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Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #1405

On Mon, 22 Nov 1999, Justin Collins wrote:
> My nitrates are consistently low or
> zero, but my ammonia tends to be elevated.  All of these are done with
> Seachem test kits, so I'm not too sure about the ammonia reading (I find the
> kit very difficult to read, as the little disk is rarely a consistent
> color).  If this is the case, what can I do to add more phosphate to my tank
> to reduce my nitrogen levels?  Simply feed more?  If I'm wrong, what is
> going on.  I'd really love to get rid of the algae.

I'm suspicious of your test kit.  The wet-dry filter alone should take
care of the ammonia.  Unless of course it's overloaded.  You should
probably figure out that oddity before you do anything additional to you

> What will give
> me more nutrients in the substrate without seriously raising the risk of
> nutrients leaching?

You need a cation exchange capacity in the substrate.  It's the only way I
know of to get the substrate to capture and hold nutrients in
plant-available forms.  Peat, soils, art clay, kitty litter, vermiculite
and pyrophyllite have all been boosted on this list as additives that will
give you some CEC.  It's hard to beat kitty litter for availability, low
cost and ease of handling.  It even has a record of success.  You might
try 5-10% or so of plain kitty litter in the lower part of the substrate,
with about an inch of litter-free substrate over that.

Roger Miller