I guess my biggest problem was the unexpected. I bought vermiculite, kitty litter, and peat moss. This cost $8 and should cover at least twice as much area as the $25 bag of fluorite at the lfs
. I expected to mix the three together and have a fine-gravel-like mixture.
I tried rinsing everything first. Yes, this was a big mistake. The vermiculite floated, the peat turned to mush, and the kitty litter turned to mud. Luckily I was not planning on replacing the gravel in my aquarium - just putting some plant substrate into clay pots.
I then had a huge mess in the sink. I first scooped some vermiculite into the pots and then covered it with mush and mud. I then put the plants in and put them in the aquarium. I then covered the muddy mush with ordinary, colored gravel.
All said and done it didn't turn out bad at all, but only because the new substrate is just in pots. How do people make DIY
substrates for the whole aquarium? Doesn't the vermiculite float to the top if disturbed? Do people just live with the muddy substrate?