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Old 02-07-2011, 09:54 AM
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Default Clay Substrate How-To

I was asked a couple times recently for a guide on my clay substrate. I have copied the emails I sent on those, along with a few pics. Want to thank Matt, Brent, Jason, Ed, and others, for all the info they were so willing to share on clay substrates. Here is what I came up with.

My clay supplier is Mile Hi Ceramics, INC. 77 Lipan 303-825-4570
You are looking for RedArt and Bentonite.
Clay Recipe
3 Quarts RedArt powdered clay
1/2 Quart Sodium Bentonite powdered clay
1/2 Quart Calcium Bentonite powdered clay
1 Quart Brown Peat OR Coco Fiber (ground up like dirt)
1/2 Quart Fine Aragonite Sand
1/4 to 1/2 cup Calcium Carbonate
2 TBSP Sugar
2 TBSP Corn Starch
Mix all ingredients except sugar and corn starch in a 5 gallon bucket. Dry mix it. Boil Sugar and Corn Starch into water. Use water to hydrate mix. I use about 3/4 of a 2 quart container. Mix like crazy. I use a drill and a paint stirrer from WalMart. The better ones don't work as they get bogged down in the thick mix, get the cheapy with the red plastic stirrer on the end from WalMart.
Grab a handful of clay maybe about the size of a couple of golf balls. Squish clay into about 1/4 inch thick patties. Place patties onto 1/4 inch screen. I made a screen box out of four, 20" 2x4's with the screen nailed to the top.
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:02 AM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

Place a cookie sheet or a disposable aluminum cake pan under the screen so that your little cubes of clay will fall straight in. This will help to reduce the sticking together that you are going to get. Push clay patties through screen to make into little cubes. I like to use this rubber sanding block that I got at WalMart. I push down and then slide the block towards me while still pushing down. Doing small sections at a time makes it easy.
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:06 AM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

Bake at about 300 until dry. Or you can just just air dry. After it has cooled, you will break up the chunks. It breaks up into small 1/4 inch cubes pretty easily. Some people don't bother with the cubes as it is the hardest part. I think it is important because it makes for lots of gaps between particles for springtail growth, soil aeration, drainage, and root growth.
Here are a couple pics before baking.
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:08 AM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

Here are pics after baking. Note all the space between particles for microfauna growth.
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:25 AM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

Here it is in the viv and ready for the last step. This was in my brothers viv and we decided to hide the edges of the clay with ABG mix. For the last step you dissolve some mycorrhizae inoculant into water and begin misting the viv to re-moisten the clay. Some of the best mycorrhizae inoculants can be found at hydroponics shops. I used a brand called White Widow because it contains 12 different types/species of inoculant.
You want to moisten the clay gradually. Mist it down and wait five minutes for it to soak in. Mist it again and wait 5 more. Continue until clay is fully moistened.
NOTE: Once clay is hydrated it should be disturbed AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE! Too much handling will clump it together. Because of this, I choose to plant it while it is still dry and then quickly mist that planted section. If you need to add plants later, it is best done as cuttings so you can just poke a hole with a piece of wire or a drill bit and stick the cutting right in. You can also just lay the cutting on top and it will eventually take root and begin to grow upright.
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Old 02-07-2011, 10:35 AM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

Some explanations:
The bentonite you get at the pottery place is sodium bentonite, 50 lbs is about $12. That's what most people work with. Calcium Bentonite is available on eBay. It's more expensive at about $32 for 16 lbs shipped. The Calcium in it adds some obvious benefits but since you add calcium Carbonite anyway, You could really substitute and use just Sodium Bentonite.
Calcium Bentonite links 16.5 #'s Calcium BENTONITE Clay KOI ponds & plants WW - eBay (item 260711386448 end time Feb-20-11 21:22:42 PST)
5.5 lb Calcium BENTONITE Clay KOI ponds & plants - eBay (item 250616134654 end time Feb-09-11 16:10:19 PST)
The 16 lb size will last for quite a few tanks.
Aragonite sand is available at coral reef pet shops. (aquarium stores) You are looking for the smallest size of oolitic sand or sugar five aragonite sand. Again, you could just sub regular fine sand but I like the extra calcium and I had a bunch lying around.
Calcium Carbonite. I use the NOW brand with the orange label available at Vitamin Cottage.
The sugar and corn starch are to help in establishing a Biofilm which helps keep the particles, or cubes, of clay separate. It may mold just a little but springtails and isopods will help keep that in check and it will stop pretty quickly.
This recipe would also make a fine background mix although the cornstarch and sugar are probably unneccessary there. You could probably skip the sand too. The calcium may still prove beneficial to frogs but could be skipped. For a background recipe I would sub some of the coco/peat for some ground sphagnum moss to try to encourage future moss growth. My last batch I blenderized some live sphagnum and some live sheet moss in as part of the coco/peat/sphagnum. Time will tell how that works out.
Lay down an inch of Turface before the clay just to cut down on the amount of clay you need. Turface is available at a John Deere Landscaper. Ask for TURFACE or INFIELD CONDITIONER. The grade you want is ALL SPORT PRO.
Drainage so far has been excellent. I think the cubes method helps with this. Also, this is my RedArt clay. I do NOT trust a bentonite based clay (but obviously, I like it as an ammendment.) It is important to NEVER go digging around in your moist clay mix. If you need to plant something, either poke the stem down in or even just lay it on top. It will root and eventually grow standing up.
When I plant mine, I like to use a handful or two of ABG mix around the roots of each plant. I put some clay cubes over the ABG.
Remember to use LOTS of leaf litter!!

Sorry if we got a little scattered there, as I said, this is translated from a series of emails.
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Old 02-07-2011, 01:27 PM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

YESSS!!!
Thanks For the info Doug, Its nice to have the instructions from beginning to end, and pictures make it better..
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:00 PM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

got a few questions.So is the mane reasons for the clay substrate, to boost calcium in inverts .in nature the clay that walls up and bellow the wall aren't to many inverts . but in the moss and rotting logs and leafs . seem to a great amount more inverts .if most are eating fungi . mold doesn't like clay . here in the northwest seen mold in leafs and the ground spread for seemingly for every . the mold is keep in check buy lower humidity and heat from the sun . when it rains it has the ability to come up and form mushrooms and other type of fungi. just asking because when herping in the rain forest hear , that notice all i can and the most productive places are burned forest and volcano zone . after 80 eruption of st Helen . the zone now is super productive . sounding lakes are very productive. the fish in the nearest lake ,fish grow up at twice the rate of other lakes in area . just throwing my two cents in . I think I'm going to burn that cherry wood. use the ash and charcoal mix with fresh and rotting leafs coco peat ect. and may be some clay to hold the charcoal down . and has any used egg shell power as calcium upper in substrate . and fungi stains .I have power fungi stains about 16 in one power . think i going trow a spoon full in the mix to . for the plants mostly ,but the invert will eat the rest . and lite tank sit for month or two see it does . these is my two cent , if i'm wrong lite me know ,these is info from living hear not there.

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Old 02-07-2011, 11:56 PM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

The clay provides several different functions..

1) the interaction between the clay and the leaf litter is typically very dynamic in the form of biological productivity.

2) clay that contains calcium can have the calcium taken up by the frogs either through thier drinking patch (if there are free calcium ions) or as calcium particles stuck to the inverts or in thier digestive tract.

3) mold may not "like" clay as clay as it stands does not contain organics to encourage the growth of molds.. I suggest taking some red art clay and mixing a bunch of corn starch and sugar into it and throughly wetting it and seeing what happens then... (don't add any mycrorhizzoids as they can inhibit how dramatic it can look...)

4) there are significant differences between the productivity of a disturbed system and the productivity of a mature established system. In addition to these two differences, they tend to support different species and in different numbers (as a suggestion, look up R/K selection theory and R/K species selection). Your comparision is an incomplete one.. (I have no objection to the use of charcoal etc as it has good effects in tropcial soils.. but you are using an incomplete decision... )

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Old 02-07-2011, 11:59 PM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

Nice summary Doug..
I mix it all wet into a slurry and then filter it through some news paper over a screen. When it is the consistency I want I simply turn it over on the screen, pull off the newspaper (any that doesn't come off is simply invert chow) and push it through the screen with a putty knife although I want to see if any of the tools used for spreading tile grout would work better.
We both get the same basic results.

Ed
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Old 02-08-2011, 12:04 AM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

So those that use the clay substrate have a much better pumilio froglet success rate?
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Old 02-08-2011, 12:11 AM
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got a few questions.So is the mane reasons for the clay substrate, to boost calcium in inverts .in nature the clay that walls up and bellow the wall aren't to many inverts . but in the moss and rotting logs and leafs . seem to a great amount more inverts .if most are eating fungi . mold doesn't like clay . here in the northwest seen mold in leafs and the ground spread for seemingly for every . the mold is keep in check buy lower humidity and heat from the sun . when it rains it has the ability to come up and form mushrooms and other type of fungi. just asking because when herping in the rain forest hear , that notice all i can and the most productive places are burned forest and volcano zone . after 80 eruption of st Helen . the zone now is super productive . sounding lakes are very productive. the fish in the nearest lake ,fish grow up at twice the rate of other lakes in area . just throwing my two cents in . I think I'm going to burn that cherry wood. use the ash and charcoal mix with fresh and rotting leafs coco peat ect. and may be some clay to hold the charcoal down . and has any used egg shell power as calcium upper in substrate . and fungi stains .I have power fungi stains about 16 in one power . think i going trow a spoon full in the mix to . for the plants mostly ,but the invert will eat the rest . and lite tank sit for month or two see it does . these is my two cent , if i'm wrong lite me know ,these is info from living hear not there.
The main reason is to supply tiny froglets, like pumilio, who are too small to take dusted fruit flies, with a source of calcium. When they eat a springtail, they will sometimes ingest a bit of clay along with it. The clay, of course, has been enriched with calcium.Pumilios are known for having calcium deficiencies and dropping dead after a few months. People who have been using the clay substrates for a while are reporting good results getting past this problem. When used with good amounts of leaf litter, and the occasional grape, bit of apple, mushroom, etc., Clay substrates have been proven to be very conducive to good microfauna growth. Microfauna, referring to springtails, isopods, and various assorted bug-beasties. These questions have been answered by people more knowledgable than I, in this thread. http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/gen...te-thread.html It's a long thread, but I encourage anybody interested in clay substrates to read it once or twice.
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Old 02-08-2011, 12:18 AM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

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Nice summary Doug..
I mix it all wet into a slurry and then filter it through some news paper over a screen. When it is the consistency I want I simply turn it over on the screen, pull off the newspaper (any that doesn't come off is simply invert chow) and push it through the screen with a putty knife although I want to see if any of the tools used for spreading tile grout would work better.
We both get the same basic results.

Ed
Thank you Ed. Of course my method directly evolved from your screening method. On mine I just slap the screen a few times to release the cubes instead of slicing them with a putty knife. So yes, just two different methods for the same result.
Thanks again for your help in my earlier batches of clay substrate and forming this method.
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Old 02-08-2011, 02:28 AM
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Thank you Ed. Of course my method directly evolved from your screening method. On mine I just slap the screen a few times to release the cubes instead of slicing them with a putty knife. So yes, just two different methods for the same result.
Thanks again for your help in my earlier batches of clay substrate and forming this method.
No need to thank me.. I gave you thanks for the good explination..

Ed
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:05 AM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

I read allot more. and it make a little more scene now. just got to the substrate on my tank and just wandering whats the best for these tank . it make scents what ed said by being incomplete . what is the PH after done with your substrate ? It seems to only benefit every thing . the only thing I wonder if the PH is higher . thanks for the feed back
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Old 02-08-2011, 06:23 PM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

I'm afraid I've never checked the PH. I admit to going off others research as far as that goes. It was pointed out in one of the threads that calcium carbonate is probably a better amendment than your typical garden lime for just that reason.
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Old 02-09-2011, 12:56 AM
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between the calcium boost and allot of trace elements. It seems that clay is the only medium that can hold all those elements (in place). the only thing I don't have is calcium clay . have to of allot of eggs shell powder and fine aragonite . wood ash is also 25 to 45% calcium carbonate, less then 10% potash and less then 1%phosphates .and allot of trace elements . seem that it wouldn't hurt any thing . and charcoal could help keep the clay from clumping ,while still having some air space for inverts. tell me what you think, if doing pretty much your clay recipe ,with the use of ash in the clay and adding charcoal in between the clay .and think I'll be alright not using calcium clay with adding so much pure calcium with egg shell, aragonite and ash , to the c-clay and standard bentonite i have.sorry if annoying you guys with a all the questions. thanks Theo
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:29 AM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

Pumilio, just curious how the clay holds up over time. With heavy misting and high humidity, would it naturally clump and become impermiable over time? Also, how do you think the nutrient base would hold up over time? Would this have to be replaced over time, or do you think you could get several good years out of it?

Very informative, thanks for sharing.

Pat
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:56 AM
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between the calcium boost and allot of trace elements. It seems that clay is the only medium that can hold all those elements (in place). the only thing I don't have is calcium clay . have to of allot of eggs shell powder and fine aragonite . wood ash is also 25 to 45% calcium carbonate, less then 10% potash and less then 1%phosphates .and allot of trace elements . seem that it wouldn't hurt any thing . and charcoal could help keep the clay from clumping ,while still having some air space for inverts. tell me what you think, if doing pretty much your clay recipe ,with the use of ash in the clay and adding charcoal in between the clay .and think I'll be alright not using calcium clay with adding so much pure calcium with egg shell, aragonite and ash , to the c-clay and standard bentonite i have.sorry if annoying you guys with a all the questions. thanks Theo
Mr. Elder, I would think that the wood ash could be a good amendment for the calcium and other trace elements. Just be careful that you don't go overboard, as eggshell, aragonite, wood ash, and calcium carbonite can all raise PH. I never considered carbon as an additive. I have always used carbon in the ABG mix I use to help keep the soil smelling fresh and also for better drainage. I don't foresee any problems with using some carbon/charcoal between the clay particles.
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:11 AM
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Originally Posted by alex111683 View Post
So those that use the clay substrate have a much better pumilio froglet success rate?
Some are reporting great results with pumilio using the clay substrates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by patm View Post
Pumilio, just curious how the clay holds up over time. With heavy misting and high humidity, would it naturally clump and become impermiable over time? Also, how do you think the nutrient base would hold up over time? Would this have to be replaced over time, or do you think you could get several good years out of it?

Very informative, thanks for sharing.

Pat
Pat, the first clay I made was based on bentonite and I do not anticipate a long life with it. It seemed to get soft and soggy quickly. The redart based substrate seems much firmer even when wet. The clay substrates are supposed to be beneficial in keeping humidity up. You should be able to cut back some on misting and still get good breeding. I can only hope and guess that it will hold up well as I am a newcomer to clay substrates. Ed, Brent Brock, and Matt Mirabello would be more able to answer these questions. The calcium is mixed in, becoming a part of the clay, so should remain accessible over the life of the clay.
Clay substrates are still to be considered experimental but I do hope to get at least several years out of it.
Can people who have been using clay longer chime in here?
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:47 AM
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Thanks Jason! High praise indeed. I couldn't have put this together without you.
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Old 02-09-2011, 05:15 AM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

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I read allot more. and it make a little more scene now. just got to the substrate on my tank and just wandering whats the best for these tank . it make scents what ed said by being incomplete . what is the PH after done with your substrate ? It seems to only benefit every thing . the only thing I wonder if the PH is higher . thanks for the feed back
Most clays have an akaline based pH of around 9-10. This includes both sodium and calcium bentonites.

Red Art Clay which is actually Hydrous Aluminum Silicate has an acidic pH range of 4-6.

When mixed depending on your proportions used, you can assume the pH will fall somewhere in the middle (a soil test kit is the only way to get an accurate reading). I personlly use about 1:2 ratio of red art to bentonite clay which would puts my soil pH just over 7 on average.

If you are trying to mimic true rainforest soil then you would need a lower pH. Most rainforest soil has a pH range of 4-5. So a good way to lower the pH of the clay substrate is to add peat moss. Sphagnum peat has a pH of 3.5. When it is added you can drastically lower you pH to an optimum level without having to add an sulfur product. There are other forms of peat that are not as acidic because the soil content contains lime.

I just play around with it and see what pH levels I can get that are best for the plants in the viv. I am not sure if there is an optimum level of soil pH that are trying to achieve for the darts. Ed is there any literature on this?

This is a good thread thank you.
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Old 02-09-2011, 09:11 AM
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Pumilio, just curious how the clay holds up over time. With heavy misting and high humidity, would it naturally clump and become impermiable over time? Also, how do you think the nutrient base would hold up over time? Would this have to be replaced over time, or do you think you could get several good years out of it?

Very informative, thanks for sharing.

Pat
The clay even under heavy misting retains it shape well. Several people on this board have made drip walls and ponds out of clay and experienced little to no erosion. My oldest viv that contains a clay based substrate is about 18 months old now, and I do not see any signs of the granules clumping. Just make sure to dig around as little as possible. The clay will press together very easily when wet.

One method I use that helps prevent the shape of the clay from eroding is to add Turface into the wet bentonite/red art clay mix before baking. The clay will bond to the Turface during the baking, yet still is small enough to be pressed through a screen.

As for the nutrient base, the frogs obtain calcium when a particle is stuck to microfauna and then eaten by the frog, not by the microfauna eating the particle and then passing the nutrient onto the frog. It is not like an organic substrate where bacteria and micro-organisms break down the organic material. Plants can potentially absorbed most of the nutrients over time, but I imagine by the time a clay substrate would need to to be replaced you be ready to change the viv anyway.
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:20 PM
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The clay even under heavy misting retains it shape well. Several people on this board have made drip walls and ponds out of clay and experienced little to no erosion. My oldest viv that contains a clay based substrate is about 18 months old now, and I do not see any signs of the granules clumping. Just make sure to dig around as little as possible. The clay will press together very easily when wet.

One method I use that helps prevent the shape of the clay from eroding is to add Turface into the wet bentonite/red art clay mix before baking. The clay will bond to the Turface during the baking, yet still is small enough to be pressed through a screen.

As for the nutrient base, the frogs obtain calcium when a particle is stuck to microfauna and then eaten by the frog, not by the microfauna eating the particle and then passing the nutrient onto the frog. It is not like an organic substrate where bacteria and micro-organisms break down the organic material. Plants can potentially absorbed most of the nutrients over time, but I imagine by the time a clay substrate would need to to be replaced you be ready to change the viv anyway.
There are several routes calcium from the clay can end up inside the frog

1) through accidental ingestion while capturing or attempting to capture a prey item. The tongue is sticky and small particles of all kinds adhere to it. This also needs access to bare clay.

2) through accidental ingestion of particle stuck to the prey species

3) through particles that have been ingested by the prey species (clay can be ingested while feeding by invertebrates either accidentally or deliberately (as they need some level of calcium for their own metabolic needs)

4) deliberately by absorbtion through the skin (particularly on thier ventral side (thier drinking patch)). Not that the frog has to have access to the clay for this to work so covering all of the clay inhibits this...

Clay also fosters a microbial enviroment that tends to lock up as much of the nutrients as possible and this along with the continued influx of nutrients (dusted feeders, leaf litter, new plants) makes this unlikely that you decide to break down the enclosure based on aesthetics before you have to break it down based on nutrients. This does not mean that you cannot experience localized pockets of nutrient deficiency for the plants as nutrient input and cycling are not going to have as many processes as those seen in the wild for distributing nutrients but if that does show up it can be handled on a localized level without tearing down the tank.

Some comments

Ed
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Old 02-09-2011, 04:33 PM
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Thanks, guys, great info!
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Old 02-09-2011, 05:27 PM
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There are several routes calcium from the clay can end up inside the frog

3) through particles that have been ingested by the prey species (clay can be ingested while feeding by invertebrates either accidentally or deliberately (as they need some level of calcium for their own metabolic needs)
Does this mean that invertebrates pass on nutrients that have been broken down within their own system or it is in their system not yet digested while they are eaten by the frog?

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Clay also fosters a microbial enviroment that tends to lock up as much of the nutrients as possible and this along with the continued influx of nutrients (dusted feeders, leaf litter, new plants) makes this unlikely that you decide to break down the enclosure based on aesthetics before you have to break it down based on nutrients.
Sorry I am little confused. Are you saying the nutrient base will be used up and will have to be replaced, or the addition of nutrients will sustain it over time except for localized areas? I thought microfauna helps to redistribute and free up nutrients.
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Old 02-09-2011, 05:33 PM
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Here is a webpage that breaks down soil and microfauna interaction into an easy read. Its a student wiki article, not a journal, but it seems to be fairly accurate.

Soil environment and physical factors controlling microbial activity - MicrobeWiki
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:11 PM
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Sorry I wasn't clear, I was tired when I typed it.

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Does this mean that invertebrates pass on nutrients that have been broken down within their own system or it is in their system not yet digested while they are eaten by the frog?
Actually yes to both depending on the species in question.. for example isopods and snails consume calcium containing substrates due to the increased calcium requirements for deposition into thier respective cuticle or shell while annelids (as an example) contain undigested calcium particulates in thier digestive tract. If you look in the bibliography for the Nutritional chapter in Mader's Reptile Medicine and Surgery, there are some great references (One is a thesis I haven't been able to get ahold of yet) as well as some minor discussion in the text.



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Sorry I am little confused. Are you saying the nutrient base will be used up and will have to be replaced, or the addition of nutrients will sustain it over time except for localized areas? I thought microfauna helps to redistribute and free up nutrients.
What I am saying that due to the lack of diversity in the microfauna in our enclosures, we may not see the same level of nutrient distribution or movement as is seen in the wild. This may mean that localized spots in the enclosure end up being nutrient deficient compared to other sections of the enclosure. This is probably going to take a long time to occur as clay based substrates are pretty robust.. so a person may want to take down a tank due to aesthetics as opposed to it actually becoming nutrient poor. Even if you do start to see signs of localized deficiency of nutrients top dressing the site should alleviate the issue.

Does that help?

Ed
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:13 PM
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Here is a webpage that breaks down soil and microfauna interaction into an easy read. Its a student wiki article, not a journal, but it seems to be fairly accurate.

Soil environment and physical factors controlling microbial activity - MicrobeWiki

If you search long enough through google scholar.. you can access free journal articles on nutrient cycling of various types of leaf litters..
Or if you have access through as institutional subscription, a lot more articles are readily available.
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:37 PM
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Ed, if you did decide that a top dressing was in order after a few years, would you put a small batch of new, complete clay mix over the top, or do you think that you could mix some Calcium Bentonite with a little Calcium Carbonate, both in their dry form. Sprinkle that over the top of your moist clay, and perhaps cut off the misting for a couple days to allow time for the Bentonite and calc. carb. to adhere to your old clay? I guess I'm thinking maybe 90 percent calcium bentonite and 10 percent calcium carbonite.
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Old 02-09-2011, 06:38 PM
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Ed, if you did decide that a top dressing was in order after a few years, would you put a small batch of new, complete clay mix over the top, or do you think that you could mix some Calcium Bentonite with a little Calcium Carbonate, both in their dry form. Sprinkle that over the top of your moist clay, and perhaps cut off the misting for a couple days to allow time for the Bentonite and calc. carb. to adhere to your old clay? I guess I'm thinking maybe 90 percent calcium bentonite and 10 percent calcium carbonite.
I would probably simply just move where I was dumping feeders into the tank...

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Old 02-09-2011, 07:56 PM
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Thanks Ed, I didnt realize there was a Google journal search engine. I lost my J-Stor password access a few months back, and have been only been able to access abstracts lately.
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:09 PM
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Ed, if you did decide that a top dressing was in order after a few years, would you put a small batch of new, complete clay mix over the top, or do you think that you could mix some Calcium Bentonite with a little Calcium Carbonate, both in their dry form. Sprinkle that over the top of your moist clay, and perhaps cut off the misting for a couple days to allow time for the Bentonite and calc. carb. to adhere to your old clay? I guess I'm thinking maybe 90 percent calcium bentonite and 10 percent calcium carbonite.
When current leaf litter layer is almost decomposed I sprinkle a small amount of dried clay mixture on top of it before adding a fresh layer of leaves. This helps to ensure that clay will come into contact with the frogs. Also any microfauna that comes to the surface has to pass through this layer. A simple glass salt shaker is a great tool to use when adding the dried clay.
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:12 PM
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Thanks Ed, I didnt realize there was a Google journal search engine. I lost my J-Stor password access a few months back, and have been only been able to access abstracts lately.
This is a problem I can well understand...

Ed
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:08 PM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

After all the technical information in the four pages...I have a really...really simple question: is the screen that you refer to what I call "hardware cloth" or is it screening material that would be used in a regular screen door..? This is a very informative thread, but I used Ed's method and it was very, very difficult to force the clay through those itsy-bitsy holes... thanks for your patience...
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:14 PM
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HARDWARE CLOTH! Yes, that's it! Thank you Judy! That was the name of the product I use. I just couldn't remember it. So what Judy and I mean here is the name of the wire mesh screen product that I force the clay through is Hardware Cloth. If there are different sizes, you need the 1/4" by 1/4" size.
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:16 PM
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After all the technical information in the four pages...I have a really...really simple question: is the screen that you refer to what I call "hardware cloth" or is it screening material that would be used in a regular screen door..? This is a very informative thread, but I used Ed's method and it was very, very difficult to force the clay through those itsy-bitsy holes... thanks for your patience...

No, as a cheat I use a screen lid for a 20 gallon aquarium with the larger screening holes.. not the finer one.... (although the finer screen would probably make a good surface dressing..hmm)... It isn't that hard to push it through the larger mesh size.


Ed
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:22 PM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

This tool does quite a good job as well.

Potato Cuber

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Old 02-16-2011, 12:02 AM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

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Pumilio, just curious how the clay holds up over time. With heavy misting and high humidity, would it naturally clump and become impermiable over time? Also, how do you think the nutrient base would hold up over time? Would this have to be replaced over time, or do you think you could get several good years out of it?

Very informative, thanks for sharing.

Pat
Hi guys, interesting thread here. Nice work on the recipe Doug. I look forward to seeing how it holds up over time. Here's an update on the recipes I've used:

- Cheap non-clumping kitty litter - the first clay substrate I used. I have the original tanks set up in 1995 or 1996 still growing strong. The litter simply does not break down and plant growth remains healthy.

- DOB Redart mix (described in the other clay thread). How long has it been now - 4-5 years since I set that up? I have mixed results to report. The clay remains fairly stable but the sand-like aggregate structure has broken down over time. A coupld times of aerated it by poking holes clear through to the drainage layer to keep it draining well. I still like the look of it but there is room for improvement. I'm curious to see how these newer recipes hold up because they sound promising. Also, this mix does not support as much microfauna as kitty litter substrate. I'm pretty sure that is a function of the aggregate breakdown. There just isn't as much surface area between pore spaces. Again, stabilizing that sand-like structure is an important goal. Also, this stuff eats leaf litter rapidly. I actually think that is a good thing so just an observation. I suspect it has more to do with the night crawlers that were added hoping to maintain porosity than the clay itself.

Someone asked if it helps with pumilio. All I can say is that a combination of UVB lighting and calcium supplemented substrate seems to completely eliminate calcium deficiency issues in froglets. It has now been over 10 years since I've seen a case of hypocalcemia and I would guess something like 40 froglets have come out of that viv.

I haven't tested the pH of my substrate but I did test the effluent water that drains out after water has filtered through. One year after putting the substrate in, that pH was running about 8.6 so the substrate was pretty alkaline. I should test it again as I suspect it has dropped due to leaching. I also used slaked lime as the calcium source in mine which, as has been pointed out, is not the best choice since it is so reactive. But I haven't seen any issues and plants root and grow in the substrate just fine.

Overall I would say that early recipe was a step forward but not perfect. Maybe one of these new recipes will prove to be the ultimate clay-based substrate.
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:31 AM
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Default Re: Clay Substrate How-To

Hey Brent! Thanks for chiming in with an update on yours. This is obviously based heavily on your hard work (and Matt's). I couldn't have put this how to together without you guys being so willing to share your knowledge. Thank you and thanks for the kudos on my guide.

Can I ask about your kitty litter substrate? If that is the old fashioned, non clumping, fired litter, then how do you supplement that with calcium? Or is that not used with Pumilio as a calcium supplementing substrate?

Learning more about the possibilities of UVB lighting is something I want to research more, too. Got ant good threads you might be able to link me to about getting around the fact that glass tops apparently filter it out? My homemade slopefront glass vivs are kind of stumping me there.

Thanks again for adding your input here!
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