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Laterite vs. Soil data point
I've quite a few plant tanks. In several occasions it was the
same tank starting time and time again. I've use UGF, large gravel, small
gravel, just about the whole gammit.
After watching the various recommendations and press for
experimentation and the like I figured I'd give my results which
support laterite in an almost arbitrary environment.
My current setup uses 1" layer of vermiculite, pumice, and
blasting sand. On top of that I have a 1 1/2" layer of laterite &
blasting sand. On top of that I have 3/4" layer of plain sand (this was a
major goof on my part... should have had 2-3" of plain sand, its annoying
when planting with the puff of "smoke", but not harmful).
I have had wonderful growth of crypts, anubias nana (flowers
regularly and is now at the top of my 55g tank and started at 5"), h.
polysperma, pennywort, and more. By wonderful growth, I mean enough
growth to have to harvest regularly and get about $9 credit at the stores
for the several bags of plants I bring in. I control growth when I don't
want to mess with the tank by quitting the CO2 injection.
An experimental setup was with soil. I grew h. polysperma and
crypts in it. I had incredible growth and propegation for about 5 months.
Things began doing poorly (arrested growth and 0 propegation) after than
for another 4 or so. Lighting was not a factor, I tried replacing tubes
with Triton bulbs etc.. Finally, I broke things down and found a mess
with the roots of all of the plants. They were shunted and black. Really
gross. This system went way anerobic.
My take. If you want the easy set up and don't want to prove
yourself, use laterite. I've used it without problems, no "Dupla" methods,
just plain and simple stuffs. I'm quite layed back about this hobby and
have results comparable to the plant tanks seen on the Kribs page.
Oh, finally, let me say, I most of my significant and worthwhile
advice from George Booth and for any of you other newbies here, I strongly
suggest taking a look at his pages and his advice. Even following it
in partial portion is significantly good for improving your growth and
relative ease with dealing with plants.