[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: Substrate materials

Alok is wondering about possible substrate additives:

>	I have tracked down a gravel with a good grain size, (2-3mm)
>and was wondering about some of the long term substrate additives on
>the market. I have used Duplarit-G in the past and this does not seem
>to be as available since Dupla no longer has a US distributor. Have
>people any opinions of the other products?
>1) Seachem's fluorish
>2) 100% laterite (Aqualine Buschke?)
>3) Terralit (AB)

Alok, if you've been following the list for some time, you are probably
aware that there are almost as many "substrate additives" as there are plant
varieties to place therein. If you are looking to go with a commercial,
purpose made product (as opposed to using something for a purpose unintended
by the manufacturer), you still have a wide variety of things to choose
from - it's your tank, so be my guest...

But I have used a lot of different substrate additives over the years, and
think I can clear up some of your confusion. First of all, your base
gravel - 2-3mm grain size is perfect for an aquarium substrate, but what
mineral is the gravel made from? As long as it's not marble, limestone, or
dolomite based, you should be fine. All of these contain Calcium Carbonate
(+ Magnesium Carbonate in the case of dolomite) and some of this will
dissolve into the water and increase the water hardness. If the gravel is
quartz or granite, or any other inert material you should be O.K.

Now, for your "additive" choices. Seachem Flourite (not flouish, that's
their liquid fertilizer) is a "fracted calcined clay", or in terms more
people can understand, a clay which has been fired to a high temperature and
then crushed. It is dimensionally stable when wet (i.e., it won't swell or
fall apart like some kitty litters) and is designed to be either the sole
substrate material or used up to 50%-50% with gravel. I only came across
this stuff about six months ago, and have one tank running using it, but I
_really_ like it. It is probably one of the "prettiest" substrate materials
I have ever used. I don't know if you have bought the gravel for your tank
yet, if you have, will, Flourite might not be the route you should go, as it
is really best used on it's own, as the sole substrate. In _my_ opinion,
mixing it with most regular gravel would detract from it's appearance.
Flourite doesn't need anything else in the substrate to provide a good home
for plant roots.

Dupla might not have a North American distributor at present, but as I
advised the list earlier in the week, we aren't without recourse. If you
simply _must_ have Dupla Duplarit G in your substrate you can obtain it
directly from Dupla in Germany. I don't know your opinion about importing
the stuff yourself, but it can be done, if you insist.

But the absence of Duplarit G from the stocklists of American mail order
companies does not mean that laterite enthusiasts are left out in the cold.
Schoeler Enterprises sells Substrate Gold, which by all accounts I have
heard is an excellent alternative, plus it is a lot cheaper than Duplarit G.
They recommend that you use a lot more than the Dupla rate but several
people have used it at the lower rate with excellent results. It is a
genuine laterite, but is probably not the exact same mineral as the Dupla
product. But that shouldn't really matter - results are what matters, and
people who have used Substrate Gold have generally been very happy with it.

In the latest Pet Warehouse catalogue, they list a product called "First
Layer Pure Laterite". I don't know which company puts it out, but it should
work as a laterite does.

Also relatively new on the market is a product called "Aqua Terra", from
Natural Aquarium and Terrarium. They don't claim that it is laterite, but it
looks like one to me. I have a 15 gallon tank running with this product and
I find it to work well. If anything, the plants grow a bit too fast (I'm
lazy, sometimes I don't like having to thin out excess growth every week).
It is also relatively inexpensive.

Aqualine Buschke is the maker of Terralit, a granular substrate additive
which I have used a couple of times. Just what it is made of or what it
contains, is beyond me, but it looks like little baked clay particles of
different colours. They claim that it has fertilizer in the mix. I've been
happy using it, and would use it again.

My only caution in all of this is for you to choose ONE additive and go with
that, especially is your first planted tank. Any of the "commercial"
products should be more than capable of working by itself with your gravel -
hybrid substrates are definately for the experienced plant person, you might
have unexpected interractions if you "mix and match" a bunch of different
things in the substrate (I speak from experience on this one!).

James Purchase