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Is this just a gimmick? I'm new and totally unsure about what substrate to choose. I honestly thought it was all cosmetic. :oops:

The 'Nature's Ocean' products are primarily what I was looking at. What does everyone generally use?

100% natural, premium marine substrate
Contains natural live marine bacteria to quickly stabilize tank
Removes nitrogenous waste and restores natural organic balance
Maintains proper pH
Provides essential trace elements
Reduces harmful nitrate.
Provides enhanced buffering capacity.
Provides essential inorganic elements such as strontium, cobalt, zinc, and molybdenum.
Digger friendly
Reduces algae growth
Instant ammonia cycling
 

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stuff sounds pretty similar to eco complete which is what i would get personally. basic aquarium gravel is void of nutrients that are necessary for live plants to thrive. so if you have any plans of having live plants in your tank, save yourself the hassle and the money of buying liquid ferts and root tabs and all that and just get a good substrate like eco complete. i know that EC comes with liquid in the bag containing the live bacteria, accelerating the cycle process. bottom line, spend a little more on your substrate, your tank will thank you for it.

edit: stuff looks pretty legit.
 

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The idea of "live sand" i don't buy, normally that stuff sits around for awhile and hard to believe much of it is live by the time it reaches a tank. Its easier to seed a tank with live substrate from an tank already well established.
 

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Live sand is not at all for freshwater, it is for salt water, especially reefs, reefs have live rock as well. It is actually not a gimmick, it just is not for freshwater.
 
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