Info on Turface, Schultz Aquatic Soil, and more - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-14-2011, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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Info on Turface, Schultz Aquatic Soil, and more

I called Turface today to get some details about their current products, after seeing some confusing information. The rep I spoke with was quite helpful, and actually familiar with their products' use in aquariums.

All Turface colors other than natural are dyed after firing, with something called "Factor". I think she wasn't supposed to have told me that name, and couldn't get any further details; nor have I been able to find reference to this dye. It would certainly be interesting if it were possible to dye your substrate any color you want, so I'm continuing to search. Any suggestions on dye candidates are appreciated. For all I know, common Rit fabric dye will work; maybe an experiment is in order.

She said the dye should not leach out in water, although I've seen a report of the gray version doing so; leaving everything black except for the substrate, which reverted to its natural color. This is the only report like this I've seen, so it may have been a defective batch.

The Pro League Gray version, which I was most interested in, isn't listed on their website. It is still available, but now by special order only; with a lead time, and probably a huge minimum order.

I also inquired about the temperatures to which MVP and Pro League are fired; which if different, would result in different long-term breakdown rates in an aquarium. The exact temperatures are a trade secret, though she did say both are fired to a minimum of 1200F.

Then I looked into Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil. Which according to the label, is made by Profile. Going to their website and looking for info, I was linked back to Turface. I called them again and got the same rep.

Turns out Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil is actually just Turface Pro League Natural! However, she did say the Schultz product may contain additional ingredients, which corresponds to reports that some (but not all) bags contain small fertilizer balls. My bag of Schultz is a few years old, so I'm not sure whether the current product has the fertilizer or not.

She also referred me to another company that repackages their products, Mars Global Fish Care. Upon checking their website, I find two things. Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Inc. (API) is a division of Mars. Pondcare is another division, and produces PondCare Aquatic Planting Media. Looks just like Turface Pro League Natural; though it's unclear what other ingredients it might contain, if any. It's rather amusing that API is basically reselling Turface.

Just though I'd share. Maybe it will help someone if they're unable to get their hands on Turface directly.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-14-2011, 10:23 PM
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Great info for the cheapskates out there But seriously this is an excellent post.

Is it true that turface is essentially calcined (fired at 1200+degrees) montmo clay. It would be interesting to try it out in a crs tank granted ro water is used.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-14-2011, 10:31 PM
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I have kitty litter and sand in my Cherry shrimp tank. They are doing well as are the Java moss, guppy grass, riccia, and dwarf hair grass.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
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It is definitely calcined clay. According to the spec sheet for Turface, it contains an illite silica blend.

Schultz says it contains arcillite. Defined slightly differently depending on where you look, but most commonly as calcined montmorillonite and illite.

Pondcare says it contains zeolite, a generic term for any microporous aluminosilicate mineral with adsorbent properties; which by definition includes arcillite.

I'm no mineralogist; but best I can tell, it's all just different names for the same thing.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 09:44 AM Thread Starter
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It has been a very interesting day. This little foray into substrates has turned into a bit of an obsession.

A little background first. Years ago, I purchased two 50lb. bags of Soilmaster Select Charcoal at the same time. One was opened, and a small amount of it used to set up my 10G. At some point, the cat decided the bag was full of kitty litter, and used it as such repeatedly before I discovered it. So I ended up throwing the mostly full bag out, and the other bag was placed where the cat couldn't get to it.

A few weeks ago, I decided my 10G needed a little more substrate, so I opened the second bag. I was surprised to find the size much smaller; by eye, it appears to be about 2-3mm instead of 5-8mm.

Now back to tonight. In an attempt to gain some clues into how colored, calcined clay substrates might be produced, I decided break some of the SMS up. And then got an even bigger surprise.

The smaller SMS from the second bag is black calcined clay, through and through.

But the larger SMS from the first bag is not. It's actually a thin black coating on quartz!

Unbelievable. My original bag of SMS was filled with 3M Colorquartz, or something very much like it. And the CEC I thought I had is probably non-existent. Makes me wonder if I'm not the only one.

Will have more info tomorrow. I think I may have figured out how Turface dyes their product, and I have a promising sample in the kitchen undergoing some tests. But now I must sleep.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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Behold!



The substrate in the tank is Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil, in its natural color. The substrate in the tray is the same product, dyed red by me.

Last night in my fatigued-addled state, I said I might have figured out how Turface does it. Well, there are more things in heaven and earth than I will ever know about, so I can't really claim that.

But after much searching for any method that will permanently color calcined clay after firing, I only found one candidate.

That method is concrete acid stain. A chemical is applied, which with the help of an acid, reacts with the existing minerals to create an inert permanent color.

There are commercial products available, but I found a website describing how to make your own:

http://www.stainedfloor.com/

I had one of the chemicals on hand, ferric chloride. It's not an optimal stain, because it significantly eats away at the surface; which removes a lot of the stain it produces. And it's also rather nasty. But it's good enough for a test.

I placed a bit of Schultz in a disposable plastic cup, and added enough ferric chloride to cover it. Noticeable fizzing occurred. I left it for 15 minutes.

Then I added some water, and slowly started adding baking soda to neutralize the ferric chloride; stirring with a disposable plastic spoon. More fizzing with each addition. Once the fizzing had completely stopped, I strained out the Schultz and discarded the now inert solution.

The Schultz then went back in the cup, with water and more baking soda, to sit overnight; in order to neutralize anything still in the porous clay.

Finally, I rinsed it until the water ran clear.

The result is exactly what I expected. After rinsing, I soaked it in water for a while; the stain appears to be permanent, and doesn't bleed out. Since the stain is iron-based, I kind of wonder if this sample would now function like Flourite.

If you look at the DIY stain website I linked, excluding the green copper-based stain, the basic colors available correspond to the colors of commercially colored calcined clay products. Interesting.

So what good is this? Probably none. I really have no intention of staining a bunch of substrate and filling an aquarium with it, especially given the chemicals involved.

But it can be done. And I've done it. That's satisfaction enough for me.

Oh, and definitely don't bother with Rit dye. Though you can get some interesting colors, like this lovely shade of indigo:



It will never, ever stop bleeding color; no matter how you try to fix the dye.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-15-2011, 08:38 PM
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cool read thanx for the info


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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-16-2011, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
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cool read thanx for the info
Seconded... thanks for taking an interest.


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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-19-2011, 02:20 AM
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Ferric chloride? I have several gallons of that available also. You work in the water treatment field?

I like the Turface natural, has a little of the red and grey mixed in, and you can see that their red dye only stains the outside as you describe.


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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-19-2011, 02:34 AM
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Very informative. Thanx for sharing!


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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-19-2011, 06:29 AM Thread Starter
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The sample remains in the aquarium, and shows no noticeable fading.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattycakesclark View Post
Ferric chloride? I have several gallons of that available also. You work in the water treatment field?
Nope, I used to use it for etching printed circuit boards.

Although I am familiar with its uses in water treatment, including aquariums. There are some water clarifier/flocculant products that are just dilute solutions, and I've heard some reefers use it to reduce phosphates.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-19-2011, 06:55 AM
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Will Turface alter water parameters? Or is it completely neutral?
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-19-2011, 07:00 AM Thread Starter
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Turface is completely neutral.
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