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What substrate do you reccomend?

what substrate do you reccomend

  • eco-complete

    Votes: 5 41.7%
  • Tropica

    Votes: 3 25.0%
  • aqua soil

    Votes: 4 33.3%

  • Total voters


Expert/Global Moderator
11 Jul 2007
Chicago, USA
There are a couple of criteria in choosing a substrate. The three listed will do an equal job because they are all "enriched". You can find a lot of threads on the web extolling the virtues of one over the other, however if these three were scientifically tested against each other I seriously doubt that any one would be that much ahead. In fact Tom Barr has tested Aquasoil and found that it does not contribute to plant growth any better than a mixture of potting soil+plain sand. In fact it came in 4th in a 6 horse race. Among The other 5 horses were organic substrates like mud at the bottom of a lake (go figure).

But this is not the end of the story. You choose a substrate for a few other reasons: ease of maintenance, artistic reasons (color & texture & form) and price. Even though I dislike the exorbitant price of the AS, I voted for it because all other things being equal I love the feel of it. Color, form and texture wins out in the end for me. The feel of this substrate is silky smooth, and since I am constantly sticking my hands into the substrate this factor carries the vote.:D

Aquasoil does leech ammonia into the water column (so negative bonus points there) but this can be ameliorated by frequent water changes.:idea:



3 Jul 2007
Bexley, Kent
Aqua Soil is the best IMHO but at the end of the day it's what you want to do that makes the difference. If you constantly like uprooting and changing things around then Aqua Soil can be a bit messy and EC might suit you better.

AS is loaded with ammonia to start with and some of this does leach into the water column at first. If it is to be used in a new setup then it's fine but if to be added to an existing setup with fish then I'd think again and use EC.

Tropica substrate is very good as well but needs sand/gravel to be use on top of it.



2 Aug 2007
While that test was vs mud from the delta, it is still much better than some other sediments and is what I'd recommend.

It's much better than plain sand or flourite for example.
It also provides a good back up for water column dosing, folks sometimes forget to do dosing.

Some plants seem to do much better with it vs other inert sediments.

But if you move plants around a lot, have very high density of fish, it might not be ideal.

Still, I'd suggest ADA AS any day.
If your filter is well prepped then you can add ADA AS to an existing fish set up, you can also do large 2-3x a week water changes with Zeolite additions to the filter.

As long as there's enough export/chemical binding and bacteria, there's no issue.
I really do not think you can over do water changes also.

Then it's a nice one type of sediment and it's not too messy vs mud and soils.
And for the $, it's a good deal overall too.

Tom Barr

Dave Spencer

3 Jul 2007
N. Wales

Superb for aquascaping with, and great for planting in.

I have Eco Complete in my 120l, but I don`t like the way I can hear it scratching against the glass when I move it around.


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