So I made a real newbie mistake(s). I'im setting up a 3G display tank (a very nice desktop one, made by Picotope), in which I plan to put a betta and maybe a snail (plus shrimp?).
I thought I'd make it a moderately planted tank, having heard that bettas like plants to hide out in (and I like plants, too
). So I installed a half-inch of laterite, covered with an inch of black gravel, and set up the tank for a fish-less cycle.... I had visions of a betta frolicking above a tight green carpet of vegetation, nourished by my plant-friendly substrate!!
The tank cycled, but the water just remained totally cloudy. At first, I hoped it was 'bacteria bloom'; then I realized it was a fine layer of laterite, suspended in the water. Water changes didn't help; as soon as I put my filter back on, I got a cloud of gunk in the water
and the filter didn't seem to do anything
to clean it up.
Finally, after several 80% water changes, I gave up. I got out as much of the gravel as I could rescue and rinsed it with tank water. I dumped the rest of the gravel plus laterite and washed the tank under the tap, to get the rest out. A lot of work went down the tubes.....
I suspect I just didn't rinse the laterite enough. But it seemed to keep dissolving into silt and washing away, until I called a halt. Or maybe it was just a bad idea to put laterite into such a small tank, to start with...
Just wanted to share my experience.