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Re: Newbie Design -- Problems with Flourite dust


> OMG Flourite Red is nasty stuff. 
> I thought I had rinsed it "good enough", but what a mess.
> Carpet, walls,
> tank, all splattered and spattered. 

If it's on the walls, then they were getting wet?  That
should probably be avoided whether there is dust or not in
the water.  I'm not trying to sound snobby -- I've put down
more than few gallons in unexpected places from time to
time -- if my wife was reading that udnerstatement, she'd
be lol.   But keeping the walls and carpet relatively dry
is a good goal many of us strive for with less than perfect

But working with smaller volumes at a time can help with
the rinsing and reduce the splashing.  If you try to rinse
a whole lot at once, and don't stir the gravel while you do
it, you won't get the dust down towards the bottom.  If you
do stir it a lot, your making dust probalby as fast as
you're removing it -- avicious cycle that makes rinsing
seem to, and possibly really, take hours and hours and
hours.  Rinse small amounts at a time; you can rinse the
dust off more thoroughy and need littel or no stirring.

Flourite is dusty, in part because it works so well.  I
mean it's clay and the particles rub each other while in
transit.  Some gravel makers prevent this with their gravel
by coating it with epoxy -- even in startling colors -- but
that would take away from part of what's so nice about

I used to rinse the heck out of Flourite but I have
reformed.  There's a difference between the dust and the
much larger but still very very fine particles.  I try only
to remove the dust.  The fines settle out of the water
rather quickly and work there way lower into the substrate
bed as time goes by.  Until, its stirs up when you upset
the substrate, but it settles again quickly.  In fact, I
take much of the heavier stuff that rinses off from the
bottom of the catch basin and put it right into the
aquarium.  It's perfectly good flourite, nice fines; why
throw it away?

You might try this.

Using a sieve, strainer, colander, fine mesh -- whatever
you can get your hands on to rinse with.  Work with small
volumes at a time, say, do a bag of Flourite in 4 or 5
helpings depending on the size of your colander, etc.  It
can actually go faster with smaller volumes at a time. 
Rinse out until the water appears clear.

Set the rinsed material aside and rinse another helping. 
When done.  Lay the moist Flourite onto the tank bottom and
place a large plate or bowl over it. Let in water slowly at
first but you can speed it up as the water level rises.

When the tank is about 1/4 full, put in your plants and
wood rocks, etc.  Then continue filling.  When full, let
the tank stand for few hours or over night.  If it is not
substantially cleared up by then, due a partial water
change (I only did this once with my 6 gallon tank -- I had
really rinsed the stuff in a hurry).  Go ahead and install
a filter now if you want -- I mean don't worry about water
currents.  By the next day if not sooner, the water should
be pretty darn clear.

I know some folks like to rinse and rinse and rinse so that
there is no clouding of the water when they fill the tank. 
That's too tedious for me and doesn't seem to me to be
necessary.  I like having all that fine grains in the
substrate bed.  I think it's good for the plants.  I just
want to rinse off the stuff that is so small that it
doesn't like to sink.

Each time I do this, and I've done it about 10 times, my
first impression is, "Uh oh, should have rinsed more :-\ 
."  But I get over that when I see how quickly the water
clears.  What settles on leaves or decore I remove by
stirring the water for a few seconds near the leaf wood
rock surface -- I wave my hand over it like shooing a fly
away  :-)  .  This moves the material and gives it another
chance to sink to the bottom.

Btw, Onyx Sand seems to have even more and finer particles,
including more dust than Flourite. But I used the same
method recently with Onyx in a 20 gallon tank and still got
the same results.  It took a little longer to settle and
the substarte bed was covered over sort of like the way you
describe yours only the layer of silt was a thin layer not
a thick one.  The water looked fine within a day and the
bed looked fine within a few days.  I didn't vacuum or do a
water change.

> The tank looked like it was full of 120g of chocolate
> milk afterwards. 

I call this normal conditons right after filling a new tank
that has Flourite.

> It
> dissipated overnight (with the help of two Eheims and two
> big Emperors), 

It probalby would have settled as fast even without the

> but
> the substrate became covered with a thick layer of fine
> silt which plugged
> all the cracks between granules and made the floor look
> like one smooth
> homogenous surface. 

Okay, a thick layer is probably too much dust.

> I tried to vacuum it, but the water
> quickly became too
> cloudy to see again. 

I say go ahead and gravel vacuum.  The material that gets
into the water column will settle again and the tank will
clear even faster than the first time.  Besides, while
vacuuming, you'll be removing the dust that's waterborne in
the water you remove.

I wouldn't take the Flourite out and start over.  It's not
necessary and not worth it.  The more you hanlde it, you
make new dust anyway.

> Plants are arriving today, but I am
> scared to plant,
> because I know it will stir up the mess all over again. 

I think you should remove some more via vacuuming at the
very surface.  You'll probably feel better and clouding
will be a bit less in the future.  But don't try to make it
so that the water is clear as soon as you finish vacuuming.
 It will get cloudy again but only temporarily.  Stirring
up the substrate will raise some material but it settles
again rather quickly.  Anyway, after the tank has been up
for year or so, stirring up the substrate will raise mulm
even if you have no fine gravel particles.  Let's face it,
plants grow in dirt and dirt is a dirty business sometimes
;-)  You won't have gravel that doesn't cloud a bit when
stirred up.  But that's okay.

> If I let it go, will the fish eventually cause the silt
> to settle down
> further into the substrate, so it isn't so much an issue
> anymore? 

Generally, even the very finest gravel bits will tend to
fall until something blocks them, so any disturbances tend
to move finer material between and down past coarser
material.  Think about pouring a layer of sand over a layer
of marbles -- where is the sand going to end up? ;-) 
  Carib-Sea's Eco-complete even advertises this fact of
physics as a selling point -- they refer to the
stratification as 'bimodal'.  I call it layers.
By the way, if you really don't like dust, Eco-Complete
really is virtually dust free.  I don't know if it works as
well for plants as Flourite, but I tried it recently and it
really is virutally dust free.  It doesn't appear to be

>Should I
> take it all out and rinse it better? If I leave it and
> plant, will a fine
> coating of Flourite dust hurt the plants (other than
> making them nice and
> red, and blocking out some light)?

Oh no. It won't hurt your plants and I doubt that it will
hurt most but the most finicky of fish. In fact, what makes
it go into the water so easily, that it easily becomes
temporarily water borne, is what will move it off the
plants whenever the water over the leaves moves around. 
The stuff really wants to move down -- gravity and all.

But I'd lower the water level in the aquarium a lot before
I planted.  It's so much easier to plant, when you have an
entire tank to plant, when the tank isn't full.

Hope that helps,
Scott H.

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