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  1. JamesC

    Ammonia spike with new Akadama substrate, help!

    How much miraclegrow did you put in? You only need a sprinkling (1-2 tablespoons per square foot) on the bottom. This does need to be capped with a good quantity of akadama to prevent leaching. One of akadama's great properties is that it readily adsorbs ammonium (NH4+) - think of kitty litter...
  2. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    GH solution is really just calcium and magnesium salts, or you could just use calcium. Tapwater contains these so the cheapest and easiest way is to just soak in tapwater for a week or two doing a water change every now and again if you want. Many people don't bother with doing this and just...
  3. JamesC

    How its made - Oliver Knott's NatureSoil

    As are most of the clay based substrates. This is exactly what Akadama except Akadama hasn't got the nice roundness that Nature Soil has. As with most things you are paying for the name. A lot of the substates actually come from the same place, the main difference being the packaging. James
  4. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Yes it's still very useable and is still in my tank. The effect on GH and KH only happens in the first few weeks of use. After then it seems to have little effect that I've noticed. Your English is fine and better than a lot of people's on here. Welcome to the forum James
  5. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    To be honest I wouldn't bother treating the Akadama and just do plenty of water changes in the initial weeks. When I did mine I overdid the amounts used and found it more hassle than it was worth. If your local tap water is hard then just soak it in this for a few days if you want. Many people...
  6. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    It's great to hear back from people who have success with Akadama. Great looking tank. Look forward to the journal. Thanks James
  7. JamesC

    Need help with substrate

    Ah, ok didn't realise you were from the states. In the user control panel you can enter your location which makes it's easier for others to answer certain problems. You are of course more than welcome here regardless where you are from. SMS has now been discontinued and aquariumplants.com...
  8. JamesC

    Need help with substrate

    Where do you live as aquariumplants.com substrate is only available in the states. It is basically SMS (soil master select) and is an baked clay very similar to something like Akadama. People have good success with it. I would never put a sand on top of another substrate as it would soon mix in...
  9. JamesC

    levington bonsai compost?

    I've never used bonsai compost but have used cactus compost under quartz sand. Worked a treat but there is one major drawback which is if you do any uprooting it creates a terrible mess. Akadama is an inert granular soil and is very different to compost. James
  10. JamesC

    Using Stainless Mesh between substrates

    The question that springs to mind is how are the plant's roots supposed to utilise the nutrients in the lower substrate if the mesh is in place? Personally I'd never ever use a substrate divider. Why not just use the Aqua Soil by itself? James
  11. JamesC

    Hemianthus callitrichoides and Akadama

    And this thread - http://ukaps.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=6978 James
  12. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    It's difficult to describe. Not so thick that it's like a mat. A good sprinkling of it is the best way I can describe it. It's not critical unless you put loads too much in. James
  13. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Sam has now changed over to Eco Complete and still his HC doesn't grow. I had HC growing in Akadama and it grew so fast and furious that I got fed up with it and ditched the whole lot. Akadama is relatively new as a substrate here in the UK but over in the far east it has been used for a while...
  14. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    I've never really done a tank with no water changes so can't really answer your questions to a great extent. Yes you could add calcium and magnesium sulphates but remember that the sulphates will just keep on increasing over time. May or may not be a problem, I don't know. If your KH is running...
  15. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    The peat is there to provide favourable conditions for the plant's roots and not for nutrients, even though it does provide some. Pond soil won't work as it's not acidic. You only need a fine sprinkling of peat. The idea of the peat and mulm combined is that it kick starts the substrate into...
  16. JamesC

    Substrata , Is it worth paying for ?

    Yes you can, but you will need a fair amount of it and it will need constantly replacing. All the Akadama does is release H+ in exchange for cations. Another way of adding H+ ions is by adding a strong acid like hydrocholoric acid. Some have done this and got in all sorts of problems. Best to...
  17. JamesC

    Substrata , Is it worth paying for ?

    When I setup my tank with Akadama it wasn't the pH that concerned me but the changes in KH. I find that fish don't seem quite so bothered when the KH drops but with a sudden rise when doing the water change I was concerned it might stress the fish. Better to do lots of small water changes rather...
  18. JamesC

    Substrata , Is it worth paying for ?

    I wouldn't bother going to the hassle of trying to soak the Akadama in a fert solution as it's impossible to know what exactly is happeneing. I only added some Ca and Mg so as to reduce the cation exchange when added to the tank. It actually worked very well but many people don't bother with...
  19. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Mixing substrates always looks rubbish after a while, especially a black one and a red/brown one. EC really doesn't contain much in the way of nutrients as people seem to think. I would go for one or the other. James
  20. JamesC

    Substrata , Is it worth paying for ?

    Yep, that tank only had quartz sand with no substrate additives at all. James
  21. JamesC

    Substrata , Is it worth paying for ?

    You'll get many different views on this but IMHO you can grow plants just fine without using ADA AS. ADA AS has done so well because it was really the only substrate up until now that contained any nitrogen and phosphate compounds. I say nitrogen because a lot of the N in ADA AS is ammonium...
  22. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    This tank uses Akadama topped with quartz gravel. Just goes to show you don't need fancy substrates to grow plants well. http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/library/60449-march-2009-tank-month-alberto-sosa.html James
  23. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Hi Lee, Tropica Plant Substrate already contains sphagnum moss peat or something very similar so you can drop that. It also contains N and P nutrients so you can also drop the osmocote. You could though if you wanted still add a sprinkling of osmocote in with the Tropica Plant Substrate to give...
  24. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    It's not something I've ever done or would recommend doing as the high concentrations may 'burn' the plant's roots. Osmocote is pretty cheap and works for several months so would be a lot better to use. ADA uses somthing similar in their Power Sand as do Tropica in their capsules. Chances are...
  25. JamesC

    Thinking about using Akadama

    Re: Thing about using Akadama Just to add when I do another tank with Akadama I'm not going to bother with pre-treating it. Just give it a good rinse first. James
  26. JamesC

    Thinking about using Akadama

    Re: Thing about using Akadama Akadama will soak up a lot of the KH and some of the GH for the first few weeks. You can either not worry about it or add some GH booster. If your water is soft then I'd suggest adding some GH booster anyway to make sure your calcium and magnesium levels are...
  27. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Didn't actually use it in my current setup as I only learnt about it after I set it up. I have used these - http://www.gardendirect.co.uk/miraclegro-controlled-release-plant-food-tablets-33-x-5g-tablet-p-1620 - like root tabs around my crypts and echinodorus. They grow very healthy but can't say...
  28. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Should be fine. This is the exact one I have - http://www.gardendirect.co.uk/miraclegro-controlled-release-plant-food-p-3474. I use it in the garden so didn't mind buying loads. James
  29. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    You could use those but would have to break them up first as them come stuck together. I just popped into B&Q and brought the Miracle Grow version which is pretty much the same thing. James
  30. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    That's the stuff James
  31. JamesC

    flora-grow nutri pus?

    Using google I found this - http://www.colombo.nl/site_en/aquarium.php?details&code=AQUARIUM-COLOMBO&id=130&product_id=131 James
  32. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    The sphagnum moss peat isn't added to provide nutrients but to provide ideal conditions for bacteria and nutrient uptake by the roots. You could use any peat if you wanted. James
  33. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    I don't see any reason why you can't use earthworn castings. I've never used them myself but know they used to be popular some years ago. My main concern is that they might be a bit messy and clog the Akadama. I just chose Osmocote because of it's slow release properties. There are plenty of...
  34. JamesC

    ph lowering substrates

    Both Aqua Soil and Akadama will initially lower GH a bit and KH (and pH) a lot. But over a few weeks this will diminish so after then it won't make that much difference to the water chemistry. This is common with a lot of fired clay based substrates. But having a clay based substrate will mean...
  35. JamesC

    Planted substrate necessary?

    Hi James and welcome to UKAPS. Silica sand is fine for what you want and I actually used it for years with great success when dosing EI. If though in the future you plan to grow some different plants then it might be useful to get a proper planted substrate from the beginning. I don't like...
  36. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    ADA Aqua Soil wins with no contest. I just refuse to pay the amount of money that they want for it so look for cheaper alternatives. With other substrates I'm not so sure there is such a great difference, but having a substrate which has nutrients is always going to be of benefit. Substrates...
  37. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    First post fifth paragraph says: Does that make sense? It's the hydrogen ions (acid) being exchanged for Ca and Mg that causes the KH drop. Pre loading the akadama with Ca and Mg greatly reduces the exchange once placed in the tank. I tested this on two tanks - one untreated and one treated...
  38. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Yes use straight from the bag. I just brought some off ebay. Make sure it is sphagnum moss peat and not just sphagnum moss. Soaking the akadama in calcium and magnesium sulphate is to reduce the initial KH drop and not to load the akadama with nutrients. I've now learnt that akadama absorbs PO4...
  39. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Akadama can be used fine by itself or you can add the following to help speed things up. You can either add all or some of them as it doesnt really matter. In first go: Sprinkling of sphagnum moss peat - provides acidic conditions favourable to the bacteria and plant's roots. Sprinkling of...
  40. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    My 200 litre Akadama tank has been running for nearly a year now and I can report that all is well with the Akadama holding up well will no noticeable crumbling. When I do another tank with Akadama I will make one change in that I will add a sprinkling of Osmocote in with the sphagnum moss to...
  41. JamesC

    nutrient rich sandy substrate

    The one you want is in this thread - http://www.ukaps.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=741. Akadama is inert by itself but there are ways to add nutrients if you want to. James
  42. JamesC

    Cleaning Akadama

    I used a sieve which worked really well. James
  43. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    There are many products that can be used. Oil dri is for soaking up oil spills and has been used as a substrate - http://www.oil-dri.co.uk/frames/data/tds037.html James
  44. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    SMS stands for Soil Master Select. It's a soil enhancement product that is used in places like baseball pitches. Think it is only available in the States and Canada. Going from memory an aquatic plant supplier has brought the product and has changed the name and selling it for loads more money...
  45. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    I used the one with both macros and micros. Reading the ingredients on the packets some contain only macros and others macros and micros. Initially I planted just a few, but then a week later I put the rest of the pack in. So that's 33 in all, in a 120cm tank. Possibly a bit overkill but shrimp...
  46. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    After you mentioned osmocote a while ago I had a look into it and have now added it to my tank as well. Not sure if it's made a difference as I don't have another tank setup the same minus the osmocote to compare it to, but I can say that the crypt wendtii I have in there has gone mad and has...
  47. JamesC

    Tesco cat litter as a substrate.

    Great stuff. Please keep us informed with any developments. I'm quite interested in how it affects your KH as when I used Akadama it reduced to 0 very quickly James
  48. JamesC

    Tesco cat litter as a substrate.

    Normally you'd go for the unscented type, but I believe you can soak it for a few weeks to remove the scent. Not something I'd try though. What Akadama have you seen as the Double Line variety that I've used is plenty hard enough to last several years in a tank. Cheap Akadama's are soft and do...
  49. JamesC

    Tesco cat litter as a substrate.

    Great stuff. I nearly tried cat litter but found the Akadama so never got round to it. Some years ago Tesco's premium cat litter in the blue bag used to be the best one to use but I have a feeling that it has changed since then. Lot's of people have tried it in the past but it does have a...
  50. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    When looking at different substrates I brought a bag of Kyodama to see what it was like. Volcanic grit is a very good description for it. It is hard and also quite sharp. Also I would think that it has a low CEC so won't hold onto nutrients very well. I decided it wasn't any good for growing...
  51. JamesC

    ....................

    Re: Can I use John Innes no.3 in aquariums? Don't know about No3 but if you want to use a cheap compost from a garden centre then cactus compost works well. I used this some years ago with great success. Cap it with a layer of fine gravel as it tends to float around and make a terrible mess. James
  52. JamesC

    Adding Substrate to existing tank

    Yes you can pre treat it by soaking it in water for a for weeks. To speed up the process add some mulm from an established tank to it which adds the necessary bacteria. I wouldn't recommend freezing any baked clay type substrates as you are likely to damage them causing them to crumble quicker...
  53. JamesC

    Adding Substrate to existing tank

    Could you not remove everything in the tank, drain it and add the new substrate that way? This is what I did and it wasn't too much hassle. Take a look at my journal where I replaced the substrate with Akadama which is quite similar except it doesn't have added nutrients -...
  54. JamesC

    How much ADA?

    Yes it does lower KH and also pH. Over time the effects will decline untill it makes little difference. The more water changes you do the quicker this happens. Normally after a couple of months the KH will settle down. If this concerns you just do plenty of water changes initially which will...
  55. JamesC

    How much ADA?

    Only you can answer that but to me spending £200 plus on some baked clay with some added nutrients definitely is not worth it. Nutrients only last for so long with people quoting figures of between 6 months and 2 years until it is exhausted. If you've got the money then go for it as ADA is very...
  56. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Tropica substrate is full of goodies and works well under akadama. James
  57. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    I wouldn't put anything on top of the akadama as it would soon bet all mixed up. Ok for putting a layer below and topping with akadama though. Akadama is inert so no ammonia spike, just a drop in pH if you don't pre-treat it with something like calcium sulphate. I put my fish and shrimp straight...
  58. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Haven't done anything yet as I just don't have the time. For the time being it is on a long term hold as there are safer ways of introducing ferts to the substrate. I have thought about making some DIY root balls full of goodies. Just need to find some time now. James
  59. JamesC

    Akadama for coldwater tank

    Or you could pretreat the Akadama before using it. This is what I did before adding it to my tank and it works a treat. Details are in my Journal - http://ukaps.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=860. You could probably use about half the amount of the chemicals that I used for pre treating. James
  60. JamesC

    Akadama for coldwater tank

    Akadama lowers KH initially but with plenty of water changes this effect is minimised. After a few weeks it settles quite nicely. If you do this before adding the goldfish then you'd have no worries. James
  61. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Another idea would be to add both zeolite and the Osmocote beneath the Akadama as the Osmocote would absorb the ammonia and hold it for the plants to use helping prevent release into the water column. James
  62. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    After reading about zeolite at the Barr Report I had a look into it. Because swimming pools aren't that common in the UK there isn't a great demand for zeolite. The few places I found that sold it only had it in white so I didn't buy it. Also it's about £28 for a 12kg bag. I'd never heard of...
  63. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Ammonia probably isn't a good idea as it's very caustic. An ammonium salt such as ammonium nitrate is much safer but as I've never tried it it's only theory. I am quite curious with what's in aqua soil. I may try the ammonium idea one day. Sodium bicarbonate isn't a very good idea as it...
  64. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    There's a couple of links in this thread. Search Google in the UK for akadama. There's some on ebay for sale last time I looked. Local Bonsai dealers. I've brought stuff from here before - http://www.bonsai-uk.co.uk/bonsai-soils-c-26.html - £24 inclusive of P&P for two 14 litre bags. Here as...
  65. JamesC

    cheap substrate for a 48" tank

    How much it crumbles is most likely down to how you treat it. If you're always replanting, moving rocks around etc it will crumble a lot quicker than if left completely alone. I've had a tank now for 6+ months with akadama and it's still holding up perfectly well with no crumbling that I can see...
  66. JamesC

    cheap substrate for a 48" tank

    2-3 to it may start to break down. Don't know for sure as yet as I haven't had it that long. Regarding nutrients it'll probably keep holding on to them for yonks. I find the older a substrate gets the better it starts to work as mulm starts to build up in the substrate which contains loads of...
  67. JamesC

    Akadama ok with corys??

    I have cory's in my tank and they are perfectly fine and dig down into. James
  68. JamesC

    cheap substrate for a 48" tank

    When I did my 4 foot tank it took just under 3 bags of akadama to get what I'd call a decent coverage. In my journal I have a calculator than can be used to work out the number of bags: For a 3 inch depth for your tank size comes out at about 2.5 bags. See how it goes with 2 bags, it may just...
  69. JamesC

    cheap substrate for a 48" tank

    I've had my akadama in my tank for over six months now with no signs of any deteriation. There are some types of akadama that are quite soft and crumbly so you need to make sure you get a good quality one. The type pictured in my journal is the one to go for. Akadama by itself is inert and so...
  70. JamesC

    What substrate do you reccomend?

    Aqua Soil is the best IMHO but at the end of the day it's what you want to do that makes the difference. If you constantly like uprooting and changing things around then Aqua Soil can be a bit messy and EC might suit you better. AS is loaded with ammonia to start with and some of this does...
  71. JamesC

    Mulm collection

    I rinsed out the sponges etc in the water that was in the filter chamber. Left it to settle for 10 minutes and decanted off the water at the top. James
  72. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    No idea why the carbon has been used. Everybody has their own way of doing things I suppose. Mulm and peat work very well together. Mulm adds loads of good bacteria to the substrate straight away, in effect maturing it very quickly. Plants roots release oxygen and H+ to add reducing power to...
  73. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Had a bit of fun browsing the APC forum to see if other people had also used Akadama as a substrate. Came across a few so decided to post some links here as it's quite interesting to see other peoples ideas. I've also included the following text to the original article as well. Other peoples...
  74. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    The Double Line Akadama is fired but not quite sure how much. On the bag it states it is 'Hard Quality' and compared to the other types of Akadama I've looked at, it is hard. I even hear ADA users commenting on how Aqua Soil breaks down into smaller bits and creates a 'dust cloud' if lots of...
  75. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    I've made a slight change to the original article. This is what I've added: I've only been testing this substrate for a few months so am not sure yet about it's long term stability. So far it's been great but I have noticed that when disturbing the substrate there is a small amount of 'dust'...
  76. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    That's where I get mine from. Luckily he's only 5 minutes drive from me. Runs his business from home and has an amazing setup in his garden. Real nice bloke as well. Even tempted to have a go at bonsai's myself. Yes the sphagnum moss (or peat) is of great benefit and the main reason why the...
  77. JamesC

    Nutrient rich substrates

    Let us know how you get on with it. Thanks James
  78. JamesC

    Nutrient rich substrates

    You only need a sprinkling of peat at the bottom. Too much will be detrimental. Most potting composts contain ammonium or urea so can cause major headaches. I tried cactus compost covered in sand which worked very well but caused a mess when uprooting plants so I gave up on it. Yes if you have...
  79. JamesC

    Nutrient rich substrates

    For years I've just used silica sand and water column dosing with great results. Plants such as crypts do OK but do benefit from root tabs or similar. With this Akadama I'm now using, crypts seem to do a lot better. Manufacturers will make all sorts of claims because they are trying to sell a...
  80. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    For the first month or so I had HC at the front to test how well it grew. Growth was exceptional with very lush green leaves. It soon covered the whole front of the tank in a thick mat and had to be removed to make way for something else. When I did remove it, it also pulled up a lot of the...
  81. JamesC

    Akadama - A cheap substrate

    Introduction Having decided that it was time I changed my silica sand substrate for something better I looked around at the options available. For my 200 litre tank I was going to need a fair amount of substrate and all the commercially available ones would cost me a fortune for the amount...
  82. JamesC

    Cat Litter

    Cat litter works very well as a substrate, especially if you do water column dosing. It is a granular fired clay and has a high CEC vaue. Things to watch out for are perfumes that are sometimes added and also baking soda is sometimes added to neutralise odours. Can sometimes be a bit messy to...
  83. JamesC

    Tropica quote

    There are 2 forms of ammonia. Free ammonia - NH3 and ionised ammonia - NH4+. They are in equilibrium in water and this equilibrium is determined by the pH of the water. So the only ammonia we are concerned with here is ionised ammonia. Zeolite has a massive CEC value and this is the reason why...
  84. JamesC

    Tropica quote

    Not quite sure why they've said this. Most likely because it sounds good to people who are just starting out and also they are trying to sell a product so need to try and hype it up a bit. It's supposed to be very good though. I've noticed that high CEC substrates do seem to grow plants better...
  85. JamesC

    Anaerobic areas - good, bad or indifferent?

    Anaerobic conditions are normally caused in aquarium substrates by too much organic matter which in turn produces H2S. Keep this orgainic level down and you should avoid these conditions. Nothing to do with substrate heaters. For instance my substrate of silica sand has been in place nearly four...
  86. JamesC

    master soli

    The problems I see with pH controllers are that firstly the CO2 flow rate is set relatively high to make the pH drop. Then when the pH has attained a certain preset value the CO2 is cut off until the pH rises to an inbuilt value a bit higher than the preset value. This start / stop causes CO2...
  87. JamesC

    need advice on substrate for new tank

    Am I missing something here? I thought all ADA Aqua Soils were different shades of brown. Eco Complete is black and good for large tanks especially if you like rescaping as it doesn't crumble. James
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