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Re: laterite in the Philippines


Kamusta ka rin.  I guess you visited the Philippines many times as you are
very familiar with our country.  Send me an e-mail if you have vacation
coming up.

Thanks for reminding me what growing plants is all about.  I was much too
concern about substrate with high CEC sites.  I guess it was too much
reading on substrate materials with no personal experience.  

You suggested in the absence of test kits adding a small amount of soil in
the substrate.  Sera's are the only test kits available here.  But I don't
think I want to invest in more test kits than neccessary, not until I get
more experience anyway.  How much proportion soil would you suggest I put
in the the substrate?
Or would peat be much better?

You also mentioned the we always need to add the Potassium (K).  Doesn't
fish waste or soil contain enough K for the plants?

You were right about the red clay.  There plenty of it here especially in
Mindanao.  I talked with the local potters but we don't have it in our
province.  I guess I'm got to find somebody from Mindanao to bring me some

I found lots of peat though.  There's coco peat,  which is the same thing
you use in Iligan.  Gardening suppliers have imported bagged peat from
Australia although a bit expensive.  The one I used though is gathered from
the forest in the mountains.  It supposedly grows on trees and looks like
dried or burnt leaves and twigs.  Peat is supposed to be carbonized
vegetable matter so I guess it must be the real thing.  Anyway I tested
some in a pail and it lowered the gh by as much as 8 dh and kh by 6 dh. 
Cost around $5 (US) for a very big sack.

Thanks again.

5js at usc_edu.ph
Cebu, Philippines
> From: spushak at CCGATE_HAC.COM
> To: Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com; 5js at durian_usc.edu.ph
> Subject: laterite in the Philippines (was Long lived peat tanks)
> Date: Friday, August 29, 1997 12:05 AM
> Kumusta Jon! My wife comes from Iligan City and we have friends there in 
> Cebu.
> You may have problems finding Dupla products and many other aquarium
> we take for granted in Canada but you should be able to find places with 
> natural laterite deposits in many places in the Philippines. I saw many 
> deep red clay deposits in Mindanao. There is a large one just west of 
> Cagayan de Oro where they use the clay to make ceramic pots. I don't know

> the Cebu country side but you should be able to find some red clay
> especially if you ask the right people where to look. Light colored clay 
> like your golden clay probably has much less iron than a red colored one.

> Not all clays contain large amounts of iron. The yellowish clay from the 
> Philippines is probably high in aluminum oxides and hydroxides.
> Look at growing plants in another way. It's all about providing the right

> nutrients in the correct proportions. The fact that certain substrate 
> materials can provide some of those nutrients or bind cation nutrients at

> CEC sites is really secondary to the real concern of getting the right 
> nutrients and providing a suitable environment for managing your plants. 
> Often that means avoiding creating a mess with fine clays and soils or 
> vermiculite flakes or fostering uncontrolled blue-green cyanobacteria or 
> green water. The safest, low cost, starting method I can give people is
> stick with plain gravel and the PMDD method using test kits. If test kits

> aren't available, a low risk, low cost method is to supplement nitrogen 
> sources with a small amount of organic material like soil in the
> and estimate iron availability by watching the plants especially the fast

> growing ones. Dosing potassium sulphate and epsom salts at 1/8 tsp per
> gal of water change will provide more than enough K and Mg. Ca could 
> probably be dosed as low as 1/8 tsp per ten gal water changed or as high
> 2 tsp per ten gal water changed if you need hard water. If you have hard 
> water, you probably don't even need to add any Mg or Ca as long as you 
> change water frequently. With high fish loads you will probably have an 
> excess of available phosphorus. At low fish loads without an alternative
> source, you will probably be short of nitrogen. I think we almost always 
> need to add potassium (K). 
> I don't know what the easiest method is; it might be using a full 
> complement of Lamotte test kits, the automatic Dupla nutrient dosing 
> equipment and a Dupla CO2 controller. I'm not sure there really is an 
> easiest method; they all are complicated in one way or another.
> When I was in Iligan recently I set up a plant tank for my father-in-law 
> using the local aquatic plants and small fishes which we caught there. I 
> didn't know where to find peat so I used chopped up coconut husk fibers 
> (small amount), red dirt and covered it with washed pea gravel used for 
> making concrete. They tend to use sea sand which is full of coral bits
> makes the pH high. I put the tank outside where it would get filtered 
> sunlight and where the mosquitoes could lay eggs in it for fish food. The

> local plants I found included a submersed plant with finely divided like 
> Myriophylum but with 6 branches at each stem node and a single primary 
> stem. I found a picture of it but can't recall the name. There was also
> emergent plant that looked a lot like an Hygrophila species, something
> called "water grass" with small round leaves and kangkong which has
> leaves about 3-4 inches across. Kangkong leaves and stem resemble a small

> version of philodendron but the plant is used as feed for pigs and as 
> greens for soup. It's like eating spinach but with a tougher texture. The

> leaves are usually emergent and I don't know if it would grow fully 
> submersed. I used emergent plants because I couldn't rig CO2 or explain
> to use a yeast method safely.
> Last I heard the plants were still growing. They had added a bunch of 
> tropical fish but these had died since I had told them not to add food. I

> advised them to feed the fish if they were going to keep some but not to 
> try to keep too many. My plan was to have a self-sustaining population of

> small, local fish fed by mosquitoes but this might not have been
> The plan was to add fresh water each day which should have supplemented 
> most nutrients including Fe I hoped. 
> I saw algae eaters in a local waterfall swimming hole which resembled
> but the coloration looked different. Impossible to catch without a trap I

> think. The small fish I had resembled some type of killie fish and had
> bluish spots on the body, one about half way and the other near the tail.

> They figured these were Tilapia fry but I'm not so sure. Definitely there

> were Tilapia fry in that pool since my father-in-law raised two to a 
> moderate size.
> Where did you find peat or what did you use for a substitute?
> ok, enough... ;-)
> Steve in Vancouver