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Is Eco-Complete inert substrate? How come?

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by pepetj, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. pepetj

    pepetj Lifetime Members
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    I've been paying a lot of money getting Eco-Complete locally. Keep in mind I'm used to pay more than usual cost of fishkeeping items since I live in a third world country (Dominican Republic). To give you an idea, a 20lbs bag of Eco-Complete cost me three times as much its on-line regular price. I usually add new Eco-Complete at the two year mark after it was introduced into a particular tank.

    I joined this site in August 2008 and became a lifetime member a month ago. I found a statement by Tom Barr that simply put is telling me I've been paying a lot of money for inert substrate.

    Tom's words "EC is inert hard sediment" Please see his reply in this threadhttp://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/6262-When-to-change-ECO-Complete-planted-Substrate

    I feel like an idiot if that happens to be true. How come they advertise this substrate as nutrient rich if indeed it is not?

    Pepetj
    Santo Domingo
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Ask them, not me:)

    ADA Aqua Soil has nutrients, etc, and cost about the same.
    You can also do mineralization of clay loam soils you should be able to find locally, and do a layer of that + sand capping.
    Some used worm castings for the sediment base layer etc, search here and you should be able to locate the threads.

    I'm afraid you did pay a lot for inert sediment.
    Flourite is the same.

    Has the chemicals, but they are not biologically available in a meaningful way. Eg SiO2 is glass, but hardly a good source for O2.
    But you could say glass has Oxygen in it.



    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    AZOO Plant Grower Bed and EC, are they the same type of product?
     
  4. 1077

    1077 Guru Class Expert

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  5. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi.

    I use black flourite for several reasons:

    1) It is attractive
    2) It is easy to use and does not cloud the water.
    3) It holds the plants well and is easy to plant in.

    I use EI to make up for any lack of nutrients.
     
  6. Whiskey

    Whiskey Subscriber

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    I have Eco Complete in my own tank,.. and a few weeks ago I decided to try putting in a root tab just in-case I'm not getting all the nutrients I needed for whatever reason from my EI and Substrate. I can not believe the massive increase in growth rate for my crypts especially,.. so much so in fact that I put even more down there for them, and these are not even particularly good root tabs (flourish something or other).

    It would seem that this plant prefers feeding from it's roots rather than the water,.. it would further seem that my Eco Complete was starving them.

    Whiskey
     
  7. Ekrindul

    Ekrindul Guru Class Expert

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    I had always assumed when people said EC was inert, they simply meant it did not alter water chemistry, whereas, something like ADA AS alters pH, etc. How is EC's makeup different from ADA AS such that plants cannot make use of the nutrients?
     
  8. pepetj

    pepetj Lifetime Members
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    I'm thinking of solving this issue by mixing top soil substitute. It's supposed to be toxic free, mineralized, and enriched through organic means (earthworms' byproduct maybe?). I'm setting a 30"L x 18"W tank (Marineland 56gal column) for my wife. It is my first aquascape attempt from the start.

    Ignorance may be a bliss but to some but I rather know that I know the facts of what I'm dealing with. My frequent failures with Eleocharis sp are easy to understand now. Let's see how I do with really enriched substrate now. Since I now know EC is inert I see no problem mixing it with inert black gravel (cheaper yet aquarium safe). I like the looks of EC and money isn't exactly going to stop me from this. How can I put value on any of my tanks? Coming home after a hard day at office dealing with people's personal issues (I'm a Clinical Psychologist in private practice) to the silence of my planted tanks in the quiet of the night...

    Pepetj
    Santo Domingo
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    This is but one test you can do to see and answer the question.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    A simple test is to do lots of large water changes and use pots with various types of sediments and then test that.

    ADA did this and compared the rate of growth of ADA AS with that of plain sand.
    One has nutrients, the other does not.

    I've done this myself quite a few times, we have continuous drip vaults at the lab.
    So the only source is some from the sediments, pots cannot leach out ferts into the water column that may influence or confound other pots.

    Any of the pots with N/P etc, will have a much high growth rate obviously, than plain sands etc. Flourite and EC are useful I think since they have large surface area for bacteria and that might aid plants indirectly, but those bacteria cannot really get at much of the nutrients/elements in those rock grains.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, you can go either way, or both ways actually(preferred IMO/IME),
    You should easily be able to grow hair grass in flourite/plain sand or soil or ADA AS etc.
    I've done every one of those sediment types.

    Nutrients can be supplied via the water column eg: EI dosing.
    They can be supplied via fish waste as well.
    They can be added via the sediment usign ADA AS or mineralized sediments, boiled for 10 min etc, or shallow pan or water for 2-4 weeks prior to use.
    ADA AS takes about 4 weeks worth of water changes before you can put the fish in, so the soils etc can all be done that way if you prefer, or do the Dry Start methods, then the plants and roots are already estbalished and you have your mineralization done as well.

    But I think it's wise to use both locations, the sediment and the water coilumn as a source for all the nutrients, not just one.
    They compliment eachother and the trade off each has. You can hop around with one leg, but getting around is much easier if you use both, sort of the same idea here.

    EC is nice since you do not need to wash it.
    Some like the look of it.
    I like Black flourite sand.

    Here's some Hair grass in my tank using Flourite and EI and low light:

    [​IMG]

    I have grown it in plain sand very densely.
    I've also grown it very dense in ADA AS at home and delta clay mud at the lab.

    No issues growing this plant at all.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I can grow this plant in either sediment type, in this case, it's in a sediment with ferts, lots of them, but over time the muds/clays, soils etc are reduced in Nitrogen, so that needs added from some other source or you end up replacing the seiment perhaps yearly to get the same rate of growth.

    [​IMG]

    I've aggressively pruned it and you can see the cut line where I hacked it back.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. Ekrindul

    Ekrindul Guru Class Expert

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    Since ADA AS will eventually be depleted, isn't it a viable option to choose a substrate that is more aesthetically pleasing, and find other means to supply nutrients within the soil, like Osmocote? While AS has the advantage starting off, it does have its drawbacks. Eventually, won't you have to renew nutrients no matter what substrate you go with?

    It is aggravating knowing that Eco's claims about having NPK and micros is misleading, but I still prefer it for how clean it remains when disturbed and how it looks. Maybe they should include a small bag of Osmocote Plus in each bag instead of that stupid clarity packet.
     
  15. 1077

    1077 Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks Tom for clearing up my confusion. I am astounded not so much by what I don't know ,but rather by how much I thought I did know.
    I shall continue reading, learning. Thanks for pointing me to where .
     
  16. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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    I don't buy the Crypts preferring Rott feeding, never have done. Sure if you add root tabs to an inert substrate then they will improve but the asme can be said for adding more nutrient to the water column. I find like most other plants they do fine on just water column dosing and taking the food through their leaves.

    Its one of those age old statements thats bandied around the forums that certain plants are 'heavy root feeders' and indeed they probably are but they are most likely heavy leaf feeders too.

    You should look at this from the other side. Its not about ADA AS depleting eventually. that would suggest that it is the sole nurtient supply. ADA AS has high CEC and therefore if you are using it in tandem with sufficient water column dosing then it is continuously replenishing itself. It never depletes in that case.

    Tropica go one further and supply high CEC clay with zero nutrient addition. You are buying the 'sponge' and when you water column dose the 'sponge' sucks in some of the nutrient.

    So don't worry about depletion or substrates being inert. Concentrate on high CEC substrates coupled with water column dosing and you'll always have both sources actively supplying nutrient both to leaves and to roots. The plant can choose its source then if not use both.

    AC
     
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