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After a month of steady work, I'm getting close to buying my media.

As mentioned before, I'm starting out with roughly a 500 gallon fish tank and media beds matched for a 1:1 ratio.  I'm going to use a continuous pumped flood and drain system.

Now to my question.  I have local sources for both washed river/pea gravel and Solite (expanded shale/slate).  My bed containers are at a pretty good height and they''re a mixture of plastic drums cut in half and molded stock tanks.  I'm thinking about putting about 9" of Solite in first and topping this off with the river gravel.  My thinking is that the river gravel will be easier on the fingers since it doesn't have the edges that the Solite does. 

In reviewing past postings, it seems that most people have put the expanded shale on top and the pea gravel on the bottom.  Will my reversal of this work or will there be problems?  Any comments would be appreciated and helpful.  Thanks.

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just make sure the pea gravel is not limestone.  Other than that, I don't think it will much matter either way.  There will be a tendency for the heavy gravel to try to sink to the bottom while the light weight media will try to rise to the top so they will probably wind up all mixed with time and re-planting.  The expanded slate/shale isn't that hard on the fingers, not nearly as bad as say, big lava rock or crushed granite.

Spent the entire weekend washing, rinsing, hand-sifting, bucketing, and carrying 1.05 tons of Solite.  I still have another 300+ pounds to go.  For a 62 year old, this was brutal but I got through it okay.  If you asked me today, I'm not sure that I would do this again.  The results better be worth it.  Next up is finishing the last few grow beds, a little more plumbing, and then fill up my fish tank with rainwater from my cistern.  After that, let the cycling begin.



TCLynx said:

just make sure the pea gravel is not limestone.  Other than that, I don't think it will much matter either way.  There will be a tendency for the heavy gravel to try to sink to the bottom while the light weight media will try to rise to the top so they will probably wind up all mixed with time and re-planting.  The expanded slate/shale isn't that hard on the fingers, not nearly as bad as say, big lava rock or crushed granite.

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