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Discussion Starter #1
"Scotchman's Choice 40 Lbs. Organic Peat Humus

40 Lbs. Organic Peat Humus

* Contains high quality organic composted forest products and peat moss
* Helps aerate soil, stimulate root growth, and improve drainage in clay soils and water retention in sandy soils
"

It seems to have all the right characteristics and key words, but I'm no expert. Would this be a good standalone for some basic plants, should I avoid it entirely, or maybe get it and add something to it?
 

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If it's going to be subject to daily misting in your viv, you will need to amend it by adding some charcoal, sphagnum moss and perlite (keep perlite clear of frog contact). This is to prevent it becoming soggy. Peat moss retains a heckuva lot of water, and that may drown some plants.

Does it have any chemicals added? If so, what are they? And, what are these other 'organic components'? Maybe call the mfr. to find out.

It will also need to be baked to kill any plant/animal pathogens.

I like to put that stuff for the garden and use ABG mix with some other amendments when doing the 'deep root' positioning with my plants, and I do a non-perlite cover for the top, such as a layer of sphagnum and live moss.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Or there's this one, too....

"
Scotchman's Choice 2 Cu. Ft. Organic Compost Soil Conditioner

2 Cu. Ft. Organic Compost Soil Conditioner

* Contains 100% high quality organic composted forest products
* Helps aerate soil, stimulate root growth, and improve drainage in clay soils and water retention in sandy soils
"

Would that be better since it does not have the peat in it to retain too much water? The whole bag is like $2 and change, sounds too good to be true or do anything useful for a plant.
 

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I'd call the mfr. and see what's in it. Too much tree bark and it reduces nitrogen availability, which will affect growth. Too much added chemical fertilizers will leave salt residues in the tank, whereas they would wash from the soil outside. What makes for a good landscaping mix may not be a good terrarium mix. I'm not saying this isn't a good mix, just find out what's really in it.
 

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I agree with Earthfrog. Contact manufacturer and ask them directly. I myself don't use and fertilizers in my PDF tanks. Their body wastes along with dead fruit flutes and decaying plant matter is what feeds my plants. I use cocco fiber along with some other additives. Search the forum for tank substrate. See what you find.
 

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you might just want to consider making your own mix. I personally would NEVER use perlite in any viv soil mix. I would instead look up the ABG mix. You can order it pre mixed from Joshs frogs I think, or just make your own. I personally use coco coir, horticultural charcoal, sphagnum moss, and madrone bark for my mix. Topped with more madrone bark
*I understand that madrone trees probably don't grow near you, but any non toxic hardwood bark or thick leaf litter should do* I prefer the bark to leaf litter, because it provides more structure and aeration, while remaining consumable to the microfauna. And it lasts longer than leaf litter, which is nice.
The key to a good soil for vivs is DRAINAGE, DRAINAGE DRAINAGE! Many tropical plants are accustomed to growing in relatively poor soils, and frog poop is a great fertilizer, so just focus on good aeration, and resistance to compaction. If you want to get really snazzy, look up some clay based substrate recipies.
 

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Too much added chemical fertilizers will leave salt residues in the tank, whereas they would wash from the soil outside.
I don't think the product can contain chemical fertilizers and be labelled as organic.

I do agree that you should contact the manufacturer or check their website for a composition list.
 

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I don't think the product can contain chemical fertilizers and be labelled as organic.
Yeah, I know just threw that in there---I was referring to man-made chemicals in general, i.e., added fertilizers either within or without the substrate in question.

And if you are to use perlite, it must never come in contact with the frogs. They may ingest it and it will cause internal injury---it's volcanic glass filled with air pockets. It is a must-use with begonias in many cases, but if you have frogs that will burrow (and many will if humidity is low), you need a few additional inches of sphagnum in between so they will not get down there. For many plants, it is not necessary.
 

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Been using Perlite for years in thumbnail and pum vivs with no problems. Wouldn't use it in a viv for larger frogs that could actually ingest it unless lots and lots of leaf litter was used.

I don't really think charcoal is used much any more. That's an old trick and in reality, charcoal only works for a short window of time. After that, it can have a reverse effect. It's best used in really airy mixes where it would be changed out semi often or where there isn't much "soil". You'll see it in chunks in those commercial "Phalenopsis Mix" bags you find at Lowes and Home Depot.

I do agree with the baking. That's a great way to kill off some nasties.
 

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Been using Perlite for years in thumbnail and pum vivs with no problems. Wouldn't use it in a viv for larger frogs that could actually ingest it unless lots and lots of leaf litter was used.

I don't really think charcoal is used much any more. That's an old trick and in reality, charcoal only works for a short window of time. After that, it can have a reverse effect. It's best used in really airy mixes where it would be changed out semi often or where there isn't much "soil". You'll see it in chunks in those commercial "Phalenopsis Mix" bags you find at Lowes and Home Depot.

I do agree with the baking. That's a great way to kill off some nasties.
I wasn't referring to the charcoal's absorption ability, but for its other benefits, like other benefits, like increasing plant growth and being a mainstay of beneficial microbes, not to mention a safe haven for springtails and the like. Read about some of these benefits here:
HOME
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the info guys! I may just go grab a bag and take a look at it. For like $3 after tax, why not? It at least claims to promote good aeration, which seems to be the most important part. So should this soil not work, where do you guys go for buying all the components of your home-made soils? I'm assuming you don't go to petco and buy the little box of sphagnum for $10 or whatever ridiculous price to make a soil mix. Local nurseries, hardware stores? Anyone buy online and find it to be cheaper?
 

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I just use horticultural charcoal because its slow to break down, and I already have it for springtails and for adding to orchid mixes. I prefer it to fir bark, because it doesn't promote as much bacterial breakdown.
 

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This is probably already known but make sure it doesnt say "organics". That's the copout phrase for "not actually organic"
Yeah, it needs to say 'certified organic' on it, not just that it contains 'organic material'. That is marketing speak---good point.

There are a lot of 'organic' and 'natural' product labels with very little true substance behind those names when you look at what is inside.

I would still call the manufacturer to find out what is actually in the stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Gotcha, certified organic. So, back to the question I bumped :p... Where do you guys buy your sphagnum and things to make your soil?
 

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sphagnum peat moss you can get at menards or lowes for really cheap. I think lowes also sells long fiber sphagnum moss. Coco fiber i would just get at a pet store. one little compressed brick will last you for a long time. A little goes a long way.
 

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Long-fiber sphagnum moss is a superior product to the other, cheaper kinds. Also, cocofiber breaks down quickly in the viv and retains a lot of water, so use it and peat moss in smaller proportions compared to the rest of your ingredients.
 

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You are talking about using a soil that is made for normal outdoor gardening or possibly houseplant gardening. This stuff is NOT made for a vivarium with 90 percent humidity. You need extreme drainage! This stuff will make a swamp guaranteed to kill 95 percent of your plants. I don't want to be insulting here but you are unversed in what it takes to make a well drained, extreme high humidity, soil mix. (as I was years ago). Premixed ABG Mix is YOUR friend! It is made for YOU. It is made with YOUR frogs in mind. Research it and buy it.
This thread talks about it, tells you how to make it, tells you where to get the components for it.
http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/63915-truth-about-abg-mix.html
Or, you can go the to easy to be believed route and let Josh make it for you. (his site is down at the moment so I can't link you but go to Josh's Frogs and look under "substrate" for ABG mix.)
 

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You are talking about using a soil that is made for normal outdoor gardening or possibly houseplant gardening. This stuff is NOT made for a vivarium with 90 percent humidity. You need extreme drainage! This stuff will make a swamp guaranteed to kill 95 percent of your plants. I don't want to be insulting here but you are unversed in what it takes to make a well drained, extreme high humidity, soil mix. (as I was years ago). Premixed ABG Mix is YOUR friend! It is made for YOU. It is made with YOUR frogs in mind. Research it and buy it.
This thread talks about it, tells you how to make it, tells you where to get the components for it.
http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/63915-truth-about-abg-mix.html
Or, you can go the to easy to be believed route and let Josh make it for you. (his site is down at the moment so I can't link you but go to Josh's Frogs and look under "substrate" for ABG mix.)
Here is the link for premade ABG that I wanted to give you. ABG mix (4 quart)
 
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