The name Hydroton is a generic term for all brands of expanded clay, even though it is trademarked; as it was perhaps the original name for this media.
Expanded clay is a popular medium for both Aquaponic and Hydroponic gardening around the world. It is also known as Light Expanded Clay Aggregate, or LECA.
It is manufactured by using a mix of the best qualities pure clay and are baked in an open furnace using high grade clean fuels, guaranteeing absence of heavy metals or other contaminates.
It is pH neutral. We tested it ourselves to make sure that is true.
Expanded clay is the inert hydroponics substrate of choice for professionals. It provides stability and the pebble has an ideal surface for roots and beneficial bacteria. The porous structure has a high water capacity and is suitable for both flood & drain and top irrigation systems.
In Aquaponic and Hydroponic systems, soil is replaced by these natural clay pebbles, which are derived from a renewable and plentiful source (clay) so it is considered an ecologically sustainable medium. The clay is formed into pellets and then fired in rotary kilns at 1200Cº. This causes the clay to expand inside, like popcorn, and become porous.
Expanded clay pebbles are light in weight, do not compact, are completely reusable – they can be cleaned and sterilized after use. They are also inert and contain no nutrients.
Because the pellets drain freely and don't hold excessive water, they provide good oxygen levels around the root zone and are particularly suitable for aquaponic and hydroponic flood and drain systems systems. Notice how the roots in this cross-section go all the way down to the water level in the picture above.
When you order HYD-50 from Aquaponics USA, you are ordering 8-16 mm pellets in 50 Liter Bags. When ordering 8 or more bags, contact us first and we will get you the best shipping price.
Hydroton is back and being made by Mother Earth in Europe, which may have purchased the name from the company that made it originally. In fact, Aquaponics USA was the poster company for a new media Oketau of Germany, the originator of Hydroton, created especially for Aquaponics. Sadly, Oketau went out of business, not because Aquaponics isn’t generating a lot of sales for Hydroton; but because Hydroton was a secondary product for this company that was in the construction business.
Grow Beds won't grow anything unless they hold Grow Bed Media. In the picture above, the Media is the maroon stuff in each of the four Grow Beds. The Media replaces soil that tillage Gardners use to grow their plants. The Media also holds the friendly bacteria the plants need to grow and be healthy (learn more about that on our Page).
Some AP Gardner/Farmers use gravel for this purpose, but we don't recommend gravel. It is difficult to work with, won't float and is hard on your hands, which have to reach down into your Grow Beds for various reasons.