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peat substrate

>From: John Hawkins <jhawkins at ix_netcom.com>
Subject: Substrate Questions
John wrote:

I'm about to setup a 120 gal. planted Discus tank and could use some =
suggestions regarding substrate. I've read the articles on the Krib, but
some of those I found were 3 years old. During my readings I came to the
conclusion that this hobby has gained a great deal of knowledge over the
past few years and I want to make certain that I make my decision based
upon current knowledge/thinking.

I plan to use #1 or #2 gravel and will use Dupla's DuplaRit G =
(laterite). My question regards the use of peat moss as a substrate =
additive. I read some articles that discuss the advantages of using peat
moss in the substrate and others that mention concern regarding the peat
becoming aerobic. My initial interest regarding peat stems from my use =
of it as a filtering agent. I thought that if I could use it in the =
substrate, filtering may become a cleaner job. However, I do not want to
risk losing hundreds of dollars of fish because the substrate poisoned =
the tank.=20

I was considering layering (bottom to top) the following:
1/2 inch to 1 inch of gravel
1/2 inch to 1 inch of peat
1/2 inch to 1 inch of gravel
laterite (any reason why I shouldn't use granular as opposed to balls?)
top layer of gravel - about 1 to 1.5 inches

Thanks in advance for any advice. Please feel free to email me directly.

Best Regards,
John Hawkins
Tampa, Florida
>jhawkins at ix_netcom.com

I set up my 70 gallon tank in April with a topsoil/vermiculite and
silica sand substrate.
After three months it is producing large bubbles of what I assume are
hydrogne sulfide. It doesn't smell and the silica sand keeps the dirt
from actually entering the water column.
The water was slightly cloudy (very slight) and I added a filter pad to
my wet portion of the filter. This seemed to clear it up and the bubbles
don't seem to affect anything yet.
On the plus side: THE PLANTS love the soil. you can see the roots going
down through the sand and into the dirt. A little vein of dirt came up
into the sand and a Val offshoot followed the vein down!
On the negative side: I'm worried about the bubbling gas! I don't know
what the long term affect will be. I plan on buying regular gravel and
laterite to have on hand to tear the tank down and restart on a VERY
short notice, (i.e. as soon as the spouse says "What's that smell).
So, to not answer your question, I have real mixed feelings about
peat/soil substrates. It may turn out to be great or it may be a
horrible disaster! I do know one thing, there will be no middle ground
to this setup! When it goes bad I feel it's really gonna' go!
Be careful!
Bill Ruff