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Observations on Soil Substrates

James Purchase wrote:

>But I do have one
>early observation of Steve's method - as noted on his web page, Steve states
>that organic material in a substrate can act as a sponge for Calcium. At
>least at this point in time (early though it may be) this seems to be at
>work in the tank that I have set up following Steve's method. The Alkalinity
>and Hardness of the soil based tank is much lower than the Flourite based
>tank and the soil based tank also has a much lower pH than the Flourite
>tank. Possibly, the peat moss which Steve recommends as an addition to his
>style of substrate is causing the difference. Note that at this point in
>time this is only an observation, not a conclusion.

I made a similar observation in my soil based tank.  I fought periodic
symptoms that appeared to be calcium deficiency for well over a year and a
half in this tank.  Interestingly, the GH in the tank was always pretty
steady at around 150 ppm, but the symptoms were usually alleviated by a
couple of massive water changes.  I can only guess that some factor in the
substrate (a toxicity problem of some sort perhaps?) was blocking the
uptake of calcium into the plant tissues.

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association