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RE: Substrate Gold Application Rates

Colin Anderson is asking about useage rates for Substrate Gold:

>   I'm eagerly awaiting my shipment of Substrate gold.  In the mean time
> I thought I might as well query the list as to their experience with the
> amount to use.  Is the suggested application too high, too light, or
> just right?  A sort of three little bears(plants) thing.

> I'd like to keep the nutrient availability reasonably high since it will
> be a very high light tank.  This is where the dosing level becomes a
> question.  More laterite means more ability to bind and exchange
> nutrients, a good thing, right?  Should I just follow instructions or is
> there any deeply rooted(failure or success) opinions out there?

Colin, first of all, I'd like to say that I've never used Substrate Gold.
But I gather from the archives of the APD that it:

1.) IS true laterite;
2.) IS a quality product;
3.) it does contains added nutrients over and above any which would
naturally be in it as mined from the Earth (this last point comes directly
from Karl Schoeler's Web-site - "Iron-rich clay with the following nutrients
added in proper proportion: Magnesium, Manganese, Calcium, Zinc, Sulfur,
Boron, Copper, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Nitrate.")

I _have_ used Duplarit G, and as far as I can tell, you get what they dig
up, allowing for course for the fact that both products are ground, graded
and inspected and certified to be free of things like nematodes (if Dupla
didn't do this, Duplarit G would never get inside U.S. borders).

So, there are at least two genuine laterites available commercially (I'm
ignoring just for the sake of brevity the existence of Albert Theil's
product - I suspect that it too is a _true_ laterite and that it is a
quality product. I'm also ignoring the current questionable status of
Duplarit G's continued availability in North America, given the Burleson

Now, if you look at the _recommended_ application rates of these two
products you will see widely divergent points of view. Duplarit G is
recommended, by Dupla, to be used at the rate of 500 g (approx. 1.1 lb) per
200 L (approx. 52.91 U.S. Gal.). George Booth and countless others have used
Duplarit G at this rate of application with _very_ good results. So have I.

Recently, in response to an unsolicited e-mail offer from a person who
claims to be a distributor for Mr. Schoeler's products, I asked how much
Substrate Gold would be needed for my big tank, which is 130 U.S. Gal
(approximately). The answer I received was that for this size tank I should
use 7-8 lbs of Substrate Gold. On Mr. Schoeler's Web site, he recommends
that 24 oz. will treat a 20 gal. tank, and the 176 oz. size will treat a 150
gal. tank. So the 3rd party recommendation I received meshes well (well
enough, anyway) with that made by Mr. Schoeler himself on his Web-site.

But this application rate is far in excess of the Dupla recommendations for
their product. Now let's do some math...

Duparit G			500 g		->	200 L
or, in U.S. units		17.24 oz	->	52.91 U.S. Gal.
solving for unity		1 oz		->	3.07 U.S. Gal.

Substrate Gold		24 oz		->	20  U.S. Gal.
solving for unity		1 oz		->	0.83 U.S. Gal.

So, whichever way you do the math, the recommended application rate for
Substrate Gold is about 3.7 times as much as the Dupla recommendation for
Duplarit G. Both are laterite.

Time and time again on this list we see people using the logic which you are
following (and if you will remember one of my recent posts about the setup
of my own large tank, I've been just as guilty as anyone else in following
this line of reasoning). For claification, I'll quote you again:

> More laterite means more ability to bind and exchange
> nutrients, a good thing, right?

This line of reasoning, _in my current opinion_, while very common, is also
very wrong. It may very well be that Mr. Schoeler's recommendation is
correct, and that his product should be used at this high rate. But _more_
of a good thing is not necessarily _better_. Especially given the fact that
his product has extra nutrients added to it (over and above those present
naturally), putting "loads" of the stuff in your substrate could lead to
major problems.

When I set up my large tank, I loaded the substrate with Duplarit G,
Terralit, Peat Pellets, and a few other things I can't even remember the
names of. I used the manufacturer's recommendations, for the individual
products, but I followed exactly your reasoning - if that much is good,
three times as much ought to be awesome. Well, awesome it was - an awesome
mess. Only now, over two years later is that substrate even beginning to
"settle down". Granted, certain plants did do really well in it (Cryps love
it), but most plants just rot off at the crown. And I had 3 175W Metal
Halide bulbs on that tank, certainly a high light situation.

So, while your mileage may vary, and hopefully people who have actually used
Substrate Gold will add their experiences, be very careful about using that
particular line of logic when dealing with an aquarium. More is not always
better, something I've had to learn for myself time and time again.

All of this, of course, is only applicable if, as I am assuming, that the
properties of Duplarit G and Substrate Gold are similar. As they are both
laterite and both natural products, that may or may not be the case. We all
know what happens to those who make assumptions <g>.

James Purchase