Clay Balls

Discussion in 'The Nursery' started by traip, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. traip
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    traip Noob

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    Hi,

    I've read about people using clay balls as an addition to substrates. I've done a search, and can't find the answers I'm looking for, so please forgive me if this has been discussed endlessly.

    I was visiting a potter friend and scrounged a small bag of clay. To my surprise, it's white, not the brick-red that I usually associate potters clay with. Can I use it?

    And if so, what should I add, and how should I prepare it? Dry in the sun (erm, well, there isn't much of that at the mo!!) or in the oven? I know that @greystoke uses this, any advice please?
     
  2. R.C.
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  3. traip
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    traip Noob

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    Well, thanks, but like I said, I did do a search. ;)

    I'm finding a mass of conflicting info, but it's hard to decide what to do in the face of this sort of advice, I was hoping someone local with local experience could lend a hand?

    '
    But, hey, if it's up to me to experiment, then so be it.
     
  4. Dirk B
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    Hi Traip, or else Tracy,

    as I suspect! The objective in this case is that the clay is rich in iron. If the clay is white then it is definitely not of the type that contains the iron, so this will not achieve what you are wanting. It is the iron oxide which would make the clay red.

    With regard to all of this advice, the objective is to introduce iron into the medium in order to feed your plants. You can do this just as well by adding plain old iron/steel nails to the medium. I actually think that adding iron rich clay to the substrate is a very inefficient way of getting iron to your plants. Whilst some plants, such as Cryptocoryne want most of their feeding via their roots, I have read that the feeding of iron via the water is much better for most aquarium plants. So if you are feeding your plants with a soluble fertilizer, then this is perfectly ok for the moment, unless you grow Cryptocoryne, which I suspect you do not?

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     
  5. R.C.
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    Well, you asked how to prepare it and those last three links show you how. Judging from the quote, I gather you want to make enriched clay balls. I personally haven't used potters clay before, so can't vouch for it and as the professor pointed out, the white clay is not exactly rich in iron. If you ever find yourself in the Darling area, go knock on a farmers door and ask if you can dig up some of that lovely rusty red Darling clay. When baked, it becomes nice and porous and I suspect has a really good cation exchange capacity. If you just want a source of iron at the roots, some already old and rusty nails work perfectly good. If you have to buy new, don't get the galvanized\electro-plated ones, it takes yonks for those to start rusting.
     
  6. Greystoke
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    I let a bit of steel wool out in the rain to rust, then I clip the rust off with scissors and mix it in the clay.
    I don't use nitrates. They are too volatile and it wont stay in the clay very long. I use bone meal and dolomite about ¼tsp of each in a pellet.

    I store the pellets (size of a bullet) in the freezer.
     
  7. traip
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    traip Noob

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    Thanks so much to everyone for the help!

    Yes, Dirk, its Tracy, Hi again! Actually, it IS my crypts that I want to assist. When I planted my echinodorums, I pre-prepared their sites with rusty panel pins, but the crypts came later and I did not add panel pins in their case. I am using your liquid ferts, and the crypts are growing slowly but steadily, as I expected. I'm not unhappy with their growth, just thought I might make their lives a bit happier!

    Thanks, RC, and Cor for your input. I think that until I find some good rich red clay, I'll just tuck a couple more nails around their toes. In the meantime, I'll find some steelwool! ;D
     
  8. Greystoke
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    Hey guys,
    I understand that nails are seldom galvanised these days, it's too expensive, instead they are cadmium plated, which - I'm afraid - is a bit of a problem.
     
  9. Dirk B
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    Wow Cor,

    Are you sure about this? I mean Cadmium is a heavy metal and toxic! It should definitely not go anywhere near a fish tank. However, I also wanted to mention that galvanised nails are also not to be used because they will release too much zinc into the water as well. It is best to stick to the steel wool (but not the browned steel type either) or the plain nails such as panel pins, then you know that you do not have other metals involved as well.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     
  10. Greystoke
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    No, I'm not too sure about it, but cadmium plating is extensively used today. Many tools (screwdrivers, plyers, etc) are all cadmium plated. If it's shiny and doesn't look like galvanising, then it's probably cadmium plated.

    Most nails are extruded from hard drawn steel wire. The cadmium plating is done by dumping the nails in a cadmium solution, which coats the nails with a nano-meter thick layer of cadmium. Cheap an easy!

    I know - with a good degree of certainty - that some of the nails I bought were cadmium plated.

    I like your idea of the panel pins, but generally I would suggest people to stay away from "shiny" nails.
     
  11. traip
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    Wow! I would NEVER have thought of that, thanks for raising it Cor!

    I think I might be a bit odd, but I keep a little strainer outside with panel pins in to pre-rust, so at least I feel secure about this one at least! Rusty, they most certainly are!
     
  12. Greystoke
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    This is a quote from Wikipedia about Cadmium Plating:
     
  13. tyronegenade
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    There is a BIG bottle of Cadmium sulfate in the histology lab down stairs. They tried to dispose of it via Waste Tech etc... but no one wanted to take it (without also taking a huge amount of money) because the stuff is so toxic. The idea of Cd plating of iron is nothing short of crazy, but then not much more crazy than most things.

    The panel pins rush if you simply leave them exposed to moist air. They are not coated in anything.
     
  14. Greystoke
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    You might get rid of it to a PVC compounder plant. There are some in Jo'burg. Cadmium is sometimes used as an additive in PVC.
     
  15. tyronegenade
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    I suppose it does stop things growing on the pipes!

    There is a construction site down the road from me where they are digging into a clay embankment (I'm glad I don't own one of the houses on top of the embankment). I got a big scoop of clay there yesterday and am eager to do some enrichment experiments in my pool filter sand substrate as fertilizing the water column causes algae problems.

    Greystoke, have you described your method anywhere in the forum? My goal is something like this: http://www.aquagreen.com.au/plant_data/ ... _Dung.html

    tt4n
     
  16. Greystoke
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    A bit of old dung may not be such a bad idea.
    Aren't you doing a water column dosing anyway when you add pellets to the filter medium?

    And no, I have never logged my method with the forum. The system can be described in one centence and I have already mentioned it a few times in the past.

    Here goes again ;D:
    Get some red clay and make pellets the size of a bullet. Mix-in ± ¼tsp bone meal and ± ¼tsp dolomite.
    If you can't get red clay, let some steel wool rust outside and mix the rust in the clay. You don't need a lot.
    Store the pellets in the freezer.
     
  17. tyronegenade
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    Thanks Greystoke,

    So its about a 50/50 mix of clay and bone meal? Any reason why it can't be baked into a dry pellet?
     
  18. Greystoke
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    The clay is the medium and it contains: Iron, Calcium, Phosphate and Magnesium in - very roughly - equal quantities.
    I don't think baking is necessary. The plastic clay will stay together a long time, but you can bake it if you like.

    The way to store them in the freezer was in blister packs. Used to get them from my daughter, who is a pharmacist, which is why I molded the pellets into bullet shape to fit the "blisters". But you can use any pack. It doesn' matter what shape these pellets are in.
     

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