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Cheap substrate alternative


I thought I'd report on a cheap substrate alternative I stumbled on.

I use those "oil dry" type products in my business to aid in spill clean ups. 
 Usually this stuff is granulated Fuller's earth which will quickly absorb 
any liquids it might come in contact with. These products are very similar 
(if not identical) to the "Kitty Liter" some have used in their tanks - the 
biggest difference being the price.

When I last went to a Rose's Auto Supply store here in South Florida, to buy 
the usual 40 -50lb bag of this type product; it was slightly different this 
time. Instead of the typical cardboard colored granules, it was a mix of 
several earth colors which were rather attractive. It looked even better wet. 
Curious, I put some in a 5 gal tank and added water and later some plants. 

To make a long story short, this stuff grew plants like crazy under the usual 
parameters and it did not become mushy or turn into a homogenous clay mass 
like many kitty litters. It has retained its granular structure long term and 
also has an attractive, natural appearance.

It's not Fluorite and it is finer and lighter in weight - being similar to 
Turface as far as its ability to weigh down plants goes. However, it is cheap 
and it grows plants just fine. I've had it in tanks with plants and fish 
going on three months now with no ill effects.  

The product is Oil Absorbent 448 by the Moltan co., part # 8140 and is sold 
in 40lb bags for less than $10.00. The label says:

"Consists of amorphous montmorillonite clay and crystalline silica in varying 
amounts [typically less than 10%]." So it does have some silica.

It is marketed as being useful not only for spills but as an animal liter, a 
potting soil conditioner and for ball field enhancement - much like Turface.

FWIW, and I have no connection to Moltan co. nor do I benefit in any way for 
the sale of this product. Buyer assumes all responsibility and liability, 
etc., etc....

Bob Olesen
West Palm Beach

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