CEC of Substrates - Specifically Eco-Complete

jmaldo

Well-Known Member
Dec 19, 2017
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#1
I am participating in a post dealing with "CEC", just thought some of our PRA members might have some info.
This Question was asked on another forum.
"How is eco complete good for plants?"

Which then turned into a discussion on the "CEC" of various substrates.
For those whom are interested, the term "CEC" is defined as the cation exchange capacity of a substrate. CEC is the ability to absorb positively charged nutrient ions (so high CEC is good). This means the substrate will hold nutrients and make them available for the plant roots. It doesn't indicate the amount of nutrients the substrate contains. As defined here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substrate_(aquarium)

Some of the responses:
"I am hesitant to walk into this one. Let me say that we have members currently that use it and like it.
That being said I and past members have had nightmare results with this product.
The issues I and others here had were pail green sheet slime covering everything. One member posted photos of it in an unopened bag. But like I said, there are those that use it and love it."

@Jocelyn Adelman responded:
So to answer how it is good....
"Eco complete, along with seachem flourite, turface, safTsorb, etc are all high CEC substrates... meaning they have the ability to capture and store excess nutrients and release to plants as needed...
Basically any of these + root tabs = one of the aquasoils
Some aquasoils break up after less then a year, a lot depends on kH/gH of the water for length of use... usually max is about 2 yrs... but you can at that point cap it sand and use root tabs...
I use tropica aquarium soil or Ada Amazonia in some tanks ( have tried and dislike stratum), eco complete in others. Even have a few with gravel, each serves its purpose. I really like my eco complete... find it frustrating for small (Monte Carlo, Hair Grass) Carpets but the stems etc love it. Eco complete tanks grow better then my gravel, aquasoil overall does better then both.
One thing eco complete has over the others is it doesn’t need to be pre washed... however compared to a bag of turface or saftsorb the cost is higher.
Another alternative is dirt (miracle grow organic) capped with sand..."

Another response:
"Regrettably I have to correct a misconception; Seachem Flourite is not a high CEC (cation exchange capacity) substrate, actually it is a low CEC substrate. Eco-Complete like Seachem Flourite contains a lot of nutrients, some of which may become available to plants, but it is not clay or soil based and although I know of no CEC testing of the product I would assume it has a low CEC like Flourite. I recommend reading the article on substrates in the Summer 2000 issue of Planted Aquaria Magazine (link to .pdf) The article starts on page 17 and covers the common substrates at that time as well as the methods used in testing. Here is a copy of the summary page of the findings:



As you can see the montmorillonite clay substrates like Turface (#16 & #16a) or Safe-t-sorb have a high CEC (>30.0) while Flourite (#19) has a low CEC (CEC@1.7). Currently I use montmorillonite clay substrates in all of my tanks. Although I have not seen any CEC testing on ADA Amazonia II I believe because it is a rice patty soil based substrate it likely has a higher (>20) CEC. The point is just because a substrate contains a lot of minerals (like Flourite) does not mean it is a high CEC substrate. I am not saying that a high CEC substrate is necessary, I have had great planted tanks using inert natural gravel."

My response:

"I use a number of different substrates in my tanks. Very good discussion but no actual data on Eco-Complete.
I just e-mailed Carib Sea,

Cation Exchange Capacity Data of Eco-Complete
Hello,
Following a thread on a aquarium forum discussing the "CEC" properties of various aquarium substrates. Eco-Complete is the main topic. I have done some searching and I have found some testing data and was surprised Eco-Complete was not in the test. All in all I have found differing opinions/ assumptions some say very good "CEC" and others no real "CEC". Is there any information/data you have on the actual "CEC" of Eco-Complete along with your other products?

Let's see if I get a response."

Any interest in what Carib Sea response was?

*Disclaimer"
No intention of infringement on any copyrights, any info posted is for informational discussion purposes only"
 

NightShade

Well-Known Member
Dec 13, 2017
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#2
Nothing to add at the moment (currently too busy to do more than skim (sorry!!), but I wanted to respond, as I am certainly interested in the read. There's many threads and articles about CEC of substrates online. I have read many, but may not be able to explain what I have read very well :oops: I read a lot while researching planted tanks a few years ago.)

I would most definitely be interested to see what carib sea's response is!! :)
 
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junebug

Chune the Smiter
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Dec 14, 2017
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#3
@jmaldo would you post any response you get from CaribSea here as well? While I can't comment on the CEC of the substrate, I'd be interested to know the answer.
 
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jmaldo

Well-Known Member
Dec 19, 2017
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Northeast Ohio
#4
Ok, so here is the correspondence thus far:

Hi Joe,
Who did the testing? Typically third parties are doing this sort of thing and posting it. If we flew under their radar perhaps I could speak with them about adding our data.
Best regards,
Jud McCracken
Sales Manager,
CaribSea, Inc.

Jud,
Thanks for your prompt reply. During our searches we could not find recent data. Do a search and see what you come up with. In the meantime do you have any data which could help us determine the CEC of Eco-Complete?
Joe

Joe,
I can provide material.
Jud

Jud,
That would be Great. Here is the link to the discussion, if you would like to take a look.
(Deleted Link)

Joe

Well at least I got a response, hopefully he will provide the material tomorrow.
Stay Tuned.
 
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FishFlow

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Apr 1, 2016
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Central Coast, CA
#5
Good follow up. My experience with Eco-complete has been positive for plants. I was under the impression it has/had high CEC. Eco was a cap to dirt. Tank was low tech then became high tech. I also grew the slime, but that went away by itself. (I believe I didn't have the right balance of ferts/co2, plant growth at first)
 
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junebug

Chune the Smiter
Staff member
Dec 14, 2017
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#6
I've never had nor heard of green slime growing on EcoComplete. But, is the "green slime" actually cyanobacteria? Because that can happen with any substrate, even inert ones.
 
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jmaldo

Well-Known Member
Dec 19, 2017
316
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Northeast Ohio
#7
Update. Latest e-mail sent:
Joe,
I finally had time to look at your link.
According to several articles I was able to find on the web, specifically articles on plant culture (terrestrial), the CEC should be fairly high in the black Eco. Our red would be more similar to the numbers 19 or 22 on your chart. No ideas on the numbers just touted as being fairly high by terrestrial growers. I could provide material to anyone willing to explore this further.

Best regards,
Jud McCracken
Sales Manager,
CaribSea, Inc.

Jud,
Thanks again for your assistance.Wish I had the knowledge / testing equipment to take you up on your offer. I'll post your offer of material. What about your lab, could they have the CEC data?


Well, what do you think? Everyone
Eco -Complete "Fairly High" CEC. The red would be similar to Fluorite and Laterite. Anybody interested in doing some testing?

Forum member response:
In other words they don't know and have not tested their substrates for CEC; I tend to be skeptical of claims made without quantitative testing.

My response:
Not giving up just yet. Waiting optimistically for a reply to my last e-mail.

Update? No update, last email attempt:

Jud,
Just a reminder. Any chance your lab or research/development Dept. has any data to share? This topic has generated alot of interest on a few forums, possibly sales.

Fingers-crossed.

Well everyone after the last e-mail (and a reminder e-mail) its been over 2 weeks and no reply for the data. it appears CaribSea does not have the "CEC" data or not willing to share.
 
Dec 14, 2017
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#8
On their behalf though if I remember correctly that chart was made some time ago...

Fingers crossed you get a response

Small edit to my above quote... high CEC + root tabs *and other additives is similar* to soils...