Dirt (soil) vs Aqua Soil or Eco-Complete

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OBlitzO

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Sep 12, 2012
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Thoughts, preferences, warnings ?

I am planing to set up some planted tanks again. (I had to take them down because I had work overseas). I hear people that rave about both dirted tanks as well as aqua soil. Both can get me good results if I do other things right. I have done some research but I wanted to hear your opinions.
 

jrawebb83

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I'm a fan of Eco. I've used it with good results. It's a bit cloudy at first but settles pretty quickly. I would think dirt would be too messy when doing things like a gravel vac or relocating a plant. Can't speak from experience though.
 

SnakeIce

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Yeah there are pros and cons of whatever you use. The idea is to choose something that better supports what you intend to do and the way you intend to do it. Aquasoil is simple to use, but may have some longevity issues. The stuff doesn't stop being good for plants, but it loses it's granular consistency over time. So if you want to reset things over and over it may not hold up. It also costs more, but the system is plug and play if you go full ADA.

Soil is more work, but I've seen nice aquascapes done in mineralized soil. It is going to be even less friendly to resets and rearranging things, but the cost may persuade you to work with it's limitations.

I liked flourite since it grew cryptocoryns very well, and it seemed to be very stable granular texture. It is quite dusty at first, so has to be washed well and then handled carefully to prevent more dust from rubbing off the stuff. Once in the water and settled down it does fine though.

I've even tried Turface, that ball field soil amendment. It has good plant growth responce, but the initial start is harder because it isn't preloaded with nutrients like aquasoil is. I found it took a little more attention to grow stuff in it than flourite, and it didn't hold plants down as well. usable, but takes more fiddling and attention to get things started in it.
 

OBlitzO

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Sep 12, 2012
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Yeah there are pros and cons of whatever you use. The idea is to choose something that better supports what you intend to do and the way you intend to do it. Aquasoil is simple to use, but may have some longevity issues. The stuff doesn't stop being good for plants, but it loses it's granular consistency over time. So if you want to reset things over and over it may not hold up. It also costs more, but the system is plug and play if you go full ADA.

Soil is more work, but I've seen nice aquascapes done in mineralized soil. It is going to be even less friendly to resets and rearranging things, but the cost may persuade you to work with it's limitations.

I liked flourite since it grew cryptocoryns very well, and it seemed to be very stable granular texture. It is quite dusty at first, so has to be washed well and then handled carefully to prevent more dust from rubbing off the stuff. Once in the water and settled down it does fine though.
Thanks SnakeIce, you gave me some things to think about. What are your thoughts on mixing and or layering two different substraights together ? (With dirt you need some sort of capping substraight, but thats not what I mean.)
 

SnakeIce

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It really depends on why you want to mix them. If you have the money to go full aquasoil, why mix anything with it unless you count the ADA additives recommended as part of the system.

But if money is an issue then perhaps look at what those additives in the ADA system are called for clues on how to choose your own ingredients for your own mix. Of course ADA isn't going to give you full disclosure on what their system has in it.

It might be as simple as, "Cryptocoryns grow well in flourite because of the iron it contains, but that is pricey so I'm going to mix some in with a cheaper option to get some of the benefit of the iron source.

Just one thing to consider though, anything you mix should be similar in grain size. There are issues with compaction if the grain sizes vary to much.
 

OBlitzO

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Well I am going to be dealing with a couple nano tanks, so I wont need to buy a ton. Good pointer for different grain sizes. Do you know how long either dirt or aqua soil will last until it's nutrients are depleted? Just wondering if you know of a ball park figure.
 

Mr Ironic

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Well I am going to be dealing with a couple nano tanks, so I wont need to buy a ton. Good pointer for different grain sizes. Do you know how long either dirt or aqua soil will last until it's nutrients are depleted? Just wondering if you know of a ball park figure.
well i use aqua soil btw. i remeber watching a youtube video of an aquascaper who used used ADA AS for 5 years. he then rescaped the tank with the same soil and the plants were still thriving. heres the link:
 

tanker

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I have 2 Jungles. One tank I use just plain gravel with Laterite on the bottom. The other I set up many years later with ECO-complete. Both tanks have lots of plants, I am constantly prunning.

IMO--It is not the gravel, but what you do after. My plants grow huge and fast.
 

Steven 1

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IMG_0001_20a.jpg I started out with gravel that was much too big and Seachem Flourish Complete. Plants did alright but slow growth mostly, except for a Water Sprite that shot off through the surface. Now I have Miracle-gro Organic Choice Potting Mix (MGOCPM), which by itself increased the growth of the plants dramatically. I have been dosing 1/4 Estimative Index (EI) and they're doing even better. I have a nymphae that is putting up leaves frequently and the shoots are growing several inches a day. Here's a recent picture:
 

Adler

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What should i look for when it comes to dirt (potting soil) that I should never put in a fish tank? i read that chemical fertilizers but I'm not a chemist how would I know what is a chemical fertilizer and what would not?
 
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