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Re: Clarified muddy thoughts
IMHO, IMHO, IMHO. There. Just stick those in wherever you want in the
following note, please :)
First, my definition of mud is a relatively loose, extremely fine and, of
course, very wet material. In this case, I think we are speaking about a
mud with a high level of organic material in it as well. I suspect the most
difficult problem to overcome with a 100% mud substrate would be maintaining
water circulation over the surface of the substrate.
In a reasonbly deep lake or pond, the bottom layers of water can be and
usually are anoxic or anaerobic since the water is in constant contact with
the substrate which is extremely high in decomposing organics, and does not
circulate. The surface of the lake is oxygenated and circulated by wind and
temperature differentials, and the shallows have this fresh water constantly
but gently pushed over them. When we "cut" a piece out of this picture in
the form of an aquarium with little or no circulation and mud substrate, the
portion of the lake being duplicated is the anaerobic depths.
Unfortunately, in an aquarium it would be very difficult to emulate the
constant, gentle flow of oxygenated water that the shallow areas of these
lakes and ponds receive, without creating excessive amounts of turbulence
which would disturb the substrate and cause the fine, silty material to
enter the water column, and covering the leaves of the plants. Once the
plants have grown in, the roots and low-growing plants can protect the mud
layer to some degree, but the problem is getting to that point.
With a good flow of oxygenated, fresh water across the mud, the
heteromorphic bacteria (is this right? Let's just say "Wee-Beasties") in the
soil which break down the organic material and create ammonia can do their
This is the reason we have ended up with the compromise of blending various
materials with the lower layers of the substrate, and protecting them with
upper layers of "mud-free" gravel or sand. Most of us beginners also choose
a nutrient limited, low organic material for our substrate, giving us more
control of those levels since we are not dealing with the thousands of
gallons of water available in a pond or lake.