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Re: [AGA Member] newbie here with some questions...

--- "J.B." <jbernardo@harbornet.com> wrote:
> Hi folks,
> I am Very new to aquariums and have a few questions.
> 1. Is lava rock gravel a bad substrate for plants and
> fish?. 

If you mean gravel made from those red rocks taht are
sometimes used in barbeques, that stuff can be rather
sharp-edged.  That's not good for bottom feeders.  But it
should matter to other fish.  Chemically, I think the stuff
is pretty inert, and, because of its high surface area,
makes a pretty good biofilter medium in canisters.

> 2. Peat moss in planted aquariums... 

MOre experienced gardeners than I have used it as an
underlayment and reported good results.

If you put it in your tank and don't cover it, your water
will be very brown, like a good stiff cup of tea and for
pretty much the same reason, tannins and acids leached into
the water.

I recently put some (about 1/2 inch dry) in a tank beneath
some Onyx Sand.  The Onxy Sand tends to buffer the water
upwards from 7.  The peat most counteracts that effect
somewhat, which is what I wanted for this particular tank
(pH about 7 isn't inherently bad, it's jsut what I wanted
for this tank).

You can rinse all these tanins and stuff out of the peat,
but then what's the point of the peat, if you ask me?  I'ts
a source of organic but you could use plain old dirt for
that.  Peat is a good way to make something approaching
"black water,"  the dark, tannin rich water found in parts
of the Amazon and elsewhere.

If you want some tannins and a good bed of organic material
in your substrate for your plants, you can put a thin layer
of peat moss down on the bottom glass and lay your
substrate gravel or sand over the peat.  Upper substrate
will slow down the leaching while the organic material will
be there when the roots move through the gravel.

Hope that helps,
Scott H.

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