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Kitty litter additives

Dan Q says he thought that ..."everybody knows what kitty litter is" but 
quickly learned otherwise when the questions started pouring in. I have 
another concern about the use of kitty litter in the aquarium substrate, mine 
much more mundane that whether its CEC is appropriate or whatever! Since I 
have 2 cats I have reason to pay attention to this subject--and I _thought_ I 
knew what kitty litter is! At least in the US, most litter is some kind of 
dried clay ground up into granules. My guess is that the origin and 
composition of the clay varies a lot from one brand to another and from one 
area of the country to another. My bigger concern is that essentially all of 
the kitty litters sold now contain some sort of additives--all of which seem 
undesirable in an aquarium. Even the el-cheapo grocery store brand now 
contains something that claims to be a deodorizer. This could be baking soda, 
borax, or perfume, but whatever it is it's not something that your fish are 
going to love. Many claim to have antibacterial additives, too, which again 
could be innocuous or highly toxic in an aquarium. "Fancy" litter (who in the 
world has the $$ for this!!) is even worse, with a finer grain to the clay and 
with clumping agents added (not something you want for a plant substrate). It 
is not at all certain that these additives could be washed away; the chemicals 
may very well leach out into the water for a long time. 

Backyard loam isn't exactly a defined substance, nor is "laterite" purchased 
from various sources. But I'd be very cautious about commercial kitty litter, 
unless you can find some with no additives of any kind. Gravel over sterilized 
backyard soil has worked well for me, but every tank is different.

Christine in Palo Alto, same old boring beautiful weather