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Old 10-27-2003, 06:21 AM   #1
grungefreek
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Hi all, i have been reading about the use of kitty litter as a cheap substrate. Seeing as im a poor uni student, cheap is the way i want to go with my tank. Ive been reading all reports and stuff conducted on different kitty litters in the U.S for use in the planted tank. Unfortuantely, the brands here in Australia arent the same and thus those studies are of no use. I have looked at few brands of Kitty litter down here, and what i have found is that they are made of pure diatomite or sodium bentonite. I would just like to know if anyone has any opinions on which they feel would be the best to use, maybe if they know the name of the clay used in that "special kitty Litter" everyone seems to use from walmart.

ok guys, thanx for the advice
Grungie
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Old 10-27-2003, 01:14 PM   #2
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CPA, cat piss absorbent is IMHO a poor substrate as it almost always turns to mush. There have been several discussions on this both here and at the other place. A couple of people have had good luck, most have failed. The secret is that not all CPA is the same here in the US either. It comes from several major sources.
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Old 10-28-2003, 07:06 AM   #3
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I know cat litter 'round these parts is made of clay (it's the clumping kind). Right on the bag it advises not to use it as a traction aid (don't ask if you're in Australia) - it's horrid grey crap, I wouldn't dream of using it as a substrate. It would agglomerate and simply add an unworkable weighty mass to the substrate. I would imagine it has a very low nutrient level - just my 2 cents
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Old 10-28-2003, 02:46 PM   #4
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This is a little off topic for kitty litter, but related to being poor. For a cheap nutrient rich substrate, I would do what I did with my first tank. Soil from a wooded area, mixed heavily with Vermiculite and water so that it is a thick paste. Cover the bottom of the aquarium with this, then a few inches of gravel on top of that. The drawbacks to this arrangement are that if you uproot a heavy root feeding plant, you will instantly cloud your water. Planting can also be a chore. And over time, gravel will get pushed down into the soil and vermiculite mixtureand you might find yourself adding more gravel over time. You pretty much must get it right from the beginning. (Don't think this kind of stuff won't happen with kitty litter after it gets all muddy though)

The "gravels" that I have experimented with are:
Pea gravel from Home Depot. 40 lbs bag for under $10 (USD). I woudn't use it again as it is a bit large and getting fine rooted plants and stem plants to stay in it is a challenge.

Tex blast sand from a local sand blasting supply store. 100 lbs bag for $5 (USD). I wouldn't use it again as I seemed to have a horrid time suctioning it and I didn't like the brightness of it or the singular color.

Tex blast #2 gravel from the same place. 100lbs bag for $6 (USD). This is somewhere between pea gravel and sand both in size and color. Very nice stuff. Perfect for planting.

Of course you could just go with a pure gravel substrate and just let the fish fertilize your substrate. I'm going to try this when I get around to putting some water in one of my 10 gallons.

As always, YMMV.
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Old 10-28-2003, 04:53 PM   #5
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It's funny to read all of this... "turns into grey mush" ... "horrid grey crap" ... "unworkable weighty mass" ... "imagine a very low nutrient level".

It has been said often enough that there are many many litters that are not adviseable to use, specifically the "clumping" kind which indeed turn into mush rapidly. On the other hand, the Special Kitty brand that has been mentioned many times doesn't do that.

While it is true that there are variations in litters, and there is a certain risk factor, many ppl have been using that successfully, just as many others use expensive substrate and get only algae to grow.

Here is a very interesting article with a thorough analysis of different substrates. http://home.infinet.net/teban/jamie.htm Please note that the Special Kitty brand litter contains more iron than flourite :P
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Old 10-28-2003, 08:42 PM   #6
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Still using Special Kitty in my 10 gallon and have not had the MUSH problem or any others for that matter...my biggest problem is the peat at the very bottom that tends to float up when I move plants around.

Here are two shots of the kitty litter from my 10 gallon....notice they are on top of the playsand and have not turned to mush...this has been running well over a month or so. Remember as Wasserpest says this is Walmart brand Special Kitty Kitty litter.....

You can also look at my link on this here....

http://www.plantedtank.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2579

That has pictures of the setup....


Regards,

Mike
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10 Gallon...20 Endler's live bearers planted, peat/kitty litter/sand substrate

15 Gallon...Just Schultz Aquatic Plant soil
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Old 10-28-2003, 08:57 PM   #7
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If it has survived a month without turnign to mush, you've got a decent shot at it retaining form, but it may still eventually break down. As time goes by, I've always just vacuumed up some of the silt and replaced it with gravel.
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Old 10-28-2003, 10:25 PM   #8
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Laterite is mush too. I got a 10 gal that I started about 3 weeks ago with special kitty at the bottom, peat on top, and 2-3" of pea gravel on top. This tank only has 15 watts on it. No CO2 and so far no fertilization.

Blyxa japonica is thriving in this tank like it never has in my 75 hi-tech. I'm so impressed with the blyxa in this tank that I'm gonna move it all into it. Water sprite is starting to really take off. The ludwigia repens already needs to be pruned and the E. Tennulus is sending off runners.

Is it the peat? Is it the Kitty litter? I'm not sure, but what ever it is I like it.


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Old 10-28-2003, 10:28 PM   #9
grungefreek
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Hi Guys, Thanx for more info on the KL story, but still havent answered my question. I have read all those tests by american authors etc etc. But they dont say exactly what is in the KL, the best they say is "maybe" made from this. Dont any of these KL's you guys use say on the packet what they are made of????. So far info is very very scarse on KL types to use other than specific brand names. MAybe ill have to try the dirt/vermiculite thing. I might go out in the middle of a paddock and dig some topsoil, hopefully that will work. ANyway yeah still more info on the clays used in those KL's in US.
THnx guys
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Old 10-28-2003, 10:38 PM   #10
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This is why I posted the link. It will tell you what the brand that we mentioned is made out of (Bentonite & Montmorillonite). The bag just notes "100% naturally ground clay".
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Old 10-28-2003, 11:45 PM   #11
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Yeah i did see that link, the fact it said it might "possibly" contain bentonite was just what i worried about, the authors didnt really know, and it also doesnt state whether it is sodium or calcium bentonite. Thanx for being helpful anywy. I might have to go "borrow" some litter from an opened bag in the store and test to see if it will turn to mush in water.
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Old 10-28-2003, 11:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grungefreek
MAybe ill have to try the dirt/vermiculite thing. I might go out in the middle of a paddock and dig some topsoil, hopefully that will work.
This is the link that I referenced when I first set up my first 10:
http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/kelly-intro.html

Just remember it can be messy. But I must say that I have seen some really nice growth using that recipe. It is very beneficial for heavy root feeders.

Something to bear in mind is if you are primarily going to be planting stem plants, you may not need a very rich substrate. They pull many of their nutrients straight from the water column. If you are getting into swords, aponogetons, etc the rich substrate will help a lot. Though a lot of people have also had a lot of luck with Jobe's Plant spikes under their root feeders. This would be a lot less messy, unless you unearthed a few. That can cause green algae water until the nutrients in the water column are depleted.

It seems that in this hobby, there are always drawbacks to any technique.
:roll:
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Old 10-29-2003, 02:46 AM   #13
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I purchased a bag of the Special Kitty CPA from Wal-Mart this summer for a test. I out it in a bucket with water and within four hours it had basically turned to mush. Again it's the luck of the draw with where the source is and how long it was baked. I would guess that the stuff that is not breaking down it would make pretty poor CPA.
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