of Eco Complete and Aqua Soil, they are very similar in price. You would need six 20lb bags of Eco Complete for a 3" substrate in a 75g tank. That would be about $132 (currently $21.99 at Fosters & Smith) plus shipping. I believe you would need four 9L bags of Aqua Soil for a 3" deep substrate in a 75g tank, which would cost $112 (currently $28 at ADG) plus shipping. Even if you need a fifth bag of Aqua Soil, the price is still very close. There isn't a big difference in price unless you choose to add some of the ADA substrate enhancers and Power Sand along with the Aqua Soil and I don't think most people use those additives. That said, I do believe most of the other ADA products (filters, glass ware, fertilizers, etc) are very high priced in comparison to the other products out there.

For someone new to the planted side of the hobby, I would recommend they start out with Eco Complete or Aqua Soil for a low tech or low to medium light high tech tank. I believe both of these substrates are more forgiving during the initial setup phase of the tank while someone learns the basics of fertilization and CO2 usage.
 

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I agree that you're just paying for the name. Don't get me wrong, some of his stuff has a nice, sleek look to it, but overall his products are not the be-all-end-all of the hobby. (Don't tell his fans that though). He's a "celebrity" after all, and there are celebrities in every industry. Doesn't mean their products are the absolute best.
 

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My 29 gallon planted RCS tank started out with ADA AS and it did fine, however I never could get the water crystal clear, I removed it and added SMS charcoal and it is growing better and the water is crystal clear. Go figure.
 
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