Originally Posted by jsenske
I see some posts here and there sometimes that contain some misconceptions/uncertainties about ADA Aqua Soil. I have used it extensively and have learned some things about it.
For the record:
ADA Aqua Soil does not "break down over time and become a muddy mess". I don't know about the knock-offs, but rest assured Aqua Soil does not do this within any kind of normal time frame (3 years or so).
The only time you get into that problem like that is when you use too much of the "powder" type. It is meant to be used only as a very thin layer on top of normal Aqua Soil, and even then it is really more for cosmetic purposes, so not really "necessary" from a growing standpoint.
The price for a 20lb. bag is very close to that of Fluorite and Eco-Complete, on average.
Jeff is correct here, he also has the best on line price for it!
It's clay, it will not "decompose", it also has more nutrient content than any other substrate out there.
I've poured it directly into tanks with water/fish without issue, better if you can drain it, I have some of the finer grain stuff, I'm not into the capping methods..........I don't think that helps, but the fine grain stuff is nice for tiny tanks.
The clay can get broken in to small pieces over time, but that will take several years I'd imagine and uprooting/growth out tanks etc.
The nutrients will run out........many things play into this one. Still, NH4 is the only cation of nitrogen that can be bound by a CEC, so negative anions, NO3 etc will not be bound.
The NH4 is occluded, basically sanwiched between layers of clay and the cations.
Roots and fungi tap into the grains. The outter surfaces of the clay grains are oxidized by bacteria to NO3. The other source is organic nitrogen that breaks down slowly into NH4(A dead fish, dead plant leaves etc will do this also).
Low levels of NH4 in such a substrate works well.
Some plants likely have a clear preference to the forms of N, most don't.
At least one whiner about the use of a pH controller claims you cannot use them, but the indirect method I spoke about some years ago for using peat + CO2 deterimnation shows it can be done as Ibn is doing here locally in the SF bay.
Like Jeff, I never use the pH controllers these days but many do and I've used them in the past.
I have to disagree with their use in general.
Bad for fish to have high CO2 24/7.
I can add more CO2 for a few hours in conjunction with high O2 instead.
Better place for your fish, the pH is not the issue so much.
More room for error should anything go wrong etc.