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Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V2 #577

> From: Miles Morrissey <mmorriss at sophia_smith.edu>
> Date: Thu, 13 Mar 1997 15:55:16 -0500 (EST)
> Subject: cat litter clay
> Dear folks,
>                 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.
>                                  Miles Morrissey
>                                 mmorriss at sophia_smith.edu

 I am the one guilty of authoring the FAMA article that has been
mentioned several times in this newsgroup and usually with some
 I am not a scientist, I don't even have a high school chemistry course
to my credit. It also explains why half the time I don't even know what
you are talking about in this newsgroup. I do however, take a certain
amount of pride in being a damn good empiricist. One of the benefits of
this, is that I don't spend much time wondering why something works.
 I am also anti high-tech. For those that enjoy this mass of hi-tech
equipment I think it's great and I don't even question that it works.
There is many reasons high-tech turns me off;
1. It's extremely expensive if you follow through to the extent Dupla
and Dennerle would lead you to believe it takes to make an aquarium
"optimum" or "problem-free". Highly questionable claims to say the
least.  I also feel the costs of high-tech is prohibitive to the typical
hobbiest and almost all kids. I figured out that using all high-tech
equipment costs about $45.00 /gal. I know there is lots of DIY but what
I advocate is about $1.45 a gal. and about .35 if you have a southern
2. High-tech is likely more work. Owen Jeferies, FAMA writer, told me
with his Dupla system he is down from 40 water tests a day to 20. To me
that's not a hobby. I don't think I do 20 water tests a year on all my
aquariums combined.
3. I don't like all the clutter. I use no CO2 injection, no heating
cables (not even heaters), ocassionally I use a small filter, no
high-tech lighting.
 Back to Kitty-Litter. About two and a half years ago I started using
kitty litter in combination with all sorts of soils and fertilizer. Most
of these experiments worked pretty well. What I didn't like was the mess
when you extracted a plant or created a hole in the sand. 
 So I started using kitty litter  with only fish food pellets as
fertilizer, covered by sand. That to worked OK, but about 8 monthes ago
I started using Osmocote as my fertilizer. This is a time release
fertilizer that I'm becoming quite enamored with. The 2 oldest aquariums
set-up this way have required no additional fertilizer (other than that
supplied by the fish), and I plant very heavy.
  So far, I guess I have used 5 or 6 brands of kitty litter. I don't
like the looks of Hartz Mt., but even it seems to work. Since most kitty
litter is mined in Georgia (the red clay state) I suspect there is iron
in it, though I really could care less, because it's in my fertilizer.
For better or worse I thought I could take credit for dicovering kitty
litter. I recently learned several growers have been using it for pond
plants for years.
  My latest toy is a 15 gal. It has been set up close to 6 months     
with no equipment and so far no water changes. Twice I removed a little
hair algae and there is a little bit of green dot algae on the sides.
The water has a slight green tint but clear enough to drink.
I have made many revisions to my FAMA artiles (guide) and the guide is
now on my web page. http://www.malloftheworld.com/aquarium
 Also, a while back someone questioned my use of testing for CO2 using
only a pH test kit. I believe it started the debate on what was causing
the bubbles after water changes and if there was CO2 in tap water. I
don't want to start that thread all over again but I do want to pose one
question. If I take a sample cup of water from my tap and get a pH
reading of 6.0 then briskly stir up the remaining water sample with an
airstone for 15 min., then take another pH reading that measures 6.8,
could anything other than the removal of CO2 cause that great of jump in
the pH?  
I think my Rotala macrandra grew a half inch while I pecked out this
response. Sorry it was so long.
Happy gardening- whatever your method,
Dan S. Quackenbush