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Re: Adding 'Flourite' to an established tank

Peter Airken wrote:
> My understanding is that, unlike laterite, fluorite does not need to be
> buried under gravel. If I recall correctly, the iron in laterite can
> dissipate into the water column, possibly provoking algae growth.

This is not possible. Iron is not soluble in water unless complexed with
an organic ion of some sort. Wherever you heard this is unreliable. It
would be better not to repeat information from that source. Please take
this in the spirit in which it is intended to be offered; as a gentle
correction. :-]

> The iron
> in fluorite is in a different form so it requires bacterial action for the
> plants to take it up, and it will not transfer directly to the water. Am I
> remembering this correctly? In any case there is no harm in covering the
> fluorite, but it is not needed.

The problem with covering various fine materials is more that of
preventing them from being disturbed by fish, during maintenance or when
adding water. Fine materials on the surface tend to make a mess.
Materials which are not fine in texture (i.e. do not contain a certain
amount of clay) are not very useful as a source of trace nutrients nor
are they very effective in acting as cation exchange sites. Fluorite is
probably a useful amendment because its extremely difficult for folks to
wash the desirable clay particles out of it. IMHO, you are defeating the
purpose of a substrate amendment by washing or rinsing it.

> As for putting it is an established tank, you might try this technique which
> I have heard can be used to add potting soil to an established tank. Wash
> the fluorite then make it into small packets perhaps 4 x 6 inches and an
> inch think, wrapped in waxed paper. Push the existing gravel aside, place
> the packet, then cover with the gravel. Use a nail or ice pick to poke a
> bunch of holes in the paper. Eventually the paper will dissolve.

Paper doesn't dissolve and it rots very very slowly. Bacteria generally
won't decompose it unless there are other nutrients present such as
nitrogen, to aid in the decomposition process. Its still slow unless you
shred it very finely. This from my books on composting.

If you need to add a substrate amendment to an existing substrate, there
are two very simple, safe and highly effective methods for doing so
which do not require you to empty the tank and uproot your plants:

1) make clay balls with fertilizer in them, dry them and poke them into
the substrate near the roots of the plants you want to grow
2) get a ceramic pot, and put the mixture of substrate materials into
it; place the plants into the pot; cover with gravel; then put the pot
into the aquarium.

Variations on theme 1): use laterite balls, Jobe's sticks or any other
glob like mass which you can insert into the substrate without causing a

Fluorite may have other properties such as containing soluble minerals
such as Ca, S, K and Mg in an occluded form so that these soluble
nutrients are released by diffusion at a controlled rate. This is
speculation. I think Seachem is very cagey about disclosing the exact
nature of Fluorite. You could make such a material from a mixture of
clay and nutrients together with some stable binding agent. Jobe's
sticks are prepared using some sort of method like this.

There is also a method used in the preparation of F.T.E (Fritted Trace
Elements), where chemicals are mixed with molton glass and aerated. The
results is something like pumice and can be crushed to the desired
texture. Trace elements can then diffuse at very slow rates from this
frit. There was an Italian frit maker who was interested in preparing
such a product for use in aquariums; James P. did anything come of that?
They were looking for someone to perform testing and assist with product

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!!!