"Special Kitty" litter with dirted tank... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-15-2017, 04:53 AM Thread Starter
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"Special Kitty" litter with dirted tank...

I read about mixing some basic baked clay kitty litter (Special Kitty) in with my Miracle Grow Organic Choice soil. It helps hold the nutrients in the soil so it's available for the plant roots when they need them.
So I did that in my most recent planted tank, and capped with Black diamond blasting sand. This was a few months ago, the tank is doing great, my fish is doing great, and my plants are doing well. (5 gal acrylic bowfront, Crowntail Betta, Malaysian trumpet snails, Anubias, some small Java fern, some plants with roots, some floating plants.)

In the last week or so, I've noticed what looks like chips of the kitty litter coming up through my black diamond cap. Could the snails be moving it up as they do their thing to keep the soil healthy? Can I just push the litter back into the soil? Or should I take it out? Maybe my next tank, I should put a thin layer of the litter down first and then the soil?

You can see the chips to the left of the aquarium.



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Last edited by Betta Midler; 09-15-2017 at 04:54 AM. Reason: bad photo link
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-15-2017, 03:16 PM
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Hi Betta Midler,

Because the 'Special Kitty' is much lighter than the Black Diamond blasting sand any disturbance in the substrate (including digging snails) will cause the BDBS to sink downward and the 'Special Kitty' and soil to move upward. A thinner layer or soil / Special Kitty and or a thicker layer of BDBS will help mitigate the problem but gravity will always win.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-15-2017, 03:33 PM
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In addition to the weight difference, size is also a factor. Even if they weighed the same, the smaller particles will find their way to the bottom

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-15-2017, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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Seattle_Aquarist -
Thanks - I hadn't thought about the relative weights... I have a pretty thin layer of soil already, I suppose I could add more black diamond on top, though like you say, the clay chunks will continue to work their way up. Sounds like my best bet is to live with it until I'm ready to re-do the tank.

KayakJimW -
Good point about particle size! I'm thinking when I re-do the tank, I'll get real clay, or just leave it out all together. My work tank (10 gal, way more heavily planted than the 5 gal) has been running about 18 months now and the plants are still growing like crazy. My work tank was my first one (let's not count those little betta bowls I had in the 80's) and I started it as a Walsted, though I have added a sponge filter to keep the debris collected and prevent the scummy stuff on top.

... and glad you like my "nom de poisson"!

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-15-2017, 10:23 PM
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I topped the kitty litter with river sand in my 20g long.
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