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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-19-2009, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
 
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Low-Tech substrate

O.K. I am going to give my planted tank another try. I have a 55gal. with a whopping total of 155 watts of T-8 lighting and I am going to grow swords, rotala, cabomba, anacharis, aponogetons etc. I would like to give the plants a suitable substrate to grow in besides the gravel thatís in the tank now. I have been pondering Flourite and others, but I can't seem to swallow the price for what they want for them. I have been doing some reading and saw that the SMS is good to use as well as the all clay Oil-Dri. I know that the SMS has been discontinued and Turface is its so-called replacement. One problem though - I can't seem to get the Oil-Dri anywhere in Ohio and the Turface is just a P.I.T.A. to get. Soooo I have been reading abit more and this is what I am wondering.

What is everyones opinion on using the Hertz PH5 kitty litter for substrate?


This is what I plan on doing - from the bottom up.

First layer: 1/8" Laterite
Second layer: 2" kitty litter
Third layer: 1" - 1.5" current gravel (the gravel is uncoated)
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-19-2009, 12:29 AM
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Kitty litter is made for a specific purpose, and that causes the makers to add deodorants, perfumes, oxidizers, etc. to it to make it work for it's purpose better. Those additions are not good for a substrate. If you want to use kitty litter, pick the cheapest one you can find, looking for a store's house brand, packaged cheaply, and you might get something usable for an aquarium. I would rather take my chances with clay subsoil dug up in my back yard.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-19-2009, 12:49 AM
 
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I say ditch the kitty litter for reasons mentioned by Hoppy and also the fact that with Kitty litter you cannot be sure of whether of not and to what degree it will mess with your water parameters and the clay used to produce it is not all mined in the same place so variations will exist among brands and trying to find a suitable brand would be like playing Russian Roulette.

Instead of Kitty Litter, get Schultz Aquatic soil. It is made from the exact same thing as Kitty Litter, but it is PH neutral, fire kindled(so will not turn to mush long term)b, made especially for aquatic plants and IME will not mess with your water parameters long term. Price wise, it is virtually the same price as kitty litter. Personally, I find Schultz Aquatic Soil way too light for rooted plants, and so would not use it again, but if you are intent on using kitty litter, the Schultz Aquatic Soil would be a better substitute.

Better yet use pool filter sand. It seems to work really well for most people and is supercheap. It is heavier than Schultz Aquatic Soil so it will better anchor rooted plants and IMHO looks nicer.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-19-2009, 01:06 AM
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I was in the same situation as you a few weeks ago, looking for a cheap substrate. I went to wal-mart and found a product called Oil Dri in the automotive section and tried it out. What I didn't know was that it would make an immediate and significant drop in PH and I've been suffering ever since. (theres a chance my problems are due to aggression from fewer decorations).

I would recommend this product if you soak it in a baking soda solution first to reduce the acidic properties. This is what I'm going to do and give it a second try.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-19-2009, 06:19 AM Thread Starter
 
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First off thanks everyone for your replies.
Homer_Simpson I did see the Schultz Aquatic soil and was pondering on if I should use it or not.

Another idea I was thinking about was... There is a lot of clay in the soil around my house, I mean a lot. I was thinking of taking the clay and firing it and then using it. Though that might not be a good idea and more work for what it's worth.

Psittac I have heard that Oil-Dri will alter the PH. but it will smooth out over time.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-19-2009, 01:35 PM
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I use Schultz Aquatic soil and find it very light, so to hold the plants down I use a top layer usually fluorite.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-22-2009, 10:14 AM
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I've used pool filter sand in the past. Works great. No pH problems or anything like that. Just give it a good rinse.

It's a larger grain than play sand so it doesn't float around or is easily brushed all over.

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-22-2009, 11:59 AM
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cool , on the pool filter sand , does Walmart sell that?
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-22-2009, 04:47 PM
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Places that sell supplies for swimming pools, like Leslie Pool, for example, sell sand for sand filters. That sand is "manufactured" relatively locally, because it sells too cheaply for a store to sell it if they have to pay for shipping it a long distance. But, it needs to be pretty clean, of a particle size that will not pack down and form impenetrable cakes in the filter, and it shouldn't alter the water parameters - swimming pool water is supposed to meet certain water parameters too. That is why it works well in an aquarium.

You can buy zeolite filter sand - sand made from zeolite minerals - which has a CEC even better than fired clay products like Flourite. It costs a bit more than quartz sand, but theoretically it would be better for plants because of the high CEC. Here is a thread about one such use: http://www.barrreport.com/articles/5...high-tech.html

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-22-2009, 06:31 PM
 
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How do you think that zeolite filter sand would do with something like Colorquartz S grade on top of it?would the S grade sink below it or stay on top?
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2009, 01:47 AM
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thanks hoppy good info
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2009, 04:37 AM
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When you mix big rocks with little rocks, and let it sit long enough, the big rocks end up on top of the little rocks. As I understand it, the reason is because the little rocks can fit easily in the gaps under/around the big rocks, so tiny vibrations cause them to migrate downward. Back in the good old days, when I was a kid, my family always had a big vegetable garden, but no matter how many bushels of rocks we raked off the soil, within a month the top of the soil was covered with rocks. I thought it was magic then.

All pool filter sands are around 1-3 mm diameter particles, as far as I know. The zeolite sand I tried, "Zeosand" was about that. So, if the color quartz particles are smaller they would migrate down into the zeolite sand, leaving the bigger chunks of zeolite sand on top. If you read up on Eco Complete, they use that as a selling point - that substrate automatically adjusts itself so the fine particles are on the bottom and the bigger ones are on top.

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