For reasons I won't go into here, I'm done with my NPTs. Despite the success that others have had, it just hasn't worked out for me.
So, time for a complete teardown, and this time I'm not using soil, though the tanks will still be heavily planted.
After doing lots of research on possible substrates, I've narrowed it down to two choices. Eco Complete fine grade or Flourite black sand (not the onyx sand, which raises GH). I can't decide between the two- at the moment the only differentiating factor is that the Flourite sand is a bit more expensive but with faster shipping.
So, if anyone has used either of these, can you tell me what you like/dislike about it/them? I'd like to hear your opinions... I don't mind adding ferts. My main concern is that the substrate be able to hold nutrients, provide my bottom dwellers with a pleasant digging experience, and keep plants rooted from said bottom dwellers' digging activities.
My tank hasn't been set up long and I've been having water quality issues, but I have used Eco Complete.
My experience with Eco Complete is that it shortened the time I spent on a fishless cycle before adding plants (it provided enough of the first stage of bacteria that my tank was able to immediately go on to growing the bacteria that turn nitrite to nitrate). I think it was maybe a week between when I started the process and when I got 0/0/nitrates.
Also, you get the benefit of gravel when adding water or cleaning... It quickly settles back down without leaving cloudy water.
The only bottom dwellers I have are MTS, so I can't really speak to your questions about them, nor can I speak to how long the nutrients last. Now, the website claims that because of the source, they're supposed to have more soluble nutrients than the company's other planted tank substrate, and thus last longer. Hopefully someone else will be able to speak to the longevity and how good it actually is. :)
i would use fluorite. Eco complete is great but the issue with it is, it has a short life span. it will start to degrade and break into mud after a while (usually about a year or so). then you'll have to cap it like soil or change the substrate =/
Ive tried both. flourite sand is VERY fine. I couldn't get plants to dry start in it as it became extremely compact. I prefer refular flourite black or eco...
Ahh, good to hear that backed up, as well. Another thing that decided me against flourite sand was that someone said it was so fine as to be nearly silt. I thought that would be a nightmare with a bunch of fish that delight in doing their own aquascaping, nevermind where I wanted to put the darned plant. It was only one person who made that comment, though, so I wasn't sure if it was just them.
Have have bad my Eco compleat for over a year it does not break down. The clay bases stuff will. You get some dust mud like stuff that collects at the bottom of the tank over time but that's good for plants. I like the stuff.
It will last a few years in your tanks but it slowly breaks down you only notice that when you break the tank down.
Well, my tank's been up for a week with the eco fine grade and I have to say that it rocks! It's a bit coarser than sand, and so much easier to plant in than my previous sand/soil substrate. I'm really glad I got the fine grade instead of the regular eco- my corys look like they're having a great time plowing through it with their barbels. It's perfect for fish that like to dig.
Plants are doing good so far, but I also have a thin layer of peat and mulm underneath the eco, and root tabs too. The only plants I have trouble with getting to stay rooted is my dwarf sag, but even still, my corys uproot it less than they did when I first planted them in my soil/sand.
Both are pretty much inert. Red flourite has a good amount of iron but I don't know about the black sand. However they have a high cec which means they can hold onto nutrients from the water and release them later for parents to use