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Very good idea! I'm not sure why it was considered important to add clay to mineralized soil, so I'm not sure if STS meets the need. As I recall, it was iron-rich clay that was recommended, but Diana Walstad has pointed out that ordinary dirt contains a significant amount of iron anyway. (I'm too lazy to read 58 pages here to find out why the clay.)
 

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I don't remember Diana ever mentioning adding clay. At least I can't find it. But she does discuss problems with iron toxicity. Seems like that kinda just popped up somewhere about adding red clay as an iron source.
Also, I'm pretty certain montmorillonite clay (STS/OilDri) is not a source of iron. STS is used in the substrate to bind nutrients because of its high CEC. Pottery clay and montmorillonite clay are two different materials to the best of my knowledge.
 

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Plants can't use the iron clay anyway. It's bonded with the silica. Plant roots can get iron ions attracted to clay & soil, CEC.

Montmorillonite clay is like 3x higher in CEC than pottery clay.
 

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I use VERY small amounts of powdered calcium bentonite every few days. Like barely a pinch in a 10 gallon tank just added to water. Supposedly it absorbs toxins and provides a few minerals among other things. Koi breeders have been using it for years. (https://allnaturalpetcare.com/blog/...tmorillonite-clay-for-pond-and-aquarium-fish/). I don't think it has any CEC value. It has a totally different purpose and form than STS or OilDri and you would never use it in the volume that we do STS! STS or OilDri are very large particles that take a very, very long time to dissolve, if ever. The product you are referring to is a very finely ground powder as people consume the food grade type (which is what I have). You really can't compare the 2 products.
 

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I found bentonite clay powder in the department store facial care section. Does bentonite clay have a high CEC level?

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yes, betonite is a type of montmorillonite clay. They're all the same really in structure.
Make sure it's 100% clay without added cosmetic stuff.
 

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I don't think it has any CEC value. It has a totally different purpose and form than STS or OilDri and you would never use it in the volume that we do STS! STS or OilDri are very large particles that take a very, very long time to dissolve, if ever. The product you are referring to is a very finely ground powder as people consume the food grade type (which is what I have). You really can't compare the 2 products.
STS & Oildri goes through a process of drying, shaped, sized, and firing (like pottery but not exactly) so they don't dissolve in water. Bentonite & montmorillonite clay are the same stuff.
The powdered form has more surface area than the baked form.
 

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According to Walmart website, this is sodium bentonite, not calcium, but otherwise pure.


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I use VERY small amounts of powdered calcium bentonite every few days. Like barely a pinch in a 10 gallon tank just added to water. Supposedly it absorbs toxins and provides a few minerals among other things. Koi breeders have been using it for years. (https://allnaturalpetcare.com/blog/...tmorillonite-clay-for-pond-and-aquarium-fish/).
...

The product you are referring to is a very finely ground powder as people consume the food grade type (which is what I have). You really can't compare the 2 products.
Thanks for the input, GadgetGirl. That web page is very informative. I can see where calcium montmorillonite may be better than the sodium type as an aquarium supplement.

MisterGreen, I think the fine grained nature of this facial cosmetics clay may make it a good choice for blending into the soil substrate for CEC value. It seems a little will go a long way. I wonder if sodium bentonite in the substrate will increase the sodium content of the water.


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MisterGreen, I think the fine grained nature of this facial cosmetics clay may make it a good choice for blending into the soil substrate for CEC value. It seems a little will go a long way. I wonder if sodium bentonite in the substrate will increase the sodium content of the water.[
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It doesn't look like it's water soluble so you should be fine. You can buy a big bag of Safe-t-sorb or Oildri for $9. Bang for your bucks.
 

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It would probably be ok, but I'm not sure what would be gained if it's mixed in substrate.
Clay mixed in the substrate promotes plant growth by increasing the cation exchange capacity (CEC) of the soil, helping roots to efficiently utilize soil nutrients.

There are a few other components to the mineralized soil recipe. Clay provides a source of iron. The clay also serves to bind with the soil as a flocculating agent. When plants are uprooted or disturbed, the added clay will help the soil to settle back to the bottom of the tank.
I'm still not sure about the sodium vs. calcium question, though.

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Does anyone here keep invertebrates? I've given this recipe a go and it appears to have created a toxic environment for my shrimp and nerite snails. Several batches have died, even after isolating one variable after another. Meanwhile, I'm keeping another dirted tank, utilizing the same tap water and many of the same plants, with zero issues.

I raised this issue on the El Natural forum, and Diana Walstad mentioned: "Many clays contain aluminum. The clay may be fine by itself, but when you mix it with an organic soil, the organic matter can solubilize the aluminum oxides and release toxic aluminum into the water. Invertebrates are particularly sensitive to heavy metals, which includes aluminum." She also was concerned about using solid potash.

I've spoken with two others who have used this mineralization method and cannot keep invertebrates in those tanks, despite being able to keep them in other tanks. It seems quite likely that something toxic is being leached from the soil substrate.

I'm very curious if anyone else has experienced an issue like this using the mineralization method suggested in this post.
 
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