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Re: Laterite/topsoil combination?

>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.  
>(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)

I agree with Karen that mixing laterite and soils is not necessary.
Laterite is a type of soil. And soil is not for beginers or people that
like to experiment, and it is safer if used it in small quantities (like
the recommendations for laterite AND it comes from a tried and trued
source... like a good commercial brand of laterite.) 

On the subject of water column vs. substrate fertilization, the latter can
be very useful for slower growth tanks. 
For people that travel alot, have a lot of tanks to maintain or just want a
lower maintenance system, it is very useful to have a setup which does not
require daily fertilizer drops or even weekly or bi-weekly fertilization.
For the first several years of my peat substrate tank, the only trace
elements the plants got was thru water changes.... it not have enough fish
to provide minerals thru fish food.  However,  
I would probably say that I am a stronger advocate for the use of water
column fertilization. I add trace elements and even nitrogen fertilizers to
several of my tanks. In the long run, these tanks hold up better and
support a wider variety of plants.

Neil Frank