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Kitty Litter and the pH of laterite

Subject: cat litter clay

>		I want to prod, cajole, plead with our resident intelligencia
>sp? :-) to make comments on the assertion in the last FAMA that cat 
>litter clay is a good aquarium substrate for plants.  It is possible to 
>find the stuff with no additives and perfumes and I was wondering what 
>people like Jim Kelley and Neil Frank thought about it's use.  Any 
>comments would be appreciated.

My personal opinion (admittedly not having tried it, and having no
intention to do so) is that it is probably better than putting nothing in
your substrate.  It probably has a better CEC than gravel, and will
eventually pick up trace elements from the water.  BUT, I think there are
many substrate amendments that are much better, and some are much cheaper.
If I _really_ felt that the cost of good laterite would break the budget
when spending all the money needed to set up a new tank, my preference
would be for either potting soil or top soil (or possibly earth worm
castings)  All of these have a good CEC _and_ provide excellent nutrition
to the substrate as well, something that kitty litter is very unlikely to do.

>				Miles Morrissey
>				mmorriss at sophia_smith.edu


Subject: laterite, aluminum, silicates and plants

> My suspicion is that one of the reasons for using 
>     laterite is that it won't greatly affect the water hardness and pH.

One point of interest here.  Not all "laterite" products are created
equally.  I recently saw a soil analysis of several substances done by
Neil.  The pH  of Duplarit was 7, while the pH of Tetra's Hilena substrate
additive (can't remember the exact name) was 3!

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association