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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Four years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed my life in New Oreans, I am getting back into planted aquariums. To quote Jimmy Buffett, there have been changes in latitude, changes in attitude, The latitude change has been to my home town of Gadsden, Alabama. Back in 1959, when I was a tadpole of 12 and had my first aquarium, all I could find was Harz Mountain sand - and my Sagittaria grew wonderfully, no anaerobic areas. When I managed to find a Cyptocoryne affinis, it also did great in the sand. Later on, when I was in Stillwater, OK, I found a small gravel, Texblast blasting sand, about 1/3 the size of regular aquarium gravel, and it also was a good substrate for my plants; despite very hard water, my Crypts did great. Everywhere else, I have had to use regular gravel and the results have ranged from mediocre to atrocious. So - I am going to try sand again. At the moment I am looking around for the coarsest sand in the area.

Where my confusion comes in - after reading the posts on this website and similar ones, I notice there is complete disagreement on substrates! For example, one person will swear by Oildri and another swears at it. Exactly what does Turface/Oildri/kitty litter do for the aquarium plant? If I put a thin layer of Oildri (no local source of Turface) under the sand, what problems will I face and what benefits will I see?

One suggestion that made sense to me was to use Malaysian trumpet snails because they will plow through the sand, aerating it and removing organic debris. Would an underlayer of Oildri bother them, or would they bring it to the surface and thereby cloud the water?

FWIW, I will be setting up a 10G, a 30G, and an 18G bowfront. The two last will have power filters, not sure about the 10G - maybe a corner filter. The question of what fish is not yet being addressed, but I am partial to wild-type guppies and to White Clouds.

Thanks in advance for any replies, and I am expecting - as usual - a complete range of answers!
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Oildri, Kitty Litter, SMS, Turface are all fired clays and have similar strengths and weaknesses. IMO the best strength is that they've got a high CEC rating; which means they'll pull nutrients from the water column and hold them in a form usable by plant roots.

Biggest downside is they're so lightweight it can be hard to get plants to stay down. If you cap it with sand it should help, but make sure you like the look of the two substrates all mixed together, because this will happen over time as the smaller sand grains sift to the bottom. It can also be rather dusty.

I think it would be a good idea to supplement sand, though, since sand on its own has no nutrient benefit at all for plants.

Personally I can't stand sand, but some people love it and you can definitely put together a nice tank with it. You might try looking for pool filter sand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I checked out pool filter sand this afternoon - same size as what I got as Lowe's and 4 times as expensive! I am thinking I will set up the 10G with the Oildri, less trouble to break it down if things go bad; before I put the stuff in, I will wash it in a very large kitchen strainer - like an oversized tea strainer) to get rid of some of the dust. The bowfront has a light and a stand, so it will be set up next, with a pure sand substrate. After Hurricane Ida's outskirts pass through here, I will check out a landscape supply place tosee if they have coarser sand than I have found so far.

I am in no hurry, so I will let the Oildri soak for at least a wek before adding anything.
 

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Don't you mean Tropical Storm Ida? (I thought it was downgraded earlier today... I remember hearing the meteorologist on TV saying there wasn't even an eye any longer.)

Anyway, I look forward to seeing your tanks! Knowing that you were growing sagitarria in your tanks as early as 1959 makes you an O.G., in my opinion.
 

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Three years ago I started my first planted tank with pretty decent results thanks to decent lighting and eco-complete.

I haven't had one in two years due to similar circumstances to yours but this time I needed substrate quick and couldn't wait to have money for eco-complete. I went with PFS capped with black aquarium gravel. I'll be using PFS from now on; I got it for 6.70 for a 50 lb bag, it looks great, and plants are easy to manage in it. I have MTS also to stir the sand 8 + a recently spotted baby.

If you are planning to add HC as foreground you might want to talk to some guys in here because I've been told MTS can uproot it easily. I just ordered glosso and I think it will probably fair much better with MTS.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Abbreviations

Some abbreviations I don't understand in the replies.

Church - I am not sure what an OG is.

Jarod - what is HC? I did figure out MTS, and at one time was a member of NANFA. New Orleans was agood place to be a Native Fish keeper - I could walk to collecting areas to get Heterandria formosa, Cyprinodon, Poecilia latipinna, plus several other good natives. The Texas Cichlid is not native that that area, of course, but has become established in the canals there and kept showing up in my nets. Rarely I would find a Fundulus or another killie.
 

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Wow, sorry that slipped out. OG is like the original... It, um....

...basically it means you are one of the original planted tank keepers. :)

:icon_lol: (it is)

I would take umbrage to that if I was you, since they were keeping hornwort in white cloud minnow tanks back in the early 1900's (1910-1930's) that I know of from reference books. :wink:

- Brad
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I spent quite a bit of time last night reading the archives. Home Depot seems to have some cheap pool filter sand. Only problem is, the nearest one is 45 - 50 miles away and due to health problems that is a long way for me to drive. Nevertheless, it should be much cleaner than the Lowe's all-purpose, so perhaps I will wait util I do have an opportunity to to HD. In the meantime I will set up the 10G with Oildri.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
No other pool supply stores any closer to Gadsden? Ace Hardware carries it here in my neck of the sticks...
Nope. Gadsden is the biggest town in NE Alabama, but that is not sayng much. Birmingham is 60 miles away; Trussville, at its NE edge, has a Home Depot. Huntsville is farther, about 75 miles. Anniston-Oxford, about the same size as Gadsden, also has a HD on the far side, 45 miles away. Only one pool supply place here ($10.50 a bag), no Ace Hardware, Walmart does not have pool supplies (at least this time of year).

BTW, the remnants of Ida rae coming through here this morning. We are having a steady moderate rain (about 2 inches so far), and about a 20 MPH wind. After New Orleans, this is a creampuff!
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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I must say, I didn't miss the NO FLORIDA hurricanes this year. IMO those we had a few years back are more than enough to last the next 30-50 years...

But we've definitely invested in a nice generator for the house.
 

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The idea behind pool filter sand is that is does not have materials in it that will dissolve and raise your pH. You have to be careful of the sand you get. At Home Depot the play sand is supposed to be OK, the local guy that raises carnivorous plants (CPs) commercially said it is good for making the CP soil.
 
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