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Kitty Litter Substrate

3675 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  jrman83
I know this isn't something that's widely used, but I have seen people use it before. Will this stuff actually grow plants? Low-tech ones at least such as crypts?

And what would be a good brand to use?
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Yes it will grow plants cat litter is essentially clay with other things added. If your going to use it buy the cheap stuff that way it is free of perfumes dies and whatnot. Read the packages look for kolinite and shmectite (spelling). These are natural non swelling clays assuming I remember my sedimentary geology correctly. They will have trace amounts of K, Na, Ca, and so on. You will most likely need root tabs as well to sublimely missing elements.

Have a gniess day. -Scott
I've tried the kitty litter and found that it turns to mush sometimes. I recently switched over to safe t sorb as a cap for dirt and threw some plant food into the dirt...the same stuff I use for diy root tabs. I love safe t sorb. It doesn't get mushy and I like the color of it better than kitty litter.
I have used the kitty litter before. It does make a mess anytime you do anything with the tank and gets cloudy during water changes. It is excellent for cation exchange. In other words it has no nutrients in it. It instead is good at absorbing nutrients out of the water column and/or root tabs and holding on to them until the plants need them. I used MGOPM and "Cats Pride" from Walmart( at least I think that was the name) was about $3 for a big bag.
As the previous poster noted and I agree it does not look very natural but then again neither do most black sands.
I've seen some tanks with it that natural and some that don't.

I think these look pretty natural/attractive IMO.

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I recently added STS over top of the pool filter sand I have in my main planted tank. I really like the look of it, maybe its just because its new and the white sand was mostly dulled and brownish... but IMO STS looks good and even creates neat if messy/natural looks when I move plants and the two mix.

To save yourself some headaches: use screen or a noodle strainer to sift out the very small pieces and the dust. I went overboard and strained/rinsed at the same time but it's worth it. When adding to the tank use a pop bottle (2 liter or smaller depending on tank size) fill it with STS about 1/2 to 2/3 and then submerge in your tank. Tip the bottle completely upside down and distribute the STS where you want it. When the bottle is empty quickly tip it back up and take it out of the tank...what you will be left with is brown chocolate milk colored water. You just saved all that dust from sitting in your tank and causing issues later when you do water changes or disturb the substrate. -Mine still produced this brown water even after all the sifting and rinsing I did before hand but my tank did not cloud at all when I added. I'll probably add more to make a little deeper yet.
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Go with MGOPM capped with Saf-T-Sorb. Natural looking colors and grows plants well.
STS is actually cheaper than cat litter. Its only $6 for 40lbs and 1 bag is enough for 2.5-3" in a 75g.
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