Powersand question

Discussion in 'Substrates' started by JamieH, 3 May 2008.

  1. JamieH

    JamieH Member

    Messages:
    73
    I was reading the ingrediant list for powersand earlier and wondered what 'volcanic rock pieces' are for? They are inert, right?

    I get the point of nutrients and bacteria that help make nutrients suitable for plant use... but pieces of rock?
     
  2. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    I believe the idea of them is to encourage bacteria in the substrate and provide different surfaces for bacterial colonisation. The ADA catalogue says that, "Its porous volcanic stones secure water circulation, and avoid the stiffing of the substrate." whatever that means!!! Bascially powersand contains organic matter and the volcanic rock provides structure and surfaces for the bacteria that gradually break that down to release its nutrients.
     
  3. JamieH

    JamieH Member

    Messages:
    73
    So adding something like some mature substrat pro, or fine-grade mature alfagrog to the soil base layer of a tank would prove beneficial?
     
  4. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    I'd say it certainly couldn't hurt but quite probably it isn't worth it. All substrates will form a healthy bacterial population and the main factor in there growth is likely to be oxygen (or the lack of) and nutrients. Avoiding compaction will determine the amount of O2 and what kinds of bacteria to an extent. If you're going with a soil layer beneath sand or gravel adding some porous media might be an interesting experiment. I'd probably go with some Hortag that you can get from the garden centre though as it'll be a lot cheaper and if any is exposed at some point in the future it won't be so obvious.

    Powersand is the volcanic rock, peaty material and a mixture of other things. Adding some kind of volcanic rock to soil substrate may produce quite different effects to those of Powersand which is designed to work below Aqusoil rather than gravel or similar. Would be nice experiment though if you want to.
     
  5. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,952
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    From what I gather, Powersand is basically pumice. Pumice is the hardened froth or ash from silica that forms as a result of volcanic eruptions (the ash type eruptions mostly not the magma type) . The material is very porous which is a very good for bacterial colonies. The pumice is soaked in low concentrations of NH4 and high concentrations of NO3. Then peat is added. The aquasoil is baked clay soaked in similar nutrient mixtures. While the AS holds it's nutrients for longer the nutrients in Powersand are depleted within a month or so. A complete waste of money at these prices. Just use AS by itself and save your money. If you have already purchased it then you may as well use it but it will not really make that much difference. The marketing guy must have left his dictionary at home when he wrote those ingredients. :wideyed:

    Cheers,
     
  6. Graeme Edwards

    Graeme Edwards Founder Staff Member

    Messages:
    1,161
    Location:
    Wirral/Chester Cheshire.
    Hi guys,

    Ive planted up a small tank in the Green Machine recently. I work the substrate with an influence from ADA's notion of thinking. When setting it up, I added a layer of Tropica substrate, then a layer of SERA syporax mini filter media granules and the Zambezi sand over the top of that. I added the syporax for the sole purpose of bacteria colonization. Now Ive not compared the cost of that to the power sand, but it works a long the same theme. you could use Ehime bio balls or anything that is small ( gravel size ish ) and highly porous.
    I think its a clever idea. The tank Ive set up is only 4 weeks old now, so its still to early to say, but its looking good, healthy and the fish are very happy.

    Cheers.
     
  7. JamieH

    JamieH Member

    Messages:
    73
    Ok... I'll chuck a couple of handfuls of the mature eheim subsrat in the bottom then when i add the soil... got plenty spare... and if it can't hurt - that said, i'll have no control equivalent to tell whether it was positive in effect or not!
     
  8. Graeme Edwards

    Graeme Edwards Founder Staff Member

    Messages:
    1,161
    Location:
    Wirral/Chester Cheshire.
    No you don't. Its a personal choice, so do what your happy with. I have no doubt that you can grow plants with or with out some kind of biological media, so its just a case of if you believe it will help and if its worth the effort then have a go. Ide say it cant hinder growth it can only help substrate structure, water circulation around the roots,aid the carbon cycle thus plant growth and the health of the water. But that doesn't mean its gospel, right or wrong. Its a notion of thought based on some fact, looking at plant biology and water reflexes.
    I know SERA's substrate plant mixture has these already added, so they obviously see some kind of benefit too. I just added it at a much higher concentration, ie a full layer.

    Cheers.
     
  9. Ray

    Ray Member

    Messages:
    474
    Location:
    Switzerland
    That's a shocker Clive - how do you know this - can you cite a source? Has someone done some experiments on how long AS and PS hold thier nutrient loads?
    Cheers, Ray
     
  10. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,952
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi Ray,
    I don't have a reference, just the preliminary data and comments from Barr regarding the sediment testing being done for Part 2 of his Newsletter. Why would you be shocked? Nutrients are not part of the molecular structure of clay or pumice, they are just soaked in and dried or mineralized by baking. Later, when soaked in water in the tank they leach out the nutrients making them available to the roots. They have to run out at some point. :rolleyes: The clay holds a lot more than the pumice, so it lasts longer in the AS than in the PS.

    Cheers,
     
  11. Ray

    Ray Member

    Messages:
    474
    Location:
    Switzerland
    I meant a shocker that powersand was snakeoil, so to speak. I suppose that you could argue that it is at the beginning as the tank establishes that you most need these nutrients because later fish waste and other decaying matter in the substrate will replenish the original supplies?

    I'm still unsure whether to use Akadama and peat or Aquasoil and powersand... As Ed points out, the latter does give you a little more room for error with regard to your liquid dosing...
     
  12. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,952
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Well, you know, AS by itself is the cat's meow. You don't need anything else and you certainly don't need to spend another 11 quid per litre for pumice. :wideyed: Remember Visuvius, the volcano that wiped out Pompei? Well that's what killed everyone, inhalation of the pyroclastic flow of hot pumice. :arghh:

    If you can afford AS then get it because as Ed says, it does a really good job on it's own. It can't be improved upon significantly by the addition of PS. If you are constantly changing scapes or stripping down the tank and putting new AS in then you don't care about the long term nutrient store. Barr is forever saying that we need to understand the science of the products that we use. PS sells like hot cakes evidently, and why? Maybe people just can't be bothered to understand the science. You see, I still remember getting repeatedly burned by buying Dupla Drops for a long time until Sears & Conlin figured out that it was just basically KNO3, Epsom Salts and Traces. It was like being unplugged from the Matrix, so now I figure products have to prove their value. The higher the price the more stringent are the requirements of that proof.

    For people who don't want to be bothered with home grown solutions and can afford it then that's their choice. I'm the same in some respects, I can't be bothered making my own CO2 diffuser so I'll buy one. But for substrates there is a choice for those who don't have the means. The treated Akadama plus peat as described by JamesC in his sticky is as good an alternative as any, especially if you plan to dose the water column. It's important to note that Ed sees a marked improvement when using AS because his column dosing is sporadic and perhaps a bit lean - for good reasons. On the other hand I see much, much less of an improvement because my column dosing is "over the top" to say the least. :rolleyes: As you point out, over time the organic waste breaks down in the sediment and releases nutrients back to the roots. I can't quantify whether it's ever as high as the original amount or not. I'm sure it depends on a lot of factors.

    There are a lot of factors which determine the health and growth of your plants besides the substrate. Here is a classic illustration. Look at the photos below. The first photo is of P. stelleta in 100% Aquasoil Amazonia (No PS). The second photo is P. stelleta in a mixture of inert gravel and a little bit of Ecocomplete. These plants are in the same tank but the sediments are segregated. Can you tell the difference? No, you can't. In this case water column dosing and extreme CO2 override everything else, including substrate performance. I could take the second photo and wax poetic about the virtues of inert substrates but that would be ridiculous because it would be ignoring all the other factors that contribute to plant health.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Cheers,
     
  13. tanker

    tanker Member

    Messages:
    102
    Location:
    Malaysia
    i just got "unplugged" 8) no powersand in my next set up...along with all those fancy powders, bacter100 etc etc etc....
     
  14. Ray

    Ray Member

    Messages:
    474
    Location:
    Switzerland
    Its my opinion Clive that you have the best macro shots in the business. "Lush" doesn't even come close to describing them.

    Ok, you convinced me. My tank project is so long in gestation the budget seems to be amortized over aeons so I just ordered 2 bags of Malaya and a small bag of powder. I'll be growing lots of crypts, hopefully they will thank me.
     
  15. beeky

    beeky Member

    Messages:
    879
    Location:
    Chippenham, Wiltshire
    It may be worth mentioning that ordinary garden soil is made up of many things including sand, clay, stones, organic humus etc so it makes sense in my eyes that a good balanced substrate would have similar mixes in it (but maybe not in the same proportion).
     
  16. Mark Evans

    Mark Evans Expert

    Messages:
    6,492
    Location:
    newark notts.
    thats enough info for me. i'll save a fortune now. :D
     

Share This Page

Facebook Page
Twitter Page
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice