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Steven wrote:

>CEC thing may be only a single facet of the whole thing. How about
>toxicity from metals? how about humic acids from peat? I think that's
>why Dupla went with laterite. Maybe that wanted to use clay initially
>but had toxicity problems. Lateritic clay would be the next best thing
>without introducing organic systems to the equation. If you start mixing
>humus, peat, soil etc with laterite, why bother with the laterite?

I agree with that.  Same goes for those who choose to use kitty litter.
_Why_ do people spend the money for laterite, then go and add an unknown
like kitty litter?  It's not needed.  OTOH, if your goal is to do things on
the cheap, use the kitty litter if you choose, and you can add a cheap iron
source like micronized iron.  I think that too much is made of the expense
of laterite in any case.  considering the cost of setting up an aquarium
even the most expensive laterite is a mere drop in the bucket.

>Laterite works only because it is part of the whole Dupla system. 

This is not so.  Many people including myself have successful, beautiful
planted tanks using laterite with no other Dupla products, and without
using heating cables or other substrate heating.

I have worked some with soil substrates, and I can still not, in all
conscience, recommend any substrate other than a gravel/laterite substrate
to the many novices I work with, at least for  their first tank.

>your goal is to avoid the commercial approach using materials at hand

Let's be clear that for most people, the components for PMDD's are not
"materials at hand" for many people.  I've seen a lot more posts from
people searching for various PMDD ingredients than I've seen people having
trouble finding Dupla products.  If you want to claim that your methods are
cheaper, or that you gain satisfaction from the DIY approach, fine, but it
sure isn't easier or more readily available.

>and a minimum of test kits, the approach will be different. It's an
>apples and oranges thing.

Sorry, but I use laterite in most tanks, and my test kits become outdated
far before I use them up.  I've never been a proponent of the test tube
school of aquarium management.<g>

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association