Kitty litter cap or not - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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Kitty litter cap or not

Hello!

I am going to start a new low tech 10 gallon tank, i have beafore tried kitty litter as substrate and did run into some problems. I want to try it once again, but i am not sure if i should cap it with sand or use only the kitty litter as substrate?

Any suggestions??

Jnad
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 09:24 PM
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I will bite. Why would you use Kitty Litter as substrate rather than the standard options?
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-18-2014, 10:37 PM
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Because the right type of kitty litter is basically the same as the inert "plant" substrates at a fraction the price.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-19-2014, 01:50 AM
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Kitty litter has high CEC because it is often montmorillonite clay.
Many kitty litters have a lot of dust, or are so soft they fall apart in the tank. And we are certainly not using the perfumed ones.

However, I find Safe-T-Sorb to be a lot nicer looking, and quite reasonably priced. It is also a montmorillonite clay, but is baked a bit harder than some of the kitty litters, and is a blend of soft tans and greys.

I would not call them inert.
These materials are all active in that they will hold fertilizers in a way that plants can take them, a lot like an ion exchange water softener. (CEC = Cationic Exchange Capacity)
They will remove the KH from the water, so some supplement may be needed.

They are too light weight to support a sand cap. The sand will simply sift through the particles and end up on the floor of the tank. It may stay blended with the material for a while, but every time it gets disturbed the sand settles out faster, so gets closer to the bottom.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-19-2014, 02:43 AM
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I have capped a few small tanks with sand but I do find that sooner of kit ty litter popping up.I'm going to try safety sorb as diana suggested next
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-19-2014, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
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Hello!

Thanks for your answers.

I have decided to change the use of substrate some. I am still going to use the kitty litter, but i am going to mix the kitty litter with dirt, i am thinking of mixing dirt and kitty litter 50/50 and then cap it with pool filter sand.

Any comments to the 50/50 mix? Is the kitty litter mixed with dirt and capped with sand still going to strip the KH out of the water?

Jnad
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-19-2014, 06:06 PM
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Learned something new, thanks guys. I hadn't heard of the kitty litter use before now. As I am still on my first tank, I used the "plant" substrate. When I setup my next one I will consider this.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 02:32 AM
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If your dirt has some carbonates then the kitty litter will take those.

I did a similar set up with Turface (another montmorillonite clay) blended with coral sand.
The water above this blended substrate stayed as hard as I wanted.
I would make up new water for water changes adding baking soda and Equilibrium because this was a Lake Tanganyika tank, and my tap water is fairly soft.
The blended substrate did not strip the KH out of the water.

To test the dirt or the dirt + kitty litter, I would set up a sort on mini-tank experiment.
several jars with a handful of each:
1) nothing. Just water. This tells you if the changes you are seeing in the other jars are from the water.
2) Kitty litter and tap water.
3) Dirt and tap water.
4) blended kitty litter + dirt.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-21-2014, 06:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your answer!

Did you see any advantages in the kitty litter / dirt setup compared to just using plain dirt??

I have not mixed the kitty litter and the dirt yet, so i still have the choice to go plain dirt..

Jnad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
If your dirt has some carbonates then the kitty litter will take those.

I did a similar set up with Turface (another montmorillonite clay) blended with coral sand.
The water above this blended substrate stayed as hard as I wanted.
I would make up new water for water changes adding baking soda and Equilibrium because this was a Lake Tanganyika tank, and my tap water is fairly soft.
The blended substrate did not strip the KH out of the water.

To test the dirt or the dirt + kitty litter, I would set up a sort on mini-tank experiment.
several jars with a handful of each:
1) nothing. Just water. This tells you if the changes you are seeing in the other jars are from the water.
2) Kitty litter and tap water.
3) Dirt and tap water.
4) blended kitty litter + dirt.
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