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RE: Colin Anderson's Shale

Colin asked about people's experience with shale. Whenever I look over my
apartment balcony I can see a huge shale deposit (the Don Valley Brickworks
site in Toronto has extensive beds of shale which are full of fossils). I've
used the actual shale rocks in aquariums with no real problems, at least
none that I've noticed.

Shale, being sedimentary in nature, could quite possibly be a very variable
substance, depending upon the original source rock which was the source of
the sediment. By that I mean  that the shale I can get here in Toronto might
behave differently in an aquarium than say an oil shale from Alberta would.
I'd suggest caution or at least testing a sample in a small tank first.

Colin's post gave me the impression that he possibly thinks that Substrate
Gold might be shale based. This is interesting - is that what you think
Colin? I know that I have called it a true laterite, but I've just come
across an article in the June 1995 issue of FAMA which contains a letter
from Karl Schoeler to Owen Jeffries, the infamous author of a planted tank
column in that magazine. In the letter, Karl is very careful to call
Substrate Gold "laterite-like", he never makes the claim that it is a true
laterite. Even a review of his website leaves me with the impression that he
might be using the term "laterite" in a more generic sense than in a true
geological one. Karl himself describes Substrate Gold (in the letter to
Jeffries) as "an Iron-rich clay material", which when he had it tested for
mineral content, contained all the nutrients required for aquatic plant

Not of course that it really matters, for our purposes - Substrate Gold is
supposed to be a very good substrate additive, but now I'm really curious.
Karl, if you read this, could you please comment - is Substrate Gold a
"true" laterite in the geological sense of that term?

Again, I'm not suggesting that Substrate Gold is not a good substrate
additive - I'd just like to know what it is, and Karl's letter combined with
Colin's impression has me wondering.

James Purchase