Where to Find Any/All Substrate Components
For anyone looking to make their own substrate, here are some time-saving, helpful hints. An issue I had when going out and looking store to store was that local aquarium/pet shops either didn't carry specialized plant substrate. This is why I looked into DIY (frankly time is valuable and I'd rather buy it). I wanted to see and feel what this highly touted stuff was all about. I proceeded to call while, driving around (hands free of course), nurseries, Home Depots, koi/pond suppliers, landscaping/lawn care companies, wholesale construction companies, wholesale masonry companies, and masonry fabricators. These were all located in NYC or Long Island. Here's what I was looking for:
Top Soil - SoilMaster Select specifically
Sand - specialized and ideally various sizes and colors: T-grade ColorQuartz
Kitty Litter - Montmorillonite, Special Kitty (Wal Mart) (or another unscented, clay based kitty litter)
Clay - Akadama, and a million others, seems to vary by region based on what people recommend
Muriate of Potash
These are all of the recommenced, tried, and tested DIY substrate components I have read about, of which different compositions are said to be most effective depending on whose method you adhere to
The larger corporate stores had employees who couldn't pronounce Vermiculite
The nurseries don't stock most of what I needed, but knew what I was talking about
Construction suppliers and masonry suppliers knew also but didn't carry the items
Only after I got home did I talk to the local hardware store owner who said he could order most of what I needed, by that time I settled on what I could find: top-soil with peat pre-mixed and play sand
A day later I happened into a Hydroponics store. I am looking to grow herbs. They had a planted tank inside, yes they did, with nice Tri-Color/Bala Sharks and some other fish. The fish tank water was being pumped into the plant roots of other potted plants and circulated back into the tank. The plants in the tank were healthy. The people never heard of a planted tank, but they knew every item on the list, the various companies and what % of each nutrients the bag contained, and they guy explained to me that Vermiculite was basically asbestos and he wore a make when handling it and I should do the same.
Gas is expensive now, wasted time is discouraging, and not getting what you want at the end of the day no matter what you do and how hard you push to get it sucks.
If you are looking to save time, headache, and trouble, and make a potentially more effective substrate composition using above stated materials or the like, start at a Hydroponics place, then mom/pop hardware store. Home Depot has soil and sand, and that's all anyone else carries.
BTW Top Soil with Sand works fine, but when you plant it gets mucky, I have Fluval 404 so it clears up fast (54 Gal Corner test tank #1), but algae bloomed for me but I use it as my baby fish tank so I don't care it feeds them.
Last edited by Greg-Brooklyn-NYC; 03-11-2011 at 12:38 PM.
Reason: Moment of Clarity