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I heard about, and purchased some dupla laterite after I had set up my
aquarium. I did not get a chance to mix it in with the gravel. This, I am
Your set up should reflect what plants you are going to keep. I believe
(and am willing to be corrected) that most stem plants can take in most of
their nutrients through there leaves and stems. I have heard it said that
the roots are little more than anchors. However, having seen the extent
and fineness of some stem plant's root systems I believe that they use
both. I have had marvelous results with stem plants (growing 4 inches in a
week) with just a gravel substrate.
What may you ask did I do with that precious laterite. After the
'fashioning and marketing of finest duplarite jewelry idea' failed, I
decided to put it in pots with plants that have large root systems. I have
had some success with a crypt. Balensae (24 inches), but it may have done
that anyway. I now believe it to be a better idea to use a mix of
vermiculite and a low organic, loamy soil in pots. The reason for this is
due to the needs of plants with large root systems. As I understand it
A Site For Cation Exchange - provided by the mix above to a cirtain extent
Available Nutrients - again provided by the above needing some additions
And To Be Left Alone to grow fine hair roots - a pot will achieve this
stability even when it is transplanted.
An anaerobic substrate?, I think. - The plants will aerate it themselves.
Maybe they don't want aerobic nitrifying bacteria stealing their nitrates
and so only allow a small area around their roots to be oxygenated
In fairness to laterite I should say that it does have some unique
qualities that make it an excellent substrate. But from the point of view
of expense and control I use it only in pots and only with plants that
really could benefit from it's qualities.
I think the good thing about pots is that they are small controlled
environments that allow us to dose selectively (e.g. I am thinking about
adding some limestone to the C. Balensae pot as they naturally grow in
limestone). The only thing that worries me is that the pot could curb the
plants desire to spread its roots widely. Although, uncurbed they would
entwine so much that you would have to destroy the plant in order to remove
it (imagine the clouds of laterite).
As for daily fertilizer drops I would suggest PMDD as you can control the
dosage of most of the individual elements. And that learning to use it
correctly is a good lesson in chemistry.
PS There are other cheaper sources of laterite than dupla, if you would
like there address etc. I can send it to you.