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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-28-2015, 03:44 PM Thread Starter
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Substrate idea?

Not new, just something I thought about after reading about Montmorillonite clays. Feel free to comment. So what are thoughts on a Montmorillonite clay(ie Kitty litter) plus Laterite, calcium source(oyster shells, egg shells, etc). This is just a basic low-tech substrate. Here are my thoughts:

- Kitty litter (silicate montmorillonite clay, not calcined) good/high CEC with presence of micros(though in varying amounts from brand to brand and insufficient amount of iron)
- Laterite (decent CEC with iron that Montm. clay lacks)
-Calcium source (unless using Calcined Montm. clay)

So, the above products mixed together then capped with MORE kitty litter or, whatever cap floats your boat? Anyone tried this? What was your experience? Any gripes, thoughts, or comments/suggestions welcomed!
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-28-2015, 04:26 PM
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I have had good success with plain unscented "special kitty" brand cat litter from Walmart mixed with Miracle grow organic choice,and peat.60% miracle grow,30% cat litter,10% pure sphagnum peat (no additives).
Capped with Black diamond blasting media.
I don't need any calcium supplement for my water is fairly hard from the tap.
I add iron found in trace mineral mix CSM+B.
Also dose macro nutrient's NPK once a week.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-28-2015, 04:42 PM
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Hi HDBenson,

All of my tanks use some variety of Montmorillonite clay as the substrate. I use Soilmaster Select, Turface Pro League, and Safe-T-Sorb #7941; all have the beneficial high CEC properties that characterize the Montmorillonite clays.

My first tanks were just plan Montmorillonite clay with some iron pyrite cinders sprinkled on the bottom layer. I relied on my EI nutrients plus the weekly addition of a GH Booster to keep my dGH above 4.0 and some additional liquid iron to keep my plants healthy. The plant roots do seek out the iron pyrite cinders and latch onto them so it seems the plants do recieve some nutrients from them....the Laterite would do the same thing.

My last new set-up was my 75 gallon planted. I "pre-loaded" the Safe-T-Sorb #7941 with GH Booster (basically CaSO4 + MgSO4+K2SO4) to avoid having to heavily dose my tank with GH Booster for several months to maintain the hardness level. Instead of the oyster shell you might consider a low Mg (less than 5% Mg will provide better dissolution) dolomite granules as an alternative to provide some Mg along with the Ca.

10g; no CO2


20g; no CO2


75g; w/CO2 (two weeks after planting)


45g; w/CO2


30g; w/CO2

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-28-2015, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys! roadmaster, so you are using it in a modified MTS? I'm looking more along the lines of this as a stand alone mix, Montmorillonite + Laterite + Calcium. I'm already utilizing soil-based substrates in two of my tanks and currently dry-starting a third soil tank with a kitty litter cap. Seattle, I think recall a thread regarding Kitty litter from this forum(perhaps APC) where you mentioned a decrease in KH/pH/Gh(I don't remember which one) from using JUST Montmorillonite. Am I correct? Anyway, so gleaning from what you both have said: A good pre-soaking of CaSO4 + MgSO4 + K2SO4 and the addition of Mg dolomite(to help maintain Gh/KH/pH). Would adding a liquid Fe supplement to the substrate(already containing Laterite) "bath" be beneficial or would this be an Fe overload? Seattle, do you still EI dose micros/micros in those tanks or, have you found the amounts in the substrate to be sufficient to only dose one or the other(micros/macros)?

Montmorillonite clay
Laterite clay
Mg dolomite granules
GH booster pre-soaking
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-28-2015, 05:46 PM
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I recently used a concoction of red clay, mont.clay, dolomite, KCL and osmocote in a new tank I setup. I used it under Ada Aqua soil, the idea was to make the nutrients in the ada last longer. Don't know if it will work, but it will definitively not hurt anything.

Just keep an eye out for PO4 adsorption. Both Laterite (red clay, no?) and mont. clay is High CEC and will adsorb nutrients for some time. I myself is having that problem at the moment, and a fellow forum member commented he had the same problem when he used laterite/mont.clay. With the ADA beeing high CEC and adsorbing PO4 too, I had to dose 8ppm PO4 pr day for about 2 weeks, and still the test read 0ppm 24 hours later. Now i'm dosing 4ppm every other day and read about 0.5-1ppm after 24 hours.

Edit: I used Calcium bentonite clay though, not Sodium Bentonite which you are mentioning. Didn't know what the added Sodium might do, so I went with the Calcium.


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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-28-2015, 06:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDBenson View Post
Seattle, I think recall a thread regarding Kitty litter from this forum(perhaps APC) where you mentioned a decrease in KH/pH/Gh(I don't remember which one) from using JUST Montmorillonite. Am I correct? Anyway, so gleaning from what you both have said: A good pre-soaking of CaSO4 + MgSO4 + K2SO4 and the addition of Mg dolomite(to help maintain Gh/KH/pH). Would adding a liquid Fe supplement to the substrate(already containing Laterite) "bath" be beneficial or would this be an Fe overload? Seattle, do you still EI dose micros/micros in those tanks or, have you found the amounts in the substrate to be sufficient to only dose one or the other(micros/macros)?

Montmorillonite clay
Laterite clay
Mg dolomite granules
GH booster pre-soaking
Hi HDBenson,

You remember correctly, when I use any of the Montmorillonite clay materials as a substrate I have a decrease in dKH (and resulting PH) and dGH. Since I have very soft tap water the effect is very apparent. The effect of lowering my dKH and to some degree my dGH can continue for several months until equilibrium is reached.

The suggested low Mg percentage dolomite (<5% Mg) will provide both Ca and Mg. The pre-soaking of CaSO4 + MgSO4 + K2SO4 reduced the timeframe that the substrate substantially lowered the hardness in my tanks (now I add GH Booster weekly just to replenish what the plants use).

If using the Laterite I would not add additional iron to the substrate. My micros that are part of the regular EI dosing regime provide most of my iron/Fe requirements. The only other time I add iron/Fe is if the plants are showing signs of an Fe deficiency.

Yes, I still dose my macros and micros per the EI dosing method.

75 gallon today

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-28-2015, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Malakian, it is actually Sodium and not Silicate! Montmorillonite (aka Bentonite) has trace levels of Silicon. I got it confused. But, I'm wondering about kittly litter (Sodium Montmorillonite) due to it's price and availability. Yes, Laterite is a red clay, but I'm curious about the use of Laterite since it is fired already( giving it its CEC properties), you did not mention whether the red clay you are using is fired already or, not. Yes, both of these clays both adsorb and absorb. That is why I was interested in these clays. The ability to absorb the initial nutrients during the soaking and slowly releasing these BACK into the water column. So you are having to ADD Phosphates then. Noted. Thank you Malakian!

Bump: Thank you Seattle. Do you scale down your dosing? AND, everyone of your tanks are great! I'm jealous! The DSM I mentioned in my second post has Kitty litter as the cap as I mentioned and I really like the look of it. I like how dark it is but not black!
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-28-2015, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDBenson View Post
Thank you Malakian, it is actually Sodium and not Silicate!
I said Sodium bentonite ^^


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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-28-2015, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malakian View Post
I said Sodium bentonite ^^
I'm sorry if I confused you Malakian! I was giving you credit for using the correct form of the clay. I originally referred to the Sodium Bentonite as SILICATE Montmorillonite(Bentonite is commonly called and often used interchangeably with Montmorillonite) as opposed to the correct form - Sodium Bentonite(Montmorillonite).
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-03-2015, 02:41 AM
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I've use plain clay kitty litter in the past and got good results but it got really "mucky". As the other Roy mentioned, saf-t-sorb, Turface, etc. will provide you with similar results but much less mess.

Last edited by ROYWS3; 05-03-2015 at 02:42 AM. Reason: puncuation
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-03-2015, 05:18 AM Thread Starter
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Ah, thank you, other Roy!
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-03-2015, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
I have had good success with plain unscented "special kitty" brand cat litter from Walmart .
I tried that brand when we had a cat and it turned into mud on me, good thing I was rinsing it when I found out

I use MGOCPS with a Safe-T-Sorb cap, though the STS does drop the Gh and kH in the tank.


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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-03-2015, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by FatherLandDescendant View Post
I tried that brand when we had a cat and it turned into mud on me, good thing I was rinsing it when I found out

I use MGOCPS with a Safe-T-Sorb cap, though the STS does drop the Gh and kH in the tank.
Really? After 3 months my STS pure tank stopped sucking GH and KH.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-03-2015, 10:02 PM
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Really? After 3 months my STS pure tank stopped sucking GH and KH.
That's good to know, I'm about at that 3 month mark with that tank


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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-04-2015, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatherLandDescendant View Post
I tried that brand when we had a cat and it turned into mud on me, good thing I was rinsing it when I found out

I use MGOCPS with a Safe-T-Sorb cap, though the STS does drop the Gh and kH in the tank.
I used the special kitty cat litter mixed with soil and capped with black diamond.(didn't rinse nothing cept the black diamond).
Did not much care what the cat litter did in the mix, and am near certain the soil turned to mud as well.
As stand alone substrate,I might select the safety sorb.
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