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flourite and clay balls

"Alysoun McLaughlin" <alysoun.mclaughlin at ncsl_org> wrote:
> Anyway, one suggestion I got was that the stem plants might not be getting
> enough nutrients from the substrate, and that I might want to add some clay
> at the roots, as well as Jobe's sticks.  Shouldn't a flourite substrate be
> sufficient (I set up the tank 7 or 8 months ago), or could it be depleted?

To tell you the truth, I don't have any idea what nutrients are in
Fluorite substrate additive. My guess is that it probably contains some
iron and trace minerals but no great amount of available nitrogen or
phosphorus. Adding too much of that is an easy way to create an algae

So, to answer your question: no the Fluorite is not depleted of the
micro nutrients it contains. It was probably not that fertile in
nitrogen and phosphorus to begin with. I wouldn't worry so much about
the nitrate fertility of the substrate (although it seems to help)
because plants seem to be able to utilize nitrates from the water column
very effectively and you can dose the water column with nitrates fairly

I doubt that adding fertilizer to the substrate is really going to make
Ludwigia and certain other plants stop sending out roots on the stems.
That is a trait of certain types of plants and you have to live with it
if you want to use them.

> I'd rather avoid adding clay balls, because I'm a fickle decorator, and I
> like to rearrange the plants in my tank every few months.  I'll lose half
> the clay if I pull up the crispus...

If you are concerned about 2 or 3 clay balls per aquarium creating a
mess when you uproot plants, put this worry out of your mind. Those
balls should be used only under the specific plants you want to target
and then I have found that even if you uproot a plant growing right on a
ball, the mess from it is negligible!! I've had pulled out Crypts
growing in a gravel substrate with a clay ball and had zero mess. The
clay ball stays in a cohesive blob and doesn't disintegrate unless it is
MIXED with something else.

If you are uprooting a large plant like a big Sword, even if your
substrate is straight gravel, you are going to create a small cloud of
stuff just from the fish poop and detritus that accumulates in the
gravel. I consider that a given when I yank up a big plant. The slight
mess is usually easy to clean up by letting it settle for 20 minutes or
so and then using a gravel vac to lightly clean up the surface of stuff.

The worst problems I've seen with cloudiness come when you have a large
amount of clay mixed well with a large amount of something fluffy like
vermiculite. Personally, I'd keep the clay in the bottom of the
substrate (just like laterite) and avoid vermiculite and kitty litter
altogether. The folks who use vermiculite and KL are using it with some
degree of success (according to reports) and I've used it myself. I just
figured it wasn't that essential and I could find a better way for my
own preferences. Each to his own taste.

IMHO, the appropriate way to add substrate NP fertilizer is in small
doses preferably in a form where they are not released easily (such as
in clay or whatever Jobe's Sticks are made of) and ONLY when you see
that those plants need a boost. Anybody know what the binder in a Jobe's
Stick is made of?

Beware because HUGE Sword plants may not be what you really want. It
sure helps with Crypts though. I'm not sure I'd do it for Ludwigia or
other fast growing plants. I've had Ludwigia escape from my aquarium and
try to take over a small area of the living room! That plant definitely
has territorial aggression on its mind. I don't use it much anymore.
Bacopa, H poly sunset and Rotala mac are my favourite stem plants at the
moment. I like Heteranthera zos too but it seems to have become a
coveted snack for some of my vegetarian fish.

Steve Pushak                              Vancouver, BC, CANADA 

Visit "Steve's Aquatic Page"      http://home.infinet.net/teban/
 for LOTS of pics, tips and links for aquatic gardening!!!