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Old 02-11-2011, 04:29 AM
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Default The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

The truth is...it just plain ROCKS!! This ABG Mix is 8 years old! It was in my salamander viv. It was kept even wetter than a dart frog viv. Totally closed top, no vents, with a fourth of the viv being a pond. A waterfall leaked all over it for many years.
I found a new home for my salamander and we are tearing his viv down. My dad (Pumilo) said it was going to be rotted and stinky when we dug into it. We churned it up and guess what? It smells fresh and clean! Like it was just put in! Dad said to point out all the air pockets you can still see in there. That's how it gets such good drainage! He said it's still perfectly good but we can't reuse it anyway because of germs.
It was developed at Atlanta Botanical Garden (thus the name, ABG Mix)

Here is how you make ABG Mix. My dad helped me make sure the recipe was right.

1 part milled peat

1 part milled sphagnum moss

1 part fine charcoal (We usually at least double this)

2 parts fine tree fern fiber

2 parts fine orchid bark

Here are a couple threads about ABG
confused about a couple substrate ingrediants
What substrate
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:35 AM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

I agree that it is good - but it is too "rich" in comparison to what we are trying to emulate. Plants grow way too fast in it. I'm kind of weird in that I want my plants to grow slower (I pluck and toss plants that grow too fast).

Of course us saying we're trying to emulate a jungle in a small box is pretty ridiculous as well.

One excellent use for "used" ABG mix is for use in flower pots. I used mine mainly in African Violet pots. For those you need a "light" soil, and ABG works splendidly.

s
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:50 AM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Sure, a clay substrate is closer to the real thing, but not everybody is ready to put in the time it takes to make a good clay substrate. Frogboy and I are experimenting with clay substrates in several vivs too. Here is what we are working with. Clay Substrate How-To
But for an organic mix, I think it's hard to beat.
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:18 AM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

It's an excellent substrate. Used if for 16/17 years myself.

s
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Old 02-11-2011, 06:35 AM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

What are you using now?

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Originally Posted by Scott View Post
It's an excellent substrate. Used if for 16/17 years myself.

s
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Old 02-15-2011, 08:20 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

He's talking nutrient poor, so Scott is most likely referring to a clay substrate.
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:25 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Can all of the ingredents be picked up at a Home Depot or Lowes to make this mix?
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:36 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Everything but the tree fern fiber, you'll have to get that online most likely, or leave it out/ substitute coco fiber.
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:51 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Thanks for the info Frogboy. I usually do not use "soil" in my vivs, as I have seen lots of gnats in the soil. Have you experienced any issues with soil gnats? I just use premium New Zealand spagnum moss, reptile bark and lots of leaf litter. Great thread too!!
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Old 02-16-2011, 06:32 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

I am Frogboy's dad. I have some answers for you. The tree fern fiber adds aeration and drainage. I don't think cocofiber would be an acceptable substitute for the tree fern. For the peat and sphagnum maybe, but not the tree fern. I feel that the tree fern is an important part of AGB.
First, AGB Mix is available at Josh's frogs.
Second, Every component for AGB is available at good prices, here. OFE International Web Page

Colleen, as you mentioned, just about every soil mix can have fungus gnats. ABG can have them too. They will clear up after a short amount of time. They may be present for a month or so, but they have cleared out of every viv I've ever set up, soon enough.
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:08 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

I would definitely work on advancing it if you can. Part of the fun of this hobby is the hands on part of it. Trial and error. I have mixed clay into my own version of the ABG mix and the micro fauna exploded. I live near ABG and have been by there more than my share of times to talk substrate and plants. They seem to be set in their own mix so I say there is always room for improvement.

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Old 02-16-2011, 07:21 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Michael...I was thinking the same thing about adding clay and maybe some sand to the current ABG mix. What type of clay are you using and how much are you adding? I'd be interested to hear your substrate recipe as the exploding micro fauna has peaked my interest.

Are the ABG ingredients listed on this thread the same ABG mixture that Josh's Frogs sell?

David

Quote:
Originally Posted by poison beauties View Post
I would definitely work on advancing it if you can. Part of the fun of this hobby is the hands on part of it. Trial and error. I have mixed clay into my own version of the ABG mix and the micro fauna exploded. I live near ABG and have been by there more than my share of times to talk substrate and plants. They seem to be set in their own mix so I say there is always room for improvement.

Michael
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:40 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Josh's mix appears to be made according to this recipe.
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:55 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

not sure if his includes ground charcoal as well, but the stuff i got had chunks of charcoal. My first experience with ABG, we'll see how it goes. I also came up a bit short for all three of my tanks so I cut it with a little extra coco soil
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:00 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmartin72 View Post
Michael...I was thinking the same thing about adding clay and maybe some sand to the current ABG mix. What type of clay are you using and how much are you adding? I'd be interested to hear your substrate recipe as the exploding micro fauna has peaked my interest.

Are the ABG ingredients listed on this thread the same ABG mixture that Josh's Frogs sell?

David

Ive tried adding in everything from sand to calci sand, vermiculite and other mulch's and barks. The only two things I have seen in the last years that made a real difference in the quality of the plants and abundance of micro fauna when added to the ABG mix are shredded leaf litter and Clay mix.

Ive used baked and wet clay and both did great. I use shredded seagrape leaves. Both the leaves and clay I use 1/4 the volume of the ABG and mix it in well. Drainage is great as we use false bottoms and I'm working now on new advancements for it and my culturing media which also have clay and shredded leaf litter.

Michael
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:11 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

I do a mix of half ABG mix and half hand crushed leaf litter (oak from my backyard) for my isopod cultures and they are flourishing in it!
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:37 PM
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About how much clay added? My first tanks were done with "by the book" ABG mix...was/am pleased with the results. Tried clay substrate, and am not pleased with how the plants responded (which has been poor). The purported benefits of clay for the animals is the reason to use it, but, in me experience, plants hate it.
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:44 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dancing frogs View Post
About how much clay added? My first tanks were done with "by the book" ABG mix...was/am pleased with the results. Tried clay substrate, and am not pleased with how the plants responded (which has been poor). The purported benefits of clay for the animals is the reason to use it, but, in me experience, plants hate it.
I add in 1/4 the volume of the ABG of clay. So 4 1 gallon bucket of AGB, I mix in 1 bucket of clay and a bucket of shredded leaf litter. Same with the shredded seas grape leaves. It has shown great increase in micro fauna and plant growth so long as there is decent drainage. I have broms planted in the media doing well.

Michael
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:44 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dancing frogs View Post
About how much clay added? My first tanks were done with "by the book" ABG mix...was/am pleased with the results. Tried clay substrate, and am not pleased with how the plants responded (which has been poor). The purported benefits of clay for the animals is the reason to use it, but, in me experience, plants hate it.
When I do clay, I put two big handfuls of ABG mix at the base of every plant, surrounding the roots, with a light layer of clay over the top. Plants have liked that so far.
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:59 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

I'm going to give that a try...sounds just about perfect. Thanks Michael.

Quote:
Originally Posted by poison beauties View Post
Ive tried adding in everything from sand to calci sand, vermiculite and other mulch's and barks. The only two things I have seen in the last years that made a real difference in the quality of the plants and abundance of micro fauna when added to the ABG mix are shredded leaf litter and Clay mix.

Ive used baked and wet clay and both did great. I use shredded seagrape leaves. Both the leaves and clay I use 1/4 the volume of the ABG and mix it in well. Drainage is great as we use false bottoms and I'm working now on new advancements for it and my culturing media which also have clay and shredded leaf litter.

Michael
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:07 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

As long as you're adding things - add leaf mulch (leaf mold). Just take maple or oak leaves and throw them in the blender for a few moments.

We know that's what the fauna we want in our tanks likes to eat - so just add it to the soil mix!

s
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:13 PM
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Thanks for the blender tip!
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:51 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

how milled is the sphag moss? like fine coco fiber? almost powder?
or just slightly milled?
like this?
Click the image to open in full size.

i guess "fine" tree fern fiber refers to the "short" fiber referred to on the website?

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Old 02-16-2011, 10:52 PM
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How do you mill it? Blender?
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:57 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Milled sphagnum is often available as a separate product. It is called damp off also.

I used to find it in a couple of specialty type places (Agway in New England). Your smaller lawn and garden places (not the BIG places - though it never hurts to check).

You can create it by putting sphagnum moss through the blender. It's the lower left product in the picture just above.

s
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:58 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Yep, that's it.

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... i guess "fine" tree fern fiber refers to the "short" fiber referred to on the website?
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:02 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

i would like people to elaborate on how and what kind of clay they use to make that enhanced ABG mix mix! I d like to try that too!
Do you use cat litter? or the red clay they sell in petshops? i ve heard bout other various names but it seems i cant find this around my place...
what kind of shops should i look for?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pumilo View Post
When I do clay, I put two big handfuls of ABG mix at the base of every plant, surrounding the roots, with a light layer of clay over the top. Plants have liked that so far.
is that how everyone does it? im not sure what my "clay" should look like when doing this method... i guess im a bit noob regarding this and need step by step , and all the ingredient (water?) ..

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Old 02-16-2011, 11:09 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FwoGiZ View Post
how milled is the sphag moss? like fine coco fiber? almost powder?
or just slightly milled?
like this?
Click the image to open in full size.

i guess "fine" tree fern fiber refers to the "short" fiber referred to on the website?
Its milled to the consistency of saw dust.
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:51 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FwoGiZ View Post
i would like people to elaborate on how and what kind of clay they use to make that enhanced ABG mix mix! I d like to try that too!
Do you use cat litter? or the red clay they sell in petshops? i ve heard bout other various names but it seems i cant find this around my place...
what kind of shops should i look for?

is that how everyone does it? im not sure what my "clay" should look like when doing this method... i guess im a bit noob regarding this and need step by step , and all the ingredient (water?) ..
Here is the clay that Frogboy and I use. Clay Substrate How-To
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:46 AM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colleen53 View Post
Thanks for the info Frogboy. I usually do not use "soil" in my vivs, as I have seen lots of gnats in the soil. Have you experienced any issues with soil gnats? I just use premium New Zealand spagnum moss, reptile bark and lots of leaf litter. Great thread too!!
Are soil gnats just gnats that come hatch out from the substrate?
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Old 02-17-2011, 01:25 AM
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Are soil gnats just gnats that come hatch out from the substrate?
Yes, the usually occur when the viv is at least couple weeks old. Don't think I've ever seen them last past two to three months. They are often mistaken for fruit flies that have reverted to fliers.
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Old 02-17-2011, 02:10 AM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Anyone have a good source for clay? Do they have a dry unmixed version or does it come in solid blocks? If solid, how do you work with it to mix it into the ABG mix?

David
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Old 02-17-2011, 02:51 AM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Just mixing any old clay into it is not going to give you the benefits of calcium enrichment that clay substrates are known for. Calcium Bentonite may offer some of the benefits. All my suppliers are listed in my already referenced thread.
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Old 02-17-2011, 04:53 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmartin72 View Post
Anyone have a good source for clay? Do they have a dry unmixed version or does it come in solid blocks? If solid, how do you work with it to mix it into the ABG mix?

David
You can check this thread for a clay source.

Clay Distributors near you
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:57 PM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Thanks...that's good to know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pumilo View Post
Just mixing any old clay into it is not going to give you the benefits of calcium enrichment that clay substrates are known for. Calcium Bentonite may offer some of the benefits. All my suppliers are listed in my already referenced thread.
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Old 02-18-2011, 12:05 AM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pumilo View Post
Yes, the usually occur when the viv is at least couple weeks old. Don't think I've ever seen them last past two to three months. They are often mistaken for fruit flies that have reverted to fliers.
My tank is about 2 months old and I just don't remember the gnats being that bad with my other tanks (approx. 7). I'll be glad when it is more established and they "GO AWAY". Thanks for your comments Pumilo
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Old 02-18-2011, 12:22 AM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colleen53 View Post
My tank is about 2 months old and I just don't remember the gnats being that bad with my other tanks (approx. 7). I'll be glad when it is more established and they "GO AWAY". Thanks for your comments Pumilo
I promise, they will pass Colleen. They were bad in my Cayo Nancy viv. Just when I though they would drive me crazy, they disappeared COMPLETELY. Have not seen a single one in there since then. I think they started at about 1 month and were gone by month 3.
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Old 02-18-2011, 04:37 AM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

I'm glad you posted this frogboy

I mixed some up with everything but the tree ferns
I'll have to add it later when I get some.

What I was using before this for my potted plants was peatmoss, perlite, charcoal, and sphagnum.

I hate how exspensive sphagnum is lol.

My soil doesn't quite look like yours. Yours looks a bit more twiggy lol.
Here is a pic of mine
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Old 02-18-2011, 04:49 AM
Ed Ed is offline
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

In my experience, ABG in non-flow through enclosures is fairly stable although if there is a good microfauna content I see it compacting over time. I did notice that in a ten gallon tank with heavy microfaunal establishment on a flow through system with a decent misting schedule, that after about six months a large amount of it had broken down to the point where the gravel over the false bottom was begining to show through. In enclosure with lower amounts of micofauna or on lower misting schedules it may be differnet. This was set up next to a clay substrate tank for comparision..

Ed
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Old 02-18-2011, 09:52 AM
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Default Re: The TRUTH about ABG Mix!!

Ed I plan on using the abg mix on a false bottom....

You said you could see the gravel....
Do you need to put gravel on top of the false bottom in between it and the abg?
Cause I was just going to lay down the abg mix right on top of the false bottom screen then get some moss to grow on it....
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