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First Layer Pure Laterite Aquarium Plant Substrate What is it and is it worth it?

I see this for sale but I don't really see what exactly this is suppose to do for the aquarium? it is basically just like dirt/clay?

Does it do anything for your aquarium such as increase the trace elements or iron levels?

I am unsure what this is suppose to do exactly and if its worth it to get it.

Can anyone tell me what this is suppose to be exactly and if its worth getting?

Thanks.
 

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Hi SpaceLord,

Per API the maker of First Layer Pure Laterite it is:
FIRST LAYER is an all natural Laterite in a granular form, which is ideal for aquarium use. The pure Laterite in FIRST LAYER provides the perfect planting medium for a natural aquarium. Mixing all natural Laterite into the gravel bed creates an excellent planting medium for rooted aquatic plants. Safe for use with tropical fish.
Laterite is basically an iron rich clay; most of the time it is used in aquariums as a baked product either granular or in clay balls and has been used in aquariums for a long time. In the Summer 2000 issue of the Aquatic Gardeners Association of Planted Aquarium Magazine (the predecessor to Aquatic Gardner's Magazine) there was an excellent article on substrates and their various mineral contents and Cation Exchange Capacities (CEC/the ability to absorb nutrients and make them available to plants at a later time). I am providing a copy of the table that was in the article showing various substrates and their properties. Typically I look for products with a high CEC and reasonable levels of Iron (Fe), Calcium (Ca), Potassium (K), and Magnesium (Mg). The substrate I use in all of my tanks is 100% Laterite, some tanks contain Turface (16a) and when Turface for no longer available in the color I liked I changed to Safe-t-Sorb #7941 (see listing 16a for mineral and CEC properties). First Layer Pure Laterite is also listed (#7) in the table so you can compare. Flourite and several other substrates are also in the table. I can purchase 40# of Safe-t-Sorb #7941 from Tractor Supply Company for $6.49 and have a substrate that not only looks good and natural but absorbs nutrients from the water column and makes them available to the plants in the root zone.

Planted Aquarium Magazine Summer 2000; substrate table


10 gallon low tech; no CO2; 2X10 watt CFL; Safe-T-Sorb #7941
 

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If you do a lot of reading about planted tank problems back in the ancient times, one of the problems they had was a shortage of iron for the plants. Of course, that was a perceived problem more than a real problem. But, the chelated iron products now available were not then available, so people tried various things to get more iron for their plants, including nails in the substrate. Laterite is a soil type rich in iron, but lacking much of any other nutrients, so that was assumed to be a good source of iron. I think we have moved far beyond that now.
 

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If you do a lot of reading about planted tank problems back in the ancient times, one of the problems they had was a shortage of iron for the plants. Of course, that was a perceived problem more than a real problem. But, the chelated iron products now available were not then available, so people tried various things to get more iron for their plants, including nails in the substrate. Laterite is a soil type rich in iron, but lacking much of any other nutrients, so that was assumed to be a good source of iron. I think we have moved far beyond that now.
In the not so ancient times, Dick and Carla Booth were using Laterite with heat cables, and they had a pretty good explanation about how Laterite worked. It involved how when combined with the localized heating of the cables, the laterite become a molecular 'staging areas' or catalyzing point for iron and ammonium ion exchanges at the hair roots. Of course they also used liquid chelated iron supplements, but the laterite was, by Dick's account, largely responsible for the fast, lush growth of their 'High Tech" 80 gallon tank back in 1993.

There's still some cause to use special soil amendments, or we wouldn't be trying deminerilized sub soils and potting mixes.
 

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Hey Gramps,

That was George and Carla Booth. I read everything he ever contributed to the NewsGroups of the Day that eventually were compiled on Erik Olson's 'The Krib' website. (oldest aquarium site in continuous existence!). A hard to find copy of 'the Optimum Aquarium' and George Booth's contributions got me started on natural aquariums! Ah, 1993... I was poor, single and had a 120gal tank, lights, hood and stand on layaway at Eddie's Aquarium for 8 months, preparing to achieve George Booth Like Greatness.!

Peter
 
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