Re: Laterite and my first NAW tank

In a message dated 96-06-25 15:50:03 EDT, Bill Edwards wrote:

<< Laterite can be purchased through ceramic wholesalers, 
 and if your lucky, through "art supply stores". The
 chemical make-up my vary depending on the source of
 the laterite. Request a detailed chemical analysis
 before you buy (if you're so inclined). >>

I bought mine from a wholesaler that sells to ceramic shops:

Freeform Clay and Supply
1912 Cleaveland Ave
National City, CA 91950-5510
(619) 477-1004

Don't know if he'd ship either. Cost me $3 for 10#, because he had an open
sample bag. Don't know the Fe content, but it's really red.

<Suggestion: in order to minimize clouding, I mixed sand and
<laterite in a 5 gallon bucket using enough water to keep the
<mess wet. Then I add the mixture to the tank. Works great for

I just put down an inch of my substrate mix and then 3-4 inches of gravel and
was very carefull when filling the tank, I used a bowl to deflect the water
initially as I filled the tank.
I bought Nature Aquarium World and had to see if I could build a similar tank
for myself. I'm so proud of the results, unfortunately I have no way to share
the results here. For substrate I mixed about 2 cups of red laterite clay, 2
cups well aged potting soil, a 1lb bag of GAC, (cheap stuff at mass
merchandise pet store) 1 cup greensand and 2 cups of garden peat. This made
about 1" in the bottom of a 10 gallon aquarium. I then acid washed 10# of
dark gravel (had shells in it) and layed over the top. The tank is filtered
by a AquaClear Mini with DIY CO2 injection. Currently it is lighted by 1-14W
aqua-grow and 1-15W/T8/CW. Last test parameters were: 
	6.96 grains/U.S. gallon
	6.72 DH
PH	6.2-6.4
Temp	78
Nitrate	6-12 mg/L
I am growing Riccia for ground cover, Anubia, Rottala	Indica, Rotala
Macranda, Rottala Wallichi,  Myrophylia, Red Ludwigia, Java Fern and Hair
Grass. The plants are growing so fast I have to cut the most established back
1/2 once a week. The finned occupants include a Pekoltia, 2 - Otocinclus, 2 -
ghost shrimp (survivors of 6) 4 - Tetras (Kerri i think) and one German Blue
Ram. There are a few hitch hiking Ramshorn and malaysian livebearing snails.
I filled the tank with water and added the plants a little at a time over
about a month. The algae started growing like crazy so I added first the
shrimp, then the Otos. They got most of the heavy stuff, but the driftwood
had a lot of green algae on it. When I added the Pekoltia, within a day that
was gone. I've not cleaned the glass or vacumed the gravel since adding
animals, yet the tank stays remarkably clean.  The only plant that hasn't
really shown rapid growth yet is the Rotala Macranda, but it's only been in
the tank 4 days. I'm encouraged that it isn't dropping any lower leaves yet.
I do 50% water changes once a week and everything seems to be working great.
When I finish my new lighting system the tank will be lit by 61W of compact
fluorescents. This is the first tank I ever tried to design and put together.
It's taken a couple of months and I can hardly say how thrilled I am with the
results. I thank one and all who contribute to this digest for there
inspiration and information. I apologize for the long post, but I just had to
tell someone. :)
Neil Schneider