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Re: Flourite or Laterite?

Morgan innocently asks:
> Which is better for planted tanks- Flourite or Laterite substrates?

The current opinion (if I may be so bold) is that both of these work
well if used correctly in combination with a proper hydroponic
fertilization method (see PMDD or The Optimum Aquarium). There are also
other alternatives that work well depending upon your objectives and
criteria. I've tried to give a balanced perspective of several options
on my website. George Booth has a good website and advocates laterite
which is tried and true and a good choice for beginners. Dan
Quackenbush's site describes a soil & kitty litter & osmocote method
which a lot of people have had excellent results with. I describe a
method for evaluating soils which you can find in your neighbourhood and
also give references to a couple of pottery clay sources which people
have used with good results. I've also suggested using peat in
combination with soil and I'm evaluating a couple of new substrate
designs using reduced amounts of peat and with garden soil in ceramic
pots. I've found that fertile substrates produce the highest growth
rates but are also subject to the most problems especially in the first
months of setup.

> does
> anyone have an opinion regarding the best CO2 systems available in the
> $200-$400 range?

You don't say what you criteria is for "best"; all things being equal,
there are dozens of ways of setting up a CO2 injection system which
produce the same result; improved plant growth and pH stability. The
Krib describes how to find a pressure regulator, micrometer needle valve
and CO2 cylinder which works out in your price range. There are also
these high pressure diffuser systems which work well. I suspect Dave
Gomberg will chime in about them. They have perhaps a little bit more
maintenance than a plain regulator + needle valve system. An electronic
pH controller can be added to the system for better CO2 control but I'm
not sure that you'll get a whole lot of growth benefit. Perhaps the best
improvement to a CO2 injection method, is to provide good circulation in
the aquarium to help carry the CO2 to the surfaces of the plant leaves.
For this all you need is a powerhead or similar device.

Steve Pushak                              Vancouver, BC, CANADA 

Visit "Steve's Aquatic Page"      http://home.infinet.net/teban/
 for LOTS of pics, tips and links for aquatic gardening!!!