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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Overhead costs of pet stores aside, I've spent more than 5K within the setup period of my 90G and the cost of maintainance for the plants only is about $40 to $50 per month, including CO2 injection. I'm frustrated because most of my years of aquarium experience was from 13 to 20 years ago when things were very different and a "dirt" tank or "nature aquarium" were concepts I never heard of (of course planted aquariums and Dutch planted aquariums existed). I could've just picked branches from a creek in Hope or even just in North Burnaby. I should've picked river pebbles and stones from there. A lot of pebbles in the region are inert and do not release any unwanted minerals or chemicals to harden water. If branches risk toxins leaching into the water, I can guarantee that if you buy branches designed for birds to perch on at pet stores, they are safe and less than 75% of the cost. I wish I wasn't so uninformed re-entering the hobby. Of course, some types of hardscape cannot simply be picked up for free off the side of a creek, but there's more.

Now with YouTube and learning of aquarists, especially outside of Canada, saying they've spent very little money on lighting and ferts, I'm wondering if I've been throwing money away on Kessil lights, Tropica soil, and Tropica ferts when others are using garden variety dirt and dry ferts and clamp on desk lamps with CFL's or LED panels you can get for $70.

I'm curous how many planted aquarium hobbyist willingly spend money on products exclusively designed and marketed just for aquarium plants, and how many just go to Home Depot to get most of what they need. ADA may at times, be an exception because I not only see the quality of their equipment and their aquariums, but some of their supplies, additives, stones and wood, are so unique, they can only be found and imported from select places in the world. That being said I would be tempted to cut costs in areas where I find it is practical to do so. I think ferts is a good example. Dry ferts anyone?

Cheers.
 

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Woah 5k to be completely honest thats insane for a 90G I could set up a 180G reef for almost the same price excluding maybe some livestock. I personally think Kessils are not needed for FW just throw on 2 Finnex Planted+ and your good for even the high tech tanks. I definitely feel you could've cut the cost of the set up by a lot. I think I've spent like 1k setting up 3 tanks altogether my 37G, 20G and 10G. However all of these tanks were mid tech but still I just don't think it's worth it to go all out on one tank.
 

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I never buy that stuff. There's no way I'm spending all that money for stuff like aqua soils which are probably just kiln dried lumps of dirt. You can if you want to but I won't. There's just no way I'm spending over $100 just to fill my tank with "planted substrate"

If you want to replicate nature, use dirt. I had a tank running last year that was completely made up of found materials. Dirt capped with small gravel I sifted out of the vedder. That tank grew plants like crazy, it was a gong show. Much better than the tank I have now with dirt capped with bought gravel substrate. Only reason why I took it down was because hitch hikers made it into the tank. Anything advertised with "nature" somewhere on the package and it's expensive is a scam.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
LOL! Thanks guys, for the info, and now I feel awful LOL. Well, I'll be clear. I bought an Fluval Profile 1200. This was a package of $1600 after taxes and it included 4 T5's on two canopy bars. It included the 90G aquarium, the stand with custom holes for the Fluval canister filter (I think a Fluval 406), which was also included. It also came with the heater. The most expensive part were the Kessils at about $550 for two. The CO2 system was over $200. The charge for a 12lb tank of pressurized CO2 initially was a lot at AW. It's a $50 charge to refill, the tank, but I recently filled it at the Vancouver Fire Safety's headquarters in east Richmond for $22. I think my biggest regret are the Kessils, though the rippling does make the aquarium look stunning.

Yes, the soil was expensive and I was recommended not to use ADA soil so I bought the Tropica equivalent. ADA soil does cause an ammonia spike, but this is not a bad thing as I recently learned. It provides the opportunity to cycle the aquarium before any livestock needs to be put in. I don't necessarily regret the aqua soil, but I don't know if I would do it again. The advantage I guess is better control of water parameters and prevention of parasites or micro-organisms thriving in the tank. Would anyone recommend regular soil from like Garden Works? Perhaps that's still more economical, but it may reduce the chances of parasites and stuff flourishing in the tank.

Yes, I agree that a lot of things marketed with the word "nature" or "natural" is a cash grab. With ADA though, the "Nature Aquarium" was just coined for the concept itself and not as any particular product. I also think that some of those expensive rocks are hard to find for free. For regular pebbles and smooth stones however, I think one can pick them from any less polluted rivers. Anyone have experience with driftwood and branches and what types work best for planted tanks?

Thanks troutsniffer and DunderBear for your insights!
 

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LOL! Thanks guys, for the info, and now I feel awful LOL. Well, I'll be clear. I bought an Fluval Profile 1200. This was a package of $1600 after taxes and it included 4 T5's on two canopy bars. It included the 90G aquarium, the stand with custom holes for the Fluval canister filter (I think a Fluval 406), which was also included. It also came with the heater. The most expensive part were the Kessils at about $550 for two. The CO2 system was over $200. The charge for a 12lb tank of pressurized CO2 initially was a lot at AW. It's a $50 charge to refill, the tank, but I recently filled it at the Vancouver Fire Safety's headquarters in east Richmond for $22. I think my biggest regret are the Kessils, though the rippling does make the aquarium look stunning.

Yes, the soil was expensive and I was recommended not to use ADA soil so I bought the Tropica equivalent. ADA soil does cause an ammonia spike, but this is not a bad thing as I recently learned. It provides the opportunity to cycle the aquarium before any livestock needs to be put in. I don't necessarily regret the aqua soil, but I don't know if I would do it again. The advantage I guess is better control of water parameters and prevention of parasites or micro-organisms thriving in the tank. Would anyone recommend regular soil from like Garden Works? Perhaps that's still more economical, but it may reduce the chances of parasites and stuff flourishing in the tank.

Yes, I agree that a lot of things marketed with the word "nature" or "natural" is a cash grab. With ADA though, the "Nature Aquarium" was just coined for the concept itself and not as any particular product. I also think that some of those expensive rocks are hard to find for free. For regular pebbles and smooth stones however, I think one can pick them from any less polluted rivers. Anyone have experience with driftwood and branches and what types work best for planted tanks?

Thanks troutsniffer and DunderBear for your insights!
Don't feel too bad it happens I've spent money on dumb things also haha. In my opinion the only aquasoil I think is worth it is ADA and Fluval Stratum I always use one or the other in my tanks.
 

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Anyone have experience with driftwood and branches and what types work best for planted tanks?
Manzanita and Spider Wood are great for type, texture, and sizing. They are not the cheapest but have a more branch like silhouette.

Best regards,

Stuart

Tankful in Vancouver!
 

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For fancier, non consumable products such as branches, rocks, soil and light, I would buy the marketed ones. But when it comes to fertilizers, I would buy the dry version because its WAY cheaper and for CO2, I just buy used CO2 systems.
 

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There is nothing wrong with having nice things. I have an ADA tank, albeit not a gigantic one. If you can afford it and want it, why not? If you cannot afford it then it's a different issue. It's the age old question of why people spend $100k on a Porsche when they can buy an American car that is more powerful. The answer is, because you want one, and you can afford it. It makes you feel good.

Conversely if you get a lot of satisfaction in DIY then by all means, save the money. If you don't care about how it looks then again, by all means, rig up a Frankenstein tank. I have those in my laundry room. But in my living room and at my office I want stuff that looks nice and the Fluval Profile tanks are nice.
 

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I started using ADA Amazonia Aquasoil (Amazonia I, II, and now New Amazonia) about 8 years ago and have not looked back. Amazonia is an excellent product and I wouldn't do a planted tank without it. Yes it makes that much of a difference. Good lighting and CO2 are also good investments. I use pressurized CO2 and LED or T5HO lighting. I highly recommend Geissemann Aquaflora and Daylight bulbs. This has been my experience and I believe many other plant enthusiasts would also concur.

JMHO.

Stuart
 

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I started using ADA Amazonia Aquasoil (Amazonia I, II, and now New Amazonia) about 8 years ago and have not looked back. Amazonia is an excellent product and I wouldnt do a planted tank without it. Yes it makes that much of a difference. Good lighting and CO2 are also good investments. I use pressurized CO2 and LED or T5HO lighting. I highly recommend Geissemann Aquaflora and Daylight bulbs. This has been my experience and I believe many other plant enthusiasts would also concur.
100% in agreement Stuart. I use ADA Amazonia, have 2 CO2 regs (one a dual stage setup working again thanks to Stuart's generosity), and I also use LED and T5HO and my T5 bulbs are Giesseman Aquaflora and Daylight also.
 

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No it doesn't. Dirt grows plants better. Because it actually comes from nature where plants have thrived since the beginning of their existence.
Nothing is dried or baked off. Theoretically speaking, you'd be better off buying flourite than any aqua soils because it holds nutrients essentially forever.

Fluval stratum practically turns to mud over time. And it would cost a ridiculous amount of money to fill any sizeable tank. I don't want to offend anyone here, but it seems like you guys just want to justify your knack for being a sucker.

Having money to buy expensive stuff, and doing so because of a brand name, still makes you a sucker. And don't worry, we're ALL guilty of that. But the point is, it shouldn't cost that much in the first place!
 

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Dang, and I didn't know. I am going to shovel a bunch of glacial lacustrine clay from my backyard and grow some Wisteria and win that AGA Aquascaping contest next year! W00t!

AGA Aquascaping Contest

Wait how come all of those contestants are using ADA? Suckers!
 

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Isn't Fluorite basically just an inert substrate? I use it and I have to fertilize. I understand it has some basic minerals as part of its composition but nothing more. I don't see how its the same as the pricey ADA aquasoils.

if I have to say anything about my last 30 years of fish keeping is that the hobby has never been cheap, but it can be done affordably if one chooses to do so. There are some stuff that's simply not worth it, but most of the time you get what you pay for.
 

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Flourite isn't the same. But it stores nutrients and lasts the life of the tank.

Of course I was speaking for long term use. Flourite isn't the greatest but it truly does last forever. Aqua soils don't. Neither does dirt, but with dirt you have the advantage of adding stuff to it to make it past a really long time. And it's cheap.
 

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Dang, and I didn't know. I am going to shovel a bunch of glacial lacustrine clay from my backyard and grow some Wisteria and win that AGA Aquascaping contest next year! W00t!

AGA Aquascaping Contest

Wait how come all of those contestants are using ADA? Suckers!
Are you entering aquascaping contests?

They use ADA because it's good to scape with. Hence the word aquascape...

If you had a plant growth contest I guarantee dirt will grow plants faster and just as healthy. Easpecially in a larger tank.

Maybe we should stay on topic though instead of getting upset.
 

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If its good to aquascape with, doesn't that mean it grows plants well? I think you are insinuating that anyone that buys a product you don't support is a sucker which is why he's getting upset. There's a reason why it's pricier - because you have the guarantee that it does not come with pests, it has been treated and you know what you can do with it (proven results from aquascapers). If you could choose between 50$ aquasoil or 6$ worth of dirt but the dirt may contain bacteria, viruses or w/e that could kill your fish and/or your shrimp - what would anyone go with? You are paying for a known commodity and that's the cost of it. Some people like to spend their hard-earned money on designer bags, beers, guns and other people like to use it to buy aquasoil.

//Edit

@troutsniffer: I just also want to add that its harder for people to accept your opinion when you don't provide any evidence. Sure it makes sense, there are books, but have you actually done it yourself and ran tests? This doesn't have to be a win-lose situation for those who buy aquasoil and for those who don't. If you phrase it like "For those who can afford it, great for them. For those who can't, there is an alternative called dirt. It's what's being used in nature and it costs way less. It may be inconsistent but that's just one of the downsides." I think people would be more receptive and also spark a better discussion regarding the results.
 

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Yeah it's all about personal opinion honestly I'd rather spend MY money on aquasoil over dirt because it's hella messy and you never know how consistent it is. Not saying aquasoil isn't messy but it's definitely cleaner IMO.
 

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I don't want to offend anyone here, but it seems like you guys just want to justify your knack for being a sucker.
So you don't want to offend anyone here but you're going to do it anyways.

I don't know enough about dirt to say anything about it but if you truly believe it is a better option for growing plants and aquascaping then I'd like to hear more about it. However, I've looked through your posts but haven't found anything that indicates that you grow anything other than easy-to-grow plants (wisteria, moss, hornwort, Ludwigia repens) so I don't think I would take your word for it. All I can say is that it seems to be worth it being a "sucker" for ADA aquasoil if we are getting good results with plant growth.

On-topic:
How the hell did you spend 5k+ on the tank Drew?! I'd like to see this tank. Even with all my tanks and several years of being the hobby I haven't touched close to that.
 

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Just to chime in, but "dirt" and "soil" is as much of a generic and loose term as saying "rock". Lots of good stuff and not so good stuff out there that people can purchase. Some work fine, others can be very dangerous to use in an aquarium.

So how do we know which one is best for our needs? Do we know the dirt or soil we are purchasing is pure and clean? Do we know it's non-toxic to the living things we plan to care for in there? Do we know which fertilizers inside the soil could be harmful or harmless to aquatic organisms?

Well ADA soil exists because it answers those questions and more. It's reliable, clean and effective. It's no secret as to why so many aquascapers use it, myself included. Trust me, before I used ADA soil, I didn't really believe it could be this great, but it really is. The brand is also highly respected and trusted, as they often provide top of the line products. But with such an effective product obviously comes a more inflated price. That is the cost of using premium product. No one is a fool for using ADA, neither are people fools if they use dirt. But aquasoil caters to a different market. It takes the difficulty out of finding the right "dirt" for your tank and rolls it all into one bag, ADA being easily the king in terms of aquasoil. I'm also trying Tropica which is much cheaper and I'm really really liking it so far too.

It's one of those products you gotta use to really appreciate.

Also one more thing... Fluval stratum (which is like low end aquasoil) might turn to mud, but what do you call soil/dirt that gets saturated in water...
 

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A few points.

Whether I enter aquascaping contests or not I do aquascape because isn't that the whole point of planting? I am not farming so hence the example of wisteria.

And no you will not grow anything faster with plain soil than injecting CO2 and using ADA Aqua soil. Not in this universe or any other.

And just because I used a little sarcasm doesn't mean I am upside. I just found some who isn't trying to offend anyone while calling them sicker funny so I made a sarcastic post. I stopped being offended by posts on BCA .....oh.... it must be a good 3 years now. I got better things to do with my time. But I couldn't let a nonsensical posts full of unsupported claims ruin the choice of a great product for other users have not used it. And I can bet you have not used ADA Aquasoil.

ADA has some snake oil products but Aquasoil isn't one of them.

Also a previous poster's point about "dirt" is correct. Hence my specific example of glacial lacustrine soil. I know quite a bit about soil so I know varved clays won't grow plants like volcanic ash does.
 
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