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Re: Rich substrates

On Mon, 11 Oct 1999, Bob Ashcraft wrote:

> Tom Barr wrote:
>> Adding stuff to the substrate isn't necessary in established tanks and
>> "needing" a rich substrate is not a requirement by any means, for such a
>> tank. I have sand only in my 90 gallon but it's rich in snail poop and mulm.
>> My plants get their nutrients from liquid fertilizer(which you'll have much
>> more control over BTW) and fish population. You can do it both ways is my
>> point here. It is not a needed thing to do nor one I would wish to do
>> myself. A rich substrate can be with nothing else but good old mature sand.
>> Why do you wish to add laterite to the bottom anymway? If things are going
>> well, don't change things simply because someone wrote or someone's site
>> says...........
>> No need to do a bunch of work if you don't have to. Laterite works well to
>> help a tank "get going" but it is not needed later on. I haven't used it in
>> years.
> Tom is right.  My first tank was setup for just fish with only sand, then a
> month later I got the bug to plant it.  It was a disaster for the next
> couple months until I started adding Jobes sticks.  But then, after month 8
> or 9, I found I didn't need anymore substrate fertilizer, the substrate
> seemed to mature and become self supportive.

A plain sand/gravel substrate aged 9 months to a year is what Rataj and
Horeman called a rich substrate.  I think in the context of past usage on
APD a rich substrate is one made with soil and/or manure.  Adding laterite
in either context would probably not make the substrate "rich".

My tanks all started with plain sand or gravel or (in one case) gravel
plus a small amount of kitty litter.  Nine months seems like a good first
estimate for how long it takes a plain substrate to mature.  My recent
experience suggests that sand substrates might take longer to mature than
gravel or coarse sand.  I think this is because detritus tends to sit on
top of the fine sand rather than filtering into it.

I disagree with Tom Barr a little over substrate fertilization.  I took to
fertilizing the substrate after years of fertilizing the water column.
This means that I feed only those plants that appear to need it, I feed
with only what I think is needed and I don't fertilize the algae.  As s
nice side effects, I don't have to worry about doing a bunch of water
tests and java moss and other water-column feeders remain manageable tank

Fertilizing the water column is pretty convenient and I do resort to it
for special cases, but I find that my aquariums do best when I limit
regular feedings to the substrate.

Roger Miller