What Are My Alternatives To Hydroton?

UPDATE: Hydroton is back!

The Hydroton brand has been saved from the grave and is under new management with what has been promised to be an identical product:

Sunlight Supply, Inc. is re-introducing the Hydroton product as a worldwide company exclusive. We want to be clear with everyone that this is not a German made product. It is European made from a completely different mine and manufacturer. In this intervening time period, we had sourced and tested numerous manufacturers’ products, as well as conducted site visits by Sunlight management. We believe that the selected source offers a very close equivalent product. The size, shape and consistency is quite similar to the product we were all historically used to. We have verified through an independent media testing company that the new Hydroton product has low levels of detrimental heavy metals and is pH stable.

Check out the new Hydroton Here!

We've chosen to leave the bulk of the discontinuation announcement the same in order to provide a point of reference, and will continue to offer updates on alternatives to Hydroton as new options become available and old options are updated and replaced.

We heard rumors for some time regarding the discontinuation of Hydroton, and eventually received confirmation from one of our suppliers in the form of the following letter. It was pretty succinct and informative so we just decided to post it here.

The short of the story is that Hydroton was indeed discontinued by the manufacturer due to a lack of source material (the right kind of clay), but all was not lost! There are a number of great alternatives to Hydroton; some alternatives are nearly identical to Hydroton while others are physically very different but provide substantially similar benefits and grow qualities.

Please feel free to call or email us any time with any questions or concerns about the new Hydroton or any of the recommended Hydroton alternatives.

Sunlight Supply Letter Regarding Hydroton Being Discontinued:

Dear Valued Customer,

In the recent past Sunlight Supply, Inc. received email correspondences from Mr. Rudolf Sittig from Hydroton in Germany to announce the discontinuance of Hydroton as a product offering us an explanation as to the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate decision.

As we understand it, 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 Rudolf’s letter to us [Sunlight Supply, Inc.]:

“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.”

“Fischer Penningfeld” (University standard) is the worldwide known standard for Hydroculture.

Drawing the conclusion out of this situation we decided to stop selling Hydroton as the parameters of quality are no longer secured.

However, we have 5 alternatives to present to our customers today:

#1 Hydropebbles:

Item # 714120. Of the qualifying alternatives Hydropebbles, our new trademarked brand name, is the most similar to the traditional Hydroton we are all used to. Its overall size, shape, consistency and feel are very similar to Hydroton. However, while Hydroton had a rusty red color to it, Hydropebbles are more brownish in color appearance. It will be available in all warehouse locations in 1-2 weeks. We are using the same product item number as Hydroton. Pricing is identical to Hydroton by location. The bag size is 50L (please be aware our competitors bag size is 45L), the bags are clear. The weight per bag is 55lbs and the bags per pallet is 50 (Hydroton was 30).

Hydropebbles - 50L (714120): Compared to normal soil, Hydropebbles offers many advantages. The material is not only completely clean and odorless, it is the ideal round shape. Hydropebbles ensures good root aeration, prevents rotting, prevents excess acidity and prevents soil pests. It is made of clay with high water storage properties and balanced capillary action to accelerate plant growth.


#2 Gold Label Brand Hydrocorn

Formerly called Gold Label Hydro Korrels. Item # 713750. These clay pebbles come from Holland and have the very similar rusty red color appearance as Hydroton. This media has a more varied shape than Hydroton which some have reported as favorable due to its ability to interlock.

Gold Label - Hydrocorn - 50L (713750): Gold Label Hydrocorn is manufactured using a mix of the best quality pure clay and are baked in an open furnace using high grade clean fuels, guaranteeing absence of heavy metals or other contaminates. Gold Label Hydrocorn proudly carries the RHP for horticulture quality certificate. The unique uneven shape of the pebble is an ideal surface for roots and beneficial bacteria. The porous structure has a high water capacity and is suitable for both ebb/flood and top irrigation systems.


#3 Gold Label Brand Custom 80/20 Mix

Gold Label Custom 80/20 - 50L (713760): 80/20 is 80% Hydro Korrels and 20% Coco with added mycorrhizae. The sodium and chloride contents are extremely low for a coco substrate, ensuring a stable behavior throughout the use. Mixed with 80% Gold Label Special Mix Hydro Korrels which is the substrate of choice for the professional hydroponics grower around the world.This substrate was specially developed for serious gardeners growing heavy feeding plants and is the tested and recommended growing medium for the Flo-n-Gro system.


#4 Hydrolite By Botanicare

This new media comes in 2 sizes as indicated below and can be used successfully as a stand alone media as well as to amend other soil and hydroponic mediums. Made in the USA.

Botanicare Hydrolite 4-6MM - 1 Cu Ft (714814) & Botanicare Hydrolite 15-20MM - 1 Cu Ft (714816): Hydrolite is a natural, silica-based, volcanic mineral with a unique, porous, crystalline structure which allows it to hold nutrients until plants need them. Hydrolite’s ability to retain essential plant nutrients and aerate the growing medium makes it an ideal amendment for both hydroponic systems and soil gardens.

  • Improves aeration and is highly porous.
  • 70% silicate and does not float.
  • Retains nutrients and is reusable.
  • Nutrient charged to balance CEC.

#5 Growstones

This new media is a new up and comer. This is a new technology product. It is a green environmentally friendly, porous media made from 100% recycled glass. Made in the USA.

Growstones Hydroponic Growth Medium - 1.25 Cu Ft (714230): Growstones Hydroponic Substrate is the perfect growing media for use in hydroponic growing systems as simple as manually irrigated containers, or as advanced as automatically drop irrigated containers, Ebb-Flow systems, and NFT tables. It replaces strip-mined materials like Hydroton or stonewool, reducing environmental degradation. Growstones are designed to allow for rapid moisture absorption and enhanced drainage and oxygenation.


Representatives from our company [Sunlight Supply, Inc.] have had more recent correspondence with Rudolf within the last few weeks. At this time there are no foreseeable plans to reintroduce Okatau branded Hydroton. If this changes we will certainly let you know.

For the time being, we are hopeful that one or more of these 5 products we distribute will serve to fill your needs.

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