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Old 12-18-2018, 12:33 PM   #1
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Eco-Complete Substrate

I have recently just got a 5 gal. Marineland Portrait aquarium and I was wanted to create my first planted tank (freshwater). A friend of mine gave me half of a 20 lb. bag of Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium substrate that he had sitting inside his room, never taken out of the bag. The liquid/water/nutrients that comes in the bag has dried up and is no longer there. I was wondering if this substrate will still work in my planted aquarium or if the liquid in the bag is key to getting your plants to thrive? I was also gifted Seachem Flourish and Seachem Excel as well as API CO2 Booster, API Leaf Zone and API Stress Coat. Any beginner tips about planted aquariums, plants, and substrates would be greatly appreciated. I'm not quite sure where to begin.

What are your opinions on eco-complete substrate?
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Old 12-18-2018, 01:21 PM   #2
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I have recently just got a 5 gal. Marineland Portrait aquarium and I was wanted to create my first planted tank (freshwater). A friend of mine gave me half of a 20 lb. bag of Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium substrate that he had sitting inside his room, never taken out of the bag. The liquid/water/nutrients that comes in the bag has dried up and is no longer there. I was wondering if this substrate will still work in my planted aquarium or if the liquid in the bag is key to getting your plants to thrive? I was also gifted Seachem Flourish and Seachem Excel as well as API CO2 Booster, API Leaf Zone and API Stress Coat. Any beginner tips about planted aquariums, plants, and substrates would be greatly appreciated. I'm not quite sure where to begin.

What are your opinions on eco-complete substrate?
It's not a planted substrate at all, it's crushed up lava rock with 0 available nutrients and an insignificant CEC ability.

Since it is free it's fine to use, but a 5 gallon tank = small plants and Eco-comp it very hard to plant small / delicate plants into.

I would suggest Black Diamond Brand medium grit blasting sand, Pool filter sand or play sand instead.

Flourish Comprehensive is only good for micro nutrients, no N, P or K. Excel / CO2 booster are algecides. API leaf zone is bottled water.

I would go with small, low tech plants and use Flourish Comprehensive / Excel following the directions on the bottle.
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Old 12-18-2018, 02:22 PM   #3
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It's not a planted substrate at all, it's crushed up lava rock with 0 available nutrients and an insignificant CEC ability.

Since it is free it's fine to use, but a 5 gallon tank = small plants and Eco-comp it very hard to plant small / delicate plants into.

I would suggest Black Diamond Brand medium grit blasting sand, Pool filter sand or play sand instead.

Flourish Comprehensive is only good for micro nutrients, no N, P or K. Excel / CO2 booster are algecides. API leaf zone is bottled water.

I would go with small, low tech plants and use Flourish Comprehensive / Excel following the directions on the bottle.
Wouldn't the grit blasting sand be harmful to fish or anything that stays on the bottom? I'm striving to make the tank as vibrant as possible. Have you heard good things about the Flourite Black Sand by Seachem?
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Old 12-18-2018, 02:51 PM   #4
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No it doesn't if you stick with the medium grit or anything smaller.
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Old 12-18-2018, 03:26 PM   #5
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Wouldn't the grit blasting sand be harmful to fish or anything that stays on the bottom? I'm striving to make the tank as vibrant as possible. Have you heard good things about the Flourite Black Sand by Seachem?
It is completely safe (see tank below). Flourite is too expensive for plain sand. Flourite has 0 nutrients, very low CEC and the regular grit Flourite is too hard to plant delicate plants in.

5 gallons is too small for 99% of aquarium fish anyway, so no need too worry about the blasting sand hurting anything.

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Old 12-18-2018, 03:47 PM   #6
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Interesting. Your plants grow nicely in the blasted sand? Do you use root tabs or "flourish tabs"? Should I still use the Seachem Flourish & Flourish Excel? Did you rinse the sand? Sorry for all the questions, there's just so much to ask lol. I had no clue that the gravel in the Eco-Complete makes it harder for the smaller roots to grow.
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Old 12-18-2018, 04:17 PM   #7
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Interesting. Your plants grow nicely in the blasted sand? Do you use root tabs or "flourish tabs"? Should I still use the Seachem Flourish & Flourish Excel? Did you rinse the sand? Sorry for all the questions, there's just so much to ask lol. I had no clue that the gravel in the Eco-Complete makes it harder for the smaller roots to grow.
The roots will grow just fine, no issues there. It's physically planting into the Eco-complete or regular Flourite that is very hard on smaller plants (suitable for 5 gallon tanks).

Yes, rinse the blasting sand very well.

I use root tabs on occasion, but they are completely not needed. Water column fertilizing is all that is required. Here is a tank that only receives water column fertilizers, no tabs at all:




Flourish only provides micro nutrients, no NO3, PO4 or K. Flourish tabs are also incomplete fertilizers. DIY root tabs such as Osmocote+ into gel capsules are far Superior.

ALL - IN - ONE ferts such as EasyGreen or Thrive are better options than Flourish Comprehensive. Use Flourish Excel at the "after water change" rate.

If you want to save money long term, you can use:

KNO3
KH2PO4
K2SO4
CSM+B

These are dry fertilizers that you either 1) mix into a solution and dose via volume or 2) leave dry and dose via weight.

Or, you can simply use root tabs (this may be limiting to certain plants though) .

You can also start with a nutrient rich substrate such as potting soil. But this is very messy and eventually it "runs" out of nutrients.
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Old 12-18-2018, 04:30 PM   #8
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What is "water column fertilizing"?

Would you recommend the Thrive or EasyGreen, is there one you're particularly impressed with other the other or are they about the same?

I will probably just do the Thrive or EasyGreen (whatever you prefer) other than doing DIY fertilizers or trying to make it myself since I'm just now getting into this. I don't want to overwhelm myself lol!
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Old 12-18-2018, 04:36 PM   #9
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I use Thrive. It works well but I would assume easy green is just as good. If Z says it works then it works. Lol
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Old 12-18-2018, 10:19 PM   #10
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Ive used EcoComplete with decent success in both low tech and high tech setups but it can be a pain to set plants in (half of the smaller plants floating on the surface the next morning). I supplemented it with root pellets. Water column ferts and CO2 in the high tech tank. Once established the plants did well in both setups.
I tried blasting sand once but you REALLY need to rinse it well. I kept on seeing oil slicks when setting up a shrimp tank so I switched to a black sand from PetCo (TBH, I dont think it is naturally black). Have never tried blasting sand in a Planted tank.
Heard good things about Thrive.
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