kitty litter - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-09-2004, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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For those of you that have tried kitty litter, how does this sound?

30 gallon tank 36" x 12" x 16"
1.5 inches of kitty litter (special kitty litter brand from Wal-Mart)
1.5 inches of playsand or gravel

Which should I do, playsand or gravel?

Do you think I'm setting myself up for failure using kitty litter? I really can't afford eco-complete or fluorite.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-09-2004, 11:03 PM
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howabout playsand and gravel, are u sure that the kitty litter wont release any odour nutrifiying chemicals or anything like that?

seems dodgy to me
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-09-2004, 11:10 PM
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I would definitely use (~pea sized) gravel over KL. Sand will move downwards, and you end up with the Kitty litter on top. Plus, all that nutritious fishpoop moves down into the gravel and becomes available for plants. With sand, you get a hard-to-clean layer of floaters on top.

The KL brand you mentioned works really good for me...


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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-10-2004, 06:01 AM
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Try to get fine grained kitty litter so it stays concealed under the sand, not letting it find its way downward. A thicker layer of sand can help to avoid/reduce water cloudiness and messy uprootings.

I cannot afford flourite either, so I use a layer of zeolite (finely grained) with some kitty litter (also fine). A little peat is adviced for the bottom layer. All covered up by sand.

I don't know how much zeolite costs there (US), but I get it pretty cheap here (Mexico), and works good.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-10-2004, 06:28 AM
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Hi

My experience with kitty litter has not been that good. In the short term it works well enough. However as a long term option it exhausts pretty fast IME.

That is in a higher light CO2 tank. In a low tech I have had it last 3 years before I needed to break it down and start over. SO the choices are yours. Go the cheaper route now and pay now and then later when you have to redo it.

Morpheus
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-10-2004, 06:34 AM Thread Starter
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Perhaps the Kitty Litter in Africa is not the same as in the US??? I don't know, just a thought.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-10-2004, 07:39 PM
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You can use root tabs for your more demanding plants (swords, crypts) after the cat litter goes exhaust, if you decide to use it. It is a cheap choice, but not actually a need.

Perhaps only a thin layer of flourite/zeolite in the bottom layer will do the trick fixing nutrients, thus making them available for roots. A little peat at the deepest layer will help providing organic matter until the substrate matures itself. Proper fertilization will keep it up.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-10-2004, 09:04 PM
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Is your sole purpose of using zeolite is for it's high CEC?
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-10-2004, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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Does Kitty Litter really "run out"? Then is it's sole purpose for CEC? If Kitty Litter runs out than I have a hard time believing that fluorite and eco-complete don't either. How long will the kitty litter last? Do you really need replace fluorite and eco eventually?

Thanks
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-10-2004, 09:31 PM
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Most substrates will last longer than the tank they are used in. What runs out is the initial supply of nutrients. But that doesn't mean you have to replace the substrate. It only needs to be supplemented with root tabs/fertilizer sticks and/or water column fertilizers for optimum plant growth.

Consider gravel, which contains no or very small amounts of nutrients. Compared to it, Kitty litter has a lot of nutrients, iron, etc. Once that runs out, it is still better than gravel due to its CEC.


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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-10-2004, 10:53 PM
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If you are considering using kitty litter your main concern should be where it came from... not so much its CEC (it will stay high, assuming your kitty litter doesnt turn into a clay mush)... Not all kitty litter is suitable for the aquarium... Much of it harvested regionally so products you have in your stores may be vastly different to products that others have used... its a lot of trial and error...

I had thought about Kitty litter about a year ago and went though lots of research and experimentation... in the end, I went with Potting soil. It grew my plants very well.. however there were downsides. I am in the process of replacing all of my soil tanks with plain old White Silica sand.


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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-10-2004, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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So will "the initial supply of nutrients" run out of eco-complete and fluorit fast too? And then I will have to add fertilizer sticks? I've really been debating about using eco-complete or kitty litter. If the eco-complete runs out too, than I might as well go the cheap route, right? Or does eco-complete still have nutrients long after?

I'm a little confused

Thanks for all your help
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-11-2004, 09:13 AM
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Hi

The kitty litter in 'Africa' as it was put is just fine. The thing is that kitty litter was never designed to remain wet! It is a porous clay that can absorb moisture.

Right so clay has certain attributes that we find desireable namely iron and other nutrients. Kitty litter has never been baked or designed to release its nutrients slowly. Eco complete and Flourite have been created with just this purpose in mind therefore they last a long time!!

In my tanks I could have reseeded the substrate and did try this with the kitty litter tanks. Eventually though I saw no need to keep them going there was just far to much effort involved. I have since switched to soil and have no problems at all.

Anyway your question answered; IMO go for the Eco complete or flourite and have a stable, nutrient rich substrate that half the free plant world swear by.

Your money, your choice.

Morpheus
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-11-2004, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morpheus
Hi

The kitty litter in 'Africa' as it was put is just fine. ......... I have since switched to soil and have no problems at all.
I don't think that the 'kitty litter in Africa' statement was intended to be nasty, just that you are in South Africa and he was responding to your comments on kitty litter. I'm trying my hand at international diplomacy here.

I do like how my topsoil/clay substrate grows plants. I like it so much I am hesitating to take down 2 smaller tanks and put up a larger one. I'm afraid of 'breaking' a system that is working so well and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

Sean

Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

It's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

That IS an aquascape, it's titled "The Vacant Lot".
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-11-2004, 12:26 PM
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Isn't it easier to go and buy/dig out the real clay, instead of using kitty litter?
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