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What is Eco-Complete Made Of?


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On 6/11/2021 at 12:16 PM, tonyjuliano said:

Basalt.

Very high CEC value.  It has no nutrients of itself, but has the ability to absorb and store nutrients from surrounding sources.

According to Caribsea it contains " iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur plus over 25 other elements to nourish your aquatic plants."

I found a thread where someone reached out to Caribsea to ask about CEC. Turns out the company never actually tested the CEC of Eco-complete, but indicated it was similar in composition to Seachem Fluorite, which has almost zero CEC. 

As for the mineral content, I couldn't say. It's very possible for basalt to be rich in those minerals but it totally depends on the source. As mentioned above, Caribsea appears to not have validated any of their claims. I don't really see a reason to use Eco-complete over any other inert gravel.

As a side note, when I was doing some research on the effects of substrates on corydoras barbels, Eco-complete as well as Caribsea Tahitian Moon Sand seemed to be the worst for them.

Here is the relevant thread

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On 6/11/2021 at 3:42 PM, gjcarew said:

According to Caribsea it contains " iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur plus over 25 other elements to nourish your aquatic plants."

According to whom?  The article cited contains a communication from a "sales guy" without making any expressed proclamation.

There is much more opinion to out there that claims "high CEC", but hey it's the internet.

Here's an article that seems to have solid evidence behind it...

https://www.2hraquarist.com/blogs/beginners-planted-tank-101/substrate-101

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On 6/11/2021 at 1:18 PM, tonyjuliano said:

According to whom?  The article cited contains a communication from a "sales guy" without making any expressed proclamation.

There is much more opinion to out there that claims "high CEC", but hey it's the internet.

Here's an article that seems to have solid evidence behind it...

https://www.2hraquarist.com/blogs/beginners-planted-tank-101/substrate-101

Sorry, that excerpt was from Caribsea's website (full context below). All I was saying was they claim it contains minerals. As shown in the thread I linked and the one you posted from 2hraquarist, Caribsea's claims both about the mineral content and CEC of Eco-complete are dubious at best. 

 

"Eco‑Complete’s™ secret lies in rich basaltic volcanic soil which contains iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur plus over 25 other elements to nourish your aquatic plants. Floraspore™ symbionts activate the root-substrate interface to facilitate the uptake of minerals which make for a healthier root and healthier plant. Iron rich Eco‑Complete™ eliminates the need for laterite. No artificial dyes, paints, or chemical coatings. Eco-Complete™ has highly porous spherical grains for optimum diffusion performance and contains live Heterotrophic bacteria to rapidly convert fish waste into natural food for your aquatic plants. It establishes a natural biological balance which makes cycling a new aquarium faster and safer."

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I just tore eco complete out of 2 of my tanks. It is great at first comes with all sorts of nifty heterotrophs such as scuds seed shrimp copepods etc. to start your substrate colony. Tank was fish ready in the same amount of time all my others ever were. Plants did great...snails didn’t mind. My Bristlenose boys would NOT scavenge this.  As time went on even though my plants Hornwort wisteria sprite anacharis etc grew like made my nitrates would climb the same each week...it seemed to suck up and hold nitrates for awhile then I guess it was full and started rereleasing into the column. The harder I fought it steadily had 40-60 nitrate. I read a few online things some other folks having the same issues. I have no scientific knowledge if this was true or in my head but once it was gone I now do water changes to increase my nitrates as my tap starts 5-15ppm. I know this wasn’t what you asked but it was my first opportunity to complain about it ROFL

Edited by Guppysnail
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If we are complaining about Eco-complete, I don't like that it is SHARP. When it is new it is hard to plant in, I simoultaneously damage plant roots AND can't secure plants without weights. When it gets older it seems to lock and pack a little, leaving a deep skift of mulm sitting on top instead of getting down in the cavities where the roots are. I have decided to go with sand and gravel.

(sand in the "open" unplanted areas)

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I have eco-complete in my 29 gallon, and I would not use it again. It's fine. It's sharp. It's not that easy to plant in.

I'm just going to use sand next time (pool filter, caribsea crystal river, or something else). Also an inert substrate without the sharpness, and it'll be better for bottom-dwellers to have a nice sandy bottom.

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On 6/11/2021 at 3:20 PM, Patrick_G said:

I know budget is tight for many aquarists, especially the younger folks. I wonder if this type of product might be available outside of the hobby at a lower price. 

 

 

For budget, black diamond blasting sand is awesome. It's what I use in my tanks and does very well. You want the 20/40 size, and rinse good first in a bucket.. some people don't rinse just depends on how quick got want to use your tank. 

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On 6/11/2021 at 4:18 PM, tonyjuliano said:

According to whom?  The article cited contains a communication from a "sales guy" without making any expressed proclamation.

There is much more opinion to out there that claims "high CEC", but hey it's the internet.

Here's an article that seems to have solid evidence behind it...

https://www.2hraquarist.com/blogs/beginners-planted-tank-101/substrate-101

So I've looked into this and I just looked into this again and I think I understand it some more now.

There are 2 types of weathering Physical and Chemical,

Physical is people walking on a path, waves crashing and rocks rubbing against each other.

Chemical is organic acids from plants breaking down rocks and forming mineral clays and stuff like that.

Mineral clays like kaolinite have a CEC of about 10 meq/100 g, while illite and smectite have CECs ranging from 25 to 100 meq/100 g.  

From what I understand it seems Eco complete is Inert in a closed system, but when going through chemical weathering organic acids break down the silica allowing minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, ect to be released while also creating the high CEC mineral clays listed above.

So you are both right.  it is an inert low cec substrate that, due to chemical weathering, breaks down over time, slowly releasing basic minerals and generating high CEC Mineral Clays.

Though I may be wrong so please double check.

https://www.tulane.edu/~sanelson/eens211/weathering&clayminerals.htm

Edited by MattyIce
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On 6/11/2021 at 12:20 PM, Patrick_G said:

I know budget is tight for many aquarists, especially the younger folks. I wonder if this type of product might be available outside of the hobby at a lower price. 

 

 

Not sure over there in USA, but in here in Mexico we call it "Tezontle", it's regular volcanic rock, it's a bigger grain than eco-complete but I bet you can just crush it down. I get it in my local landscaping business by the bucket lol, $10 for one. Might be wortth checking out your local landscaping biz.

This is a clip I took showing it to my local fish group: 

 

Edited by HenryC
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On 6/11/2021 at 10:46 PM, MattyIce said:

So I've looked into this and I just looked into this again and I think I understand it some more now.

There are 2 types of weathering Physical and Chemical,

Physical is people walking on a path, waves crashing and rocks rubbing against each other.

Chemical is organic acids from plants breaking down rocks and forming mineral clays and stuff like that.

Mineral clays like kaolinite have a CEC of about 10 meq/100 g, while illite and smectite have CECs ranging from 25 to 100 meq/100 g.  

From what I understand it seems Eco complete is Inert in a closed system, but when going through chemical weathering organic acids break down the silica allowing minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, ect to be released while also creating the high CEC mineral clays listed above.

So you are both right.  it is an inert low cec substrate that, due to chemical weathering, breaks down over time, slowly releasing basic minerals and generating high CEC Mineral Clays.

Though I may be wrong so please double check.

https://www.tulane.edu/~sanelson/eens211/weathering&clayminerals.htm

I recently went down a rabbit hole looking at substrate and cec. My biggest takeaway was that cec really only effects positively charged elements/compounds. Potassium and several trace elements are positively charged for one reason or another (I’m no chemist) and are attracted to the soil. Our water is maintained through a cycle that churns out nitrates as an end result. The assumption that I made is that cec has nothing to do with nitrates in a tank since nitrate is a negatively charged. Ammonium came up as the nitrogen source often mentioned alongside cec.

@guppysnail did you trim your plants heavily around the time you noticed nitrates creeping up. I am thinking that plant mass or another factor changed in your tank.

This is my understanding of eco complete-it supports the uptake of nitrates and phosphates of your plants by supporting photosynthesis by keeping the other macro/micros on hand when your plant needs them. It is better than most inert substrates for this reason.

It seems like eco complete is most recommended by plant enthusiasts as one piece of a greater substrate system and a heavy water column fert strategy.

Bit of a ramble, but hopefully I’m on the mark. 

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