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From your own experience what seems to be the best materials to use in a substrate mix?
 

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Thank you :) This thread didn't come up when I was doing my research. Extremely helpful!
 

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You are welcome!!

I only have experience with the ABG, but IMO all first vivs should use ABG. You could try clay first but it's a little experimental right now (although it does have amazing short term results) and is also a pain to make, especially when you're a beginner and have a whole bunch of other stuff on your hands...
 

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ABG never comes up on searches because the three letters and too short and therefore, ignored.
The clay mix recipe is mine, but based on work by others on the board. Similar mixes have seen years of use now. Many of the people who did the pioneering work on clay substrates, think that this recipe will stand up for years.
(Oh, and Thanks Wallace!)
 

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One of the pioneers I believe has a pumilio enclosure with clay that is somewhere close to a decade now with no declines...

Ed
 

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One of the pioneers I believe has a pumilio enclosure with clay that is somewhere close to a decade now with no declines...

Ed
said the pioneer.;) Wow! I didn't realize it was going on a decade!!
 

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In my experience, infield conditioner (Turface brand, I think) is the best possible substrate. You may get many of the benefits of a hand-made clay substrate (although that's not yet totally clear), but without the unbelievable pain of making it yourself. It's cheap, widely available, looks good, never breaks down...

Most importantly, microfauna seem to go absolutely crazy on it. I have switched over almost all of my tanks to this substrate, and I use it exclusively now for culturing springtails. I've never had more productive cultures. I use 3-6" of infield conditioner, topped with just a scattering of peat/sphagnum/organics, topped with several inches of leaf litter. Can't be beat.
 

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In my experience, infield conditioner (Turface brand, I think) is the best possible substrate. You may get many of the benefits of a hand-made clay substrate (although that's not yet totally clear), but without the unbelievable pain of making it yourself. It's cheap, widely available, looks good, never breaks down...

Most importantly, microfauna seem to go absolutely crazy on it. I have switched over almost all of my tanks to this substrate, and I use it exclusively now for culturing springtails. I've never had more productive cultures. I use 3-6" of infield conditioner, topped with just a scattering of peat/sphagnum/organics, topped with several inches of leaf litter. Can't be beat.
Turface can be another great choice, but don't fool yourself. It does NOT have any of the calcium supplimentation benefits that a good, calcium based, homemade clay has.
I like to use an inch of Turface under my real clay substrate.
 

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said the pioneer.;) Wow! I didn't realize it was going on a decade!!
There are people that preceded me..... Brent Brock preceded me in these trials and has great succes with his pumilio enclosure.

Ed
 

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Turface can be another great choice, but don't fool yourself. It does NOT have any of the calcium supplimentation benefits that a good, calcium based, homemade clay has.
I like to use an inch of Turface under my real clay substrate.

I'm not willing to go that far with respect to Turface. It is partially calcined and it has been anecodotally reported that it has good ion exchange capabilities from people that used it in planted fish tanks. This means it could have mobile calcium which would allow active uptake by the frogs but it may not be as good as calcium as a passive uptake (particle ingestion during prey capture or ingested by the microfauna).

Ed
 

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There are people that preceded me..... Brent Brock preceded me in these trials and has great succes with his pumilio enclosure.

Ed
Oh, so the 10 year old tank is one of Brents tanks. Brent Brock and Matt Mirrabello, followed by Ed and Scott, were 4 of the many people whose earlier work made it possible for me to put my guide together.
Thanks!

I'm not willing to go that far with respect to Turface. It is partially calcined and it has been anecodotally reported that it has good ion exchange capabilities from people that used it in planted fish tanks. This means it could have mobile calcium which would allow active uptake by the frogs but it may not be as good as calcium as a passive uptake (particle ingestion during prey capture or ingested by the microfauna).

Ed
Ahh, I stand corrected. Thanks.
 

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One thing on clay substrates, I think you still need some ABG to make "planting pockets" so plants can establish...
Actually you don't need to use ABG.. if you want to make a planting pocket just about anything organic works the same.. a little sphagnum, cocofiber, crushed up leaf litter... I usually don't add make a little organic planting pocket.

Ed
 

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I'm not willing to go that far with respect to Turface. It is partially calcined and it has been anecodotally reported that it has good ion exchange capabilities from people that used it in planted fish tanks. This means it could have mobile calcium which would allow active uptake by the frogs but it may not be as good as calcium as a passive uptake (particle ingestion during prey capture or ingested by the microfauna).
I have no doubt it's not good for calcium uptake insofar as passive uptake of particles is concerned. There just aren't enough small particles. Although, there is a lot of dust in the stuff, so who knows. I similarly can't speak to the ion exchange capabilities of the substrate, nor the soil geology with respect to calcium chemistry within my vivaria that utilize it as a substrate. I'd be interested to hear what you know about this from the fish world, Ed, if you have time and/or the inclination.

What I can say for sure is that I've never had better microfauna production, the material appears to have a virtually infinite lifespan for all intents and purposes, it looks good, it drains wonderfully, and plants will root in it. I've had some initial slow plant growth using it exclusively, which I attribute to an absence of organic nutrients as the tanks get going. I've thought of using a little liquid fertilizer of some type just in the beginning (for me personally, my vivaria are typically running for several months before frogs go in), but so far have not experimented with it. One thing I have done is put lots of dusted fruit flies even into those vivaria which don't yet have frogs. My hope/expectation is that the flies will clean themselves of the dust, contribute mineral nutrients to the tank, die, and then contribute organic matter to the tank. I like the theory, but I haven't run any controlled experiments.
 

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I put together a number of tanks a few years ago and tried something new (for me at least). The tanks have a footprint of 24"x22", and usually with a tank that size using ABG mix, I can't keep the microfauna level ahead of the frogs appetite. After a discussion with Ed I experimented with a Turface-style substrate. I had a bentonite kitty litter that turned out to be fired and mixed it about 70/30 with commercial aquatic soil.

So I have a false bottom, then approx 1-1/2 in of bentonite/aquatic soil over that. Where I differed from some is that I added on top a layer of ABG mix of varying depths (anywhere from 0-3 inches) then leaf litter on top of that. The goal was to create as many environmental niches as possible for microfauna.

I can't speak for calcium uptake, but the microfauna population has gone through the roof. From the 3 types of springs to 3 types of iso's introduced, I can usually at a glance find many examples of each. I've even noticed a few smaller insect species which I did not knowingly introduce take off and become part of the diet. The plants pretty much thrive as well (although ferns seem to do better where the ABG mix is thicker).
 

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I have no doubt it's not good for calcium uptake insofar as passive uptake of particles is concerned. There just aren't enough small particles. Although, there is a lot of dust in the stuff, so who knows. I similarly can't speak to the ion exchange capabilities of the substrate, nor the soil geology with respect to calcium chemistry within my vivaria that utilize it as a substrate. I'd be interested to hear what you know about this from the fish world, Ed, if you have time and/or the inclination.
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Turface does degrade over time, over the course of 20 years less than 4% is supposed to break down so there is some slow degredation. see http://www.turface.com/sites/default/files/MVP Data Spec Sheet.pdf

This article does have an analysis of various substrates including Turface, note the high levels of calcium in the Turface. It supposedly has a decent cation exchange which means it should release calcium over time. Substrates for the Planted Aquarium. Calcium could end up in organics mixed into the turface or being taken up by the invertebrate (also the frogs if they have access can actively absorb calcium through thier ventral surface (drinking patch)).
 

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Understory Enterprises uses a substrate consisting of roughly equal portions (by volume) of sphagnum, potting soil, orchid bark, clay and peat moss. I attempted to buy some from them, but they are in Canada and can't ship to me in the U.S. Is there anybody who sells this soil in the U.S. for a newbie? I sure would like to buy some. I will be at Frog Day if anyone has any for sale. Ed
 

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For those who are using the Turface Infield Conditioner, which of their products should I buy? Their local distributor seems to carry "MVP" and "Quick Dry".

Thanks in advance!
 

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I've used both. Off the top of my head, I think the quick dry is a smaller particle size.

Ed
 
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