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CaribSea Eco-Complete African Cichlid Substrate
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Product Description:
CaribSea Eco-Complete African Cichlid SubstratePacked in water, contains live water-purifying bacteria. Contains Aragonite to maintain high PH. Adds Calcium, magnesium, carbonate and more. High internal porosity. Dark color encourages the richest coloration in fishes.
Product Specifications:
20lb bag
User Ratings: (41 reviews)
Overall: 8.54
Value/Cost: 7.90
Effectiveness: 8.66
Quality: 8.71
Ease of use: 8.90
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Found: 41 reviews Page  2 3 - View all
pmdf has used this product for 3 Years or More.
Overall Rating: 8/10 June 17, 2012
"Excellent substrate"
I've been using the Eco-complete sand in all my rift lake tanks for a few years now. It's excellent quality stuff and don't under-estimate the benefit of not having to rinse it. Yes, it does still make the water cloudy at first, but even the best-rinsed dry sand does similar in my experience.

The only down-side is that it's a bit too white and unnatural looking for my taste. I like to mix it with a good amount of black sand and a mix of coarse coral gravel and small river pebbles to get the right look and feel.
LenciR has used this product for .
Overall Rating: 6.75/10 April 1, 2012
My mistake with this product was that I read the instructions for use. Didn't pre-rinse sand. Put 4 bags (80 lbs.) in my 40 gal. breeder (36 by 18) footprint. My PH went to 8.2--0 ppm of nitrite and nitrate. Its been in the tank for 3 days and all I can say is that if I put any fish in this tank they will need windshield wipers or a white cane to manuver. Every time you move sand you get a white cloud. Cloudiness will settle down after a while as long as you aren't moving around sand. Whisper 60 just returns water in same state. I don't know who the idiot was who wrote the instructions for use for this product (CaribSea Eco-Complete substrate) but don't you think it was worth mentioning the fact that it clouds so easily. As far as PH and cycling are concerned product is OK, but I would assume fish wouldn't like dim visibility when swimming, eating...
forest109 has used this product for 0-1 Month.
Overall Rating: 7.75/10 December 24, 2010
"Product does not appear as advertised"
I am posting this update on my original comments dated 12/5/10. After contacting CaribSea regarding this, I learned that they were forced to change the ingredients in this product on short notice when the vein in the pit producing the dark calcium carbonate they had been using for years suddenly ran out. They began using a lighter material until, just recently, locating another source of darker substrate, and are in the process of shooting new products photos. They kindly offered to replace or refund my purchase. After sending me a sample of the new mix, I decided it looked close enough to the original, and CaribSea replaced it at no charge.

12/5/10: I would have to agree with comments posted by robdoty on March 11, 2007. The overall look of the "Rift Lake Authentic" substrate is not at all as advertised. I, too, was looking for a darker look like the product photos, in which it looks much darker and appears to contain some darker non-carbonate gravel. The actual product is basically an off-white mix of shell and crushed coral. Since I purchased it online I did not have the opportunity of looking at it in person beforehand, so all I can say is, buyer be forewarned. I can't say yet how effective it is, since the tank I purchased it for is a new 90 gallon African cichlid setup, and I'm still letting it cycle and haven't added any fish yet. I'm sure in that respect it will be fine, but in the meantime I'll be looking to either mix in somethi
wild wally one has used this product for 1-3 Years.
Overall Rating: 9/10 September 28, 2010
"Not enough black"
I had switched my substrate in my 130 gallon tank with this product and it looks great. I found that if there was a little more black in it, I would look more awesome. It comes in with special water in the bag, but still I gave it rinse anyways. Clouds up the water for a short period but with good filteration,the problem is solved! Mines cleared up overnight. Keeps my water around 7.8 to 8.2. The colors of my fish really pops!! Try it! you'll like it!!!!
scdeb424 has used this product for 1-3 Months.
Overall Rating: 10/10 January 26, 2010
"Wonderful product"
Used the shell/gravel substrate in a 75 gal & mixed 2 bags with coral sand from another aquarium + 2 small bags of black gravel to get the look I wanted. My cichlids love it--I've seen them move even the larger shell around. We've had babies again! Chemistry is perfect & the tank cycled quickly so I could move fish in without worry. In the 55 gal I used only 1 bag of the sand--it is black & white but I added 4 lbs of coral sand & several handfuls of the shell substrate to add some interest & of course the bacteria. This tank cycled quickly & looks great. My 1st time with sand so far I like it.
cjacob316 has used this product for 0-1 Month.
Overall Rating: 8/10 August 24, 2009
"great for pH"
Didn't really seem to help with cycling my tank, but deffinately helps with the color and pH
DeJa has used this product for 1-3 Months.
Overall Rating: 10/10 September 9, 2009
"Best and Easiest to use Substrate by far..."
I switched from crushed coral to Eco-Complete and I have been very happy with it. Product does cloud the tank initially but clears up totally after a few days with good filtration. My fish seem to love it. I would highly recommend this product.
tankhead has used this product for 3-12 Months.
Overall Rating: 8.75/10 March 20, 2009
I tried this on a new 125gal tank w/ 25 juv. fish. Ammonia never spiked after 30 days and only a small nitrite spike after 21 days.
Markolodeon has used this product for 1-3 Years.
Overall Rating: 8.25/10 September 26, 2008
"It would seem the only option for African Cichlids"
One of the big reasons I like the eco-complete sand is the look, all my future tanks will use it. And when you stop to think about it appearance in and compatibility with the fish should be the driving factors. The fact it has buffering capacity (say, like grotto/lace rock) is just icing on the cake. The cost, setting aside PFS, is on par with anything else out there.

My only complaint is that after about a year I'm fighting off a pretty good snail invasion (the spiral kind). The "perils" of live sand I suppose.
cichlidlover80 has used this product for 0-1 Month.
Overall Rating: 7/10 October 30, 2007
"Basically good stuff"
I have had the sand in my 150 gal. for about 2weeks now and the ph has not gone up yet it is still at around 7.5 On the other hand as far as looks it looks GREAT! and the fish are really enjoying it! when u first put it in your water will be EXTREMLY CLOUDY but depending on how good your filtration is it will clear up.I thought mine would never clear up but it took about 8 days with my rena xp3 and emperor 400 working overtime but it is now crystal clear.
gheitman has used this product for 0-1 Month.
Overall Rating: 10/10 September 7, 2007
"great for buffering tank to higher pH"
After reading the reviews posted here I never seriously considered using any other substrate for my Lake Tanganyikan setup than Eco-Complete African Cichlid Sand. It buffers my tank to a pH of around 8.4 and my multies dig around in the sand moving it from around the shells in the tank. I wouldn't recommend using anything else.
quickSilver29 has used this product for 0-1 Month.
Overall Rating: 8/10 August 18, 2007
"It lives up to its advertising!"
I just re-did my tank, switching from a South American theme to Lake Malawi set-up. I used the gravel version of this product. Like another reviewer stated, it's a little lighter in color than I'd figured, but I added a pound of black gravel, a pound of silica sand, and a pound of my existing fine river gravel. There are A LOT of shells in this product, probably about 75%, but it was still dusty as heck when I poured it in to a 1/4 full tank. Hours later, its still a little cloudy. My pH went up from 7.8-8.0 to 8.2, just like the packaging stated. Overall, it's a good looking, authentic Rift Lake gravel - after a little customization. However, it's up really to you if its worth $25 per 20lbs.
jes3287 has used this product for 1-3 Months.
Overall Rating: 8.75/10 April 1, 2007
"Great stuff!"
This stuff looks great if you like the salt & pepper look. I mixed 3 bags of this with 1 30lb. bag of Aragamax select in a 90 gallon.
robdoty has used this product for 1-3 Months.
Overall Rating: 3.5/10 March 11, 2007
"Didn't like it"
I used the gravel variety and the look was not what I expected and I didn't like it. It does not look like the picture which appears to have a brown gravel look. Instead, the bags I received we mostly shell and produced an overall white, pale look. In the end, since I was after a different look, I bought another substrate to cover it (mostly). Also, one of the bags I received was leaking which I understand has happened with others. Finally, I don't know that this stuff did anything to help my tank cyle. Overall, I was not pleased and would not recomment it.
benn05 has used this product for 1-3 Years.
Overall Rating: 10/10 December 10, 2006
"Best substrate for cichlids. no question about it."
if you are looking for something that will keep a clear, ph-balanced aquarium for cichlids - this is your product. It has aragonite for max surface area to provide a home for those wonderful little nitro-fixing bacteriums.

Compared to Cichlid Gravel from Carib-Sea - it does not require a rinse (less work w/ eco), and takes a shorter time to go from cloudy to clear.

A+. buy it and youll see.
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