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Flourite and complex substrates

Kelly Beard has a problem with black BGA in her tank, which has a Flourite

> Anybody seen black BGA before?   Very unsightly.  I thought that maybe
> because the substrate is Flourite might have something to do with it.

Yes, I have seen BGA which has a black color (at least black to _my_ eyes).
But I seriously doubt that your Flourite substrate is the cause of it's
presence, or even contributing to it's growth. I have a tank using 100%
Flourite as a substrate and it is supporting beautifully growing plants with
no problem algae to speak of.

And Justin Colin wants more info on Flourite -

> What is Flourite made of,
> anyway, and, other than the obvious corporate interest, why does
> Seachem recommend not
> using it with any substrate additives?

Where is Greg Morin when we need him? <g>

As far as I know Justin, Flourite is a fired calcined clay (put "calcined
clay" into a web search engine as a search term and you will soon learn more
than you need to know about the properties of this material - I even came
across several archived posts where Steve Pushak was recommending Dupla
products over the use of soil in the substrate for beginners!!! <g>)

From the website of Cornell University I found the following information:

"When fired at high temperatures, some clays, fuel ash, and shales form
stable compounds that possess low bulk densities and internal porosities of
40-50%. Though calcined clays alter the physical attributes of media in a
positive way, they also decrease the level of water-soluble phosphorus in
the mix. Because calcined clays are characterized by a high cation exchange
capacity, fertilizer application rates may need to be modified if calcined
aggregates are incorporated into the media mixes (Bunt, 1988)."

There are a number of products which are commercially available which are
composed of calcined clays - Flourite just happens to be one of them, and it
is one which has a "form factor" which makes it ideal for our purposes in
aquariums. Other products, like Turface (much used by bonsai growers) might
also be suitable, although I have never seen it "in the flesh". Profile
Aquatic Soil is supposed to be another variant of a fired calcined clay
designed for use in ponds and water gardens, althought I gather that it is
formed into small "pellets" and so doesn't _look_ as natural and realistic
as Flourite (I got this info from the archives, again, I haven't seen it "in
the flesh"). Isolite is another "formed" product which I suspect could be
used in an aquarium substrate.

Based upon my experience with Seachem products in an actual working
aquarium, nothing else is _required_. The Flourite substrate, at least when
complimented with appropriate additions of Flourish and Flourish Iron, seems
to _me_ to be more than capable of providing lush plant growth. Another
case, I guess, of the fact that there are "many roads to Rome". You can get
a great substrate using laterite mixed with plain gravel or you can use a
substrate of fired calcined clay. Note that in _both_ instances, additional
nutrient supplementation via things like Duplaplant and Duplaplant 24 or
Flourish and Flourish Iron is required to complete the picture. But on the
other side of the coin, I don't think that Flourite and laterite are
mutually exclusive - I really see nothing wrong with using them together, I
just don't think that it's necessary.

The archives are full of annecdotal evidence which leads me to believe that
too much of a good thing is probably worse than not enough (despite what
Martha Stewart might have you believe). I am not Shakespeare and my
aquariums are no longer treated like the opening scene of "MacBeth" (bubble,
bubble, toil and trouble). Simpler is better. Sort of like the Meis van der
Rohe School of Aquatics - "less is more".

James Purchase
Toronto, Ontario