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my quest for new/different/cheap substrate has taken me to try chicken grit. ha ha. what is chicken grit? it is stone bits that farmers use along with feed. chickens need stones in thier gizzard to help grind the feed, as other birds do. this grit comes in several types, a course sand up to 3/8". it comes clean.

i picked up a 50 lb. bag of cherry stone quartzite no. 1, for small chickens. it's a very course sand, not quite pebble. it's redish from the iron oxide impurities. i tested it on some guppies. thier are doing well. i don't know how it's going to work in my 29 gal. planted tank. but i'm going for it.

this is a wikapedia description is it.

Quartzite is a hard, metamorphic rock which was originally sandstone.There are two ways that sandstone can change to quartzite. Through heating and pressure usually related to tectonic compression within orogenic belts, the original quartz sand grains and quartz silica cement were fused into one. Pure quartzite is usually white to grey. Quartzites often occur in various shades of pink and red due to varying amounts of iron oxide. Other colors are due to impurities of minor amounts of other minerals.

Orthoquartzite is a very pure quartz sandstone composed of usually well rounded quartz grains cemented by silica. Orthoquartzite is often 99% SiO2 with only very minor amounts of iron oxide and trace resistant minerals such as zircon, rutile and magnetite. Although few fossils are normally present the original texture and sedimentary structures are preserved.

In true metamorphic quartzite, also called meta-quartzite, the individual quartz grains have recrystallized along with the former cementing material to form an interlocking mosaic of quartz crystals. Minor amounts of former cementing materials, iron oxide, carbonate and clay, are often recrystallized and have migrated under the pressure to form streaks and lenses within the quartzite. Virtually all original textures and structure have usually been erased by the metamorphism.

Quartzite is very resistant to chemical weathering and often forms ridges and resistant hilltops. The nearly pure silica content of the rock provides little to form soil from and therefore the quartzite ridges are often bare or covered only with a very thin soil and little vegetation.

Because of its hardness (about 7 on Mohs' scale of mineral hardness), crushed quartzite is often used as railway ballast. In the United States, formations of quartzite can be found in eastern South Dakota, southwest Minnesota, the Baraboo Hills in [Wisconsin], the Wasatch Range in Utah, and as resistant ridges in the Appalachians and other mountain regions. The town of Quartzsite in western Arizona derives its name from the quartzites in the nearby mountains.

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartzite"
Category: Metamorphic rocks

origianally, i was looking into ceramic grog to be used as substrate.
it comes from a ceramic supply (pottery). grog is fired clay in chunks, won't get soft. it used as an agregate in pottery for strenght.
it's much cheap and seems to be similar to what's sold in aquarium shops.
it comes in screened sizes, measured by the mesh that screens it. it can be sandy to chunky. i was looking for 50 mesh. this courser grog is harder to get. most potters use the finer grog, because the course would tear up thier hands. courser grog is used in very large work. anybody familiar with this subject.

thank you
 

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well, yes to all. every thing in the world comes from the ground. searching for an alternative is half the fun. it's the treasure hunt aspect. why pay huge bucks for something that's available at a better price. i would have liked to have gone the grog route. but due to availability locally, i went with the grit. i'm going to be finding my way as this is a new approach for me, so i'm going to see how thing pan out
 

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well, i changed out the old gravel in my tank for the grit. i wasn't looking forward to the mess. but as it turned out, it went really smoothly. the gravel i took out was large, too large for plants. i used one of those plastic boxes that is used for live bearing fish. it is vented on the sides and the water drained right out. the grit was wet which made it sticky. so, i used a clear plastic tube that was about 3' long by 3.5" that had a cap on the end. i filled the tube with a funnel made out of a 64 oz. juice container that had a wide mouth. to unload the grit from the tube, i placed the end of the tube on the bottom of the tank and poped off the cap at the bottom. the grit just slid out of the tube nicely, like a cement truck delivering a load. like i said earlier this all went quite nicely.
 

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Sounds very similar to pool filter sand, did you consider that (usually cheap and readily available)? I wouldnt ever consider those types of substrates to be as good or better than something like AS, but a whole lot cheaper. Would you consider this sand smooth or rough out of curiosity? I am looking for a smooth black sand, which they do make, but the grain size is a bit small for plants (3M ColorQuartz) and my closest distributer isnt too cheap.
 

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hi, pics to come, as soon a i have time. it's course sand. at first i had second thoughts about it. but now i happy with it, so far.
 

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Quartzite is essentially just sand. You're using a sand that has a specific purpose (chickens). As far as the iron goes, when its in the sand its pretty insoluble.
 

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Hum!

I think by been really hard it will probably have almost no leaching of any kind of nutrient and this is probably a very low CEC material.

Good inert stuff (test with acid) but not to much interest for plants...
 
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