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Profile and dolomite usage

Over a year ago I purchased some Profile to try as a substrate.
The 15 gallon was initially setup with washed Profile, fertilizer
tabs and steel wool fragments under the substrate, 3 watts of
fluorescent lighting per gallon, and CO2 injection. The KH of
the water here in Ottawa is about 3. It only took a few days for
the pH to fall below 5.0. The fish (including some SAEs) died.

I added a lot of dolomite over the next few weeks and the pH
eventually stabilized. The Profile must have been releasing
hydrogen ions and exchanging them for cations of various sorts.
Presently, no matter how much time elapses between water changes,
the pH always remains in the neutral range.

Growth has been less than I would have expected. The tenellus
swords root deep and well, but stem plants do only average. I
expected that the high CEC of the Profile would have helped.

I've also potted crypts and swords in Profile mixed with topsoil,
or basin soil, or less rich dirt. The mixes seem to grow the
crypts and swords a bit better than just the plain unadulterated
soils. Maybe the effect in emersed growing conditions would be
more obvious. I would not recommend Profile as a standalone
aquatic substrate.

My favorite gravel is one available locally at Big Als. It is
medium-fine grained and of a medium brown colour. The shop uses
it in their planted show tanks. Crypts and swords grow very
thick and healthy for me in it, and algae usually doesn't pose
a problem. No doubt the gravel releases some iron.

For those who are having problems maintaining pH stability in
municipalities with soft water, I highly recommend adding a
tablespoon of powdered dolomite per ten gallons of aquarium
water. It seems to dissolve at a steady rate in bare or
graveled tanks. The effect is gradual, not instantaneous
like baking soda. The bonus is the useful calcium and magnesium
cations which could be in short supply in very soft water.
The effect lasts for weeks, sometimes months. I believe that
Steve Pushak has mentioned this. I seldom test for pH anymore.
Dolomite is about $0.20 per pound at your local garden center.

For an easy and attractive plant to grow at one watt per gallon,
try bolbitis heudelotti, the African fern. Just don't give it
too much light.