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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For those of you that use clay backgrounds, specifically those that dont use the Kitty Litter method, how do like to make your clay mixture?

I have recently ordered 3 materials from Welcome to Bailey Pottery Equipment Corp. & Bailey Ceramic Supplies - 1-800-431-6067 (you can order or stop in any pottery supply store).

I have 5 lbs of Redart Clay, 1lb of 325 Mesh Bentonite, and 1lb of Calcium Carbonate (lime). What proportions (such as 5:1:1) should i mix these together if at all?

Also, i have read on several threads that i should add between 10-20% milled organics in to the mixture. Do you all agree? I will probably add in 10-15% of a blended ABG mix, hopefully it wont create the clay to loose its structural properties and fall away from the edges of the vivarium.

What are all your thoughts?

Thanks,

Brandon
 

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In my opinion, ABG is not the best thing to add for organics. The tree fern will be constantly stabbing your hands as you try to mix.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
"Do NOT use the clay mix I mention early on. It has too many organics for long life. I anticipate that as the organics decompose, it will cavitate and eventually collapse. I am now using this mixture. 75 percent Redart dry powdered clay from any pottery supply store. 25 percent powdered Bentonite (sodium or Calcium) clay. Now into this I mix in 25 percent organics (peat, coco fiber, ground up sphagnum...any or a mix). "

For the 25% Powdered bentonite do you lean more toward the sodium or the calcium mixture? Have you had a chance to test what mixture is particularly more structurally sound or promotes greater growth?

The reason i ask is that Calcium Carbonate is a bit toxic on its own (it is actually the same compound used in construction called 'Lime' to treat unstable soils and turn them into less expansive soils and a bit more like concrete).

What would you recommend?
 

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Either the sodium bentonite or the calcium bentonite should be fine. The only real advantage to using the more expensive calcium bentonite would be to get a little extra calcium to your frogs. The clay substrate threads would address that. http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/general-discussion/22990-ultimate-clay-based-substrate-thread.html http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/63732-clay-substrate-how.html
I am not going to pretend to be any sort of chemist here. I just know that Calcium Carbonate is what all of our "Clay Gurus" have used in their formulas. My clay threads are primarily compilations of other people's work. People like Brent Brock, Matt Mirabello, Ed, and Jason have done the real work. I have simply tried to compile their research and formulas into one, easy to follow, area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I got it off the top of my head from some heavy civil construction classes. It appears im actually wrong.

I was actually thinking of CaO and CaOH. Calcium Carbonate is what you get after Lime is spent (or what you start with + heat to generate CaO and CO2). My apologies for getting anyone confused there.

Here is a link to a wikipedia definition. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lime_(material)
 

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I got it off the top of my head from some heavy civil construction classes. It appears im actually wrong.

I was actually thinking of CaO and CaOH. Calcium Carbonate is what you get after Lime is spent (or what you start with + heat to generate CaO and CO2). My apologies for getting anyone confused there.

Here is a link to a wikipedia definition. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lime_(material)
I though that was odd seeing as how I get mine from a health food/vitamin store. It's also the active ingredient in antacids like Tums.
 

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Ok

You had me a little concerned there. I use it in some of my clay backgrounds, 75% Redart and 25% Sodium Bentonite and in some 25% Calcium Carbonate. No organics.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Its not so much toxic as its highly basic. so it would do 1 of 2 things (If it were lime and not calcium carbonate) 1) burn you/your frogs or 2 turn your clay to almost cement.

Originally i though it was fine. But when my clay powders arrived they all had California prop 65 warnings.

They are as follows (paraphrased);

Calcium Carbonate: Potential Health Effects: Eye Contact: This pay produce eye irritation blah blah blah flush eyes, seek attention if necessary. Skin Contact: Prolonged or repeated exposure may cause skin irritatin. Ground Limestone is not expected to be absorbed through the skin in harmful amounts or to produce an allergic reaction. ---I think its more of a general disclaimer due to California's retarded prop 65 rule, but it made me question it and ask on here.

The ones that actually had a 'WARNING' were the bentonite and the redart clay because they both contain Crysalline Silica dust, which if inhaled, may cause delayed respiratory disease ( Silicosis?). They recommend using an approved NIOSH/MSHA respirator because the stuff can cause cancer.

So just don't breath any of these clay powders in and you will be fine. Just get it wet ASAP lol.
 

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Ok

You had me a little concerned there. I use it in some of my clay backgrounds, 75% Redart and 25% Sodium Bentonite and in some 25% Calcium Carbonate. No organics.
That seems like an awful lot of Calcium Carbonate. Most of the clay formulas are advising closer to 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Calcium Carbonate mixed with about 5 quarts of mixed dry clay powder and organics.
 

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That seems like an awful lot of Calcium Carbonate. Most of the clay formulas are advising closer to 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Calcium Carbonate mixed with about 5 quarts of mixed dry clay powder and organics.
Just playing around with different mixes to see what happens, Doug. So far so good.
 

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So just don't breath any of these clay powders in and you will be fine. Just get it wet ASAP lol.
The stuff is extremely fine and I recommend doing it outdoors if possible. I've sucked in my fair share of silica's and many other things. This was before WHIMIS. To late...
 

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If you have never made, or used the clay for vivs...why are you trying to reinvent the wheel. Make the recipes here on this board, which are EXCELLENT--and THEN change the mix. I have portions of clay in several different tanks, and depending on the critters, and the humidity level there has been some success, and then again some failures...so try the method others have used and then moderate them. The threads and posts by ED give the most detailed results of various components and the results of using them. Good luck--but do it the "experts" way first...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If you have never made, or used the clay for vivs...why are you trying to reinvent the wheel. Make the recipes here on this board, which are EXCELLENT--and THEN change the mix. I have portions of clay in several different tanks, and depending on the critters, and the humidity level there has been some success, and then again some failures...so try the method others have used and then moderate them. The threads and posts by ED give the most detailed results of various components and the results of using them. Good luck--but do it the "experts" way first...

The reason i posted this thread is not to reinvent the wheel, but because (as is usually the case) the best information on many of the subjects here on Dendroboard are hidden deep in some other thread with an unrelated title. Everyone here uses the search function. It would be nice if once everyone has an 'Ah-ha' moment in a thread that they would create a new thread, with a clear and concise title and post all related material in one post. Kinda doesnt work that way though.

Here are two more threads related to clay. This one http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/general-discussion/22990-ultimate-clay-based-substrate-thread.html is related to clay as a substrate, which i am not interested in.

This one http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/members-frogs-vivariums/54887-i-love-clay-2.html mentions the backgrounds.

Sorry if that came off as a rant. Just frustrated when im told to 'use the search button'. Ive seen almost every post that has come thru this board in the last 10 months (im completely addicted and dont even have my first frogs yet, which is also why i havnt just tried it without asking)
 

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Actually, the recipes that are being used for substrates make wonderful backgrounds too. I went through all the clay threads I could find, several times actually. I tried to incorporate the best of the successful recipes in my clay recipe. It was given the "stamp of approval" by several of the "clay gurus" on DB. Many people here are using it for both substrate and for backgrounds. Here is the thread. http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/63732-clay-substrate-how.html I would say that the biggest question as far as use for backgrounds would be this. Is the calcium really necessary for a background? I'm going to say no as the primary purpose for a clay background is not for microfauna. It may, however, add some benefit for your frogs to include the calcium. The next question would be this. What organics should be added? The use of milled sphagnum may offer the benefit of some future moss growth on your walls. Not important for your substrate, but maybe nice for walls.
Addressing another comment, the amount of Calcium Carbonate in my, and other formulas was not a guess. It came from Matt Mirabellos recipe which was formulated after actual chemical analysis was done on some rainforest clay samples to try to replicate the real thing. I'm not saying don't experiment, far from it. But 25 percent seems like many, many times the levels of calcium found in nature.
 

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Here is a link to my 10 gallon clay background build: http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/pa...d-build.html?highlight=gallon+clay+background

I used Dr. Elseys kitty litter from petsmart, peat moss, and coco fiber (dried blocks from petco/petsmart). The build has a lot of good pics on how I put my background together. I had many folks say it wouldn't hold up, my pothos with tear it up, kitty litter is no good, etc. It has been up for a year. There is some minor cracking at the top, but it is rock solid on the glass. I really like how well it has done.
 

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Addressing another comment, the amount of Calcium Carbonate in my, and other formulas was not a guess. It came from Matt Mirabellos recipe which was formulated after actual chemical analysis was done on some rainforest clay samples to try to replicate the real thing. I'm not saying don't experiment, far from it. But 25 percent seems like many, many times the levels of calcium found in nature.
Hi Doug.

I'm not advocating that other people try this. I'm doing it out of curiosity. The only reason I said anything was because of a previous post saying it could be potential hazardous. I'm not trying to replicate nature either. I'm just playing around with different mixes and, yes, 25% is extreme. I want to see what happens with the mix. I like to experiment.
 

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Hi Doug.

I'm not advocating that other people try this. I'm doing it out of curiosity. The only reason I said anything was because of a previous post saying it could be potential hazardous. I'm not trying to replicate nature either. I'm just playing around with different mixes and, yes, 25% is extreme. I want to see what happens with the mix. I like to experiment.
That's fine, just letting you know where the original amount came from. Without experimentation, frogging would still be in the dark ages!
 

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That's fine, just letting you know where the original amount came from. Without experimentation, frogging would still be in the dark ages!
Thanks Doug,

I've read those threads 10+ times. Now that I think of it, I should probably read them again. My memory is seems to be getting shorter and shorter...:rolleyes:
 
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