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Coal/balck substrates

>From: "Roger S. Miller" <rgrmill at rt66_com>
>Subject: Re: Coal as a substrate
>> From: babar100 at ix_netcom.com
>> Subject: Re: Substrates (Coal?)
>> There used to be a guy who used coal in his miniature furnished aquarium 
>> exhibits at local open shows in the London area.
>> David Brooks
>I haven't used coal as a substrate but I can add something from my
>background as a geologist.  You can buy black aquarium gravel and buy or
>find a number of different kinds of black rocks that are probably more
>suitable than coal. 
>Coal is a natural trap for a variety of compounds that aren't typical in
>aquarium materials.

I've had excellent (and cheap) results by buying a 60 lb. bag of "sidewalk
gravel" (actually granite) at a home center.  The chip size is a bit large
for a plant aquarium, and you wouldn't want to use it as an exclusive
substrate for plants -- as cover over soil it works fine.  But at $3 and
change for 60 lb., it's a bargain, especially in all-fish tanks (and it's
easy to vacuum).  The color is a very dark grey, as opposed to a perfect
black, but it sets of fish and plants fabulously.  One caveat: plan on
lotsa, lotsa rinsing.  There's a good deal of dust in the stuff, and it
settles quickly.