Questions about Haydite as a substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-07-2012, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Questions about Haydite as a substrate

I am new here and relatively new to planted aquariums. I just got a 150 gal tall tank that I want to plant, and have been doing some research on substrates. I currently have a 75 gallon planted that has been up for about 2 years, and it has a topsoil substrate capped with gravel. The plants seem to grow ok in it, but I don't like the muddy mess it makes when I have to move plants.

So, after some research, I think I have decided on haydite, but I have some questions. From what I gather, haydite has a a good CEC rating, and will absorb nutrients from the water column, and then release them back slowly to the plant roots. Would I still need to add ferts, or will it become self sustainable once it fills to capacity and starts releasing/reabsorbing nutrients? If I need to add ferts, can I add them to the substrate in powder form? I was thinking of adding laterite, dolomite, potassium chloride, and horticultural charcoal to the bottom of the tank, and then capping that with 3" of haydite. Would this be ok? Also, there is a brand of charcoal I can get here called "Cowboy Brand". It is 100% natural hardwood charcoal, with no additives. Is that the same thing as "horticultural charcoal"?

Now, a question about the charcoal - is that meant to be a source of carbon? Will that replace injected CO2? I really don't want to run CO2 in this tank.

Thanks in advance, and I am really sorry for all the questions. This is turning in to a very expensive tank to set up, and I want to get things as right as I can so I don't waste money and end up having to tear it down and re do it.


Ps. FYI - I found the "H" size haydite at a local concrete plant. The cost was $12 per 5 gallon bucket, with each 5 gallon bucket covering approximately .67 cubic feet. ( 3 buckets will do my 8 sq ft tank to a depth of 3") I contacted the manufacturer of the haydite, and they said it will not break down in water, and in fact, they use it in water filtration systems. This is what made me decide to go with haydite over clays.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-07-2012, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
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There was another question I forgot to ask - I know this kind of substrate will reduce the PH in the water, but does it eventually return to normal after the substrate becomes saturated? If so, how long does it take to stabilze? Should I hold off on adding lights and plants until it becomes stabilized?

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-08-2012, 04:36 AM
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Charcoal is not a source of carbon for plants. While I don't know any reason to avoid it in substrate mixes, I also don't know any good reason to use it either. Charcoal is used in filters to remove organic compounds from the water, but has a very limited capacity, and has to be replaced often or it does nothing but act as a place for beneficial bacteria to grow.

Haydite looks like it would work as a substrate - let us know how is works for you.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-08-2012, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info. I wasn't sure about the charcoal, I had seen it in a recipe for aquarium substrate and just figured it was for a carbon source since it was listed as "horticultural charcoal" instead of "activated carbon".

I just got the Haydite samples today. They brought it directly to my door, which I thought was really great. As much as it is driving me nuts not to set up this tank right away, I am gonna wait and do water tests daily to see what this does to my water. I had been testing fuller's earth (cat litter), and it is dropping my PH, rasing my KH, and has nearly doubled my GH. Hopefully this won't be as drastic, and hopefully it goes back to normal tap water parameters after the substrate becomes saturated. I have no idea how long this process will take, or if it will ever go back to normal tap water parameters, but I guess we will see. If I get any useful results, I will post them. If it looks like it will never really level out, I will skip it and use topsoil instead.

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-11-2012, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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I am 4 days into the test, and figured I would post what results I have so far. I have 2 identical containers, with about the same amount of haydite and water in them. One container did not get water changes until it ran out of water (ended up being today, the 4th day of the test), and the other got 25%-50% water changes daily.

Tap water conditions at the start of the test:
PH: 7.8
KH: 2
GH: 6
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5

Test results from today, for the container that did NOT get water changes:
PH: 7.8
KH: 3
GH: 8
Ammonia: ~.75
Nitrite: ~.5
Nitrate: 0-5

At this point, the container was almost empty of water, so I added about 90% of the original volume back in, after I did the tests.

Test results from today, for the container that received water changes: (water changes are done AFTER testing, so this test was done before the water change)
PH: 7.8
KH: 3
GH: 7
Ammonia: .5
Nitrite: 0 - .25
Nitrate: 5

It seems this sample of haydite is leeching ammonia. I am not sure why, because it's just fired shale. It could be that it was contaminated in the storage area of the concrete plant.

The PH has remained steady at 7.8 in both samples. The GH in the sample with no water changes has been steadily rising up to this point. The GH in the sample that had water changes has remained at 7 for the last 3 days, with the first day starting at 6. In both samples, the KH has gone from 2 at the start, to 3 now. The nitrates in the sample that did not recieve water changes has gone from 5 on the first day, to 0-5 today. The sample that did receive water changes has had a steady nitrate reading of 5 for all 4 days.

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