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Re: substrates

> Base as (the following are excerpts from the site):
> It's completely pH balanced and will actually remove cloudiness from the
> aquarium water.

So does Alum. (aluminum sulfate) Cost 3$ for 5lbs that will last a lifetime
or two. Many things can be added to clarify water.

> FloraBase is made from natural ingredients including
> river bottom clays and naturally occurring organic compounds that have
> been formed into a soft, porous, granular structure that is easily
> penetrated by growing roots. The porous structure also allows plant
> nutrients to be released to the surrounding water so that no additional
> fertilizers need be added.

Need to be added? What does that mean? I can add soil and say the same
thing. Plants will grow much better if you add nutrients to the water column
and the substrate, not just the substrate. That old philosophy goes back to
keeping everything in the substrate but how can you know or test if the
plants are getting enough, won't it run of macro nutrients quickly etc etc
etc? You cannot.

> Their ad even says "No additional Carbon
> Dioxide system required".

Well I can say that about any substrate. Doesn't mean it'll grow plants as
well as adding CO2 gas. So what does that really mean? Not much.
I can add peat and claim the same thing.

> FloraBase is pH stabilized and will assist in
> maintaining the correct pH beneficial for aquatic plants.

Again, what's this mean? CO2 not pH is the issue.

> The natural
> properties inherent in FloraBase actively absorb floating substances
> removing cloudiness from the aquarium water.  FloraBase should NOT be
> rinsed prior to addition to the aquarium or mixed with gravel or other
> substrates.
> The bag says it is an excellent filter media when combined with an under
> gravel filter more than once.  It will maintain a stable pH between 6.5
> and 7.0 and it is not recommended for use with fish that need a pH>7.0.

I hate it when folks say a certain pH is good for plants. Why?

This is a bunch of crap. I routinely can take folks and see plants at a pH
of 5 and a pH of 7.8 and the plants are growing great. What does this mean
when they say this?
> It takes about an hour for the pH to stabilize after first use.  If you
> have GH > 8.0, the resultant pH may be above 7.0.  What I found most
> interesting was "For best results replace FloraBase after 12 months".

Now there's a wonderous job.

> Now wouldn't that be fun!  As if tank maintenance and chemistry wasn't
> enough.  I guess that is to replenish the carbon contributing material
> in the substrate.

A substrate should get better with time, not worse. Just when a tank gets
mature and stabilized you have to break it down? I guess some companies are
only thinking 12 months ahead.
> Volcanit is a pH neutral aquarium gravel of volcanic origin. The fine
> pore- structure of the gravel encourages bacterial activity that
> enhances the biological release of nutrients in the gravel.  Volcanit is
> mixed with 5% ferrolit; a zeolite bound long term iron fertilizer. The
> resultant black and red color of the Volcanit enhances the beauty of the
> aquarium plants and the color of your fish.

This is decent. A bit like profile/Turface etc. Some volcanic rock has
PO4(good) and is pretty light weight(bad).
> Does anyone have any experience with these last two?  Can those in the
> know surmise anything from the descriptions?  Excluding FloraBase which
> explicitly says not to mix with anything else, can or should you use
> these with other substances (gravel, laterite, substrate fertilizers,
> etc.)?

No, you will not need any laterite, that's for plain sand. You can add
ground peat and mulm from a mature tank's gravel bed to any new tank.
Adds what you need.
> I know many of you will say get some Flourite or Onyx.  I have some
> Flourite and have used it with success.  I would use it on this new tank
> but there will be a lot of it and the color just does not look good in
> the room the new tank is going in (after all the decorating we have done
> I have to keep my wife happy).  My tap water is about 12-13 KH so I am a
> little afraid of using something like Onyx that might further increase
> my KH. 

Add peat the bottom and it'll maintain the the KH, might even lower it
some:) My tanks has peat + mulm and onyx. My KH has not moved about about
4ppm, less than 1/2 a degree.
Therefore this is not an issue.

> Although I like the color of FloraBase I am a little reluctant
> to use it for similar reasons:  not sure what the pH buffer in it is,
> how that buffer affects CO2 addition (pH table - although they say it is
> not required), wondering what pH I would end up with at GH and KH around
> 12 to 13, and definitely do not want to replace everything in a year.
> Thanks
> Charles

Well if KH etc is the issue, red flourite is an option.
Onyx is nice. I use it in a non CO2 tank and am pleased.

Tom Barr