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Finally got to the bottom of my inbox after getting about 2 months
Richard, don't put chelated Fe in your substrate. It's too soluble and
if used in very large amount, the other heavy metals would be toxic.
You should be able to find a nice clay subsoil in your neighbourhood
that would be fine as a source of Fe esp if combined with a small amount
of peat. This is based on James P's comments about the extremely varied
composition of minerals in your locality.
In addition to Roger's fine comments about his experiences with river
silt, I can add a few of my own. For krip-toe-KORE-i-nees ;-) I'd stick
them in pots ala Karen Randall's approach. With clay and a little peat,
I don't think you need to bother adding micronized iron if you have a
fine clay with even 1% Fe. But if you FEEL like using it, go ahead.
The nice thing about using pots is that:
a) it keeps the Crypts from invading other parts of the aquarium
b) when you want to uproot a specimen, you can pull the whole put out
and operate on it safely with little possibility of contaminating the
tank with sediment.
There are drawbacks to using clay and peat. I think its covered on the
I set up a 20 gallon tank with some of my local subsoil (extremely sandy
and very low in clay content) and another 20 gallon tank with river silt
from the McKenzie river delta compliments of Chris Teichtrieb and Dave
Huebert. The sandy subsoil is very nutrient poor and growth is rather
slow for the Crypts there. These are difficult Crypts so its not too
surprising. Chain sword in that tank grew very fast and large but
created a problem when I had to uproot it. Messy! Yuck! There is also
some Alternanthera in the corner but its not growing very fast.
In the river silt tank, there is a very high clay content and as
expected, there seems to be a good supply of nutrients. An Alternanthera
specimen in this tank has grown quite large. Several species of Anubias
also doing well in here and the single specimen of Cryptocoryne is
growing very well (but its a faster growing species).
There was a fairly heavy growth of diatoms on the plant leaves in these
two soil tanks, more in the silt tank because of higher nutrient levels
I think. Addition of several snails made quick work of it. Ramshorn
snails seem to be the best; fast breeders and good appetites.
As for sending the pottery clay back that you purchased, I would
probably keep it if I were you. It comes in handy for making fertilizer
clay balls and is probably still useful as a substrate amendment
preferably in pots.
I had a friend make some small rectangular shaped clay pots that seem
perfect for using in an aquarium. The only problem is where to get more!
I only have 3! I reckon somebody could make a good living selling these
things through the internet and to aquarium outlets! You could even
include the custom made substrate materials too! ;-)
The only problem as I see it, is for those techno-addicts like George:
how the heck do you get heating cables inside those small ceramic pots?!
BTW, welcome back George. Were you gone? Myself I've just been over busy
with work. MDSI has a new product release coming this year and our stock
price recently hit $45 Cdn.
Steve Pushak Vancouver, BC, CANADA
Visit "Steve's Aquatic Page" http://home.infinet.net/teban/
for LOTS of pics, tips and links for aquatic gardening!!!