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ADA Aquasoil vs. Eco Complete

In our comparison of ADA Aquasoil vs. Eco Complete, we’ll analyze each type’s features to help you pick the right type of substrate for your aquarium.

A substrate is a base layer in your aquarium where plants can grow. Moreover, bacteria and useful microorganisms live in the substrate to maintain balance in your tank and provide food for your plants, fish, and other aquatic animals.

Finding the best substrate can be a little challenging, since there are several brands on the market, in addition to the DIY mixes that you can prepare at home. Keep on reading to find out more about these 2 substrate types.

ADA Aquasoil Review

ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia Ver 2 (3L)

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This is a premium freshwater active substrate made from baked soil granules. It’s designed to lower the PH and KH levels in the water to create the perfect environment for your plants, fish, and dwarf shrimps. The substrate maintains a healthy environment in the aquarium with various essential nutrients.

What are the Features of ADA Aquasoil?

With traces of decomposed leaf mulch, ADA Aquasoil is rich in organic nutrients that promote the root systems’ growth.

Appearance

ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia Ver 2 (3L)

The substrate has a rich dark brown color, which contrasts beautifully with the colors of the plants and fish in your aquarium. This substrate is made of Japanese plant-based black soil, unlike other imitation products.

Once you add this substrate to your aquarium, you will definitely see how the colors pop. The grains are uniform in size and will successfully allow the roots to grow fast as they hold them in place.

Nutrients

ADA Aquasoil is extremely rich in organic nutrients and necessary elements that nourish the plants in your aquarium. The composition of the soil encourages the transformation of fish waste into food for the plants, keeping them alive and healthy. At the same time, as the substrate maintains a healthy environment in the aquarium, so your fish and other aquatic animals will feel and look extremely healthy.

Using this substrate, you will be able to enjoy fast-growing plants and healthy fish and shrimps. ADA Aquasoil creates a balanced environment where all the living organisms live in harmony.

Effect

Plants can successfully suck the nutrients to grow fast in your aquarium when you add this substrate. Since it’s made from 100% natural ingredients, you will witness an overall improvement in your aquarium’s condition as the plants grow fast, and the fish stay alive.

PH Buffer

When used with a depth level between 1 and 3 inches, ADA Aquasoil will bring the PH level down in your aquarium. This is excellent for different types of fish and shrimps that can be extra sensitive to the PH level.

Ammonia Spikes

Just like any other type of substrate, you need to be extra careful while adding ADA Aquasoil for the first time. One of the limitations of this type is that it needs time to cycle, so you will experience higher levels of ammonia before they decrease to create a healthier environment for your fish and plants. It’s recommended that you let the substrate cycle before adding any fish to your aquarium.

The Pros and Cons of ADA Aquasoil

Here are some of the pros of ADA Aquasoil.

  • This is an active substrate with tons of nutrients.
  • The granules promote explosive plant growth.
  • ADA Aquasoil buffers the PH level, making the process of monitoring your aquarium less time-consuming.

Here are some of the cons of ADA Aquasoil

  • This substrate needs time to cycle. Otherwise, it will increase the level of ammonia in your aquarium.
  • The granules stir up quickly. If you’re likely to move your plants a lot, this substrate might not be the right one for you.

Here is a great video from DMichaels Fish Den about some of the ADA Aquasoil, it’s part one of a two-part series and worth the watch if you are considering using ADA as a substrate.

Eco Complete Review

CaribSea Eco-Complete 20-Pound Planted Aquarium, Black

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This substrate is made from rich volcanic basalt, which contains iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and potassium, with a total of 30 elements that encourage the growth of aquatic plants. The substrate is inert in nature, so it will need to be supplemented with fertilizers.

Nevertheless, it discourages the growth of algae to keep the food for your plants. The spherical grains are highly porous and contain bacteria that convert fish waste into food for your aquatic plants.

What are the Features of Eco Complete?

Eco Complete is rich in microorganisms that quickly establish balance to encourage your plants’ fast growth while creating the perfect environment for your fish and other aquatic animals.

Appearance

Because this substrate is made of volcanic soil, the black color will immediately create a contrast to show off the colors of your aquatic plants. The granules aren’t identical in shape, as some particles can be as small as sand particles, while others might be as big as gravel. Nevertheless, the particles tend to hold the roots well, providing your plants with all the necessary nutrients.

When you open the bag, you will notice that the particles are wet, as they have been washed to encourage the growth of bacteria. You can also see the little nooks and crannies where the bacteria will grow.

Nutrients

Eco Complete is made of natural volcanic soil, which looks attractive but is also packed with essential nutrients that encourage the growth of the root systems in your aquarium. These nutrients promote the fast growth of your aquatic plants while keeping your fish healthy.

At the same time, they prevent the growth of algae, which compete with your plants for the same type of food. The nutrients are all naturally sourced because this substrate doesn’t contain any artificial dyes or additives that can affect your fish and plants’ health.

Effect

The smaller particles settle at the bottom of the aquarium, allowing the roots to grow and expand quickly. Eco Complete promotes faster plant growth as the root system doesn’t have to work hard around the large granules to suck out the nutrients.

Beneficial Bacteria

With other types of substrate, you might take weeks, and even months before you can enjoy the full benefits of the healthy bacteria. This won’t be the case if you choose Eco Complete because it’s pre-cycled. This means that you will already have some good bacteria the minute you add Eco Complete into your aquarium.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to cycle this substrate. You still need to let the bacteria grow before you can depend on Eco Complete, but the substrate gives you a good head start.

Bimodal Grading

Since Eco Complete is made of small and large granules, the particles will arrange themselves thanks to the bimodal grading. The smaller particle will sit at the bottom of the aquarium while the larger particles stay on top. This will eliminate air pockets, as the smaller particles will fill the gaps in the soil.

The Pros and Cons of Eco Complete

Here are some of the pros of Eco Complete.

  • The substrate is packed with 30 necessary nutrients and microorganisms that maintain the health of your plants.
  • Thanks to the bimodal grading, the smaller granules will settle at the bottom, allowing the roots to grow faster.
  • The substrate is pre-rinsed and pre-cycled, so it can be used immediately in your aquarium.

Here are some of the cons of Eco Complete.

  • Eco complete contains fewer nutrients than the ones found in ADA Aquasoil. You can add root tabs to Eco Complete if you want to grow nutrient-hungry plants.
  • Cleaning the substrate can be a little challenging since the smaller particles might be siphoned out while using a gravel vacuum.

Which One is the Winner?

Both ADA Aquasoil and Eco Complete are excellent substrates that you can use to create the perfect environment for your aquatic plants. ADA Aquasoil is rich in nutrients and will support the growth of hungry-nutrient plants while balancing the PH level to keep your fish and aquatic animals in perfect state.

Eco Complete contains fewer nutrients, so you might need to add fertilizers right from the start. However, this substrate comes pre-rinsed and pre-cycled, so it already contains some good bacteria to help create the right environment in your aquarium.

Although Eco Complete is more affordable than ADA Aquasoil, you should consider the value of the fertilizers and root tabs that you will probably have to add right from the beginning. ADA Aquasoil won’t need any fertilizers, at least for the first year. After that, the pellets will start to lose their shape and nutrients, so more fertilizers should be added until it’s time to substitute the whole substrate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Eco complete a good substrate?

This substrate is made from rich volcanic basalt, which contains iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and potassium, with a total of 30 elements that encourage the growth of aquatic plants. The substrate is inert in nature, so it will need to be supplemented with fertilizers.

Nevertheless, it discourages the growth of algae to keep the food for your plants. The spherical grains are highly porous and contain bacteria that convert fish waste into food for your aquatic plants.

How long does eco complete last?

While the substrate may last for a very long time the nutrients in the soil may only last for a few years. Eventually, you’ll need to start using root tabs and fertilizer to ensure your plants are getting the right amount of nutrients.

What is eco complete made of?

Eco Complete is made of natural volcanic soil, which looks attractive but is also packed with essential nutrients that encourage the growth of the root systems in your aquarium. These nutrients promote the fast growth of your aquatic plants while keeping your fish healthy.

At the same time, they prevent the growth of algae, which compete with your plants for the same type of food. The nutrients are all naturally sourced because this substrate doesn’t contain any artificial dyes or additives that can affect your fish and plants’ health.

 Wrap Up

Both ADA Aquasoil and Eco Complete are excellent substrate options that you can use in your aquarium. The active nature of ADA Aquasoil means that it requires less maintenance in the beginning, as long as you’ve done the needed cycling to avoid the spike in the ammonia level.

If you’re looking for something more affordable, you can choose Eco Complete. It comes pre-cycled and needs a little bit of maintenance by adding fertilizers, but the inert nature of the substrate means that it won’t change its composition or behavior until it’s time to change the substrate.

My Favorite Filter
AquaClear HOB Filter

The AquaClear HOB filter has been around FOREVER and is typically the first filter recommended for most beginners. That said, it's a great reliable filter for experienced fish keepers and Aquascapers. It comes with prepackaged filter media but also has the ability to customize to your needs. Don't worry about water flow as the gentle waterfall design creates oxygenation without a strong current perfect for small tanks and Bettas.



Eco Complete

4.55

Awesomeness

4.8/5

Features

5.0/5

Ease of use

4.0/5

Value

4.5/5

Pros

  • packed with 30 necessary nutrients and microorganisms
  • bimodal grading allows the roots to grow faster.
  • pre-rinsed and pre-cycled

Cons

  • smaller particles might be siphoned out while using a gravel vacuum