Has anyone used Florabase in their aquariums? Any comments and experiences? Is this product comparable in quality and ability to grow plants as Eco-complete and Flourite? Do plants root well in this substrate?
I use it as a first layer along with fine Profile sand, among other things, in a 75. The mixture is topped with Eco-Complete. Plants take hold quite vigorously and clearly push their roots/rootlets into the soft + squishy Florabase granules, something they cannot do with Eco-Complete (though as you’ve likely observed Carlos, roots still grab the Eco granules more enthusiastically than with Flourite presumably because of the extra porosity). Like other substrates of its consistency it is extremely clean despite its softer makeup. I have it as a sole substrate (with N/P & humate additives) in a 10 and it’s been good so far, but not remarkable.
Can’t comment on its usage alone sans any other additives; I haven’t used a naked substrate (i.e. Flourite with zero additives) for some time, so it’s tough for me to offer cogent remarks on FloraBase-only vs. Flourite-only. (I’d add that I’ve seen older tanks with Florabase as the primary substrate and noticed compacting and breakdown of the granules, particularly in the lower to bottom-most levels. This was one reason that I decided to use it as a base in the 75.)
I started using florabase since the product was available, I am fortunate to be in the city were the company is based. I have nothing but good things to say about it but a few things made me scratch my head a couple of times, if you have been able to get a hold of the Amano substrates is just like it and they were designed to be use with a base substrate I think the ADA power sand mix is made of pumice and peat moss with some other fertilizers so when the two are used together you get the best results. Everyone knows that we do not have access to ADA products so many of my friends here in Houston and me tried just by it self and all of us complaint after the second month so we end up taking the tanks down and since I initially got 6 boxes of the stuff I was forced to make my own base substrate with pumice peat moss granules laterite and biological media to hold the mix together only after this, I was able to grow any plant without any trouble I actually still have a 75 gallon tank and I have changed the foreground a couple of times with great success and the tank it's been up and running for 2 years. BTW I have not seen any deterioration of the granules but then again the top layer is just florabase.
Welcome to APC!! Thanks for stopping by. I've admired your aquascapes for quite a while.
ADA subtrates are not avialable in the US currently. However, I continue to insist that they are essentially a baked clay. Amano uses that over his Power Sand. Power Sand is a semi-organic mix with mostly pumice and peat. The combination is powerful in that you establish a nutrient storehouse that can recycle nutrients and provide an optimum environment in the substrate solution.
ADA's Aqua Soil can be used on its own, just like Flora Base, but the result is not the same.
I'm steering clear of Flora Base because of the buffering. I need to be able to tell how much CO2 I'm getting into my water, and there's evidently some acid buffering in Flora Base (also, from what I heard, in ADA soils).
Those of you who use it, is this not a problem for you?
If Florabase is like Aqua Soil, "buffering" is not the right word.
What happens is that the clay material has a very acidic pH; that means that a large proportion of the CEC (cation exchange capacity) in the clay is occupied by hydrogen ion of aluminum ions. The calcium and magnesium in the water is exchanged for hydrogen on the substrate material. This is a common reaction -- the same reaction used in the cation exchange part of a deionizing water filter. The hydrogen ion is released into the water where it combined with the bicarbonate and lowers the KH. The calcium and magnesium is bound to the substrate particles.
The reaction happens with Aqua Soil, my akadama and probably Florabase also. However, the impact on GH/KH is only temporary. In my experience, there is a drop of about 20-30 ppm. As a result, you need to closely monitor this initially.
I would probably do well to review some material on the chemical interactions in the aquarium, so that I can get a bigger picture of what is happening with CEC, chelation, carbonate buffers, etc. I'm still not clear on the relationship between the reaction you are describing and how it affects the KH/pH CO2 chart.
Offhand, Flora Base/Aqua Soil would be in a lower layer under an inert substrate, in the same way I might use peat.
Sorry, I posted an incomplete thought. I meant to say that I would only use it under something else so it would have limited contact with the water column, in the same way that I would use peat, in a lower layer. I'm not willing to acidify the water column and render my pH readings unusable to caculate CO2. That's really what I was concerned about.
The substrate's ability to make nutrients available via acidification of a high CEC material is a good thing. I just don't want to throw off the CO2 reading, you see, by having other acids in the water column than H2CO3. I can't follow the chemistry you are describing to understand how hydrogen ions are being released from an aluminum salt (hydroxide?) in the substrate. My chemistry is really FeO, so I'll be looking forward to those reference materials!
You don't need to worry about the slight pH effect from substraste based peats.
If you really want accurate CO2 levels,m take the tap and take the tank water and sit them side by side and measure the KH/pH's and compare them to the table.
Both the tap and the tank water(with peat) will have precisely the same CO2 level.
Any differences in the pH can be substracted and adjusted for(assume the tap water has no peat influences on pH).
So the tap has a pH of 7.6/KH3 and the tank water a pH of 7.3/KH3, yo substract 0.3 units when you add the CO2.
Simple as pie.
As far as changing the stuff yearly? Naw, I would not and doubt that is needed with any of these porous iron rich substrates.
As far as not needing CO2, that can be said for any substrate.
Erik mentions boring into the grains more, but I do not think nor believe that means it's better or worse. Softer does not impy better.
This will come in handy. I can let the water in a currently-injected tank outgas before doing the measurements. There's a tank I need to do this to right now to verify some DIY levels. I added leonardite and peat to the substrate and am getting some leaching.
Is flordabase better or worse than Flourite in anyone's experience. I can get it for 9 dollars a bag and want to know if it would be worth it to change out a 50/50 flourite gravel mix for pure florabase.