As you may have recently heard, they stopped production of the popular lightweight expanded clay pebble brand Hydroton last year.
Okotau the German name of the company itself (Hydroton is the product name), has closed its business servicing the horticulture industry after 27 years. The clay mine in South Germany was closed down because it ran out of the special clay necessary to manufacture the horticulture grade Hydroton. Further, an alternative mine was able to produce the product however the nature of the clay was different and as such did not meet the required specifications for the manufacture of the Hydroton product.
The following is an excerpt from Okotau’s letter to a trusted hydroponic source in the USA:
“Since the original manufacturing plant was closed down at the end of March, the expanded clay from their alternative plant is made from different clay which does not, according to our samples, result in a similar quality. As our laboratory results from our samples show, the amount of salt and other parameters are beyond the limits of ‘Fischer-Penningfeld’. These investigations are long and very positive cooperation. For your future we wish you all the best.”
With this said, most Hydro Grow Shops world wide have decided to stop selling Hydroton as the parameters of quality can no longer be secured. LECA/Expanded Clay Pebbles is the alternative replacement and is less expensive than Hydroton. This brand can be found at most hydroponics supply stores globally.