This site is supported by the advertisements on it, please disable your AdBlocker so we can continue to provide you with the quality content you expect.
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Are these 'High Tech' substrates actually worth it?

Discussion in 'Talk to Tom Barr' started by AquaticJim, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. AquaticJim

    AquaticJim Guru Class Expert

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2007
    Messages:
    173
    Likes Received:
    0
    Are these 'High Tech' substrates actually worth it? I've kept aquaria for over 40 years and I've seen the wave of enthusiasm sweep through the hobby for these new (and very highly marketed)'super substrates'.

    Is the enthusiasm justified? Did aquatic plants form a union for better conditions? Did I miss the memo that aquatic plants will no longer grow in plain gravel and fish poo?

    What happened to the old 1mm, 2mm, 3mm gravel substrate loaded with fish mulm and root tabs under root feeding plants and dosing the water column?

    I've never used these 'super substrates' and have always had excellent plant growth (actually too much, as sometimes it can be a chore keeping up with the growth) and my compost bin takes a lot of aquatic prunings. Am I being too sceptical in thinking that "Wow, these companies are making a killing selling dirt"?

    What does one truly get for paying 10x-15x the cost over 'old fashioned' substrate?

    What am I missing out on by using plain old gravel?
     
  2. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hi,

    I don't think there has ever been a controlled experiment that compares plant growth when using the "exotic" (read, "expensive") substrates, to that when using plain old topsoil (read "cheap").

    From what I've read, the "exotic" substrates reduce the amount of water column fertilization that's required, that's all.

    In theory, gravel by itself should work if there is enough water column fertilization. But again, I haven't seen any scientific studies.

    Perhaps there is something out there that I've missed.

    Bill
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Messages:
    18,517
    Likes Received:
    404
    I did one with ADA, soil from Lake Tahoe, the delta and a plain sand.

    Delta the ADA did very well, lake tahoe was not so hot........plain sand did okay, the water had some nutrients in it also.
    The tahoe soil had high peat and organic matter(too much).

    I think the ADA stuff is good for our use and replanting and making less mess, one single sediment type, vs the soil with a sand cap method.

    This is a personal preference however, as far as growth, not much if any differences.
     
  4. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    2
    I have no issues with plain topsoil covered with 2 - 3 mm gravel. The soil stays where it should stay, and moving plants around doesn't cause significant problems.

    My main problem with the "exotic" substrates is that they are a largely a waste of money, and as one with New England roots, I don't like to see that. I also don't like that they, and other "high-tech" apparatus. raise the price of admission to this hobby, and unnecessarily, IMO. At other sites I have seen some terrible advice given to (often) young people who want to get into this hobby. The worst was given to a high school-aged paper delivery boy, who was told that he would need $300 to $500 to set up a 10 gallon aquarium.

    There's my annual posting on this subject, :)

    Bill
     
  5. AquaticJim

    AquaticJim Guru Class Expert

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2007
    Messages:
    173
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thats really saddening. The internet is fabulous when used right, but information given like that to an impressionable young lad is unfortunate. I have wonderful memories as a boy (still the same now at 49) of never being able to go past any type of natural or man made structure that held water (from puddles to lakes) without being fascinated with what I might find by exploring it.

    If I was brand new to this wonderful hobby and hopped on forums to read and learn. I would think that from all the recommendations and glowing testimonials that anything less than a big $$$ amount of 'super substrate' for my new aquarium would be dooming it.

    These 'super substrates' seem to be discussed ad nauseum as if they're the be end and end all of aquatic plant keeping.

    It's great marketing. I don't believe that I'm one thats very susceptible to advertising, but I've been so close so many times to dropping a barrow load of $$$ on a 'super substrate' and breaking my tank down to install it. Then reality sets in and I look at my tank and think - "What on earth is it going to improve upon"? and then I breath a sigh of relief that the moment past......until the next time it strikes!
     
  6. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2010
    Messages:
    449
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've got soil as my substrate and fancy Flourite Black Sand as the cap. I like the color and granule size and it keeps the soil from making a muddy mess in the tank.

    Jim
     
  7. Crispino Ramos

    Crispino Ramos Guru Class Expert

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    278
    Likes Received:
    4
    I've grown plants in gravel, SMS, Fluorite, Eco-Complete and ADA. Most of my plants grow best in the ADA substrate.
     
  8. Mithun Karmakar

    Mithun Karmakar Junior Poster

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    How is Contro soil? it seems to be gaining popularity like ADA, not much competition with ADA though..
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Messages:
    18,517
    Likes Received:
    404
    Well, ADA As is the only one of these that has nutrients in it, not much of a comparison really:)
    ADA pulled the same marketing ploy comparing growth with(ADA AS) and without nutrients (plain sand), does not take a genius to predict why and which one had more growth.

    Now if you compared soil say MTS etc, to ADA AS, you'd fine little difference in growth.

    I still use ADA AS, but it's less mess and I do not have to deal with laying and 2 part sediments.
     

Share This Page