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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I just moved and re did my 20 gallon with cat litter. Why cat litter? Cat litter was like 50 lbs for like $5.00. I got it from a canadian store called no frills. It is the non clumping unscented stuff.

I was originally planning to use safe t sorb, but wanted to test this out.

Here is what I am using for now:

20 gallon high

HOB filters

Heater

15w flourescent light

Substrate: No name unscented cat litter

Plants:
Jungle vallis
Pennywort

Fish:
Mollies of different kinds
Bristlenose pleco
Corydoras, panda and false julii

I am not listing brands of my equipment since the focal point in my journal is the cat litter and how it does over time. Also, I plan on changing the equipment around soon and replacing lighting so will update on that and hopefully add more plants.

I posted a picture of the tank after I filled it the first day.
I rinsed the cat litter by about 3-5 lbs at a time until the water came mostly clear which took about 50 rinses total. The water at first ran very muddy looking and cleared up gradually.

Day 1, plants are not protesting and bnp seems to really love the new landscape and is out a lot more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Update. The jungle val put out 2 more runners since the substrate switch. The water is not cloudy unless bnp digs really fast.

What I noticed with this substrate and why it may become a mess after awhile has to do with that is breaks down in acidic water. I put some of this particular cat litter in a bowl with vinegar water and it has broken down quite a bit to a mud after bubbling few days. I tried washing it to verify and refill with water.

I am thinking if a tank is on the soft side, the cat litter will just be a muddy mess.

Posting pics later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not much has been happening with new runners. All the vallisneria has been growing very long. The top is a tangle of leaves and duckweed.

I do weekly water changes 50% now. I am afraid that if I left the tank for a month, the water would become acidic and the cat litter would break down and cloud the tank. I did move one val because I felt like it. I trimmed the roots and replanted with very little clouding at all.

I added some baby shrimp awhile ago and thought they'd get eaten by now, but they hang out in the tangle of val and duckweed. I also have a small mat of java moss floating.
There are 3 cherries; 2 male and 1 female. The female was berried last time I checked but probably gave birth by now.
I actually haven't checked it in 3 days.

I will get some pictures up of the val tangle and what the substrate looks like once I get to my normal routine again.

I replaced the bulb with a basic 15 watt cool white flourescent from home depot instead of the aqueon one. It doesn't make a big difference imo.

Fish are doing well. I raised the temperature because I thought maybe my mollies would like it. It's at 80F instead of around 76F.
 

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Lol I commend you on doing something different but it's pretty strange to use cat litter. Even if you're saving money you aren't using 50 pounds of it. The best sand at hardware stores wouldn't be much more. Well keep it up looks like a stable tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Lol I commend you on doing something different but it's pretty strange to use cat litter. Even if you're saving money you aren't using 50 pounds of it. The best sand at hardware stores wouldn't be much more. Well keep it up looks like a stable tank.
Cat litter seems to be the chopped liver of the substrate selections. I guess curiosity got the better of me, since I couldn't find as much literature on the stuff in planted tanks compared to other unconventionals like pool sand, blasting sand, and others.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here is a picture of the jungle val. Also, last time I checked on the tank, there are new baby shrimp! And saw 3 new baby mollies. I think the rest were eaten. I wonder if the temp change has anything to contribute to that!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here's a pic of what the substrate looks like. Not very exciting. You can see where the smaller sand size grains are collecting. I hope that the litter does not turn acidic from the waste and break down gradually. I suppose regular vacuuming will be in order.
 

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Interesting thread! I ultimately used a saf-t-sorb top over organic potting soil on a tank I set up in February; I thought about experimenting with cat litter, but as I already had saf-t-sorb, I used it instead. I look forward to further updates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Previously on Cat litter thread...

I mentioned some new baby shrimp and molly fry last update. They are doing well. There are more leaves on the vals growing.

My oldest black balloon molly Turkescone passed away today. She was born last February in 2015. I saw her having trouble swimming and died later. My kids and I decided to name the new black molly fry Turkescone.

I put a pic of the cat litter I used and some jungle val. It's so messy and I don't care.

Bump:

Bump: Blurry pic of Turkescone at the bottom of bucket.

Bump: I have heard good things about safe t sorb. It is much more stable than cat litter from what I understand. Good choice!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quick update. My glass piece on my canopy was lookin very bad and duct tape that was used to fix it was gross so I replaced it with...
3 picture frames siliconed together!! It looks soooo junky but no one can see it and it works great so far. I got them at the dollar store. This thread might as well be labeled super frugal fish hobbyist.

Since then I got another brood of molly fry, of 3. One died in my shrimp tank. Then last month about 8 more molly fry came. I just moved them to my shrimp tank.

There are 3-4 new runners on my vals.

No issues currently except the bladder snails in this tank stay smaller than a pea and they must due prematurely. Their shells are chalky white.

The corys are very healthy. My bnp digs in the substrate a lot.

Just to clarify, this cat litter is NON CLUMPING, that is why it keeps its shape. Pics to come of new vals and my canopy glass piece.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Had not updated in awhile. Everything was going really well until I stopped feeding my bnp veggies or attempted to put a pothos plant in the filter. Either way, my jungle val has been eaten and in the meantime got myself another male molly and moved bnp to a different tank.

Otherwise cat litter looks the same. Going to add some more since I took out a few cupfuls.

I am hoping val makes a comeback.
 

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