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Substrate Gold and Sand

Mortimer snerd wrote:

>At the risk of restarting the substrate wars, or even igniting a minor
>skirmish, I'm going to ask my question.  I recently had a conversation with
>Karl Scholler (of Substrate Gold fame) about my 100 gallon I'm rebuilding
>after my recent move.  He suggested I use an inch or two of sand mixed with
>laterite under 2-4 inches of gravel, stating that he found it was the best
>way to work with most plants, especially those that were heavy root feeders,
>like crypts and swords.  I'm interested in trying it out, but have concerns
>about the sand compacting, putrification and the plants becoming root-bound.
>As a bonus, I use Dupla's heating cables, and am wondering if there is a
>possibility the sand will reduce the theoretical circulation of water
>through the substrate via convection.  Any thoughts much appreciated.

I can personally attest to the beauty of Karl's tanks.  He clearly knows
how to manage his systems, and he sells a good product.  OTOH, I don't
believe he works with heating cables, and I'm not sure how the sand would
affect them.  

I can also tell you that I have used S.G. in many, many tanks, and I do it
a little differently than the way Karl recommends.  I use a smaller amount
of S.G. than he has on the label... approximately the same amount as I
would have if I'd been using Dupla laterite. (maybe a little more, just
because it's less expensive and I don't measure carefully)  I mix it with
the same size gravel as the top layer. (I use gravel about 1mm in size, but
up to 3mm works fine)  I mix it inot the bottom 1/3-1/2 of the gravel, and
cap it with no less than 1" of plain washed gravel.

Used this way, I have found it to work just as well as Dupla, and have had
many tanks both at school and at home set up for years using this method
with sustained, beautiful growth.