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Thread: Cat litter substrate?

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted Flighty Zeus's Avatar
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    Question Cat litter substrate?

    I was on a FB fish forum and someone told a lady to put kitty litter in her tank as substrate. What the actual heck? Is this real?

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    SCAPE Member SCAPEr jayo's Avatar
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    Clay-based kitty litters are low-fired monmorillonite clays. They have a good grain size and provide a good planting medium. Like a cheaper Flourite, except that kitty litters are often fired less and so can break down into 'mud' over a few years (not always! But seems to depend on the batch), and the color isn't designed for aquarium substrates, but the material is actually good for planting in.

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted Flighty Zeus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayo View Post
    Clay-based kitty litters are low-fired monmorillonite clays. They have a good grain size and provide a good planting medium. Like a cheaper Flourite, except that kitty litters are often fired less and so can break down into 'mud' over a few years (not always! But seems to depend on the batch), and the color isn't designed for aquarium substrates, but the material is actually good for planting in.

    Wow. Mind = blown! 🤯

    I'm sticking with regular "stuff"!

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted kellakk's Avatar
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    I replaced the gravel in my old aquarium with kitty litter. It works and the plants root well in it. The only problem is that it breaks down easily, so there's always a bunch of fine litter kicked up when I disturb the substrate.

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    SCAPE Member Sr. SCAPEr SCas's Avatar
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    What type of litter is safe?

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    Moderator 2000 posts, Star SCAPEr Nick Shades's Avatar
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    I've done it for a couple of tanks.

    The best stuff comes in the generic brown bag from walmart. Its ingredients say, "100% laterite clay."

    I really liked the results, but it is a PITMFA to remove. It WILL break down into mud, but to be honest, just mix in stuff like a high mineral content substrate with it/dillute a better substrate, pack them between layers, etc.

    As it is a substrate that turns into clay, it becomes extremely efficient at retaining structures better than traditional substrates alone.

    I go back and forth on whether or not it is really worth doing, but if you want to play with a scaping concept outside of your head, it is an extremely inexpensive means of doing so.

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    SCAPE Member Sr. SCAPEr SCas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Shades View Post
    I've done it for a couple of tanks.

    The best stuff comes in the generic brown bag from walmart. Its ingredients say, "100% laterite clay."

    I really liked the results, but it is a PITMFA to remove. It WILL break down into mud, but to be honest, just mix in stuff like a high mineral content substrate with it/dillute a better substrate, pack them between layers, etc.

    As it is a substrate that turns into clay, it becomes extremely efficient at retaining structures better than traditional substrates alone.

    I go back and forth on whether or not it is really worth doing, but if you want to play with a scaping concept outside of your head, it is an extremely inexpensive means of doing so.
    Wow, thats awesome, thanks. You where talking about how it retains its shape, you could try some vertical scapes with it i guess

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    Moderator 2000 posts, Star SCAPEr Nick Shades's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SCas View Post
    Wow, thats awesome, thanks. You where talking about how it retains its shape, you could try some vertical scapes with it i guess

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    I might still have a scape on here or the TF betta forum where I had a 28 gallon high with a 14" high terraced slope. It was built up using kitty litter.

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    SCAPE Member Sr. SCAPEr SCas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Shades View Post
    I might still have a scape on here or the TF betta forum where I had a 28 gallon high with a 14" high terraced slope. It was built up using kitty litter.
    Wow nice, gonna see if i can convince jack to use some kitty litter so he can use stem plants in his 40 breeder lol. He just had gravel and he doesnt want to spend a ton of money replacing it.

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    Pew Pew Lazor 5000 posts, Officially addicted to SCAPE! Zenzu's Avatar
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    Wow super old school discussion. Haven't heard anyone talking about kitty litter in a long time. Akadama lasts a bit longer. Also breaks down into a muddy layer over some years.
    THE CAKE IS A LIE!

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    SCAPE Member SCAPEr varanidguy's Avatar
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    Speaking of old school, what about a plenum with a layer of laterite on top, then on top of the laterite your preferred substrate? I've been wanting to try something like that.

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    SCAPE Member 5000 posts, Officially addicted to SCAPE! swoof's Avatar
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    In my old 50 gallon I used laterite (api I think). Then standard aquarium gravel. Grew Vallisneria (giant, corkscrew, Italian) like crazy.

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    Pew Pew Lazor 5000 posts, Officially addicted to SCAPE! Zenzu's Avatar
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    Plenum? Like a UGF? Laterite... We've come a long way. Which again makes me think of Montmorillinite clay, so good but turns into so much work.
    THE CAKE IS A LIE!

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    SCAPE Member 5000 posts, Officially addicted to SCAPE! swoof's Avatar
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    I was like Plenum? This isn't a dart frog tank. . .

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    SCAPE Member SCAPEr varanidguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zenzu View Post
    Plenum? Like a UGF? Laterite... We've come a long way. Which again makes me think of Montmorillinite clay, so good but turns into so much work.
    Yep, I was watching some videos of an old school planted tank dude and he uses plenums, his tanks a beautiful, and he swears by them. It made me curious to try out his method. He basically uses one layer of bio balls and a plastic screen on top of them, does a thin layer of laterite, then whatever on top of that about 3 inches thick.

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    SCAPE Member Sr. SCAPEr SCas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by varanidguy View Post
    Yep, I was watching some videos of an old school planted tank dude and he uses plenums, his tanks a beautiful, and he swears by them. It made me curious to try out his method. He basically uses one layer of bio balls and a plastic screen on top of them, does a thin layer of laterite, then whatever on top of that about 3 inches thick.
    Do you have a link to the video?

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    SCAPE Member SCAPEr varanidguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SCas View Post
    Do you have a link to the video?

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    I do!


  20. #18
    SCAPE Member Sr. SCAPEr SCas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by varanidguy View Post
    I do!

    Thanks!

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    Moderator 2000 posts, Star SCAPEr Nick Shades's Avatar
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    How very interesting.
    A plenum is that space in an office building where you have the dropped metal frame ceiling and then hide the a/c ducts and electrical, etc, behind the acoustic ceiling tiles.

    I never thought of it as something useful in an aquarium, and ironically, that would make one heck of an amazing refugium for a nano.

    Very, very interesting.

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    SCAPE Member SCAPEr varanidguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Shades View Post
    How very interesting.
    A plenum is that space in an office building where you have the dropped metal frame ceiling and then hide the a/c ducts and electrical, etc, behind the acoustic ceiling tiles.

    I never thought of it as something useful in an aquarium, and ironically, that would make one heck of an amazing refugium for a nano.

    Very, very interesting.
    My sentiments exactly. In another video, he also speaks of a study where aquatic plants were studied in tanks with and without plenums and was saying the plants in tanks with plenums did much better because the roots were unimpeded by anoxic zones within the substrate. I think it's at least worth a try, worst case, it's a bust on a small tank and won't be too hard to break down or convert.

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