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Laterite/topsoil combination?

Matt MacGregor wrote:

>	I'm going to be redoing my 55 gallon tank and putting laterite in the
>substrate, as the subsoil, soil/peat moss mix I had been using before has
>turned out to be less than successfull (after a month and a half or so
most of
>the plants in the tank basically dropped dead and have not been able to
>recover since). In a 55 gallon tank, I believe you would put about 1/2 a
kg of
>laterite in the bottom third of gravel (or sand). Would adding a "small"
>amount (similar to the amount of laterite by volume)  of topsoil on top of,
>below, or mixed in with the laterite be a bad idea? Would it defeat the
>purpose of having the laterite in the substrate? Would that small an
amount of
>topsoil have more than a short term effect? The reason I was thinking of
>it is that I would like to avoid adding nutrients into the water column (via
>liquid fertilizer or a large amount of topsoil which would leach nutrients
>into the water) but of course want to make sure the plants get everything
>need. It was my impression that with just laterite and and fish waste this
>would not be accomplished. 

IMO, mixing laterite and soil is a bad idea.  If you have a good soil
source you don't need laterite, and if you want the safety of laterite, why
take chances with an unknown soil source?

It might work, but you've already had one failure, and the expense of all
those dead plants.  There's no guarantee that this mix will work better.
Decide which method you want to follow, and FOLLOW IT!  Once you have a
base line of success, you have a starting point from which to experiment if
that appeals to you.

I'm not sure what this recent fad is of wanting to avoid the use of
fertilizers in the water column.  It's been done successfully, without
problems for years.  It's not even expensive if you brew your own.  

(Gee, I rant like this too often, and people will start calling me George ;-)

Karen Randall

(BTW, depending on light levels and a few other things, laterite and fish
waste _can_ meet the nutritional needs of plants in a slow-growth system
but it's probably not the easiest balance to hit)