Think I’m done with Aquasoil

Bryce

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After keeping many planted tanks over the years I do believe I personally have come to the conclusion I’m done with Aquasoil. I seem to much prefer eco complete. I can easily list many reason why. I still do have 2 tanks with Aquasoil, but I believe when a rescape is due I’m going all in on eco complete. I believe especially for someone just setting up a planted tank Aquasoil will cause them nothing but trouble and disappointment. So what’s your opinion?
 

Witcher

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So what’s your opinion?

I just take spade, large sac and go around to look for the soil I need. After trying so many different commercial/non commercial solutions I think nothing, absolutely nothing can beat slightly acidic natural soil, with no lime if possible. If I need some CEC, I'll add some clay, and if I need some lime I can just add it. The best thing about natural soils is that it can be adapted to whatever you need. Just dig it out, bake it, cover with inert layer of gravel and that's it.

BTW my next goal regarding substrates is to try Chernozem as a base layer.
 
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I think I’m in agreement with this. I’ll prob stick with soil and an inert cap from now on. Mainly because I just can’t keep up with that initial chore of incessant maintenance AS requires.
 

Tim Harrison

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I like the all in one convenience of AS. But I like used AS even more; all the convenience of fresh AS but without the massive nutrient load at start up. For many, especially beginners, Amazonia Light might be a better option since it's not quite so high in nutrients.

However, you'll get no argument from me regarding the use of soil or compost. I think if you can get your head around the counter intuitive idea of putting actual soil in an aquarium then it's a no brainer. Soil is dirt cheap (that gag never gets old), and since it's the stuff that plants usually grow in, it's great for growing plants. I've never had healthier Crypts and swords etc, than when grown in compost capped with gravel or sand.

However, just one word of caution, good garden soil doesn't necessarily make good aquarium sediment. Often it's the least toxic that's the most suitable. That's why I prefer branded compost, it's usually been tried and tested as aquatic plant sediment and is universally homogenous so you know what you're getting every time.

On the subject of Eco Complete I've never used it, but from what I've seen and read it's pretty much inert with no intrinsic nutrient content. And I don't find it aesthetically appealing either; it looks and feels unnatural. In effect it's kind of like paying Gucci prices for plain old gravel, which doesn't make sense to me. However, if it works for you and you're happy with it that's all that matters :)
 

dino21

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However, just one word of caution, good garden soil doesn't necessarily make good aquarium sediment. Often it's the least toxic that's the most suitable. That's why I prefer branded compost, it's usually been tried and tested as aquatic plant sediment and is universally homogenous so you know what you're getting every time.

So many substrate products out there, could I ask which brands of Soil you would recommend / suggest loooking at, currenlty just have gravel and sand, but might be more adventurous on the next tank, thanks.
 

kilnakorr

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After keeping many planted tanks over the years I do believe I personally have come to the conclusion I’m done with Aquasoil. I seem to much prefer eco complete. I can easily list many reason why. I still do have 2 tanks with Aquasoil, but I believe when a rescape is due I’m going all in on eco complete. I believe especially for someone just setting up a planted tank Aquasoil will cause them nothing but trouble and disappointment. So what’s your opinion?
What is about AS you don't like?
I'm can't really find any major disadvantages in AS.
 
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I think for my next tank I will likely use opened up Tropica nutrition capsules with a ‘not too thick’ layer of sand over the top and that’s it... They don’t dissolve in water and are broken down slowly by bacteria so no need to go thick with the sand. If any plants struggle in the long term they can have a new capsule placed at their roots. There have been lots of discussions on here recently about plants not needing to feed from their roots but instead that the roots act more an anchorage - although I personally still believe many plants with a large root masses benefit significantly from nutrients at their base. In a low energy slow growth aquarium I’m not sure that significant nutrients and expensive substrates add enough benefit to be ‘worth it’ in my oppinion. It also avoids the issue of substrates mixing when a cosmetic foreground is in place which is a massive bug bear of mine and increases my maintenance time significantly.
 

Tim Harrison

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I think you're right Matt. I also think that a nutritious substrate is important in a high-energy tank even for stems. How else will they draw in nutrients once they've been heavily trimmed; reduced leaf surface area means reduced ability to folia feed, and weak growth. It's one of the reasons scapers nearly always replant the tops.

One of the tehniques used to get bushy stem growth is not to replant the tops and to succeed at this I think a good substrate is essential as well as good water column dosing. Denis Wong is perhaps synomynous with this technique...


Another is to put most of the nutrients in the soil and lean dose the water column. Filipe Olivera uses this technique, along with very high light. The idea is to stress the plants so they don't grow very quickly, it also brings out the colours in stems.


Anyway, I think you have a better chance at success with a nutritious substrate and one of the best is AS...
 
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I don’t use a lot of stems personally but I now keep the in the top of the scape wedged in plant mass and near the light and in the nutrients in the water column. I get good red colour action near the light source and they branch off into two stems when trimmed without problem. They don’t really need to be in substrate at all! I stole this idea from @Ady34 though from his amazing featured journal tank re-education-nearly-a-year-old so can’t take credit!

wonder if we can start #noaquasoilinlowtech
 

sparkyweasel

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f discussions on here recently about plants not needing to feed from their roots but instead that the roots act more an anchorage - although I personally still believe many plants with a large root masses benefit significantly from nutrients at their base.

Plants that grow on land get all their nutrients through the roots in nature. But in a garden or greenhouse you can often get great results from foliar feeding. It seems reasonable that it could work the other way round for aquatic plants. We don't have to try to mimic nature, we just need to do what works in our tanks.
 

Simon Cole

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So what’s your opinion?
I wouldn't touch Eco Complete with a barge pole. I have used it before. It is so sharp and abrasive that finally removing it is almost impossible without damaging the glass. It's a very hard mineral and will scratch glass easily.
This is the first instance that anyone has ever recommended it to me. I honestly thought that it had reached the dustbin of history several years ago.
Anyone who has done survey work on lava fields will know what I mean - that stuff will shred through shoes, clothing, equipment and tyres in no time. It took the barbules off my corydoras (even with a sand cap): I got those fish out and luckily they made a full recovery. When I started the hobby - Eco Complete was the first product that really wound me up.
 

Onoma1

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I think for my next tank I will likely use opened up Tropica nutrition capsules with a ‘not too thick’ layer of sand over the top and that’s it... They don’t dissolve in water and are broken down slowly by bacteria so no need to go thick with the sand. If any plants struggle in the long term they can have a new capsule placed at their roots."

I tried Osmocote with my Old ADA Africa and while the growth is ok, the dirted tank following Tim's advice is far better. Give John Innes Number 3 capped a go.
 
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I used eco on my very first tank, I was a newbie and forums all said the same thing: ECO, Flourite, or sand. The product is also misleading, and cheaper than other products. AS is not beginner friendly because of the maintenance it requires. Not to mention the price is just simply unacceptably expensive. All aquatic soils are unnecessarily expensive for what they are. I bought one bag and I regret it now since I ended up using regular soil anyway. But $50 for a 9L bag that doesn’t even fill my 40 gallon tank. I refused to spend $100 on dirt. This isn’t meant to bash AS, it does what it says, but it’s not beginner friendly and the price is even more discouraging
 

Bryce

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Well lots of good opinions on this. There’s no wrong substrate to use, just wanted to see what others thought. I use it ,but won’t going forward. I agree about the expense of it , expensive dirt for sure. For me the main thing I absolutely hate about it is the mess it makes after trimming. No matter how hard I try not to disturb the soil and especially if I’m planting the tops, ,it creates a fine dust that gets on all the plants , then it never fails I get a slight algae outbreak usually on my glass and hardscapes. 2. For me it’s unnecessary, I EI dose the water column, which in turn cycles through the porous substrate. I have never had trouble growing any type of plant in eco. For me anyway there is no real benefit of using it that’s all.
 

azawaza

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No aquasoil for me too.

Just sand.

Then work the plants around them. Sure, you’ll be limited but think about the joy of creativity amidst constraints.

There will be naysayers, you’ll need to allay this. Need constant vacuuming? Then keep less livestock. Can’t plant stem plants? There are lots of rhizome and stolon plants you can work with.

Sand may be cheap but it’s your job then to make your aquascape look like it’s a thousand’s worth.

Have fun, make art. Yours :)
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Just sand.

Then work the plants around them. Sure, you’ll be limited but think about the joy of creativity amidst constraints.

There will be naysayers, you’ll need to allay this. Need constant vacuuming? Then keep less livestock. Can’t plant stem plants? There are lots of rhizome and stolon plants you can work with.
<"Sand for me as well">, and no planted quick growing stems.
Sand may be cheap but it’s your job then to make your aquascape look like it’s a thousand’s worth.
I'm not going to manage that bit.

cheers Darrel
 

Lew44

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8 Apr 2020
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Fetcham
How long or high temperature do you bake compost for to make it suitable for your tank?

I used flora pro, it is very light weight - but dhg and mc seem to be doing ok!
 
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