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Re: Laterite and Clay

Hoping not to enrage the respective gods of laterite and clay substrates, I
must admit that I am a sinner.  I have fraternized with both, and in the same
tank.  To add insult to injury I've done this evil deed over a plenum.  PMDD,
Jobe's sticks, CO2 and metal halide lighting completes this witches brew.
While the plants are doing better than ever, the trouble is, I can't determine
which, if any, of the components is responsible for the apparent success.  

The laterite was installed according to instructions in the lower third of the
substrate, immediately above the plenum.  The clay is actually a high-clay
content topsoil mixed with vermiculite (oh hell, yet another component, sorry
George) made into balls and pushed into the substrate.  I have to add 15-20
CCs a day of PMDD daily (65 gallon tank)  to keep the nitrates around 4-8 ppm.
Phosphates parallel feeding volume and can be kept under 0.5 ppm with careful
feeding.  Plant growth is good (to me, I have no other reference, but my tank
looks better than the LFS tanks).  So, I guess it works.  Would I recommend it
to others....I dunno.  Would I do it again....again, I dunno.  The simplicity
of the laterite substrate is appealing.  

The plenum was used to mimic the effect of substrate heating because it
supposedly encourages a slow water flow through the substrate.  It certainly
appears to perform its prime function of converting nitrates to nitrogen gas.
I live in Texas where high tank temperatures are a problem, so I doubt that
substrate heating cables would see much action.

But then again, kitty castings might be a real magic bullet......