DYI - My take on a clay based substrate. - Dendroboard
Dendroboard

Go Back   Dendroboard > Vivariums > Parts & Construction
Register Blogs FAQ Calendar Mark Forums Read Advertise

Support Our Sponsors
No Threads to Display.

facebook

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1 (permalink)  
Old 01-06-2009, 03:02 AM
Jason's Avatar
TWI/ASN
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Mankato, MN
Posts: 1,179
Thanks: 10
Thanked 39 Times in 21 Posts
Default DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

I have always been inspired and intrigued by the "The Ultimate Clay-based Substrate Thread.

http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/gen...te-thread.html

I made a batch of Matthew Mirabello's clay and it did not turn out too well. I will try again here one of these days when I get a chance to use my Brother-in-Law's scale again. Him and his wife are potters and they had a lot of the supplies I needed.

This thread and DO-It-Yourself is about Brent Brock's "Dirty Old Man Performance Substrate" and my take on it. I am by no means an expert, I just took what I learned and applied to work for me. Since these substrates are so new, it is all about experimenting and trying something new.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbrock View Post
Dirty Old Man Performance Substrate

Mix 2-3 parts Redart clay with 1 part local soil (I collect mine from under conifers to get a good mycorrhizal inoculation) [edit: beware of chytrid! Use sterile topsoil if in doubt]. Add just enough sharp sand to be able to tell it is there. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup hydrated lime to 2 gallons of soil mix. Mix it all up. A cement mixer would be ideal but I use a paint mixer attached to a drill. Slowly add water while stirring until the mix is evenly damp and clumps up into pea sized and smaller aggregates. Spread the mix out in the sun on a piece of burlap or similar and let it dry. Dilute some acrylic mortar fortifier about 10:1 with water (so it is really thin and diluted). Spray down the dried mix with the solution to thoroughly dampen it. Let it dry and repeat the spraying. Let it dry again. Sprinkle a little more lime over the mix and stir it in. It is ready to use. If you want to get really picky, sieve the mix through a 1/4" mesh. I didn't and just broke up the largest chunks by pinching them.


My ingredients:
Redart Clay (dry powder)
Cocofiber
Play Sand
CaCO3
Rooter's Mycorrhizae
Water


Step 1: Safety
The Redart clay is a very fine powder as well as the CaCO3. For safety precautions I used a mask.



Step 2: Redart clay
I don't live too far from a pottery supply store, so I picked up some dry redart clay in powdered forum. They also have it in clay forum, but you want the dry stuff. Very cheap. 25 lbs = $6.00


As you can see it is very, very fine powder.



Step 3: Mix redart clay/cocofiber
I mixed this up 2-3 parts Redart to 1 part cocofiber. I used cocofiber instead of soil for a few reasons. First, the ground is frozen where I live. Second, I could not find a place I trusted enough NOT to have chytrid (Chytrid Fungus). It is organic in matter and will last quite a long time.


I used a paint mixer attached to a drill to mix it up. Another thing that helped was to use 2 buckets and keep pouring from one bucket to another if it gets too compact to mix up.

I just used a 32 oz cup for measuring. Basically what you see is 96 oz Redart/32 oz cocofiber.


Step 4: Add sand
I added enough sand to know it is there.


Step 5: Add Mycorrhizae
In Brent's recipe he said "1 part local soil (I collect mine from under conifers to get a good mycorrhizal inoculation)". Since I was replacing the soil with cocofiber, I decided I would add mycorrhizae. I picked this stuff up from Rooter's Mycorrhizae It was $12.50 a bottle which will last for ever. I only used 1 tsp.



Step 6: Add CaCO3
Brent used hydrated lime for calcium. I decided to use Calcium Carbonate. I added about 1/4 cup to the mix. Again everything is still dry. A pound of this stuff is $1.60.



Step 7: Add water
I did it solo, but having another person will help. Slowly add a little at a time. Then mix. Add a little water, then mix. You want to add just enough to get the clay mix to start clumping. Make sure to get everything mixed. I had to dump the mix from one bucket to another to make sure I got it all mixed up. I was amazed at how little water it took, so be easy on the water.


Here is what it looked like once mixed up with the proper amount of water.


See the dime?



Step 8: Dry time
Since it is cold here, I will let mine dry in the basement. My house is very dry this time of year and it should be no problem. I stretched out some burlap between to sawhorses and stapled it down.


Brent's recipe say pea sized. Mine are a little larger. I will see what it up after they dry and I may break the up more then.

Hopefully tomorrow, time for the acrylic binder.


I will update as I go.
__________________
Jason Smith

Frog Room ~~ TWI ~~ Collecting Fecal Samples 101 ~~ Drilling Glass DIY
Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 01-06-2009, 05:52 AM
ChrisK's Avatar
Dedicated Supporter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: NY
Posts: 3,661
Thanks: 55
Thanked 144 Times in 108 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Awesome, I'm about to start on some clay myself so you got some great timing
Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 01-07-2009, 12:34 AM
Jason's Avatar
TWI/ASN
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Mankato, MN
Posts: 1,179
Thanks: 10
Thanked 39 Times in 21 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Cool, let me know how it works. Mine did not dry today, I will put a fan on it and hopefully tomorrow we will be good to acrylic.
__________________
Jason Smith

Frog Room ~~ TWI ~~ Collecting Fecal Samples 101 ~~ Drilling Glass DIY
Reply With Quote
 
  #4 (permalink)  
Old 01-07-2009, 12:48 AM
jubjub47's Avatar
TWI/ASN
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Dallas, Texas
Posts: 2,171
Thanks: 4
Thanked 29 Times in 14 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Hey Jason. I'm not intrigued enough to plow through 23 pages of the original thread yet so I'm going to ask. I'm assuming this is for a substrate? What is the acrylic fortifier for in this mix? Seems like an out of place ingredient which is what intrigued me.
__________________
Tim
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Old 01-07-2009, 12:53 AM
Jason's Avatar
TWI/ASN
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Mankato, MN
Posts: 1,179
Thanks: 10
Thanked 39 Times in 21 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jubjub47 View Post
Hey Jason. I'm not intrigued enough to plow through 23 pages of the original thread yet so I'm going to ask. I'm assuming this is for a substrate? What is the acrylic fortifier for in this mix? Seems like an out of place ingredient which is what intrigued me.
Yes, it is for substrate. It somewhat mimics what is found in tropical soils. The acrylic fortifier will help to bond the clay together, to help hold it's shape when exposed to water. Because the clay is so fine, with out the acrylic fortifier it would turn to mush very quickly. This are just my thoughts from reading the "clay based substrate" thread, I could be wrong.
__________________
Jason Smith

Frog Room ~~ TWI ~~ Collecting Fecal Samples 101 ~~ Drilling Glass DIY
Reply With Quote
  #6 (permalink)  
Old 01-07-2009, 01:26 AM
Ed Ed is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: South Jersey
Posts: 19,301
Thanks: 321
Thanked 2,728 Times in 1,791 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Hey Jason,

Something that may make it a little easier to mix.... you can add a lot more water to mix it and then pour it out into a screen tray lined with newspaper. The paper will act as a filter and prevent the clay from seeping through. All you have to do then is wait until the clay is the consistancy you want to make the clumps. (or push it through a screen a couple of times and then break it up a little).

Ed
Reply With Quote
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 01-07-2009, 01:43 AM
jubjub47's Avatar
TWI/ASN
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Dallas, Texas
Posts: 2,171
Thanks: 4
Thanked 29 Times in 14 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason View Post
Yes, it is for substrate. It somewhat mimics what is found in tropical soils. The acrylic fortifier will help to bond the clay together, to help hold it's shape when exposed to water. Because the clay is so fine, with out the acrylic fortifier it would turn to mush very quickly. This are just my thoughts from reading the "clay based substrate" thread, I could be wrong.
Thanks Jason. Guess I need to get to reading
__________________
Tim
Reply With Quote
  #8 (permalink)  
Old 01-07-2009, 02:25 AM
ChrisK's Avatar
Dedicated Supporter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: NY
Posts: 3,661
Thanks: 55
Thanked 144 Times in 108 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason View Post
Cool, let me know how it works. Mine did not dry today, I will put a fan on it and hopefully tomorrow we will be good to acrylic.
Well i'm not starting till i find out if i'm relocating or not so yours will probably be done before i start, so i might be learning from your mistakes if you make any (hopefully not, so then i can just rip your process off step by step )
Reply With Quote
  #9 (permalink)  
Old 01-07-2009, 02:44 AM
Jason's Avatar
TWI/ASN
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Mankato, MN
Posts: 1,179
Thanks: 10
Thanked 39 Times in 21 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisK View Post
Well i'm not starting till i find out if i'm relocating or not so yours will probably be done before i start, so i might be learning from your mistakes if you make any (hopefully not, so then i can just rip your process off step by step )
I am sure I will. Thanks Ed for the heads up. I plan on making several batches, so we will see how this works. After rereading the "Ultimate Clay-Based Substrate" thread, I think I will try a batch with the acrylic fortifier mixed in when I mix up the ingredients instead of waiting for it to dry first. Since I have a large amount of Matt's ingredients left I may try some with those mixed in as well.

It's all an experiment at this point. Who knows how it will support microfauna and plant life. Who knows how well it will hold up. I vowed that this time around, I would do more experimenting with my vivs rather than sticking to what I know.
__________________
Jason Smith

Frog Room ~~ TWI ~~ Collecting Fecal Samples 101 ~~ Drilling Glass DIY
Reply With Quote
  #10 (permalink)  
Old 01-09-2009, 01:36 AM
Jason's Avatar
TWI/ASN
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Mankato, MN
Posts: 1,179
Thanks: 10
Thanked 39 Times in 21 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Step 9: Acrylic fortifier

Here is the acrylic I used.



It is very easy really. Brent's recipe called for 1 part acrylic fortifier and 10 parts water. From the sounds of it it did not hold up as well as he wanted, so I doubled it. 1 part acrylic, 5 parts water.


Spray down the substrate with the mix, let dry and do it again. I rolled the substrate around so you cover all sides.








We will see how it stands up.
__________________
Jason Smith

Frog Room ~~ TWI ~~ Collecting Fecal Samples 101 ~~ Drilling Glass DIY
Reply With Quote
  #11 (permalink)  
Old 01-09-2009, 01:41 AM
Jason's Avatar
TWI/ASN
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Mankato, MN
Posts: 1,179
Thanks: 10
Thanked 39 Times in 21 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

I have been having fun experimenting a little.


On the left is:
Brent's recipe, but with 5:1 water/acrylic fortifier mixed in. I think I will still spray it again with more fortifier mix.

On the right is:
Brent's recipe combined with the minerals from Matt's recipe and 5:1 water/acrylic fortifier mixed in. The seem to act the same, but I would guess this has many more mineral content.
__________________
Jason Smith

Frog Room ~~ TWI ~~ Collecting Fecal Samples 101 ~~ Drilling Glass DIY
Reply With Quote
  #12 (permalink)  
Old 01-09-2009, 02:41 AM
ChrisK's Avatar
Dedicated Supporter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: NY
Posts: 3,661
Thanks: 55
Thanked 144 Times in 108 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Cool, did you break it up at all before spraying it down or just left it the consistency it was when it dried?
Reply With Quote
  #13 (permalink)  
Old 01-09-2009, 11:10 PM
Jason's Avatar
TWI/ASN
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Mankato, MN
Posts: 1,179
Thanks: 10
Thanked 39 Times in 21 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

I left it the way it was. Many of those chunks are about the size of a quarter. They break down pretty easy, so I am not too worried about them. I need to spend a few minutes breaking them apart again and respraying.
__________________
Jason Smith

Frog Room ~~ TWI ~~ Collecting Fecal Samples 101 ~~ Drilling Glass DIY
Reply With Quote
  #14 (permalink)  
Old 01-10-2009, 02:40 AM
ChrisK's Avatar
Dedicated Supporter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: NY
Posts: 3,661
Thanks: 55
Thanked 144 Times in 108 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

What will make you decide to stop spraying, the strength of the particles?
Reply With Quote
  #15 (permalink)  
Old 01-10-2009, 02:59 AM
Ed Ed is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: South Jersey
Posts: 19,301
Thanks: 321
Thanked 2,728 Times in 1,791 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

The reason there is the recommendation to not add too much of the acrylic fortifier is because you don't want too much polymerization as it will reduce the ability of water to penetrate the material.
Brent and I had some discussions about this quite awhile ago and I got some advice from my dad (he used to be a big wig in the Rohm and Haas Polymer/paint R&D). Basically adding enough to get it to clump but not prevent water penetration is a new application. There is information out there on adding enough to make it impermeable to water but not how we're doing it so its a real trail breaking...

Ed
Reply With Quote
  #16 (permalink)  
Old 01-10-2009, 03:32 AM
Jason's Avatar
TWI/ASN
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Mankato, MN
Posts: 1,179
Thanks: 10
Thanked 39 Times in 21 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

If I take a chunk of the clay that had 5:1 water/acrylic fortifier mixed in (not sprayed) and put it in water so it goes half way up the chunk, I can see that it absorbs the water. You see tiny particles move as if they are being sucked up the clay chunk. You also see parts of the clay chunk fall off the main piece as it absorbs more water.

So, do I need a higher ratio or should I spray it with more of the same? Only time can tell. I suppose if I increase the ratio until I don't see any absorption than I know what is max. FYI, With about 2 gallons of the dry mix, I only use about 2 to 4 cups of 5:1 water/fortifier.

As Ed said, most of the clay based substrate is still in experimentation mode. So, anyone wishing to try, please experiment away!
__________________
Jason Smith

Frog Room ~~ TWI ~~ Collecting Fecal Samples 101 ~~ Drilling Glass DIY
Reply With Quote
  #17 (permalink)  
Old 01-10-2009, 01:44 PM
Ed Ed is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: South Jersey
Posts: 19,301
Thanks: 321
Thanked 2,728 Times in 1,791 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

The other idea behind the diluted acrylic was that it was only to be in there until the bacterial and fungal fauna got established as the biofilms will help with the structure.

One of the things I am trying right now is to have an air gap between the bottom of the false bottom and the top of the water under the false bottom. The reason I am setting the tanks up this way is to simulate the ability of the soil to not be water logged (as occurs when the water is constantly in contact with the upper soil layers and is wicked to the surface.

Ed
Reply With Quote
  #18 (permalink)  
Old 01-10-2009, 01:52 PM
Dendro Dave's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 6,279
Thanks: 189
Thanked 630 Times in 431 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed View Post
One of the things I am trying right now is to have an air gap between the bottom of the false bottom and the top of the water under the false bottom. The reason I am setting the tanks up this way is to simulate the ability of the soil to not be water logged (as occurs when the water is constantly in contact with the upper soil layers and is wicked to the surface.

Ed
I thought this was always how its supposed to be? I mean i've not always followed that rule, i occasionaly flood a tank, or some of my first vivs had substrate with screen and then gravel underneath but were in near constant contact with the water table.

Im definately going to be doing this with the desert viv im building.
__________________
Everything I've ever written is/was just my opinion!
Reply With Quote
  #19 (permalink)  
Old 01-10-2009, 07:29 PM
skylsdale's Avatar
TWI/ASN
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: WA
Posts: 2,245
Thanks: 128
Thanked 494 Times in 219 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

A few things to keep in mind: when Brent (or anyone in these types of substrate threads) mentions soil, he specifically means something that is non-organic (i.e. broken down rock, sediment, etc.). The purpose of adding native soil was purely for the introduction of natural fungal and bacteria populations that would colonize and begin the work of creating/sustaining particles in the substrate...not to add organic matter. Peat is the complete opposite of soil. Since you added your own inoculation of fungi/bacteria, there's really no reason to include the peat. There's probably nothing wrong with adding it (other than the added cost and step in the process)...but just understand it's not what is meant by the term "soil."

I also want to reiterate what Ed mentioned: the fortifier won't cause the substrate to hold its particulate form forever--the idea is to do it just long enough until the various bacteria, fungi, microfauna and their processes can naturally succeed in doing so. This is probably one of the single biggest areas of experimentation we're working with. Mine globbed up more quickly than anticipated (but I used a block of terra cotta clay from the beginning vs. Redart powder, so the fortifier didn't get included as much as I would have like it to). The addition of locally collected earthworms has helped in keeping my substrate drained and adding some diversity to the composition (e.g. preventing it from turning into a solid mass). I know Brent has added worms to his tank, but haven't talked to him recently as to how they are working out. Even in my substrate's semi-globbed form...the microfaunal levels in this viv are head and shoulders above any of my other tanks (I attribute a deep layer of leaf litter as another important factor...and a semi-regular introduction of banana peels, chunks, and various other bits of compost).
__________________
Ron
Reply With Quote
  #20 (permalink)  
Old 01-10-2009, 10:13 PM
Corpus Callosum's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 2,166
Thanks: 1
Thanked 10 Times in 5 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Another possible option to helping it hold together could be to use calcium bentonite instead of the acrylic fortifier.

Last edited by Corpus Callosum; 01-10-2009 at 10:15 PM. Reason: grammar error
Reply With Quote
  #21 (permalink)  
Old 01-11-2009, 03:56 AM
ChrisK's Avatar
Dedicated Supporter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: NY
Posts: 3,661
Thanks: 55
Thanked 144 Times in 108 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corpus Callosum View Post
Another possible option to helping it hold together could be to use calcium bentonite instead of the acrylic fortifier.
Would that replace any of the calcium carbonate?
Reply With Quote
  #22 (permalink)  
Old 01-11-2009, 04:28 PM
Ed Ed is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: South Jersey
Posts: 19,301
Thanks: 321
Thanked 2,728 Times in 1,791 Posts
Default Re: DYI - My take on a clay based substrate.

Maybe. The calcium in calcium bentonite is more mobile. Do a search for bentonite and check out the thread about pumilio and calcium rich substrates.

Ed
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
The ultimate clay-based substrate thread gary1218 General Discussion 345 09-12-2011 07:35 PM
red clay substrate Dendrobait Parts & Construction 12 01-12-2009 03:55 PM
clay and substrate divider Cowie Beginner Discussion 1 07-22-2008 01:50 PM
Trouble rooting plants in clay substrate allanschon Parts & Construction 8 04-09-2008 02:17 AM
clay-based substrates question swigen Parts & Construction 5 01-28-2008 01:15 PM

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT. The time now is 03:19 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.