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Re:soil substrates

>  Date: Sat, 3 Aug 2002 13:53:38 -0600
>  From: Rich Schiek <rschiek at pobox_com>
>  Subject: soil substrate OR gravel and laterite?
>  Dear Plant Experts,
>  Reading through some old issues of The Aquatic Gardener, I found lots of 
>  suggestions to use potting soil covered with a little gravel as a good 
>  planted aquarium substrate.  On this list and it's archives I haven't 
>  heard much of that approach, and many books I've looked at have 
>  suggested gravel & laterite.  Has using a soil substrate gone out of 
>  fashion, or have people fund that gravel & laterite is better?
>  Thanks for your advice,
>  Rich
Well, I'm no expert, but I use soil and peat, topped with cheap gravel sold 
for use in concrete in all my tanks, and have had mostly very good results. I 
think the key to using soil, as has been stated here before, is to use a soil 
with a low organic content. I have been using cheap bagged top soil from 
Lowe's, which is very sandy. 
Using this mixture, I have not had any algae issues that I can directly 
relate to the soil. It does make a big mess if I move any large plants, such 
as swords, but for most stem plants, there is not that big a problem. A good 
water change usually takes care of whatever mess is left. Give it a try and 
see what you think, tanks can always be re-built if you don't like it.

Tim Armstrong