2 Choices of substrate
Ok so here's my dilemma. I wanna go with a more nutrient rich substrate without running into problems. I would really like to go with organic potting soil as the first layer then eco complete on top. But after hearing from multiple sources the mixture of these two can cause a bad reaction and melt ur rooted plants makes me kinda wiry trying.
So, my second thought was going with Eco complete just for CEC purposes and dosing a nitrogen source like seachems liquid. But don't know if that would be sufficient enough, would I still need to use root tabs using this method or would the nitrogen and ferts be enough?
Or is the sources claiming EC+ soil= bad reaction wrong?
I've not come across mention of the reaction, but I've also never come across anyone mixing these two.
Soil is advocated for a natural method, with a covering of fine gravel; I don't know what benefits if any it may have in a high-tech setup which I believe you are aiming for as you mention CO2. Soil encourages natural CO2 which wouldn't matter if you are adding it via diffusion.
Eco-complete is an enriched substrate but its benefits are doubtful. I set up a tank with Flourite, which the experts tell me is basically the same as E-C, and it has been quite a disappointment. I'd never use any of these things again. But in a high-tech system, perhaps there is value. Substrate fish do not do well over these though. I have had to dose liquid fertilizer just the same as in my other sand or gravel substrate tanks, and the plant growth from the same species under identical light has been about the same, or perhaps worse in the enriched substrate tank, depending how one looks at this. This tank has had other issues with algae and cyano that have not been present in the other tanks.
I have had/have soil substrates and EC (Not together). When I first started I bought Eco-complete. I had to still use fertilizers liquid and root tablets especially for my swords. I didn't find the claim of it very good. Have heard other similar stores about EC.
I now have a dirt substrate that's capped with sand. Once again I am still have to use liquid and root tablets. I don't see any real benefits from either substrate with the exception of added C02 from the soil and I don't know if that's enough for me to do it again though.
Well to answer both of your guys questions..
Eco complete has been proven to have no nutrients in its substrate as it claims. Its only benefit is the CEC and the live bacteria it comes with. I know people who have done studies on it and it came up with no nutrient value. So in order to achieve this you need to either use root tabs or use a Soil substrate layered underneath. The reason is to obviously feed the roots of plants as Co2 cannot achieve this in the water column alone.
I still see no benefits in soil over sand/fine gravel, but if you are set on soil, a 1-inch layer, I would use a 1.5 inch layer of fine gravel in black over it. You don't need bacteria products in planted tanks, they have no benefits.
I haven't seen the reports you mention, but it doesn't surprise me.
Makes sense. I use a high CEC substrate as a cap over soil.
According to Walstad (literally 'wrote the book' on soil substrates), 'el natural' tanks don't require nutrients if you feed your fish 'generously'. The soil hosts more bacteria, and can handle more food as long as the feedings are consistant.
As far as I can tell, the best technique is to stock slowly with lots of fast-growing live plants (like stems and floaters), and feed the fish 10-20% more than you would in a normal tank. Many people tend to overfeed, and they should probably feed less, but since I tend to give my fish very lean diets, I end up having to force myself to feed them extra.
Feel free to check out my signature for a makeshift guide, but I now use only topsoil. Peat-based substrates (like organic choice potting soil) seem to go anaerobic faster then plain topsoil.
The benefit of Soil over sand is the immediate access to nutrients. Over time, sand can produce the same benefit with the build up of "Mulm" but this process takes up to 6 months to buildup. Soil is packed w/nutrients from the jump and if done correctly you will notice success right away that's why people tend to like it so much.
Gravel can work well as its a great size for the plants to latch on to, but Eco being a CEC can hold on to the nutrients as reg gravel will not. I personally don't care for the bacteria it comes with myself, most of the time i'm jump starting cycles anyways with old media or liquids.
I was actually able to get my hands on some ADA aqua soil for cheap from a friend so I'm going to be using that instead as its one of the few substrates that come packed with nutrients already without adding anything extra. Only problem is it leaches out ammonia for a week or two.
Redchigh I'll definitely check out that link. Thanks
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