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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The point has come that I am redoing my main tank and ive decided to put a bit more thought into a few things. I have been using exoterra plantation soil as my substrate (I chose this before I found this awesome site and was convinced by the results of all these beautiful vivs)

I have a pretty wet enclosure due to a drip wall going straight into my substrate and a waterfall also somewhat dripping into it so the additional ingredients that help with drainage would be helpful along with a better environment for microfauna. Problem is im a bit unsure about a few of the ingredients and where to find them locally.

Ingredients to make your own batch of ABG from what ive researched (aka what Pumilo and frogboy wrote an informative post on) are

-milled peat (home depot i have found something suitable, does milled just mean running it through a blender?)
-milled sphagnum moss (i have found something suitable)
-fine charcoal (i have found this, but by fine does that mean just crushing it?)
-fine tree fern fiber (is this critical? Its difficult to find without ordering online which I am not to keen on doing..)
-fine orchid bark (anyone know of a particular brand that would be good from home depot or lowes?)

Thanks
 

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The point has come that I am redoing my main tank and ive decided to put a bit more thought into a few things. I have been using exoterra plantation soil as my substrate (I chose this before I found this awesome site and was convinced by the results of all these beautiful vivs)

I have a pretty wet enclosure due to a drip wall going straight into my substrate and a waterfall also somewhat dripping into it so the additional ingredients that help with drainage would be helpful along with a better environment for microfauna. Problem is im a bit unsure about a few of the ingredients and where to find them locally.

Ingredients to make your own batch of ABG from what ive researched (aka what Pumilo and frogboy wrote an informative post on) are

-milled peat (home depot i have found something suitable, does milled just mean running it through a blender?)
The peat we've always found has already been milled. It just means a dirtlike texture. A blender would work fine if all you have down there is unmilled.
-milled sphagnum moss (i have found something suitable)
This is just long fibered sphagnum moss or orchid moss, but you run it through a blender. Here's a picture. Supplies | Potting | Compressed Long Fiber Sphagnum Moss | Jung Garden and Flower Seed Company

-fine charcoal (i have found this, but by fine does that mean just crushing it?)
You are looking for pieces averaging 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.

-fine tree fern fiber (is this critical? Its difficult to find without ordering online which I am not to keen on doing..)
I think the tree fern fiber is a lot of what makes ABG mix is good as it is. I think it does a lot to create air pockets in the soil.

-fine orchid bark (anyone know of a particular brand that would be good from home depot or lowes?)
Any Brand name is fine. Again, you are looking for pieces around 1/4" to 1/2".
Hope it helps!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A clarification from the man himself, thanks a bunch I think I may have a source for some tree fern fiber so I'll l keep it in the mix. Others are saying this mixture will retain water a lot more and that it would be wise to mix in something else for better drainage. Do you think this might be a problem or was your salamander tanks plant growth still good?
 

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A clarification from the man himself, thanks a bunch I think I may have a source for some tree fern fiber so I'll l keep it in the mix. Others are saying this mixture will retain water a lot more and that it would be wise to mix in something else for better drainage. Do you think this might be a problem or was your salamander tanks plant growth still good?
That's why ABG mix has had such a long run as a favorite substrate for our moist, humid frog vivs. Yes, it retains a lot of water, while still readily draining the excess. There is nothing wrong with retaining water as long as you also retain lots of oxygen (that's half of what makes Hydroponics work so well!). The tree fern fiber, orchid bark, and charcoal (which I like to at least double), puts a "structure" into the mix which helps keep it from compacting and builds lots of air pockets into the mix.
 

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orchid bark is fir bark afaik, but i usually find "orchid bark" to also contain perlite, which isn't very good for our frogs so i usually just try to find fir bark alone

tree fern fiber comes from an almost extinct tree and there is just not much left on the market... people need to find an alternative and give a bit of respect to the poor treeferns ;X
i personally make a mix of coco fiber, coco husks, fir bark, peat moss, charcoal, crushed oak leaves and altho it is in no way as good as the original abg mix, it still does the job real good for me
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Makes sense...keep it wet but not stagnant. Another concern im having is doesnt anyone worry that the frogs might injest the charcoal or fir bark? I kept a crested gecko for about 2 years with exo terra plantation soil only to one day discover him dead due to impaction =( Funny thing is I was trying to get a plant id for something I found locally and discovered that the composition of it is very similar to tree fern.
 

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Impaction can be a danger with any substrate you choose. I like to keep plenty of leaf litter covering the substrate as a possible deterrent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I see, I guess to help minimize the chances of impactions while my cresteds are still juveniles ill continue feeding them outside of their enclosure. Thanks for the quick responses.
 

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tropicalplantproducts.com

they only accept check or MO, no credit cards.

james
This is a great source for Tree Fern Fiber, although with shipping costs can get quite expensive - but it is well worth it. Just be careful what coarseness (if that's a word) that you order. I order fine which is what the ABG mix calls for but TPP's fine is very fine - too fine I think. The pieces are like 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Pumilio had mention this somewhere on another thread but I didn't see it until after I had ordered it. So I ordered some more of the medium grade and it seems too big! I got sizes from 1/2" to 3" in the mix and it seems mostly the larger sizes, so I just break them up a little before using it.

The finer stuff from them actually works well if you need a more compact soil but still well draining. I use it for potting broms since the looser ABG with the larger pieces of tree fern don't support the weight of the broms that well. I throw some sand into the mix too for broms and so far seems to be doing well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yea I had a similar response when I inquired with them. I went to two nurseries and a home depot and none seem to have orchid/fir bark I'm thinking of trying my luck with lowes but if that fails would cocohusk be a decent alternative? Also sphagnum moss and exoterra forest moss don't have the same attributes do they?
 

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Check out orchid supply stores for tree fern fiber, many sell the loose stuff. Or alternatively you can get the panels and chop it up. My 42 gal has panels, but I had to cut them for size and ended up with a bunch of loose fiber. I ended up ordering too much so I plan on using the leftovers for the next substrate batch I make up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
One day I will succumb to waiting for my orders when I order things online but im not ready for that pain yet. So im gonna be making a batch tommorow after I pick up some more charcoal...although I am wondering now why I didnt buy lava rock instead of charcoal...I swear its cheaper for peices that are already fairly small and I think it would serve the same purpose as charcoal wouldnt it? I know Ive pretty much questioned every single ingredient in the mix but its always fun to ask why not do things another way.
 

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One day I will succumb to waiting for my orders when I order things online but im not ready for that pain yet. So im gonna be making a batch tommorow after I pick up some more charcoal...although I am wondering now why I didnt buy lava rock instead of charcoal...I swear its cheaper for peices that are already fairly small and I think it would serve the same purpose as charcoal wouldnt it? I know Ive pretty much questioned every single ingredient in the mix but its always fun to ask why not do things another way.
The charcoal also functions to help keep the soil sweet and smelling nice. It's capacity to do that will fail over time, but by then, your plants should be well established and serving to "filter" the soil.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Ok charcoals back in the mix.

Now for my next inquiry. Its always fun to see the saved cost of DIY attempts vs getting the premade stuff

So Josh's Frogs sells 4 quarts for $5 which is about 15L

Me
My mix following Pumilos mix quantities
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
Used Leftover
Peat moss= $7 for 28L 14L 14L
Charcoal = $28 ($7x4) for 16L 14L 0L
Orchid bark= $24 ($8x3) for 33L 28L 5L
Tree fern fiber= $0 (locally collected)
Exoterra forest moss= $9 for 14L 14L 0L
TOTAL=$68

Now I will end up with 112L for $68 but lets say It cost me $20 to ship from joshsfrogs and I spent $50 on the mix he has prepared I would get 150L! Aside from the fun aspect of doing things yourself you will be losing money if your making ABG in small amounts for yourself. For the work invovled in making the mix and the lower cost of buying premade stuff I think ill stick to ordering next time.

Although I did end up making one small batch since I had pretty much all the supplies ready when I reached this conclusion. 2 notes about making my first batch.
1. To speed up crushing the coal to smaller peices just dump it a garbage bag and run it over a few times with a big truck! An hour job turned into a 5 minute one.
2. Exoterra Forest moss has a terrible and I mean terrible smell to it so do not use this!
 

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Ok charcoals back in the mix.

Now for my next inquiry. Its always fun to see the saved cost of DIY attempts vs getting the premade stuff

So Josh's Frogs sells 4 quarts for $5 which is about 15L

Me
My mix following Pumilos mix quantities
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
Used Leftover
Peat moss= $7 for 28L 14L 14L
Charcoal = $28 ($7x4) for 16L 14L 0L
Orchid bark= $24 ($8x3) for 33L 28L 5L
Tree fern fiber= $0 (locally collected)
Exoterra forest moss= $9 for 14L 14L 0L
TOTAL=$68

Now I will end up with 112L for $68 but lets say It cost me $20 to ship from joshsfrogs and I spent $50 on the mix he has prepared I would get 150L! Aside from the fun aspect of doing things yourself you will be losing money if your making ABG in small amounts for yourself. For the work invovled in making the mix and the lower cost of buying premade stuff I think ill stick to ordering next time.

Although I did end up making one small batch since I had pretty much all the supplies ready when I reached this conclusion. 2 notes about making my first batch.
1. To speed up crushing the coal to smaller peices just dump it a garbage bag and run it over a few times with a big truck! An hour job turned into a 5 minute one.
2. Exoterra Forest moss has a terrible and I mean terrible smell to it so do not use this!
I have to agree. I made a huge batch years ago, but it just makes more sense to me to buy it from Josh's when I'm only doing a viv or three. I do still add some extra charcoal but you don't need to.
My mix following Pumilos mix quantities
Thanks but credit where credit is due. I have nothing whatsoever to do with the development of ABG Mix. I'm just passing on the recipe developed at Atlanta Botanical Gardens!
singhm29, I know that you know this, but was berated once for mis-wording and it sounded as if I was giving credit to Josh's for the development. If my friend saw this and thinks I'm taking credit...I would never hear the end of it!;)
 
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