Originally Posted by JimM
I'm an old reefer and I've made my share of egg crate filter plates.
For my money nothing beats the black Matala for false bottom.
Quick and easy to work with, effective, light, and not unsightly when visible through the front glass.
I used 2 layers for my 36" build.
TLDR: Matala is expensive but easy to work with and fast. Egg crate requires slightly more labor, but allows you to be more flexible with false bottom height and is vastly cheaper.
I mean, just to keep on advocating for egg crate: there are multiple ways to 'hide' it. I use black contact paper on the front of my tank, and would even with matala. I don't think matala is particularly attractive either, tbh. You can also just stop the egg crate an inch or so from the front of the glass and then fill in the gap with gravel.
I'll grant you matala is a faster and easier way to set up a false bottom, but I still think it's totally unnecessary. Microfauna seems to travel up and down pvc tubes and roots just as easily as matala, the 'filtration' effect of matala is a waste since your substrate should NEVER be in contact with the water in the reservoir. And it's still expensive.
As far as price goes, IDK where ya all are buying eggcrate but it's usually in the 13-16$ range for me off the shelf at a home depot. That's like...3-4 sheets of 4x2' for the price of one sheet of matala. That's significant in my book.