Tesco cat litter as a substrate.

Discussion in 'Substrates' started by spider72, 7 Oct 2008.

  1. spider72

    spider72 Member

    Messages:
    116
    Location:
    Wick, Scotland
    Hi guys.

    My colleague from polish aquatic plant forum has been inspired from some time by James article about using akadama as a substrate. Unfortunately in Poland akadama is not easy to get and is also much more expensive. But he did not gave up and did reserch over internet about what bonsai keepers are using instead of akadama. He found that they are often using cat litter, as it is made of baked clay and have very similar properties to akadama, however not every cat litter made of clay is suitable (I have tested two, which are not).
    So, he decided to give a "cat sand" a try and setup a test tank few days ago. You can see his test tank (not fully setup yet) and "cat sand" here http://www.roslinyakwariowe.pl/forum/vi ... hp?t=24479 I know that is in polish but there is also many pictures.
    You can also try this link http://translate.google.co.uk/translate ... n&ie=UTF-8 with translation to english, but this translation is very bad.
    If you will be interested in his experiment than I can invite him to this forum to answer your question or even ask him (or force him ;) ) start parallel thread here as he is good english speaker.

    Regards
     
  2. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Messages:
    1,276
    Location:
    Bexley, Kent
    Great stuff. I nearly tried cat litter but found the Akadama so never got round to it. Some years ago Tesco's premium cat litter in the blue bag used to be the best one to use but I have a feeling that it has changed since then. Lot's of people have tried it in the past but it does have a tendency to turn to mud after a while. The cat sand looks promising though. Be interested in knowing more about the product.

    James
     
  3. Stu Worrall

    Stu Worrall Forum Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    1,983
    Location:
    Flintshire, North Wales
    interested to see how he gets on with that cat sand. In Bonsai most of the people in my local club tend to use Sophisticat Pink cat litter as its quite hard and doesnt break down very easily. Usually mixed with akadama/cat litter/compost in thirds for most stuff with a drier mix with grit for pines.

    Not sure how it would do in a tank as it has a scent to it which usually goes in a week or two when in a bonsai pot.

    Its this stuff but I can usually get it for below £10 locally and it works out cheaper than using akadama on its own

    http://www.pet-supermarket.co.uk/er...Sophisticat Pink cat litter&btnG=Search&meta=
     
  4. Stu Worrall

    Stu Worrall Forum Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    1,983
    Location:
    Flintshire, North Wales
    by the way ive tried akadam in my spare 60cm tank and it seems to be coming on well with no problems yet. Ive also put Amazonia in my Rio 125 though and ive found this a hell of a lot easier to plant in. The ADA stuff just tends to grab the roots when you put it in, probably due to its small size. the akadama doesnt hold stuff down as well as the ADA and I even sieved it to get the medium size particles (small was too fine and dusty)
     
  5. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

    Messages:
    4,428
    Location:
    Leamington Spa, UK.
    Any ideas how it affects your water chemistry?
     
  6. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

    Messages:
    2,518
    Location:
    Bromley
  7. Stu Worrall

    Stu Worrall Forum Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    1,983
    Location:
    Flintshire, North Wales
    which one? Cat litter ive not tried myself becuase of the scent it carries. cant imagine it would be too good for the water chemistry but maybe it could be weathered a bit first in an outside water butt or something? The good thing with cat litter is that its very hard and will last longer than akadama (at least in a bonsai pot anyway)
     
  8. spider72

    spider72 Member

    Messages:
    116
    Location:
    Wick, Scotland
    Thanks guys for showing interest. Because I think that the best answers are always from "first hand", than I have left a message for the author of the experiment in his thread on polish forum. Hope he will be not too busy to answer your questions soon.

    a1Matt
    Thanks for link, a lot of great stuff.
     
  9. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Messages:
    1,276
    Location:
    Bexley, Kent
    Normally you'd go for the unscented type, but I believe you can soak it for a few weeks to remove the scent. Not something I'd try though.

    What Akadama have you seen as the Double Line variety that I've used is plenty hard enough to last several years in a tank. Cheap Akadama's are soft and do disintegrate quite quickly. Same with cat litters, most of the ones I've seen are quite soft but no doubt there are some hard ones around. Even ADA Aqua Soil has a limited life and too much messing around with it turns it to mush.

    James
     
  10. Kadazan

    Kadazan Newly Registered

    Messages:
    1
    Hello and welcome all,

    I've been asked by Spider72 to attend to this thread and answer whatever questions you might have about the kitty litter in an aquarium. As you might have seen in the above mentioned thread at the Polish forum, I've taken the leap of faith and started a tank with TESCO kitty litter as a substrate. It's been doing great for the last four days. No sings of clouding nor deaths. To be on the safe side, I've rinsed the "substrate" thoroughly to get rid of the dust and flowery scent. I've also added two handfuls of activated carbon to the first (1cm) layer. This was then complemented with some peat granules and covered with 5-8cm of kitty litter. I've added some activated carbon to the filter as well, in order to counter any stray chemicals from its production process.

    Some data:
    Tank: Polish standard 112litres: 80x35x40cm
    Filter: Eheim Classic 2215 filled with foam, lava, filter moss and activated carbon
    Light: DIY Metal-Halide lamp with 70W BLV 5200K light source
    CO2: Pressurised 1,5kg, synchronised with light, diffused externally in a DIY reactor.
    KH: 6* dKH
    GH: 14* dGH
    pH: 7.2
    PO4: 0.5ppm
    NO3: 20ppm
    Fe: 0ppm

    These values were measured right after filling the tank with water (fresh&old 50:50)

    Current fertilisation: K2SO4 at about 20ppm total + 2ppm daily
    Planned fertilisation: TMG imitation + KNO3

    This is the tank after two days:
    [​IMG]

    I plan to add Eleocharis parvula, Blyxa japonica and Hemianthus micranthemoides.

    Actually, the first rinsing did the trick in my case :)

    I suspected it might absord calcium and magnesium quite ravenously. However, after rinsing it with my hard tap water, it only managed to lower KH from 7 to 6 overnight and no further. This is desirable in my case, because I'll be using RO water + salts.
    Other changes... I can't really tell. It's not releasing iron or any element that I could measure. As for the rest - I'm using activated carbon and hope it'll do. Fish and shrimps (Red Cherry) do not show any signs of illness or abnormal behaviour.

    Kitty Litter seems to be in the 1-5mm range, with most of the grains being about 2-3mm in diameter.

    It hasn't in Poland. This is what it looks like in here:
    [​IMG]

    I hope that you like the outcome of this experiment :) Feel free to post any questions, I'll be happy to answer the best I can.

    Best regards,
    Kadazan
     
  11. JamesC

    JamesC Member

    Messages:
    1,276
    Location:
    Bexley, Kent
    Great stuff. Please keep us informed with any developments. I'm quite interested in how it affects your KH as when I used Akadama it reduced to 0 very quickly

    James
     
  12. squiggley

    squiggley Member

    Messages:
    220
    Whats the litter made from?

    My local somerfield has two types :

    1. Claybased - Fullers Earth (bentonite)
    2. Lightweight - sepiolite.

    Or do they use something different because neither look like the photos in the translated version of he first post. Fullers earth is browny grey and the lightweight is white.

    Tried the fullers earth before but unfortunately only had to set up for a month and then had to disassemble the tank cos we moved. Had good leaf and root growth in the short time and thought about trying again.

    Just wondering if either product would be suitable or shall i take the hour bus trip to Tescos to grab a bag
     
  13. MarkP

    MarkP Newly Registered

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    King's Lynn, Norfolk
    i,m thinking about trying this, do you think it would work under a layer of fine black gravel,,if anyone have any veiws on this it would be welcome

    thanks
    mark
     
  14. JamesM

    JamesM Member

    Messages:
    1,913
    Location:
    The BIG End, South Wales
    I tried the type suggested on its own, and its a right mess. Mud basically. I even bought a second bag and rised it for ages until I was left with a tiny amount of the larger, harder bits of clay/stone. Looked great, until I added water :lol: A week later and it still hadn't settled and actually turned to mush. Might work under gravel or something, but on its own its a night mare.
     
  15. squiggley

    squiggley Member

    Messages:
    220
    Yes I found it messing, especially when I had to stip the tank down when we moved house, it basically turns back to soft clay.

    This is the 2nd tank set up using fullers earth, have covered it with silver sand. The only problem I had is that it you have to be very careful if you remove a plant and not pull the clay up through the sand.

    Week2.jpg
     
  16. MarkP

    MarkP Newly Registered

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    King's Lynn, Norfolk
    looks like it's back to the drawing board on the cat litter substrate,,, this fullers earth stuff sounds like it could be worth a try ?
    any tips on where i can get some and what to look for ?
     
  17. beeky

    beeky Member

    Messages:
    879
    Location:
    Chippenham, Wiltshire
    I saw Fullers Earth in Aldi last week. It actually has the ingredients as "Baked Clay" on its own. No other cat litter that I've seen lists ingredients.
     
  18. Polly

    Polly Member

    Messages:
    154
    Hi,

    Just joined this forum and I'm so glad I did :D

    I've been toying with the idea of using the pink cat litter (Tesco or Sophisticat) for about 6 years now, but never had the courage - I've always been afraid of killing the fish with unidentified additives ;)

    From what I understand this doesn't happen as long as the litter has been well rinsed.

    Some years ago I tried a layer of the grey/white fullers earth litter under gravel and it wasn't worth the effort - far too messy if a plant needed to be moved or removed, although they did grow well.

    As I'm planning a complete replanting and removal of the current gravel which I have never been happy with, this looks like an interesting substrate.

    Only problem could be my water - it comes out of the tap very soft anyway so will have to keep an eye on it.
     
  19. Antoni

    Antoni Forum Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    830
    Location:
    Pompey
    Dear Friends,
    as I have been fiddling about with the cat litter some time now, I will share my humble experience with you:
    The cat litter is manly done of bentonite, but there are two types of it: Calcium bentonite and Sodium bentonite.
    Most of the cat litter is made of Sodium bentonite, where the exchanging cations are Na. Its widely used because it is easier extracting and because of its swelling nature.
    For our purposes IMO we should use Calcium bentonite, where the exchanging cations are Ca, but this one is harder to define. I know it should not affect water parameters(the sodium bentonite increases the Ph) and will not swell.

    Also I think it should be pretreated in some way, in order to harden it a bit.

    Hope this helps!
     
  20. Polly

    Polly Member

    Messages:
    154
    I was thinking of rinsing it well and then treating it with something like pH + or as a cheaper alternative, just putting a little coral gravel in a bag in the filter and removing it when the pH was OK ? My tap water is very low in minerals anyway - perfect for Discus etc ;)
     

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