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[APD] RE: substrates/agar

> Please ask Dr. Kane again as I specifically asked him about using agar to 
> encapsulate a DIY mix for aquarium substrate.
> Happy New Year.
> Art

I did(last spring) I was satified.
Agar ain't cheap for most folks.
Gelatin is likely something folks may want to try, but I really prefer the
organic based mulms/soils over agar for enrichment purposes.
Well pre soaked  soil/mulm etc works well and is safe.

There are other substrate encapsulation materials/compunds that will work
and are suitable also.

I think my interest lay more in the bound types of NH4 that will only be
removed via root action or oxidized to NO3 via bacteria.
That would be a nice solution.
Other materials, Ca, SO4, Mg, and traces are not really an issue and are
easy to add. PO4 is not problematic when plant density is good(CO2 or non
CO2 methods).
K+ is not a problem either.

NO3 and NH4 seem to be the main sticking points. 

An ideal source would be a small grain with anaerobic regions inside and
NO3 outside.
This may prove easier to make and last longer, perhaps being more practical.

I am not saying I like agar substrate additions, but they are something
folks can try and they do not present the issues you have stated based on
my own usage. 
I am looking for something with some bound NH4, something that will not
cause algae blooms when disturbed from uprooting, something tougher than
agar and heavy/rock like.

But till then, mulm/soil/peat works pretty good if used correctly.

I think it's impractical to consider a source of CO2 from the substrate.
All substrates give off _some_ CO2.
But to rely on that in lieu of CO2 additions/Excel etc is nutty.
Non CO2 methods supply enough from air/water exchanges for good growth.
I think adding some high organic matter to the substrate is not going to
add that much relative to the plant needs in the overall scheme of things.

Tom Barr


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