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Volcanic Mineral Rocks recomended?

Dominik K

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14 Jun 2021
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74
Location
Southampton
Hi All

I'm going to be planting my first tank.
Its mostly going to be a an iwagumi hard scaping tank so a lot of/probably all carpeting plants. (Utricularia graminifolia, Eleocharis acicularis mini and some java mosses and maybe some monte carlo)

Im mainly emulating George farmers set up.
He recommends using lava volcanic mineral rocks as a bottom layer to support plant growth.

Unfortunately the JBL stuff he recommends is no longer available.
I anyone able to advise if:

A) its even necessary (I have a 64L tank)? I already have standard tropica aquarium soil.
B) What other alternative product could I get ?
 

zozo

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16 Apr 2015
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Looking at the JBL product it looks like ordinary Lava/Pumice Gravel. And JBL gives it a fancy name :)

You might find alternatives regarding the grain size in the Bonsai hobby trade. I've used Fuji Sand bought from a Bonsai shop. Available in 2 different grain sizes. It's actually the grain size that makes it sand or gravel regardless of the material it's from.
Fuji Sand also is a crushed volcanic rock / Pumice but it's black in color. Reading the JBL product description it has the exact same properties regarding porosity and stability as a base layer.

But searching for crushed Lava rock you might find more options, it's the grain size you're after. In the pond hobby, it's often used as a filter medium but in bigger chuncks.

If you can't find it locally, I guess, this might be pretty simmilar already.
Amazon product
Amazon product
 

zozo

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A) its even necessary
It could be of good use regarding its stability depending on the scape you're planning. :) But from a plant perspective, it can grow on anything as long as the water column provides it what the soil doesn't have. And lave rock has zip if it's not injected with something. And even if it is artificially mineralized it will not be indefinitely and water column fertilization is inevitable.

The choice of substrate and the hardscape, it needs to support are more the key factors to take into account. All other properties given such as aeration and flow etc. etc. are rather somewhat subjective. If it doesn't help it doesn't hurt. :) There are people with wonderful planted tanks growing it on plain sand only. But if you plan a scape with a banked-up substrate, then sand only will not provide enough support.

It comes down to, if you like it and have nice experiences with it it's good. :thumbup: Nothing wrong with sharing experiences and recommending products that made it successful.
 

ceg4048

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UKAPS Team
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11 Jul 2007
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9,553
Location
Chicago, USA
Hi All

I'm going to be planting my first tank.
Its mostly going to be a an iwagumi hard scaping tank so a lot of/probably all carpeting plants. (Utricularia graminifolia, Eleocharis acicularis mini and some java mosses and maybe some monte carlo)

Im mainly emulating George farmers set up.
He recommends using lava volcanic mineral rocks as a bottom layer to support plant growth.

Unfortunately the JBL stuff he recommends is no longer available.
I anyone able to advise if:

A) its even necessary (I have a 64L tank)? I already have standard tropica aquarium soil.
B) What other alternative product could I get ?
Hello,
This is not really something to fret over. The term Lava rock or volcanic has been associated with any rock consisting of basalt, which is a heavier and more dense material than clay products, for example. It's simply the material produced by volcanos, which, really have no special properties that you cannot find in clay sediments, such as laterite. George may have suggested the basalt because it's weight may help to hold the plant roots and may help to prevent them from being easily pulled out. There are a few gravel brands consisting of basalt. I know that the brand Eco-Complete at one time used basalt. I haven't investigated what material they use now.

Cheers,
 

Dominik K

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Thread starter
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14 Jun 2021
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74
Location
Southampton
Ok thanks for the replies.
It was my understanding these rocks have a special mineral consistency thats relevant for plant nutrition. I think i misunderrstood something.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
have a special mineral consistency thats relevant for plant nutrition
It is the <"basalt>" bit that matters, not the "JBL". Basalt is a "mafic" volcanic rock and relatively mineral rich.

Composition-of-basalt-in-wt.png


Having said that it is probably a theoretical difference (from pumice etc) if the rock is <"very hard">.

cheers Darrel
 

ceg4048

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Ok thanks for the replies.
It was my understanding these rocks have a special mineral consistency thats relevant for plant nutrition. I think i misunderrstood something.
Hi,
There really is nothing all that special about basalt or pumice, which is another volcanic material. The level of nutrients accessible to plant roots are miniscule due to the large particle size and hardness, and if nutrition is the property you are seeking then you would be much better off with a nutrient enriched product such as ADA Aquasoil. ADA also have a pumice product called Powersand which is also highly saturated with nutrients. The nutrients in Powersand leech out fairly rapidly, while Aquasoil remains nutrient rich for much longer. Neither basalt nor any other unenriched sediment compare with the levels of nutrients in these two ADA products. The penalty, naturally, is that they are very expensive in comparison to basalt products.

In any case, the differences between basalt, pumice and enriched sediments do not really matter if you intend to dose the water column with nutrients. The ability to uptake nutrients from the water is a defining specialty of aquatic plants and they can feed from the water more easily and more directly from from the water than they do from the sediment and so they feed from whichever direction is most advantageous at the moment.

In unenriched sediments, far more important than their natural content of nutrients, is the property known as Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), which is the ability to confer nutrients from the water to the plant roots, in effect, the sediment acts as a middle man by absorbing nutrients and making the nutrients available to the plant roots. The sediment with the highest CEC is, unsurprisingly, organic soil, such as potting soil. Clay sediments also can have high CEC depending on clay type. Having said that, basalt can be used to improve the CEC of almost any sediment, however the basalt must be in the form of dust in order to be useful. The particle size needs to be on the order of 50 micrometers. This small size enables the mineral content to be more available to the tiny root hairs and allows the basalt to more effectively magnify the sediments CEC.

For many years, a popular basalt sediment has been Caribsea's Eco Complete. Again, as I mentioned, it is only mildly nutritious, despite the claimed "30 different nutritious ingredients" due to it's particle size of standard aquarium gravel, which is thousands of times less efficient than if it were dust. I've used this product with no problems, but I avoided dependence on any of it's nutritious content by dosing the water column.
eco complete1.jpg

Cheers,
 
Last edited:

Dominik K

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Thread starter
Joined
14 Jun 2021
Messages
74
Location
Southampton
Hi,
There really is nothing all that special about basalt or pumice, which is another volcanic material. The level of nutrients accessible to plant roots are miniscule due to the large particle size and hardness, and if nutrition is the property you are seeking then you would be much better off with a nutrient enriched product such as ADA Aquasoil. ADA also have a pumice product called Powersand which is also highly saturated with nutrients. The nutrients in Powersand leech out fairly rapidly, while Aquasoil remains nutrient rich for much longer. Neither basalt nor any other unenriched sediment compare with the levels of nutrients in these two ADA products. The penalty, naturally, is that they are very expensive in comparison to basalt products.

In any case, the differences between basalt, pumice and enriched sediments do not really matter if you intend dose the water column with nutrients. The ability to uptake nutrients from the water is a defining specialty of aquatic plants and they can feed from the water more easily and more directly from from the water than they do from the sediment and so they feed from whichever direction is most advantageous at the moment.

In unenriched sediments, far more important than their natural content of nutrients, is the property knowns Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), which is the ability to confer nutrients from the water to the plant roots, in effect, the sediment acts as a middle man by absorbing nutrients and making the nutrients available to the plant roots. The sediment with the highest CEC is, unsurprisingly, organic soil, such as potting soil. Clay sediments also can have high CEC depending on clay type. Having said that, basalt can be used to improve the CEC of almost any sediment, however the basalt must be in the form of dust in order to be useful. The particle size needs to be on the order of 50 micrometers. This small size enables the mineral content to be more available to the tiny root hairs and allows the basalt to more effectively magnify the sediments CEC.

For many years, a popular basalt sediment has been Caribsea's Eco Complete. Again, as I mentioned, it is only mildly nutritious, despite the claimed "30 different nutritious ingredients" due to the particle size of standard aquarium gravel, which is thousands of times less efficient than if it were dust. I've used this product with no problems, but I avoided dependence on any of it's nutritious content by dosing the water column.
View attachment 170917

Cheers,
Wow that's extremely insightful!
Thank you very much for explaining in a very clear manner so even an oaf like me could understand!

Thank you!
 
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