Substrate suggestions

Subject: Substrate suggestions

> Any suggestions on a laterite I should us.  I could spend lots o
> money on dupla, but with having a 135 gallon tank this would cos
> alot. Bad!
> I've heard of using "red art clay", vermiliate (sp?), peat?, and
> half dozen other combinations.  What do you use, has it worked f
> you, and what would you recommend.  I am willing to spend the mo
> for dupla's laterite if it is far superior to any other option.

All laterite products are not created equal.  That doesn't mean 
you do not have options though.  Dupla laterite is expensive, but 
it has been extensively tested both by Dupla and in aquarist's 
tanks around the world.  Thiel Aquatech also sells laterite.  It 
is considerably less expensive than Dupla's product.  I have 
personally used this one too, and it does its job well.  The third 
supplier of laterite for aquarium use that I know of is Karl 
Schoeller's(sp?) Substrate Gold.  While I have no personal 
experience with this one, I have read good reports about it from 
some people.

When you enter the realm of vermiculite and art clay, you are 
experimenting.  This is not necessarily bad, and there seem to be 
some promising results using these products.  But if this is your 
first experience with a planted tank, IMO, it makes sense to stick 
to a proven "recipe" until you get some mileage.  When you are 
growing plants like weeds, it's time to branch out into unchartetd 

As far as peat in the substrate is concerned, it can be very 
successful in a low-moderate light tank.  I have a tank set up 
like this and am very pleased with the results.  OTOH, peat can 
cause problems in the form of algae in brightly lit tanks, or can 
rot in the substrate under certain conditions.  It also will lower 
your pH and KH, and will tint your water brownish for at least the 
first few weeks.  It can also make a mess if it finds its way to 
the surface of the substrate.  Again, I'd wait till you have a 
little more experience before trying this method.

When you think of the over all cost of setting up a tank as big as 
135G, the amount you will spend on laterite, even if you decide to 
go with Dupla, is a pittance.  If you cut corners on your 
substrate, it is hard to correct later.

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Assoc.
Boston, MA