Was at my LFS today asking about their substrates for sale. The old man showed me two kinds he had (one of which was Fluval stratum). The Fluval stratum was actually more expensive than the other one....I think the other substrate was similar to a black fluorite.
Despite the stratum being more expensive he old man actually advised against it saying that stratum was clay-like and eventually with time w/ decentigrate into dust-like sized particles rendering it useless. And then the substrate will have to be completely replaced.
Can anyone comment on this? What other substrates will degenerate over time like this and which substrates keep it's integrity (as far as size of the particles)??
I have been using fluval stratum for some time now and I'll give you my two cents..
It won't break down as quickly as you think. It will take some time, probably 2 years or more (I noticed after 1.5 years parts of the stratum were disintegrating but 90% of it was still intact). It is also relatively inert so you will have to add some substrate tablets to fertilize your plants. It is also not recommended to mix with sand or other substrates because they won't mix well since the stratum is relatively light. It will not float but its dust will settle quickly which is nice if you have to disturb the substrate. I wouldn't recommend this substrate for bottom sifting fish like corys. My shrimp certainly enjoy sifting through it!
doesnt aqua soil do the same thing? i've kept stratum and yes some of it will break down over time but i've had it in a tank for over a year and i havent had a problem with it. eco complete and flourite doesnt break down, and they have a high cec so they'll absorb nutrients from the water.
I do not rinse stratum. It is a low nutrient, clay based susbtrate. I bought it on release day (1-2 yrs) and only got rid of it a month ago. Did not turn to powder at all.
The way to use stratum is like this:
1. pour the dry soil into your tank.
2. spray it with water with a spray bottle and mix it at the same time
3. contour it however you want
4. Do planting.
5. Put a paper plate down and then fill VERY slowly like only a trickle of water until you get like 3-4" on top of the substrate then you can start filling faster.
To be honest I had better success with stratum then eco comp.