So what are you saying that the solution is? Sifted, mineralized organic potting soil under gravel? Along with disturbances of such before w/c, to release?
Laterite is not sifted organic potting soil but is an additive to an already existing substrate. It is a clayey material from tropical regions rich in iron, manganese and many other beneficial trace elements in it, and the iron oxides makes it look a rather rusty-red in color. It has a crystalline structure to it that will attract positive ions out of solution and aids in the diffusion of ions in the substrate.
Plants love it and grow much bigger, greener, photosynthesis is better with it and bacteria love it and use it for the building of cells. Without all the negative side affects that potting soil would have or fertilizers place in the system will have. If however it is as you but it “disturbed” it will have no negative impact on the system whatsoever and will not become an insult.
This is the reason why you only add small amounts to the substrate and not make it the substrate itself. It is not a fertilizer like some think but a missing element (like iron) that stays concentrated in the substrate so roots and hair root proliferation can grow. Hair root proliferation will aid the plant in the process of exchanging cantons and anions. All aquatic plants MUST take cantons and anions in equal amounts in order to avoid a fatal pH swing. Plants have a steady 7.0 pH no matter what the external environment has. Iron is the most valuable trace element that plants need and only light supersedes it. However, if you pore iron directly into the tank you risk over dosing the plants with iron and killing the plants from too much kindness. Plus if you use activated carbon in your filter, then say so-long to your iron supplement.
Long ago planted tanks would have iron nails placed in the substrate to aid in bacteria and plants growth. However, as nails gave way to better metals in their manufacturing this practice was abandoned. You really don’t see iron nail any more because they will leave rust spots.
Potting soil has none of these characteristics and is pretty much useless in the aquarium or pond for that matter unless you like very green water from an overabundance of nitrogen and phosphates. Its porewater and permeability are not at all as good as Laterite because of the wrong size of microporosity. Potting soil will compact like sand and make dead zones and has no crystalline structure to aid in the diffusion of ions.
If you think it’s bad then don’t use it, but your bacteria and plants think otherwise!
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