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Discussion Starter #1
Do you think it would be practical to try & add the appropriate nutrients to cat litter?
I gather that the highly absorbent forms of baked cat litter are particularly good as a planting base but contain no nutrients.
Could I possibly soak the litter in a suitable solution & reap the benefits?
 

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It would be a lot easier and simpler to just use substrate plant tabs, or to use MTS under the litter. Just be careful about kitty litter - it often contains things not good for plants, but great for its intended use.
 

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Cat litter depending on the type of clay may be too soft to use. If you have some of the type you wanted to use, soak it over night in water and rub it between your fingers the next day. If it mostly holds up, fine. If it turns to mud, pick a different material. Also, I presume you aren't talking about the type plain old clay cat litter and not one of the absorptive ones. I've used a lot of things to save money, but after fertilizing the inert or essentially inert materials you may find it would have cost less to go with a better substrate from the begining.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I live on a tiny island just 20 miles from the coast of France & anything weighing more than a kg is very difficult & not very economical to import!
Root tabs would be OK but complete substrates for my 40g tank would not be practical to import.
However the baked hard type of clay cat litter is available, I have tried the standard test & it holds together as individual pieces but are there any other advantages of using this as a substrait or am I really better off using sand?
 

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Baked clay substrates have a high CEC, so they do help plants by holding some of the nutrient ions where the roots can get to them easily. Except for that, ordinary quartz type sand, with 1-3 mm particles is just as good, if not better because of easier planting.
 

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If the KL doesn't affect water parameters like hardness, pH, phosphate, etc, I think it would be much superior to sand.

I usually do what Hoppy suggested and put some fert sticks on the bottom of the tank, rather than soaking the KL in some nutrient. Either way would work, as long as it doesn't leach out into the water column too much.

Another cheap way for a DIY substrate would be (mineralized) soil, capped by sand. The soil is nutrient rich already, so it offsets the lack of nutrients in the sand.

It's up to personal preference... I don't like sand too much, so I go with baked clay substrates: cheap ones like KL or Oil Dry, middle of the road like Schultz Aquatic Soil, SMS, or Turface, and expensive ones like Flourite.
 

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I'm using oil dry at the moment, and besides using a tiny amount of soil underneath it I only dose the water column. No issues yet, but I've only had it going for about 3 weeks.
 
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