Substrate, UG/heater and more list stuff

Subject: Substrate

David Rabelius wrote:

> I am about to set up a 80 l (Thats the way we measure volume in 
> think it equals about 20 gallons) planted tank. I'm wondering ab
> substrate to use, How deep it should be and so on. Should I use 
> only, or mix it with something like laterite or clay, or should 
> have a layer of laterite and gravel on top or... ? Are there dif
> kinds of laterite ?

There are a lot of different oppinions on substrate, basically, 
because there are a lot of different approaches that will work.  

Here are your goals for good substrate:

*Fine enough for the roots to travel through easily
*Coarse enough not to compact
*Nutritious enough to maintain root feeding plants
*Low enough in organic material that it does not become highly 
*not too difficult to set up and maintain.

IMO, for the _beginning_ aquatic gardener, the safest course is to 
use a fairly fine gravel (1-3mm) with laterite mixed in the bottom 
1/3-1/2.  The reason for this is that it is the most fool proof in 
terms of not going badly anaerobic, and also consistently produces 
good plant growth.  

When you have one successful planted tank under your belt, by all 
means branch out and experiment if you enjoy that sort of thing.  
Some people have excellent results using garden soil.  Others are 
experimenting with a soil/vermiculite mix.

As far as laterite is concerned, it does vary as far as the 
minerals it contains depending on where it was collected. Also, 
some is easier to work with (less likely to cloud the water) than 
others.  In my experience, while some brands may be marginally 
better than others, they all work adequately if handled carefully. 
Just make _sure_ to keep it in the bottom 1/2 of the substrate, 


Subject: UGF/heater method
> Thanks, Karen for replying to my question.  I've got a few more 
> the method. Is the 7.5 W heater in contact with the bottom of th
> doesn't there need to be water freely flowing around the heater 
> of cracking the glass?

I suppose it would be possible to get the heater down far enough 
that you touched the glass on the bottom, but you'd have to work 
at it.  The heaters are small and light, and the bends in the cord 
are enough to hold it in place in the tube.  You have to actually 
push lightly to move them down the riser.  I let mine rest in the 
tube just above the gravel level.

> Also, I've seen fiberglass screening in 
> stores, used for window screening.  Is there  fiberglass screeni
> smaller mesh size........where is this sold? 

I used the stuff from the hardware store.  I use 1mm gravel, and 
even with that size gravel, very little sifted through.  If you're 
really concerned, you could put on a couple of layers.

> I have seen a fibe
> in automotive stores, but I would think this would become clogge

I would be concerned about clogging too, if the mesh were too 

>  Would nylon netting be an acceptable alternative?

I suppose so, I just haven't seen any as fine as the window 


Subject: future of the list

<long snip>

> I would strongly object to closing the mailing-list to new membe
> can't there be a way in between, like having two classes of 
> subscribers: one like it is now (and a restricted number of peop
> and another class that is allowed to receive the posts and thus 
> alot, but who aren't allowed to post, thus keeping the number of

Many of the posts we receive from beginning aquatic gardeners are 
well thought out.  It's a shame that the people who post without 
doing their "homework" could spoil it for others.

> Or should this mailing-list be split up like the newsgroup in e.
> DIY-stuff (like building your CO2 reactor), hardware devices (e.
> filter, what light), plants in general (algae, nutrients,...) an
> specific plants (What does this specific species need?). 

I think that would be a bad idea.  There are files at the Krib 
site and elsewhere with lots of information on building DIY 
equipment.  Beginners (whether beginning aquatic gardeners, or 
beginning posters) should always check there and in the FAQ before 
posting redundant questions here.

The people here who are the most knowlegeable, have the most 
all-round knowlege.  If you split the Digest up into small 
categories, you stand the strong chance that some (if not most) 
would not want to bother with all the separate pieces, and will 
pay little or no attention to some categories.


Subject: Re: Technical content of RAFP vs APD

> There has been a discussion of the quality of the postings and 
> technical depth of the plants newsgroup vs the plant mailing lis
> It may surprise you to find out that the quality and depth of po
> are due to the people who post them and not the forum.  Since al
> "experts" have gravitated to the APD in the recent months, there
> more technical information here.  

And some of us would prefer to remain here.

> And since it takes "newbies" 
> while to discover the existance of the APD, there are fewer begi
> questions here.  I also suspect that the beginners are somewhat
> intimidated by the technical discussions and are afraid to post.
> is NOT a good thing. 

It's not a good idea if they are afraid to post at all, but it's a 
_good_ thing if they realize that they should sit back and read 
and learn for a while.  The answers to most real "newbie" type 
questions are available both in the plant FAQ and on the Krib.  I 
think the newer aquatic gardeners who have posted well thought out 
questions have been answered in a friendy, encouraging way, which 
is as it should be.
> Also, the suggestion that the list membership be restricted is
> completely off base.  The last thing this forum needs is to beco
> "good old boys" club.  I think at this point we all know each ot
> and know what each other's opinions are and there is not a lot o
> point to endlessly repeating them.  We need new voices and a
> membership restiction is not a good way to get them.

I'm not sure whether I like this approach or not, I can see 
definite disadvantages that may or may not be ofset by the 
advantage of keeping things at a reasonable size. But I think when 
Shaji suggested this, it was _not_ to shut out "newbies", but to 
limit the total size of the list.  There are always people coming 
and going.  When people leave, these slots should be opened up to 
new members.
> We can have just as "meaningful" discussions in the newgroup as 
> here.  Sure, there will be immature postings but these can be ig

I find the immature postings to be more aggravating than it's 
worht to spend much time on the newsgroups.