sand vs eco
So far I just dont care for a sand substrate. I have three tanks, two with Eco Complete and one with sand. My plants in the sand tank do not look half as good as the other two. All tanks get the same treatments with water changes and Flourish and root tabs. Plus, it is not as pretty and its harder to clean and the prep is ridiculous for sand, took three days to settle. Now will the eco lose out over time, I guess we will have to wait to find out. Just my observation so far and the fourm is slow of late with no talkers. Oh the one win for the sand so far is cost, its dirt cheap.
Both have their pros and cons. It comes down to what you want to keep and or do. If you are going to have things like bichirs, corys, loaches, (anything with delicate mouth parts) sand is your best option. There are things you can do to help along your plants to get decent growth (such as root tabs, using good lights, good fert).
However if you have a smaller tank and no plan for mouth sensitive fish the eco is a good way to go especially if you want a very pretty planted substrate. Sand is inert and doesn't hold nutrients well and sometimes it complicates things when you want good root systems. So the Eco wins out but at a price.
There is also a third option popular in some places where you mix things like turface/mollar and put in the dry ferts and go from there. In the long for for large tanks this can be cheaper. At the end of the each method has it's pros and it's cons. One isn't really better than the other it just comes down to what you want to do. That's all the input I have.
I have experience with both plain sand (also plain gravel) and Flourite. Flourite and Eco-Complete are basically the same thing, so I see no reason to doubt that my experience with Flourite would be any different with E-C.
I have had Flourite Black (and on its own, not mixed with anything) in my 70g for over 15 months. The plants are not better than the same plant species in my sand and gravel substrate tanks, and all 7 tanks receive the same fertilization and have the same light, and water changes are 50% weekly. So the comparison is on an even basis.
If you still have to dose fertilizers the same, there is no benefit to Flourite or Eco-Complete, but there are downs:
I myself would never consider "prep" or a few days cloudiness as reasons to not use a substrate which otherwise had so many benefits. I had several weeks of non-clarity in my Flourite tank too. But in both this and plain sand/gravel tanks, this cloudiness is most likely a bacterial bloom and can't be escaped. Why it doesn't always occur i don't know.
I like eco-complete, but as Byron says, it is way too expensive for larger tanks.
For sand, I have become a pool filter sand convert. It has been very well washed. I rinse it three times and I'm done.
Got to agree, it's up to you. I have a 55 with ecocomplete and the plants do great. I have 5 tanks right now with play sand, and they look great. If you use root tabs, then I don't think you'll have any issues with heavy root feeders being in poor shape. Might be a iron deficiency?
I find the sand a little easier to work in, I like to move plants around. I do dose iron in the sand tanks (ecocomplete already has iron in it).
Personally, I prefer a dark substrate because the plants and fish colors tend to look better against the dark substrate (in my opinion). My very favorite tank has black sand. Not a cheap substrate, but not as much as Ecocomplete. All my other sand is from a big-box store, about $4 for 50lbs. Can't beat the price!
Where do you get black sand at? Oh by the way the swords I got from you are doing great, love them.
I got black sand from PetSmart. Some brand name, can't remember ir - CaribSea perhaps? I think it was about $16 a bag, on sale, for a 20lb bag, a little cheaper than ecocomplete usually retails for. It's only in a 20L so didn't break my bank. Looks really neat with MTS snails burrowing. Has some reflective particles and the sand seems to be moving in waves as the snails burrow. Keep an eye out on-line. Once in a while someone will goof up and offer free shipping on all items, including substrate. That's how I got all my ecocomplete (all 100+lbs), for less than $100 delivered to my door.
For the black sand, be careful. Some folks use black sand-blasting sand, which may include industrial "slag", so I've read.
Nasty stuff. Foamed up when washed and then became sand again.
Strange, I didn't have any problems with mine at all. Rinsed it and was done pretty quickly.
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