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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first atempt at clay substrate, so pardon if I did anything wrong. I tried to follow Pumilo take on it. Same recipe.

Found this neat tool to shape my clay

Made a bunch of strands and stuck them in the oven at 500.

After I baked the clay, I broke them up into smaller pieces.

Close up of my clay substrate.
Any and all feedback will be appreciated. Thank you
 

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haha I like your molding device. Looks good. Though for larger batches it might be a pain :)
 

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The pieces are larger than they would be if you had pushed them through a screen (that method was given to us by Ed). That will mean less surface area. That may cut down some on the number of springtails and isopods that it can support. It should still work wonderfully for you. Nice job!
Some extra depth would make up for the lessened surface area. So would making sure that you have a nice deep bed of leaf litter over most of it.
You remembered the calcium, right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
haha I like your molding device. Looks good. Though for larger batches it might be a pain :)
I actually had fun pushing the clay through. Then again it was a small batch")

The pieces are larger than they would be if you had pushed them through a screen (that method was given to us by Ed). That will mean less surface area. That may cut down some on the number of springtails and isopods that it can support. It should still work wonderfully for you. Nice job!
Some extra depth would make up for the lessened surface area. So would making sure that you have a nice deep bed of leaf litter over most of it.
You remembered the calcium, right?
How much of depth do you think I would need. Btw this was a small batch to test out the process. I will definately be using a lot of leaf litter. Yes I remembered the calcium. Those white specs might actually be blotches of calcium carbonate.
 

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How much of depth do you think I would need. Btw this was a small batch to test out the process. I will definately be using a lot of leaf litter. Yes I remembered the calcium. Those white specs might actually be blotches of calcium carbonate.
Keep in mind I'm not saying it's absolutely necessary to go deeper. It will still support a very good population. I usually put about 1 inch of Turface, followed by about 1 inch of clay substrate. Doubling that to a two inch depth of clay substrate would go a long way towards making up for less surface area. From you ruler, it looks like your pieces are about 1/2"?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The sizes vary greatly. It's a clover shape. Sort of like three strands in pyramid form. I broke the pieces up after the baking. Some pieces broke up complete clover, some double and some single strand. Lengthwise they vary as well. Some pieces are very short and some are longer. I also have a bunch of powder from the breaking. I plan to sprinkle this on top of the substrate layer, under the leaf litter layer. The amount I made to test out was very little. Barely anything at all. I have enough clay powder to make a whole lot of substrate :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

The one I used was the one all the way to the right. Which would you reccomend using? These were the abstract shapes. The others were round, square, triangle shaped.
 

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I have been very pleased with my 1/4" x 1/4" pieces. I break them up into pieces 1/4" to 1/2" long, aiming at mostly 1/4" pieces. Gives me a good excuse to sit down and watch tv for a while.;)
These 1/4" cubes are a nice size to allow the bugs to crawl around through the substrate. Too much smaller and that may be impeded. Much bigger and I lose surface area.
So I guess whichever one is closest to 1/4" x 1/4".
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ok. Thank you for your advice pumilo. I'm glad I only made a handful and waited for feedback. I also found a local hydroponic store that sells the white widow product that was mentioned. I think after I'm done with the clay I might have enough to fill a 50lb barrel.
 

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Yes, that looks much closer to the size I like. Don't throw your other stuff out, just mix it in.
 

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nice alternative to Pumilo's thread.
where did you get that key gun thing?
I would rather use this method so i don't have to go buy the screen and all the other supplies.
Although if I had the stuff sitting around I would go with Pumilo's way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yes, that looks much closer to the size I like. Don't throw your other stuff out, just mix it in.
That was the plan _)

nice alternative to Pumilo's thread.
where did you get that key gun thing?
I would rather use this method so i don't have to go buy the screen and all the other supplies.
Although if I had the stuff sitting around I would go with Pumilo's way.
This way is actually more work and more time consuming. I like the shapes and have nothing to do so I don't mind. It was $13 at a local art store. If u can't find it let me know I can get you one and ship it out.

Pumilo, now that I have the size down. How long do you think I should bake the clay for? Keep in mind my oven only reaches 500.
 

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That was the plan _)


This way is actually more work and more time consuming. I like the shapes and have nothing to do so I don't mind. It was $13 at a local art store. If u can't find it let me know I can get you one and ship it out.

Pumilo, now that I have the size down. How long do you think I should bake the clay for? Keep in mind my oven only reaches 500.
You are not trying to fire the clay. You only want to dry it. If you fire the clay, it won't break down extremely gradually the way we want it to. The whole goal here is that frogs can absorb calcium through their skin and that tiny bits stick to the bugs and get ingested by the bugs who in turn get ingested by the frogs. If it is fired, even if any bits do get into the frogs, they won't be able to digest the bits.
You don't NEED to bake it at all. Scott, one of our mods, did a huge batch that he simply let dry out in the Arizona Sun. I have also done a batch that I spread out over a piece of cardboard to dry.
When I bake it, I go 250 to 300 just until it's dry.
 

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This way is actually more work and more time consuming. I like the shapes and have nothing to do so I don't mind. It was $13 at a local art store. If u can't find it let me know I can get you one and ship it out.
Yeah I'd say it's more work yet it is also somewhat cheaper cause you have to buy the screen and make a wood frame for it so the screen doesn't buckle.
The only thing I see would be a pain is having to constantly reload the gun and squirt it out.
It would be cool if I could take an old caulk tube and rig something up lol.
Maybe just get that plastic piece out that pushes the caulk and fill the tube up and the arm should push the clay right out the tip.

Does there have to be a grove in the clay or is that just a personal decision?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Yeah I'd say it's more work yet it is also somewhat cheaper cause you have to buy the screen and make a wood frame for it so the screen doesn't buckle.
The only thing I see would be a pain is having to constantly reload the gun and squirt it out.
It would be cool if I could take an old caulk tube and rig something up lol.
Maybe just get that plastic piece out that pushes the caulk and fill the tube up and the arm should push the clay right out the tip.

Does there have to be a grove in the clay or is that just a personal decision?
I like the shapes ") that would be really cool if you could rig that
 

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I like the shapes ") that would be really cool if you could rig that
I'm pretty sure it would be easy to do cause I would just have to get that plastic piece out of there and just clear the nozzle.
If there is any remaining silicone left on the side I can let that cure and the clay will push past it.
I might have to alter the disc that pushes the caulk and epoxy something on there that's closer to the sides of caulk tube but the disc that's already on there should work. the clay might squeeze past it once it gets to the end but it wouldnt be too much of a problem.
the only hard thing is getting that plastic piece out of the tube lol.

I'm thinking about using kitty litter and putting calcium supplement powder in there or would that work?
I can barely get my people to take me to the store a mile down the road. let alone trying to hunt down a pottery store to find all the ingredients Pumilo mentioned
 
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