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RE: Peat

Brett wrote:

> Its worth noting that sphagnum is about as renewable a resource as old
> growth forest, whatever the industry wants to say. It takes most shpagnum
> bogs close to 100 yrs to produce just 2 inches of harvestable peat moss.
> There is some debate on how quickly the bogs bounce back after being
> harvested as well. I hear in Europe they have stopped harvesting peat in
> most countries due to the overharvesting of this 'renewable' resource.

I don't wish to get into an argument over it..... you may be right. However,
in Europe peat as been used as a source of home heating fuel (as well as
firing up the stills used to make whiskey) for hundreds of years, so it is
understandable that their supply might be low.

Considering the vast acerage of peat bogs in Canada, I don't think that
aquarium use of peat is going to do much to deplete a natural resource.

> In
> hydroponix there is a lot of talk about using coir, the processed outer
> husks of coconuts, sometimes referred to as 'coco-peat' here in
> the states.
> Has anyone tried it in an aquarium? It has much the same consistency as
> milled sphagnum, though in soiless mixes does not acidify the soil as much
> or compact as quickly as milled shphagnum. Since it evolved to
> wick water to
> the growing portions of the seed, it does have a similar water holding
> capacity, but that may not be important for an aquarium.

Coir is available in several form factors, just like sphagnum is. I don't
know anything about its water altering abilities, but the coarser varieties
of coir could have applications in aquascaping - as mediums for rooting
things like Java Ferns and/or Anubias.

Robert H wrote:

> Sphagnum peat, according to what I have read, has less organic mass than
> other peat, and doesnt break down as quickly. However, even spahgnum peat
> should be used very sparingly in the substrate. The last thing you want is
> any concentration of decaying organic matter in the substrate.
> Things can go
> foul pretty quickly, particularly if the substrate becomes compact. I used
> peat "plates" for the aquarium and within six months they turned
> jet black,
> smelled like rotten eggs, and created or contributed to large
> dead zones in
> my substrate.
> When I later used sphagnum, I only sprinkled a couple of handfulls across
> the bottom of the tank. The main benifit it holds is providing
> some CEC and
> enough organic acid to bring some minerals into solution. If you
> use enough
> to alter the pH of the water, you have far too much in the substrate.

This is _very_ true. If anyone wants to alter the chemistry of their water
with peat, it should be done in a barrel outside of the aquarium. Only a
very small amount should be used in a substrate (if it is used at all).

Of course..... any bets on the certaintly that someone is going to post a
claim to having successefully used a 6" layer of peat as their sole
substrate with great results?

James Purchase