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A friend asked me off list:

On another note, you mentioned using Turface on APD yesterday; how have your
experiences been with it?  I've been using it for about 3 months in a new
tank, and haven't been terribly happy with how well it has performed; in
fact, I've been thinking about adding some Laterite (Schoeler's Substrate
Gold) to it to see if it would help.  Any thoughts on such a combination?

My reaction to this is that the function of a substrate is to sequester
nutrients.  Any nutrients that might exist in the initial substrate will
sooner or later be exhausted, so new nutrients arriving via the water
column and further sedimentation must be the key in natural environments.
For that reason, high CEC is about all we can ask of a substrate.   Another
desideratum (IMHO) is low density.  Using a product like Turface/Profile
means that the substrate is not as dense as sand and so the roots can
penetrate it more easily (just like the debris/muck/ooze in nature).  I
have had very good results using Fern Jobes in clear plastic pots filled
with Profile and topped with gravel (for looks as much as anything).   If I
get some Fluorite some day I may experiment with it.   The clear pots have
been a raving success.  Easy to re-landscape without setting back the

Dave Gomberg, San Francisco            mailto:gomberg at wcf_com