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Clay substrate for nothos
Quite a regular
2010/2/20 9:14
From Portland OR
Posts: 52
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Sometimes I have heard people speculate about spawning nothos over clay, and I know Mark Pearlscott did some experiments keeping notho eggs in clay (where is he and how can we get him back?). A friend of mine told me people are using the clay sold for running tracks in their plant tanks instead of costly Amano branded clay substrates. Wich are probably Tokyo priced running track clay... So if any of you are inclined to fool around with that sort of thing the standard red high school track clay is fish safe.
Where you get it is a different thing. The Seattle fish club has ordered truckloads and sold it among members. Certainly would not take used track clay.
I bought the stupid AMano stuff which has a lot of ammonia in it, and turns the water a vile color. The fish pulled through and indeed the plants are growing like mad. Then I read that after about a year all the nutrients are depleted and it has to be replaced. You will know it is at this stage because the water will stop being cloudy and yellow.
Highly dissatisfied with costly Amano brand substrate which I strongly suspect to be Takashi's personal used kitty litter. But once the year is up and it's drained of anything useful I think I will throw it in a notho tank. I know peat is tried and true but I hate how it drops the ph, and if I try to mess with ph buffers much I always kill fish during water changes. I would like a more stable and precise notho setup in the future.

Posted on: 2010/10/30 9:33
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Re: Clay substrate for nothos
2010/2/2 8:56
Posts: 176
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yes, people speculate about this but I see no point in it. First, as you say, the clay will make the tank messy, or at the minimum cloudy. Second, the type of clay Nothos occur in naturally is nothing like running track clay. The latter is a red clay and Nothos never occur in ponds with a red clay substrate. They occur only in those with black, or dark brown, clay. If you read Brian Watters's article in the recent special Notho issue, you will see his explanation of this, which has to do with the water retaining capacity of the clay crystal structure. One would still have to store Notho eggs in clay in poly bags. I can't say for sure but I would worry that it would harden, making it difficult to disperse when wet for hatching. Furthermore, the hatch water would presumably be cloudy, making fry hard to see.

People have played with many substrates for Nothos, green sand, gravel, crushed walnut shells, glass micro-marbles (as used in road paint), and so on, but everyone comes back to peat. Peat is still the best substitute for the natural substrate, even though it can get thrown out of spawning containers and requires bagging to retain the moisture.

Sorry to be a wet blanket. Try it if you like, but I doubt you'll find it preferable to peat.


Posted on: 2010/10/30 9:53
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Re: Clay substrate for nothos
Just popping in
2010/2/11 17:29
From Nanaimo, Canada
Posts: 5
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Barry has outlined some of the problems using clay as a Notho spawning and egg storage medium (in the aquarium situation) so I will not repeat that. However, if anyone wishes to experiment using clay for this purpose then I would suggest using what is referred to in the aquarium/pond trade as "Koi Clay". This is, basically bentonite which has a high montmorillonite clay content, the same type of (swelling) clay that is prominent in the substrates of natural Notho habitats.

Brian Watters

Posted on: 2010/10/30 10:13
Brian Watters
Nanaimo, Canada
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Re: Clay substrate for nothos
Just popping in
2010/10/25 17:44
From Corvallis, Oregon
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hi Kate, I would suggest soaking your peat for a long period of time (like 6 months +), in soft water. Changing the soak water several times, great for all the other acidophiles. This will reduce the tannin leaching from the peat. Then for the Notho. water, harden it up so the ph will not drop so easily and quickly. Using larger tank volume will also help to have a more stable enviro!
Most Notho enviroments do not seem very stable, they dry up,
and are dependant upon the changing water conditions for their continued survival.
In our case (aquarium maintanence) we need to change the water on occasion.

David M

Posted on: 2010/10/30 11:12
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Re: Clay substrate for nothos
Quite a regular
2010/2/11 21:22
From Olympia WA
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When I wet my peat (I buy the cheap stuff in the 4 cf bails) I put about 5 tablespoons of baking soda in a container full of peat (I'd guess that it's about 4 gallons). My hardness has always been from 70 to 100 ppm. I don't think I've ever had a problem with the pH dropping. By the way, I wet some rachovii Beira MT 03-1 eggs. I hatched a HUGE amount of fry!


Posted on: 2010/10/30 17:15
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