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Re: Kitty litter substrate

Since everybody is talking about kitty litter substrates, I'll throw in
my 0.002 cents. Just anecdotal evidence, but goes against other reports
though. I keep some anubias nana in emersed form in a sterilite box.
Each plant is potted in a plastic container about 3" deep and 5" wide,
with perforated bottom. Water level is kept at the pots' upper lip level,
such that only the roots stay underwater. A 20 watt Plant & Aquarium bulb
provides ligth 11 hours/day and a powerhead provides some water circulation.

I've been keeping this setup for more than one year, using a mix of coarse
and fine aquarium gravel as substrate. Standard daily PMDD fertlization and
monthly 100% water changes. The growth has been phenomenal, I more than
tripled the amount of plant mass since I started the experiment. The roots
grow to the point that when uprooting a plant a large mass of gravel comes
entangled in the roots.

About two months ago I replaced all gravel by plain Hartz (sp ?) pH5 kitty
litter. I kept the same maintenece regimen otherwise. I yet have to see any
new growth. The plants just stopped on their tracks. Even a new flower that
attempted to bud is just melting now, with the usually nice white-yellow
part just turned into brown mush. Plants didn't root at all, they are still
dangling over the kitty litter. At first i thought this was just transplant
shock, but even for anubias two months is too much. 

Another problems was the strong tendency of the kitty litter to induce
foaming. This probably never happens in totally submersed environments, 
but in my setup the powerhead outlets act as tiny waterfalls over the pots,
and the splashing action builds up so much foam that the entire box got 
filled with white foam the first time. I kept removing the foam and now 
the buildup takes place at a much slower rate. Anyways, so much for the 
kitty litter, I'll be replacing it back by good olde gravel soon...

Btw, the kitty litter itself didn't turn into a mushy mass, it still looks
and feels as gravel.

- Ivo Busko
  Baltimore, MD