Using Oil-Dri for cheap substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 03:53 AM Thread Starter
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Using Oil-Dri for cheap substrate?

I am going to set up a couple very low-tech 10 gallons in my basement to hold some extra plants and I was looking for a cheap substrate. I want to try something different though for these tanks. I have heard that kitty litter works well, but is there a difference between that and Oil-Dri?

I also need to add some to my emersed tank so it is not just mud sitting in the open.
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post #2 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 04:14 AM
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The best of the Oil Dri sorts of products is Safe T Sorb. So far I have only found it available at Tractor Supply.

Kitty Litter may work for some, but different kinds may fall apart, cloud the water and so on.

The Oil Dri products are better, do some more research. Many are white or off white. That is not much of an issue in a grow out tank, but if you move those plants to a tank with different substrate and some of the Oil Dri sticks to the roots the whiter material of most Oil Dri products would not work too well.

Safe T Sorb seems the best of them all. Pretty good color too.

A related material is used in sports fields, and may be cheaper if you are not near a Tractor Supply. For me it is about twice the price, but the saving in gas makes it half the price of going to Tractor Supply. It is sold at irrigation stores like Ewing or John Deere. It is called Turface Pro League. It comes in several colors. The redder one is too red, but the other colors are fairly subtle. I started using Soil Master Select, Charcoal and it works pretty well, and I like the color. Unfortunately SMS is not available any more. Turface is about the same, though.

All of these materials are relatively lightweight, so some plants might need a rock on them to hold them down until they root.
They are all high cationic exchange capacity.
Turface and SMS will remove the carbonates from the water. I have stopped that with coral sand, mixing something like 50% Turface with 50% coral sand. I use that for a Lake Tanganyika tank. You could also mix in oyster shell grit (sold for caged birds like Budgies) or limestone sand or very fine gravel.
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post #3 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 04:47 AM
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Look no further

http://www.drillspot.com/products/14...bsorbant_40_lb

$10, free shipping. How does he do it!
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post #4 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 05:22 AM
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WOW! That is great! I know it is cheaper at TS, but TS is not anywhere near me. To get it for just $10 would be wonderful!
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post #5 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 05:50 AM
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[snipped] .......
Turface and SMS will remove the carbonates from the water. I have stopped that with coral sand, mixing something like 50% Turface with 50% coral sand. I use that for a Lake Tanganyika tank. You could also mix in oyster shell grit (sold for caged birds like Budgies) or limestone sand or very fine gravel.
I'm getting ready to change the substrate in my 75 gal to the Safe-T-Sorb which I think will remove carbonates also. ??? I thought I read soaking it first would help that problem ... does it? I soaked it for several weeks.

I had already bought some oyster shell grit in anticipation but now thinking if the soaking doesn't help much that it's no where near enough since you're using 50/50 mix Turface/coral sand. I wasn't planning on mixing it but rather putting it in my filters. Is that even going to work as it sounds like it requires way more than I'll have room for. I've got a test kit coming but right now have no idea what my kh or gh is. So I guess I'll just have to wait for the kit, do some testing and go from there.
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post #6 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 06:37 AM
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Look no further

http://www.drillspot.com/products/14...bsorbant_40_lb

$10, free shipping. How does he do it!

Holy smoke free shipping?!?
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post #7 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 12:14 PM
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Yep. It's the real deal, I used this same bag in my 25g and have a ton left over. It's WAY less dusty than oil dri and looks much better.

The carbonate absorption goes away after a little while, but it depends on how much you use. Personally, I use gh booster every water change so it's not a big deal
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post #8 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 03:51 PM
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Carbonate and GH is not the same.

I have used SMS and Turface that remove KH but leave the GH alone. I assume the other clays will behave similarly, but an actual test run is the only way to know for sure.

I have coral sand and oyster shell grit in the filters of some tanks, and it is not enough to offset the removal of carbonates by the SMS.

Soaking in liquid rock might help. So much carbonates the material gets saturated. Cannot remove any more from the water. That eventually happened with some of the SMS that I kept adding baking soda to.

Safe T Sorb ordered!
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post #9 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 04:23 PM
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SafeTSorb #7941 in 10 gallon grow-out tank

Roy
75 Gallon, 2X55W AH Supply CF 8800K, 1XMarineland Doublebright, 2X Marineland 350 Magnum; 45 Gallon Tall, 96Watt AH Supply CF 6700K; 30 Gallon Long; Fluval F&P 2.0 36"/46W; 20 Gallon, 1X26W AH Supply LED kit; all with Press. CO2; (Calcined) Montmorillonite Clay
Greater Seattle Aquarium Society (GSAS)

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post #10 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trickerie View Post
Look no further

http://www.drillspot.com/products/14...bsorbant_40_lb

$10, free shipping. How does he do it!
Wow, great find! Thank you so much for sharing.

150G
- Rasbora borapetensis, Botia kubotai, Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus, Ancistrus albino & Otocinclus affinis
- Cryptocoryne beckettii, C. walkeri, C. balansae & Vesicularia montagnei

75G
- Black Moor, Calico Oranda, Red Ranchu & Misgurnus anguillicaudatus
- C. wendtii, Vallisneria americana & Taxiphyllum sp v. "flame"

20G
- Hemigrammus erythrozonus & Caridina japonica
- Microsorum pteropus, Anubias bartieri & Taxiphyllum barbieri
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post #11 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 06:03 PM
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I like the color and mixed sizes as shown in the picture posted by Roy. I hope my tank will look as nice!
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post #12 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-25-2012, 09:04 PM
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@ diana .. what is liquid rock?

I really should have "pre-charged" the STS when I was soaking it but the long soak wasn't really intentional. Just had too many other things going on to deal with it. And I was using the copious amounts of rainfall to help clean it.

So hopefully between the oyster shell grit and baking soda I keep the Kh up. Guess I'll find out.
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post #13 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-26-2012, 02:12 AM
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Yeah, my mistake. Ive always thought it was CaCO3 in the GH booster, not CaSO4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Carbonate and GH is not the same.

I have used SMS and Turface that remove KH but leave the GH alone. I assume the other clays will behave similarly, but an actual test run is the only way to know for sure.

I have coral sand and oyster shell grit in the filters of some tanks, and it is not enough to offset the removal of carbonates by the SMS.

Soaking in liquid rock might help. So much carbonates the material gets saturated. Cannot remove any more from the water. That eventually happened with some of the SMS that I kept adding baking soda to.

Safe T Sorb ordered!
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post #14 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-30-2012, 05:55 AM
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@ diana .. what is liquid rock?
"Liquid rock" is a term used by many to describe water that is extremely hard and alkaline. The water in my area, for instance, has an EXTREMELY high carbonate content (and mineral content in general), so it's often referred to as "liquid rock".
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post #15 of 108 (permalink) Old 08-30-2012, 03:47 PM
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Tank is set up with Safe-T-Sorb. The substrate looks just like Roy's picture! I am still working out the 'scape. 40 lb bag did a tank 5' x 16", 2" deep. I actually have it sloped, only about 1" in the front, 3" in the back. I doubt it will stay, though.

I dumped it into the tank dry (very careful not to breathe the dust) then filled the tank about 6" with a strong flow from the hose, making sure to stir the material as much as I could. Water was pretty muddy looking. Pumped that out. Second filling (again, 6" deep, lots of stirring) still somewhat muddy, but better.
Next filling was running the water in slowly over the (empty) STS bag. The filled tank has some haze to it, but I would go ahead and put fish in it, it is not that bad. However, I am doing a fishless cycle while I continue 'scaping, so fish are a little while off.
I will also monitor the KH, and report back.
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