Gravel... To wash or not to wash?

Hi y'all.  I've been lurking here for a few weeks, and have learned a lot.
Thanks for all of the info.

Right now, I'm in the process of setting up a 29 gallon planted tank.  It's
going to be a pretty low budget operation, so I don't expect the greatest
of results, but I would like to do the best I can with what I've got.  My
first question deals with the gravel.

I went to a local quarry the other day and picked up about 50 pounds of
what they call "bird's eye gravel."  It's about 2-4mm in size and is nicely
colored.  It is also extremely dirty, so I began to wash the gravel bit by
bit so I could put it in my tank.  As I rinsed, I noticed that the water
obtained a nice reddish brown hue as it washed down the drain.  At first, I
was pleased at myself for doing such a good job of washing the gravel, but
after awhile it began to occur to me that the nice reddish color was an
indication that the silt mixed in with the gravel must have some level of
iron in it.

So I was wondering what some opinions might be as to whether or not it
would be beneficial to put some unwashed gravel at the bottom of the tank
and then cover that with washed gravel. Would the iron in the gravel be
worth saving?  I'm guessing it's probably not chelated, but how would I

Right now, I intend to set up some DIY cables as well as use a commercial
substrate additive, and I will probably also try out some vermiculite.
Maybe it would be good to mix the vermiculite with the unwashed gravel?

Thanks in advance for any input.


In Ann Arbor, Michigan, where it's..... what else?  Cloudy and cold.