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Substrate and potting

I have 2 questions about potting/substrate;

1) If I cut the bottom off a large plastic peanutbutter jar (the kids and I go
through a bunch), and punch slits in this bottom, I would be able to build a
shallow "pot" about 5 inches across and about an inch deep.  This could be
useful fortanks where I want to place plants in specific areas, but not all
over, like along the back and ends, with the middle-front area kept open.  I
could then put clay/gravel mix in the pot, stick it below the level of the
gravel in the tank, and add the plants.  Then I could opt for an UGF for the
majority of the tank.  Anyone tried anything similar?

2) I am thinking about trying ceramic tumbling medium in place of gravel.  I
am waiting for a catalog to see if it available in1.5-2 mm sizes.  It should
be neutral and have enough porosity for bacteria to use as an effective
biological bed. Anyone know anything dangerous in this stuff I should be aware
of?  I'm sure it has iron and several other minerals in it, but it should be
bound up strongly enough to prevent it leaching into the soil.

Bob Dixon