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Akadama - A cheap substrate

Although it hasn't been in my tank for long, my akadama seems to be holding up well.
to aussie forum members: where can you get this? :)

thank you
Hi everyone, I was going to use ADA products but I found it cost far too much and Im on a budget. So I am looking at putting something under my sand ( will be using a edge strip at he front and side of my tank so you cant see the substrate.) I am caught between using this or cat litter,as I've read good things about both of these, any info to which one is better would be great. This is how I will set up the substrate.

1th, Sphagnum Moss Peat
2nd, Miracle Grow tabs ( broken ones )
3rd, Akadama / cat litter, Mulm and actived carbon from my filter (The reason why I want to use it is because it should have a nice layer of bacteria growing on it. Also I will be replacing the carbon in my filter when I move)
4th, Akadama / cat litter
5th, The play sand which is in the tank now.

Tank specs Are a 60l tank , with low light hoping to get a OTL lighting system which will take it to 1 wpg (2x 15w T8 ), I will be using easy carbo and tpn+ liquid or maybe go back to easy profito. With a 20% water change weekly. I am going to keep the pants I have now but would like to use HC and one other plant not sure which yet some kind of grass.I wasn't sure on how much Of the moss and Akadama I would need? I've found this on ebay. Here is a link : http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll? ... ink:top:en (the moss) And In was thinking a 10l bag of Akadama or cat litter. Here is a link for the Akadama http://www.bonsaiuk.co.uk/akadama-doubl ... fm8a01flj7
The water where I live, is hard water (selby area), and I was planing on leaving to soak for a week. Then do a week of 30% or 50 % daily water changes before adding it to the tank.
Any help would be really greatful Ty Jon.
hi all

ive read this thread and am going to try akadama
thanks for the thread james!

heres my quick questions!

i dose ei and have read all about the fact that strictly speaking
you dont need a fertilised substrate but it seems worth putting something in there

i don't want soil underneath, i like the idea of the osmorite
could i just shake a few of those down before the akadama,
i really only want one substrate material not layers

could i seed it with gravel and/or sand from an established tank

maybe a little seeded sand/gravel, then mulm, then a shake of osmorite
then akadama


Hi 4,

It will work fine with no base layer, just the akadama by itself.

Everything else is optional.

osmocote - for ferts.
peat - favourable conditions for bacteria to grow. i.e. substrate establishes itself quicker with this.
mulm\sand\old substrate - some starting bacteria. like you say for seeding.

I would go for just mulm and not sand or gravel, as they are likely to mix with the akadama over time and look a bit naff. Just my opinion.

I added osmocote\\peat\mulm to mine and where the akadama is less than one inch the base layers works there way to the surface over time.
hi all

thanks for the tips

any rough idea how much osmocoat to use
145l - 90cm x 42cm footprint

btw this caught my eye in the shop im getting the akadama
http://www.yorkbonsai.co.uk/naruko-slow ... g-i26.html

its a slow release npk bonsai soil, would this be a good base under the akadama?
says npk is 5 5 5 (whatever that means!) or could it even replace the akadama altogether

Matt, i am still tempted to use my flourite sand as it will stay at the bottom
and wont work up through the akadama, its a good bacteria source and a nice rooting base


I'd hazard a guess that the bonsai feed would not be an alternative to akadama as it dissolves over time.
You might well be able to use it instead of osmocoat. I'd stick with osmocoat myself.

At a guess you would use about a small handful of osmocoat on your tank... maybe 50grams or thereabouts.
I just spent a fiver on a pack and was happy to have way too much as it is so handy for houseplants, pots of herbs, etc (I grew a 3 foot tall basil plant thanks to it last summer :thumbup: ) and has such a long shelf life.

Fair do's on keeping your flourite as a base layer, it would not work for me (I would have it in a mess within a few months), but it sounds like it would for you :thumbup:
cheers matt

i'm assuming the sand will always work its way down again if i disturbed it
seeing as its finer than the akadama

it does if you cap gravel with sand
but then again some of the akadama is quite fine

mmmm, i have a think about this one

thanks for the osmocoat tip, i had no idea how much to use


Hi all,
says npk is 5 5 5 (whatever that means!)
The 5:5:5 just refers to the ratio, and total amount of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) & potassium (K) in the fertiliser.
In this case "5" for all which means that it is a relatively low in nutrients (and will have a lot of inert carrier), ammonium nitrate (NH3NO3) for example would be 35:0:0, and potassium nitrate (KNO3) 13:0:38.

You also need to have a look at how the "5" is expressed, nitrogen is usually expressed as N, however phosphorus can be listed as phosphorus pentoxide ((P2O5) or as P, and potassium as K or as potassium oxide (K2O).

If it's as the phosphorus pentoxide, that is P2 (31+31) + O5 (16+16+16+16+16) = (62) + (78) = RMM 140 = 62/140 = 44.3% so 2.21 P rather than 5. The slow release means that it isn't all available (in solution instantly like the dry salts in EI), but released over time, this could be because it is resin coated like Osmocote or it could be something like "hoof and horn or bonemeal where the material has to be microbially degraded to release the nutrients.

"Growmore" is 7:7:7 (as the 2 oxides) and moderately slow release so a much cheaper and fairly similar option to the bonsai fertiliser. These don't include the other elements required for plant growth (Mg, Fe, etc) so they aren't replacements for Osmocote. If you want a cheaper Osmocote replacement, I've used "Vitax Q4" http://vitax.co.uk/?page_id=185/&category=28&product_id=63and this will perform the role adequately in a high CEC substrate (like Akadama or any other (calcined) clay).

Personally, unless it was a huge aquarium I'd use one of the slower release formulations of "Osmocote" http://www.scottsprofessional.com/en/osmocote-exact.html, how much you use is up to you, and how much CO2 and light you have, and whether you intend dose the water column with nutrients as well.

cheers Darrel
Hi a bit hijacking but anyone kept Corydoras with akadama? I mean do they do a lot of mess with substrate keeping in mind that its quite light.

I have corydoras pygmaeus and no problems.
Not sure if that counts though, as they are not your average size cory :)
hi all

i picked up a slow release osmocoat-type fert today
as it was on offer

its 13:13:13, that sound okay?


Hi all,
Yes it will almost certainly be all right. Does it say which formula it is? (they range from 6 weeks - 18 months). The 13 - 13 - 13 is probably as the 2 oxides, so 13% N, approx 6% P and approx 11% K (potassium oxide is about 83% potassium by weight), with traces?
cheers Darrel
Interesting read... Thanks for this...

Akadama may be the answer to a cheaper substrate for my planned 120cm x 60cm tank instead of ADA AS... I have an NPT at the minute so departing from topsoil and gravel will be a shock to the system to start with...

fourmations said:
btw this caught my eye in the shop im getting the akadama
http://www.yorkbonsai.co.uk/naruko-slow ... g-i26.html

I've used York Bonsai a few times in the past for bonsai stuff... One man show but he's very good...

And just as an aside, I now grow my Bonsai in Tesco cat litter as its cheaper than Akadama ;)
a1Matt said:
I have corydoras pygmaeus and no problems.
Not sure if that counts though, as they are not your average size cory :)

Hi I have 6 of them atm but they do not really count :)

I was thinking about real ones ;)

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 plonk it straight in their tanks. Next time I'm not going to bother treating it either as I don't like giving myself extra work. I was just being over cautious when I first did it as I didn't know what to expect.

jarthel said:
to aussie forum members: where can you get this? :)

thank you

I havent been able to source it yet. I am sure that it is here somewhere because I see it being discussed on bonsai forums. WIll let you know when I find out.

A few years ago I stumbled upon a substance in a spray bottle which is used in hot climates by spraying onto the leaves of garden plants in order to reduce transpiration in order to make the plant use less water. The idea being so that you can go on holidays and not have to worry about your plants dying. It says that it coats the leaves in silicon and that it will last up to 6 months.

So I am wondering what you guys would think about spraying this onto osmocote in order to slow the release process down for longer than say 6 months?

The best equivilent I found would be this:
http://www.yates.com.au/products/saving ... dy-to-use/