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Re: diatomacous earth/clay???

On Mon, 6 Dec 1999, samm wrote:

> Hi everyone...
> in search of alternative substrate material--other
> than the 2-3mm gravel which seems to have disappeared
> off the face of the planet!--I ran accross something
> interesting at the LAPS (local auto parts store)
> yesterday.  They material is used for absorbing oil
> off of the ground and the package says that it can
> absorb oil/moisture equal to its own wait...the
> packaging also says that the stuff is "diatomacous"
> earth???

Diatomaceous earth is composed of diatom remains, along with impurities
that accompany the diatoms to the bottom of the lakes where the deposits
formed.  Chemically the diatom remains are opaline silica and diatomaceous
earth is usually at least 86% silica. Physically, the particles are tiny
and take on very complex shapes - shapes determined by the diatoms that
formed them.  While the particles are very small, they are not as small as
clay particles.

Diatomaceous earth can be processed to make a number of different
products, including filter media, filler, adsorbant materials and
abrasives.  While diatomaceous earth used for adsorbant material is
related to diatom powders used for filtering, they are not the same
product and probably should not be interchanged.

Diatomaceous earth may contain clay as a common impurity, but the
adsorbant isn't clay and aside from adsorbance it shouldn't act at all
like kitty litter.

You probably don't want to use diatomaceous earth in an aquarium
substrate.  The individual grains probably will be easily suspended and
difficult to settle.  The particles are often angular and probably would
be very irritating to the skin and gills of fish.

Roger Miller