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Soilmaster + Laterite?

1358 Views 7 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  mrkookm
Hi - I searched for this answer but didn't find it, and read the article about using SMS. So have to ask... is it suggested to use a layer of Laterite when using the Soilmaster Select (charcoal) as a substrate? I've seen that people might use a dusting of peat, but how about the laterite?

Seems that if I can get over this little debate I'm having with myself regarding substrate, I'll get past a major milestone in setting up my 75-gal tank. Heck - the SMS has been sitting out in the garage for almost 2 weeks now!

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I am in the same boat you are. I have a 75g and a bag for SMS Charcoal in the garage just waiting for me to get to it.

I have been thinking of a few options to fertilze the stuff.

Red Sea makes a product called Flora Root. It sounds like a good product I really have never been to disappoint with Red Sea before.

Other then that I was just thinking of sticking root tabs evenly across the base and letting the SMS Abosorb it and do its thing.

I curious what other have done or think about the subject.
Laterite WOULD greatly improve the richness of the substrate, but here are a few thoughts...

1) SMS is lightweight. Until it really waterlogs and compacts in it is VERY easy to move by pouring water in or by fish digging and it can easily get sucked up in a syphon.

2) Laterite is MESSY MESSY MESSY. It is very dusty and clouds the water so much if it ever gets into the water column.

3) How often will you rescape and move plants around? Every time you pull up a plant - POOF! It'll take a day or two for your water to clear up.

And keeping in mind 1 and 2, I'm guessing you'll have clarity issues just from pouring water back in or maybe from fish if you have diggers.

SMS grows plants very well just by itself. I personally would never use laterite with it - too messy.
Has anyone ever tried to enrich SMS outside a tank? In a bucket or extra aquarium. I might take some time but it might be worth it.
would soaking dry SMS in a bucket of water with orchid fertilizer be useful? plus adding fertilizer tabs evenly throughout the substrate.
I'm by far not an expert but I believe plants will use the fertilizer in the substrate relatively quickly so while this may help in the beginning I don't think it will have a large effect on the long term growth. I think simply establishing a dosing routine will be all you need. SMS absorbs ferts well so dosing should have a similiar effect.

I use SMS and dusted the bottom of the tank with peat moss. I also just dose my water column with dry ferts from Greg Watson.

SMS is light weight and after 6 months mine still is very easy to move and uproot newly planted plants. Once they grow roots though they are good.

One bit of advice I would give is wash the stuff very well. Mine was extremely dirty. This is the case with most substrates though.

The stuff works and I think I paid $20 for two 50lbs bags. You can't beat that.
I put SMS over an inch or so of Eco-complete, to lessen the visuals of mixing and give a better root hold.
I am currently using SMS 'char' in one of my tanks using both peat dusting and laterite granules and I have re-scaped multiple times with no issues with the laterite or peat getting into my water column. The problem I do have is with the SMS clouding the water whenever I move stuff around but I can deal with that as it usually clears up after a few hours or days depending on filtration. The pluses out weighs the minuses; great growth, it supposedly lowers the PH which appeals to me due my plants, its clay based, the grain size is perfect, the color is great and its cheap. I could chime in more on this but thats another topic. However, I do have good growth using the SMS + Laterite + Peat with some difficult species. Is it the main reason why I'm getting good growth, I don't think so but I'm sure it's not hurting my setup either.
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