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Re: Kitty litter and CEC

On Wed, 17 Feb 1999, James Purchase wrote:


> Are the high CEC advocates missing something? Is
> there a danger from drawing parallels from growing food crops on land with
> growing aquatic plants in aquaria? I mean, a substrate has a number of
> purposes in an aquarium, and being finely divided muck doesn't seem to me to
> be such a good idea.

People on this list have quite a range of solutions to the challenge of
growing plants.  It seems to me that most if not all of the approaches
fall between two extreme cases.  One extreme is an entirely hydroponic
aquarium and the other extreme is an entirely geoponic (yeah, that's a
word, I looked it up) aquarium.

In a hydroponic approach CEC - like most other characteristics of the
substrate - is unimportant.  You only need a substrate to anchor
rooted plants.  Floating plants and algae don't need the substrate at all.

In a geoponic approach CEC is very important.  CEC allows the substrate to
concentrate dilute nutrients and feed the resulting concentrates to
plants.  It does no good for floating plants.

Most of us are somewhere between these extremes but may choose an approach
that leans more toward the geoponic end (like maybe Steve Pushak)  or more
toward the hydroponic end (like maybe George Booth).  CEC is really
important to you if you chose a more geoponic variation. CEC is
unimportant if you chose a more hydroponic variation.

Either approach grows plants.

It appears to me that the geoponic approach is more like natural
conditions and potentially the simpler of the two extremes.  Geoponics
suffers because some nutrients will always end up in (and may have to be
in) the water column and because it can be tough to maintain sufficient
fertility in the substrate.

I think the hydroponic approach (in its extreme) is unnatural, but it can
give more regulated and predictable results.  Hydroponics suffers because
of the relatively large effort required to maintain a balance and because
some nutrients tend to come out of solution.

There's also a tendency for more geoponic tanks to be low cost, low input
and low tech.  Hydroponic tanks tend to be higher cost, higher input and
higher tech.

Oh yeah, back to the importance of CEC.  It depends on your tank.

Roger Miller