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I've seen several threads lately where people talk about making "ABG" mix from things you get at Lowes or HD. I know that the real ABG mix is a different, but similar recipe.

Is there any discernible difference in quality of substrate between the genuine ABG and the ABG "equivalent"? Anyone have experience using both? Is real ABG better than the equivalent or are they really equivalent? Is one better for microfauna growth? etc.
 

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Equivalent is relative.

There are a few different recipes I've commonly thought of as actual ABG mix (or equivalent):
Verison 1: 2pt Tree Fern fiber, 1pt peat, 1pt charcoal, 1pt sphagnum, 2pt coco, 2 pt orchid bark
Version 2: 2pt Tree Fern fiber, 1pt peat, 1pt charcoal, 1pt sphagnum, 2pt orchid bark
Version 3: 2pt Tree Fern fiber, 1pt peat, 1pt charcoal, 2pt sphagnum, 2pt orchid bark

I personally don't see peat being a good thing. It breaks down faster than coconut fiber would, and it can compact.

Tree fern fiber is very important, since it helps keeps the soil "airy" and virtually never breaks down. Without Tree Fern fiber and orchid bark - it's not going to work like ABG mix regardless of the other ingredients. Soil must be allowed to breathe to build beneficial bacteria, support plant life, and support microfauna.

I've heard people using "organic" potting soil mixed with orchid bark, sphagnum moss, and charcoal call it "ABG equivalent". It's not! :p potting soil will quickly break down, and 90% of it contains other unwanted ingredients.

A good substrate should never exceed 50% of "soil" ingredient. (meaning coconut fiber, peat, or potting soil) More than 50% will get soggy very quickly. Ideally it should be around 35-25% of the mix, as it would be in ABG. The "saving money" thing goes a long way in this economy, so I completely understand people wanting to mix substrate themselves. Unfortunately the most expensive ingredients (orchid bark, sphagnum, charcoal, tree fern fiber) should make up the majority of the mix.

Other info:
Charcoal = Fine/Medium grade
Orchid Bark = Fine/Medium grade (home improvement store bark works, but it's usually large grain. Zoo Med reptibark IS fine orchid bark. ;) )
Tree Fern Fiber = Fine/Medium grade (I've heard just fine being used - but we've had good luck with both)
Coconut fiber & "Coir" = Same thing!

I hope this helps!
 

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So many people want to skip the tree fern fiber because they think it's so hard to get. It's not. You just have to plan ahead. You can get it here OFE International Web Page
Fact of the matter is, if you skip the tree fern fiber, it is NOT ABG mix. In my opinion, the tree fern fiber is crucial to the recipe.
Anybody remember playing with "Pick Up Sticks" as a child? If not, picture this, take your pick up sticks, (or 100 pencils), and hold them in one hand about 6 or 12" above the floor. Drop them on the floor. Now look at that structure. You should have sticks on top of sticks, on top of sticks, at every angle and position you can imagine. Check out all the air holes and spaces that your sticks have made.
Now this structure is bigger than your tree fern structure will be, so lets take something bigger to represent the pieces of orchid bark and charcoal. Lets say those big 1" x 2" pink erasers that you used when you were in school. Drop 100 of those on your stick structure. Some fall through and some don't. Now put your sphagnum and peat moss over the top.
Can you imagine all the gaps, caves, air holes, whatever you want to call them. This is what makes it so well drained. This is where your bugs climb down into and call home.
The tree fern fiber are your pick up sticks. Remove the pick up sticks and everything collapses.
There is NO comparison. It's not the same. Substitutes may suffice, but you will never convince me that substitutes are the same.
http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/63915-truth-about-abg-mix.html
 

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it might be an environmental thing, as well. Being that there are concerns for it being over harvested

Not sure what the actual situation is, though
 

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Has anyone heard of the the Osmundia introduced to the southeastern coast of Ireland? I wonder if anyone harvests the fibers from these (especially because they are nonnative).
 

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it might be an environmental thing, as well. Being that there are concerns for it being over harvested

Not sure what the actual situation is, though
I can respect the concern for tree fern being non sustainable, and they quest to find alternative and maybe someday, better, substrates is certainly OK by me. I do see a lot of people mentioning that they left it out because they can't get it locally or because they don't want to pay shipping. I'm just pointing out that most home made mixes are not the same. I'm sure there are some great, workable mixes out there, I just don't think they should be called ABG mix. I don't think we should call an Imitator a Variabilis because, well, they look pretty much the same and they both hop. ;)

Has anyone heard of the the Osmundia introduced to the southeastern coast of Ireland? I wonder if anyone harvests the fibers from these (especially because they are nonnative).
Do you mean Osmunda? It is expensive, hard to find, and supposedly not very environmentally friendly either.
Has anybody ever seen or tried Bruc Fiber? If it would work, it is more environmentally friendly. According to OFE, it is a possible replacement for Tree Fern Fiber. detail display sample page
 
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Hey PeanutButter why settle? You should build off either of those mixes as even ABG can be bettered by doing nothing more than adding clay to it. I went over there and talked to them time after time about it and proved very easily that it supports micro fauna much better. I have been toying with media mixes ever since.

By the way they did not like even a respectfull aproach about idea on bettering their ''perfect media''

Michael
 

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Do you mean Osmunda? It is expensive, hard to find, and supposedly not very environmentally friendly either.
Might be a different genus....essentially I was asking if anyone had heard about the treefern forests in southern Ireland that started as just a few introduced specimens. I thought it might be of interest to anyone reading this on the other side of the pond.
 

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Hey PeanutButter why settle? You should build off either of those mixes as even ABG can be bettered by doing nothing more than adding clay to it. I went over there and talked to them time after time about it and proved very easily that it supports micro fauna much better. I have been toying with media mixes ever since.

By the way they did not like even a respectfull aproach about idea on bettering their ''perfect media''

Michael
Hey Michael, you are referring to adding a calcium clay to reap some benefits of the calcium for your microfauna and frogs, right? Like Calcium Bentonite/Montm鈥媜rillonite Clay.
 

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You would be correct Doug, Run off water from misting if its recirculated would be beneficial for tads, Clay is still a very underused asset in this hobby. Id also suggest not stopping there. There is always room for improvement. You cant advance anything by settling for whats been done.

Michael
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hey PeanutButter why settle? You should build off either of those mixes as even ABG can be bettered by doing nothing more than adding clay to it. I went over there and talked to them time after time about it and proved very easily that it supports micro fauna much better. I have been toying with media mixes ever since.

By the way they did not like even a respectfull aproach about idea on bettering their ''perfect media''

Michael
Who's settling ;) I won't be building a new viv from scratch for a while still, but it's good to stay on top of things. I've seen this in several threads recently where people say "I got my ABG mix stuff at Lowes..." and I think to myself "no, you got stuff that is sorta like ABG. It just aint the same..."

I agree though with mixing (please don't take out of context:)) substrates and trying new things out. If I had more vivs or more plants I would experiment and try new things. I've just got the 1 viv (well, technically I also have a quarantine viv but that doesn't count) so I've been really happy with the tried and true ABG as is for now. However, that's not to say that I think ABG is the end all be all of substrates.

I'm just pointing out that most home made mixes are not the same. I'm sure there are some great, workable mixes out there, I just don't think they should be called ABG mix. I don't think we should call an Imitator a Variabilis because, well, they look pretty much the same and they both hop. ;)
Exactly the thought I'm having. For better or worse it's not really ABG if it's not the mix that the Atlanta Botanical Gardens put together. It does seem though that ABG has made enough a name for itself in the hobby that people (generally newer froggers) want to have ABG without doing all the "work" involved with sourcing out all the right ingredients. So they get something close and say it's ABG. That got me wondering if maybe I'm overthinking this and maybe they do perform equally well. Doesn't seem like people are really thinking it does though, so I'm glad I asked.

I grew up in a home with a father who would put peas, hotdogs, carrots, or sometimes pickles/pickle juice in mac and cheese and try to pass it off as mac and cheese. Sorry dad, it just aint the same...
 

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I am based on Europe and really dont know where to look for tree fern fiber, have been breeding dart frogs and building vivs for like 3 years and always used some kind of alternative.

Lately i have been using a mix of potting soil, coco peat, sphagnum and orchid bark, i know probably not the best but the results arent bad, everything is doing just fine and plants growing.

I am looking for advice on how to improve my substrate for plants and microfauna.
 

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The best substrate for microfauna production, is a homemade, calcium bearing, clay substrate. The zone where leaf litter meets your clay, is very rich for microfauna production. The gaps between the clay pieces, make plenty of space for microfauna to live and breed, where the frogs can't get them, until the bugs go above surface.
Plants do great in clay substrates, too.
A lot of people are turning to homemade clay substrates for smaller frogs, and for obligates. This allows frogs that are still eating mostly springtails, to get a bit of calcium, both when they strike food with their tongue, and also through absorbtion through their skin. They get calcium while sitting around all day, doing nothing! Kind of like teenage boys...sitting around all day, doing nothing, yet somehow absorbing all the food (or calcium) in the house!

Here's your friendly neighborhood clay thread. A lot of good heads came together to create this substrate. No, not me. All I did was tie together other peoples work and research, and maybe make it a little easier to understand. The real work was done by Ed, Brent, Matt, and Jason. Thanks guys!
http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/63732-clay-substrate-how.html
 
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The best substrate for microfauna production, is a homemade, calcium bearing, clay substrate. The zone where leaf litter meets your clay, is very rich for microfauna production. The gaps between the clay pieces, make plenty of space for microfauna to live and breed, where the frogs can't get them, until the bugs go above surface.
Plants do great in clay substrates, too.
A lot of people are turning to homemade clay substrates for smaller frogs, and for obligates. This allows frogs that are still eating mostly springtails, to get a bit of calcium, both when they strike food with their tongue, and also through absorbtion through their skin. They get calcium while sitting around all day, doing nothing! Kind of like teenage boys...sitting around all day, doing nothing, yet somehow absorbing all the food (or calcium) in the house!

Here's your friendly neighborhood clay thread. A lot of good heads came together to create this substrate. No, not me. All I did was tie together other peoples work and research, and maybe make it a little easier to understand. The real work was done by Ed, Brent, Matt, and Jason. Thanks guys!
http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/63732-clay-substrate-how.html
Thanks for info, are this good for terrestrial ones like tinctorius and phyllobates ?
 

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Thanks for info, are this good for terrestrial ones like tinctorius and phyllobates ?
Yes, it will increase microfauna production with any frogs. My brother uses it in his Azureus viv, and gets great isopod production. That said, not nearly as many people bother with a clay substrate for terrestrial frogs. It is a lot of work.

People are also getting good microfauna production with a 100% Turface substrate, of course topped with a good, thick layer of leaf litter.
 

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I spent a fair amount of time yesterday researching sources for, and cost of, ABG ingredients in bulk to make my own ABG mix but I must not be looking in the right location(s). The best pricing I found is:

Tree Fern Fiber(2cf) $38.07
Long Fiber NZ Sphagnum(3.3cf) $56.99
Royal Oak Lump Charcoal(15.44#) $9.97
Fine Orchid Bark(2cf) $26.75
Peat Moss(1cf) $6.97

The prices listed are not including tax and not including shipping costs. To be completely clear, the charcoal is from HD and may be cheaper elsewhere but I used HD prices for this and the peat moss since it's easier than shipping.

Assuming ROUGHLY 7 gallons per cubic foot I figure my cost(not including tax and shipping) is approximately $9.50 per gallon of ABG mix. Most of our regular online and show suppliers sell ABG for $6.99/gallon bag to $7.99/gallon bag so I see no way of matching or beating that cost.

What am I missing here?
 
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