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Old 10-17-2012, 10:55 PM   #1
zankotsu
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Cat litter substrate


I busted open a bag of additive free kitty litter. I got it wet and it's sitting in a bucket... It seems to be really silty with very fine, soft clay. Am I staring at a bucket of useless mud? I didn't plan on capping this substrate. The brand is called "Kitty Diggins" (gross). Should I try another brand? What are your experiences?
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:20 PM   #2
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I hear the Safe-T-Sorb oil dri is much much better. A lot of people use it, so I would trust it more.
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:39 PM   #3
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Default WALMART Kitty Litter

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Originally Posted by zankotsu View Post
I busted open a bag of additive free kitty litter. I got it wet and it's sitting in a bucket... It seems to be really silty with very fine, soft clay. Am I staring at a bucket of useless mud? I didn't plan on capping this substrate. The brand is called "Kitty Diggins" (gross). Should I try another brand? What are your experiences?
I have actually used it so this is first hand. I have about 1-1/2 bags of Walmart UNSCENTED Kitty Litter in my 36 bowfront that has been set up about 3 months. I rinsed it in a bucket, stirring it and letting the water overflow, carrying off the silt. After putting in tank, I agitated the substrate and let the canister filter do its job, then replaced the floss(?). No problems with the feel or appearance. It has the same feel as when I put it in. Water is crystal clear. I use DIY Osmocote capsules for the root system of the crypts and swords.
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:54 PM   #4
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You need to test whether it will fall apart under water. Just take a small amount and put it in a cup of water and lt it sit for a week. If it turns to mud, dont use it. If it holds it shape and it wont pulverize under finger pressure, its good to go.

I used this technique to add Hi-Dri to my tank. Didnt even wash it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-XB0...eature=related
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Old 10-18-2012, 06:46 AM   #5
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That's an awesome method. The litter falls apart very easily. I'll scrap it and use something else. Generally, oil absorbent materials win over cat litter?

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You need to test whether it will fall apart under water. Just take a small amount and put it in a cup of water and lt it sit for a week. If it turns to mud, dont use it. If it holds it shape and it wont pulverize under finger pressure, its good to go.

I used this technique to add Hi-Dri to my tank. Didnt even wash it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-XB0...eature=related
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Old 10-19-2012, 12:56 AM   #6
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A long time ago, I had used the Hartz ph 5 (or 5.5? I can't remember...) as a substrate.

It seemed to work pretty well, got soft, but did hold together.

The Safe-T-Sorb seems to get pretty good reviews, is pretty inexpensive (I think Grainger's carries it, and they have locations all over the place), and from the photos I've seen, it looks pretty nice, but I haven't used it myself.
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Old 10-19-2012, 02:19 AM   #7
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I have cat litter in my 55 gallon tank, been almost a full year now, and I love the results from it. I use a specific brand called

Special Kitty: All Natural Kitty Litter - Find it at Walmart for a couple $.

It 100% all natural clay, doesn't crumble like other litters, and has a nice high CEC rate. Never effected my Ph, haven't lost a fish, or shrimp because of it, it's very cheap, and you get a lot for low the price.
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Old 11-11-2012, 01:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xxUnRaTeDxxRkOxx View Post
I have cat litter in my 55 gallon tank, been almost a full year now, and I love the results from it. I use a specific brand called

Special Kitty: All Natural Kitty Litter - Find it at Walmart for a couple $.

It 100% all natural clay, doesn't crumble like other litters, and has a nice high CEC rate. Never effected my Ph, haven't lost a fish, or shrimp because of it, it's very cheap, and you get a lot for low the price.
I like this, gonna be setting up a 70g.
I'm trying to glean as much info as I can.
How does this sound, Special kitty as a base, on top of that play sand, for the final topping, gravel that I have from the old set up.
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Old 11-11-2012, 03:44 PM   #9
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I like this, gonna be setting up a 70g.
I'm trying to glean as much info as I can.
How does this sound, Special kitty as a base, on top of that play sand, for the final topping, gravel that I have from the old set up.

Sounds good to me, I just cap it with play sand from homedepot and let the tank run it's course. Of course I follow EI dosing for fertilizers, but my plants are healthy with good strong roots.
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Old 11-11-2012, 04:30 PM   #10
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i have set up numerous tanks using 2/5 kitty litter 2/5 sterilized peat moss, 1/5 sand with some potash and dolomite added to prevent severe pH drops . all were rather successful. the clay acts as a flocculant and helps keep soil substrates together.
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Old 11-15-2012, 04:25 AM   #11
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Hey guys, I need some info. I am from TankOutlaws.com and I am restarting my 30 gal. I have flourite in my planted 10 gal but heard from a fellow member that I could use cat litter. So I got 3 7lb bags of the 98 cent litter from Walmart and put it in there with about a 1" cap of black sand/gravel. At it's deepest part the litter is around 4", I created a nice slope, and at it's shallowest the litter is 1". Once I got the substrate in order and started running my canister I got another message from that member stating that too much litter can cause a certain type of bacteria to crop up and kill the roots of my plants.

How much is too much litter and what have you guys used/been successful with?

Thanks,
Ray
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Old 11-15-2012, 07:26 AM   #12
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A newb question, Just what does the cat litter or Safe-T-Sorb oil dry do? I'm a little fuzzy on the concept.

Or a link with the explanation.
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Old 11-15-2012, 06:20 PM   #13
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Most of these calcined clay type substrates (turface, safetsorb, oildry, kitty litter, flourite, etc.) just provide an inert (won't dissolve/breakdown/affect H2O chemistry, etc.) substrate that has a high Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC).
This means that cations will temporarily bind to the substrate, and from there the plants can make use of them.

So the substrate is inert, and doesn't contain nutrients itself, but helps convey nutrients in the watercolumn (or added to the substrate) to the plant via the roots.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:07 AM   #14
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First post from a budding planted tanker here.

TL;DR: Stupid Kitty litter dissolves into mud. Plants and fish love it. Pics incoming.

I read that Special Kitty All Natural Unscented Nonclumping from Walmart (hereafter called "the litter") was good, and like an idiot I didn't test my own purchase before scaping a 29G with special kitty capped with Fluval Stratum. Unlike every experience with the litter on the net, I noticed a distinct scent (the jug LIES!) and as soon as I added water the litter turned into a fine white mud instantly. However my 400gph filter cleared up the water overnight, and with a few stems and ~30 watts of daylight fluorescent, (one T8 and one CFL) I added livestock in 24 hours. Obviously I seeded the filter with well-aged mulmy media from a 55G, but testing and my perky Endlers fry showed zero cycle and no ammonia spike

Anyway, I was concerned about the effects of the mud below the Stratum, but after a month or two the stems are now exploding with growth in the high-light areas the tank. No black brush or green hair algae on any leaves or glass, and only a couple spots of the green spot algae. Endlers, Platys, red cherry shrimp, ramshorn and pond snails all thriving in a heavily overfed kitty litter tank and it still shows zero nitrates two weeks after a 30% water change.

I had been worried my first post might be a tragic failure of the litter, but as long as I don't stick my finger in the substrate, the litter stays under the Stratum cap. I should note I deliberately did not move malaysian trumpet snails over from my 55 because I didn't want mixing in my substrate. Vigorous root growth is visible in the litter layer, and fish waste clearly falls through the Stratum to reach the interface. I haven't done a full water parameter test yet, but preliminary quick-strip tests put hardness and pH in normal expected ranges for Seattle tapwater treated with Prime.

Just wanted to add my experience with this particular combination (and my first real planted tank). Pictures will come soon if anyone cares.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:27 AM   #15
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one thing that people should keep in mind is that kitty litter often comes from different sources, depending on what is cheapest for the manufacturer to acquire and ship. as kitty litter, it doesn't have to be free of dust or hold up very well when wet, since it is expected that you will only use it for a cat to do its business in. oil-dry on the other hand, needs to be as free of small particles as possible. the large clay pieces have to hold up so that they can absorb oil without turning to mush. otherwise, you wouldn't be able to sweep it up. this is a big part of the reason that oil dry generally receives higher ratings, its more consistent and is designed to NOT fall apart easily. having worked in a transmission shop when i was younger, i can tell you that kitty litter is often a pain to work with when cleaning up larger oil spills because of its properties. makes sense, its made for a different purpose.

some plants actually prefer the "mud" that some of the softer kitty litters produce, but very few aquarists are willing to deal with the hassle it causes. personally, i have a mix of special kitty cat litter, aragonite, and cow manure. it works pretty well for me, better than any substrate i have tried in the past.

the point? kitty litter may work, but you cant be sure unless you know where the manufacture got it from, while oil dry will consistently be the hard type of baked clay most people prefer.

as for me, i like the mud that the kitty litter makes, so im going to stick with it.
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