Dendroboard banner
21 - 30 of 30 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,338 Posts
Bentonite runs about the same from my pottery store but it is sodium bentonite. If I could find "Koi" bentonite for that price, I'd be all over it! That would be Calcium Bentonite and would be more beneficial for microfauna.
Doug
The 'koi' bentonite is sodium bentonite as well, I've seen cosmetic warehouses advertise calcium bentonite at over 100 bucks for 5 lbs-too pricey to line a pond with!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,415 Posts
The 'koi' bentonite is sodium bentonite as well, I've seen cosmetic warehouses advertise calcium bentonite at over 100 bucks for 5 lbs-too pricey to line a pond with!
"Koi" Bentonite must be available as Calcium or Sodium then because I've purchased small abounts of Calcium Bentonite twice. Both times from a Koi supplier. Cost me about $2 per pound, shipped. That's after searching far and wide for the best price I could find. Here is where I got 16 lbs for $30 shipped. 16.5 #'s Calcium BENTONITE Clay KOI ponds & plants WW - eBay (item 260711386448 end time Jan-21-11 21:22:42 PST)
Calcium Bentonite is also known as Montmorillonite. Calcium Bentonite is so much more expensive than Sodium Bentonite (at least from the sources I can find) that anymore, when I make a clay substrate, I use 75 Redart and 25 sodium bentonite and I will just sprinkle the finished, moistened substrate, with some Calcium Bentonite so my frogs can get the benefit of the calcium. (of course I also amend the clay substrate recipe with Calcium Carbonate).
Doug
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Okay ... well, I just mixed and applied version 2 of the kitty litter background -- it's about 75/25 clay/organics, by volume. It came out a lot more gray than I wanted, but if that's the cost of stability, I'll take it. I soaked the clay for 3 days, so it was much wetter than my original batch and went on more like mortar than clay. I figure it's going to need a little time to dry out and cure, and will almost certainly crack in that time, but once it stabilizes I can fix the cracks and get the humidity to a stable 50-60%. I'm just hoping that the clay wasn't /too/ wet, drying unevenly will cause even more cracking. Fingers crossed that I didn't goof up again. :) Right now I've got the tank half covered in plastic wrap to keep the humidity up but still allow for airflow -- it was fully covered over the weekend and I had condensation and my moss died and went moldy. :( Hopefully I'll figure out the variables before I kill all the plants I'm buying on Sunday. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #24 ·
*sighs* Ok, I clearly did SOMETHING wrong with the kitty litter background -- the second version was about 20% organics, 80% clay, by volume. I was still getting the cracking, which I kind of expected, but even at 70% humidity (according to my cheap hygrometer) the clay was drying out and falling off the tank wall. Today I had a pretty much total failure over about 30% of the tank wall. I've been misting it regularly, humidity has been pretty stable... Was the drying out just due to the irregularities of kitty litter, or is it possible that I started with litter that was simply too wet, so as it stabilized, the volume just wasn't enough to stay damp? I don't have a misting system and was just spraying the tank once a day or so, was that not sufficient? At this point I think I'm going to try a cork background, unless someone can help me troubleshoot where I went wrong.

Thank you all!

Jen
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
802 Posts
Dr. Elsey's should be a pretty stable clay mix, so I don't think that's the problem (is that what you used for try #2 as well?). You could try bumping the humidity up even higher. I got a little bit of cracking on mine at 80% humidity, but not enough to destabilize the background.

Did you take any pictures of the process as you went through? Maybe it wasn't mixed well enough or had too much water? Both things pictures would help to rule-out. I hand-mist my viv about 1-2 times a day and I used Dr. Elsey's (in the blue bag) and it's holding up very well. Some minimal cracking, but the clay hasn't fallen anywhere.

Another thought is how thick were you applying the clay? Too thin will crack more easily, too thick and I bet you might have it falling off more easily.

Could also be the hygrometer isn't accurately reading the humidity and it's actually much drier. I had one of those button-hygrometers reading about 70% in a tortoise enclosure about a year ago while it was sitting right next to a digital one reading in the 30% range.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,152 Posts
If the humidity is not high enough, the water you spray will not sustain the ambient moisture in the clay. The only way to remedy this is to get your humidity way up to 85% at least. Hydrometers aren't reliable---more reliable is the fact that water stays on the glass in your tank for at least half an hour after misting, as an estimate. Adding more water will only make it more unstable if it is not mature enough to handle this---the shallow face at the clay's front will start dripping away while the deeper areas crack to pieces.

Also, pack it down very firmly with your hands when applying to make it dense and remove air pockets which could weaken the structure.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,415 Posts
If the humidity is not high enough, the water you spray will not sustain the ambient moisture in the clay. The only way to remedy this is to get your humidity way up to 85% at least. Hydrometers aren't reliable---more reliable is the fact that water stays on the glass in your tank for at least half an hour after misting, as an estimate. Adding more water will only make it more unstable if it is not mature enough to handle this---the shallow face at the clay's front will start dripping away while the deeper areas crack to pieces.

Also, pack it down very firmly with your hands when applying to make it dense and remove air pockets which could weaken the structure.
Susan is right. Your viv may be just too arid to support a clay wall. Plus, going on like mortar instead of clay is putting it on way too wet. It should be as thick as possible.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Ok -- to answer questions:

Yes, I used the blue Dr Elseys for both applications.

I put it on about 1/2 to 3/4" thick, but from what people are saying, it was WAY too wet as it was incredibly sticky and like a paste/mortar, not a solid. It started cracking everywhere within 24 hours, and no matter how much patching I was doing, it kept re-cracking, so I'm guessing that the wet was at least one problem. Is that a good thickness or should I aim for something different? Also, I tried to dry out the clay in the bucket I hydrated it in, but I found the surface dried out but the rest stayed mush, even when I stirred it. What's the best way to get the clay to the right hydration level before application?

The humidity, I've just got a button hygrometer that hovers around 60-70%, and I never really paid much attention to how long the water stayed on the glass. I have noticed that the ground is staying damp -- wet enough that fuzzy white mold is growing on my mopani wood by the dirt and the springtails are thrilled with it but the standing water cycling through the filter is dropping in level about every month or so by 1/4" or more, so I'm thinking that the $4 I spent on the hygrometer was totally wasted and that it's not even close to reading correctly. :)

I've got an 18" UVB florescent bar providing light for the viv and even the warmth from that is enough to obviously dry the clay at the top, so I'm to the point where I think I probably need to cover at least half of the screen top entirely to keep the humidity in. Is there anything else I can do to up the ambient humidity without investing in a fogger?

I didn't take any pictures, unfortunately, until I was done and it was on -- I had no way to get photos off my camera, so ...

I think it was mixed ok, it was all a pretty smooth mixture with no obvious color differences, I tried to do it in handful sized chunks, so I could make sure it was well combined before it got stuck to the glass.

Thank you again, everyone, for your feedback! Without you all I would have given up ages ago. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,347 Posts
I have a wall thats 3/4'' to a 1/2'' that completely drys out except at the bottom. I used the other kitty litter so yours might be different. I just squeezed out as much water as i could to the point where it would hold shape in my hands. Then with the tank it its normal position I pressed it firmly to the glass. Its a little more of a pain in the ass compared to what most people do but it works for me.
I've also noticed that I've gotten better moss growth on wall that is 100% clay.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,152 Posts
You are right about wasting 4 bucks. I think we've all done that at one point. ;)

The substrate can be as soggy enough to grow aquatic plants and still the humidity will be low with too much ventilation---your best bet to win this clay battle is to block off most of your top screen.

I also suggest you cover the section where the egg crate is with corkbark instead of clay. It will not hold if you can't get it pushed through the egg crate holes (which I assume is not possible due to the screen over it).
 
21 - 30 of 30 Posts
Top