Re: vermiculite, laterite and $$$

>From: George Booth <booth at hpmtlgb1_lvld.hp.com>
>Date: Thu, 31 Aug 1995 08:48:46 -0600
>Subject: Re: vermiculite, laterite and $$$
>> From: nfrank at nando_net (Neil Frank)
>> BTW, I tried vermiculite not as a sponge to soak up nutrients, but as
>> a substrate "conditioner," just like it is used in house plants - to
>> open up the soil and keep it from compacting.  I mixed the vermiculite
>> with sand and peat in the lower half and used clean sand in the upper
>> half. I wanted to create an O2 deficient environment. The
>> vermiculite/soil tank is getting torn down this weekend.  Maybe I will
>> try artificial circulation!
>Arrgh!  You came *that* close to telling us something we all want to
>know - why are you tearing down the vermiculite tank?

As I mentioned in an earlier post this month, I have two 8-month old side
40g tanks with vermiculite. I am just tearing down the one with
soil/vermiculite/sand and still keeping the one with peat/vermiculite/sand.
The tank with soil has been causing problems from day one (first algae, then
poor plant growth, now some deformed plant species. I conclude that the soil
was too rich, including some trace element(s) - with this causing a toxic
condition for the plants. The fish (Ameca splendens) are OK, but I don't
have enough experience to know how robust they are. This is not a indictment
for soil in general, just the particular batch I was using. It does point
out, however, that one must exhibit care with soil until one is sure about
its properties. This is one big advantage to purchasing a commercially
prepared substrate additive. My vermiculite tank with the peat has been
virtually trouble free, except for a slight tint to the water for the first
month or so.