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Anyone know where to purchase expanded shale in fla at a low cost?? or anywhere else for that matter any and all info is welcome.

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I don't know where expanded Shale is available but you might Look up Stalite which is an expanded Slate material made in North Carolina.  There are some distrobution points in Florida for it.  However I will warn that the 1/2" stuff is kinda small (I think the 1/2" stuff is actually the stuff between 3/8" and 1/2")  If you are down near miami you might be able to get 3/4" which I think would be better, and it will need some really good washing/sifting and the pH starts high though it should be pH inert after initial cycle up.

There is someone who has gotten some and has washed about 250 gallons worth of it, let me see if I can find that discussion thread.

You would need a truck in which to get it.

 

Truth is after all the extra work, the plain old 1/2" brown river rock might be a better deal though heavy.

Here are some of the links on the topic

stalite-washing-grading-and-volume

 

Gravel

 

Media

Thanks TCLynx I am fast coming to the same conclusion about getting some usuable media for grow beds. Its seems there is no low cost fix over here in Vero Beach Fla.

400 gals down and 200 to go - washed and graded.  It's a lot of work.  I don't think 1/2 is too small but time will tell.  Still cycling, no fish.  Stalite is so light you cannot dig a hole in it without first jamming a piece of pipe down and then digging the gravel out of the pipe.  I feel confident in saying that the surface area of Stalite is easily twice that of river gravel and I took some expert advice in going with a media with a lot of surface area, the theory being that Stalite will increase the biological filtering compared to an equal volume of a media with less surface area.  I'll let you know how it works out.  It's late in the process for me to be thinking about this but if you buy bulk Stalite, it might help a lot to build a screen as a first step in grading - possibly an open-top chute with hardware cloth bottom.  Although I'm in the last third of preparing my media, I may build the chute before proceeding further.  There is truly an amazing amount of fines to deal with.  Definitely go with  3/4 inch Stalite, those who have easy access to it.  My prepared Stalite is between 3/8 and 1/2, as TCL said. 



TCLynx said:

I don't know where expanded Shale is available but you might Look up Stalite which is an expanded Slate material made in North Carolina.  There are some distrobution points in Florida for it.  However I will warn that the 1/2" stuff is kinda small (I think the 1/2" stuff is actually the stuff between 3/8" and 1/2")  If you are down near miami you might be able to get 3/4" which I think would be better, and it will need some really good washing/sifting and the pH starts high though it should be pH inert after initial cycle up.

There is someone who has gotten some and has washed about 250 gallons worth of it, let me see if I can find that discussion thread.

You would need a truck in which to get it.

 

Truth is after all the extra work, the plain old 1/2" brown river rock might be a better deal though heavy.

I built a screen today using the smallest hardware cloth I had on hand, 1/2 inch.  Most, about 2/3, of the 1/2 inch stalite went through.  I'll hit the hardware store in the morning and get some a bit smaller.  The 1/2 inch bulk stalite available in Jacksonville seems to be 1/2 inch and everything smaller.  If it was merely 3/8 to 1/2, I'd be a lot happier with it but, unfortunately, much of it is smaller than 3/8. 

I had no nitrite or nitrate reading after 15 days of cycling so yesterday I dosed with a few gallons of aerated compost tea.  Today I had both nitrite and nitrate in the system so I'm fairly confident that I inoculated the system with the bacteria which produced the nitrite and nitrate in the compost.  In retrospect, I should have inoculated the media on day 1.  I also talked to Fla Fish Farms today and they have both Bluegill and Catfish available and will have for a few weeks.  Cheers.


TCLynx said:

However I will warn that the 1/2" stuff is kinda small (I think the 1/2" stuff is actually the stuff between 3/8" and 1/2")  If you are down near miami you might be able to get 3/4" which I think would be better

It seems that hardware cloth isn't available in 3/8 so I'm back to my bucket perforated with 3/8 inch holes to clean 200 more gallons of gravel.  I believe I'll have very effective filters when done, sure hope so anyway.

Geoge said:

I built a screen today using the smallest hardware cloth I had on hand, 1/2 inch.  Most, about 2/3, of the 1/2 inch stalite went through.  I'll hit the hardware store in the morning and get some a bit smaller. 

You should be able to get 1/4" hardware cloth which might almost be good enough for your purpose.

Thanks.  Yep, I saw it but didn't see much advantage in that over what I was already doing.  The really small stuff goes out of the 3/8 holes very fast so I'll keep plugging with my bucket.  One interesting thing is that after the fines are graded out, there is no observable decrease in volume.  What grading out the fines does is open up the spaces between the larger pieces that remain.  That must be a good thing. 

TCLynx said:

You should be able to get 1/4" hardware cloth which might almost be good enough for your purpose.

Very good thing.



Geoge said:

One interesting thing is that after the fines are graded out, there is no observable decrease in volume.  What grading out the fines does is open up the spaces between the larger pieces that remain.  That must be a good thing. 

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