Peat as a Substrate

> From: williaro at ftmcphsn-emh1_army.mil (Williams, Rochelle - DCSPIM)
> With all the talk about differing substrate additives, has anyone
> considered using a Peat / Vermiculite mixture?  These two substances,
> along with composted manure, are the "black gold" of dry land
> gardening.

Land and water plants have differing requirements and use different
mechanisms to extract nutrients from the environment.  What works for
one may or may not work for the other, especially when you consider
the closed environment of an aquarium. 

> I have a 42 gal, Discus community tank, that is heavily planted in
> plain gravel.  I'm setting up a 125 gal in March (b'day present from
> hubby who doesn't like aquaria) and want to use some type of substrate
> additive.
> After seeing the cost of laterite (!!!), I'm looking for alternatives.
> And since it will be a soft, acid water environment and peat is a type
> of filter medium, I'm wondering how it would work as a substrate.

$50 worth of Dupla laterite is a minor cost compared to the rest of
the equipment you are going to buy.  Although this seems a lot to pay
for "dirt", it is much cheaper than the cost of lost livestock and the
pain and suffering of tearing the tank down if the alternative
additives become anaerobic and toxic.

If you were experimenting with a small tank of 50 gallons or less, I
would heartily endorse alternatives as long as you had some way of
evaluating the relative success of each.  For a large tank, I would
tend to go with proven methods.  Check out my "Super Show Tank" series
on the WWW (http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~aquaria/Krib/index.html) and
look in the last three chapters for a discussion of long term results
with various techniques.

George Booth