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Re: vermiculite rationale?

At 6:53 PM -0400 4/8/98, Arisetty, Hari K (Hari)** CTR **"
<harisetty at lucent_comwrote:

>	I started my pure gravel 29 gal planted about a month ago (prior
>to reading APD) and I am starting to see signs of slower growth in the
>majority of my plants.  I am going to wait a bit more till I feel
>justified in tearing down the tank, but I've been preparing for it, and
>I like J. Kelly's substrate.  However, I don't have access to soil that
>I'm comfortable with (apartment dweller in NJ!).
>	My understanding of the use of soil in vermiculate is to get a
>more optimal substrate particle size, not b/c of any nutrients that the
>soil might have.  So I was thinking of using kitty litter mixed in with
>the verm. to gain that optimal particle size, not to mention the fact
>that it would be a little cleaner, esp when uprooting plants, etc.
>	Has anyone tried this?

Yes, and while it yields good growth, I would not reccomend it again. The
vermiculite may very well be a source of iron but it's mechanical
properties are abysmal. When I  uprooted plants, great clumps of
vermiculite and soil would come up too, making a mess out of the tank. The
roots attach to the vermiculite and bring lots of soil up with them. The
vermiculite and soil is too soft, it tends to flow in a big gob when you
pull out large plants. I would reccomend an iron rich soil or clay instead
of adding vermiculite as an iron source. Mix the soil with gravel to get
the proper mechanical strength.