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Re:Sand in substrate

> 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.<<

To answer your question directly, IMHO, mixing a little sand in with
laterite and gravel shouldn't give you any problem with compacting. Now
indirectly relating to your question, as I am sure you have seen, there are
many different options available to you for a substrate. Personally, I have
used laterite, clay, subsoil, Flourite, and Profile/Schultz. (havnt yet used
heating cables, and probably won't). I very much enjoyed reading Jamies
article on substrates on Steve Pushaks site, (I presume its basically the
same as what appeared in Daves magazine). It is certainly well documented
and covers quite a bit more than I would ever experience, but for me
personally it was too much information. I already know that clay gravel like
Flourite and Profile provide iron and some other minerals to some degree,
have good CEC, and laterite such as First Layer provide high levels of iron
and good CEC, and a north american clay product like Substrate gold and the
old Thiel product provide iron and whatever other nutrients its fortified
with. Thats all I really need to know. I know that plants can grow very well
in any of these mediums, each have certain advantages and disadvantages, but
for me it comes down to praticality, ease, and cost. One interesting thing
about Substrate Gold is that for the longest time Karl had in the
instructions of the product and on his WEB site that the top layer covering
the Substrate Gold be only an inch or less to let the shallow roots of some
plants, or newly planted plants get immediate access. The biggest complaint
I heard from users was that this thin top layer was easily disturbed over
time, and people felt the added nitrate in the product when released in the
water contributed to unwanted algae. I find it encouraging that Karl has
apparently taken this into consideration. I think its a good product, and I
know many people swear by it, and I am sure it will work fine for you as
well, as would many other options.

Robert Paul H