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Re: cheap substrates?

Michael Gerhardt asked: >Where can I get a cheap substrate for planted 

If you like gravel and are near any sand and gravel pits or landscape 
outfits that deal with sand and gravel, then you might ask them about 
"squeegee". This is the small gravel that is too large to be classified as 
sand and too small to be called pea gravel. It is a mix of variable size 
grains between the two. Different vendors may have somewhat different colors 
of this material and you may have to shop around. It's not very expensive 
though; I paid $2.71 for 300 lbs.

Another alternative is a product called Turface made by Profile. This is the 
stuff they use on ball fields. I have been using it for several years. It is 
available in the original color and, I think, in a gray color. Some good 
   -It has good cation exchange capacity (CEC)
   _It is a uniform size and although the grains are angular and appear 
sharp, they do not harm the barbels of Corydoras catfish or other bottom 
dwelling fish.
   -It is very light and allows good root penetration.
   -It may cloud the water a bit (I don't rinse it) but I find that this 
clears easily within a few hours.
   -It's relatively inexpensive. I paid $7.39 for a 50 lb. bag. This is 
enough for a 18" x 48" base.

Some bad points:
   -Because it is very light it is easy to mistakenly uproot small plants 
with shallow roots.
   -It leeches a fair amount of phosphate into the water according to my 
tests. Probably a good idea to use some fast growing plants.
   -The color is uniform; a matter of taste.


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