Dendroboard banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,045 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
All-

I'm in the process of setting up a new false-bottom viv with a corner pond (depression in the substrate). My concern is that the frogs could be in direct contact with the fertilizer when it eventually leaches through the coco-fiber / orchid bark substrate. I want my plants to thrive (I like the heavily planted look), so what do you recommend?
Would this be something I mix in with the substrate?
Or dilute and water in when needed?
I've seen laterite discussed in other threads, is this what I want?

Thanks in advance-
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,921 Posts
Frog poop is my favorite fertilizer. Seriously, you don't really need to fertilize a viv. The bugs that get turned into poop create a constant supply of nutrients.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
428 Posts
I would look for some of the freshwater plant nutrient supplement products. Make sure to get, only, products that do not contain phosphates or nitrate (as those will be present from the frog waste).

I would try Flourish Excel or Kent Freshwater Plant Supplement. You could add these into your false bottom water supply if you have a water feature or you could add them to the water you mist with.

Tim
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
621 Posts
The fertilizer that black jungle sells is dyna grow. I have some and i use it on plants that are in between vivs. Or i always buy plants, when i find goood local deals. These plants are always getting a little dyna grow. So far so good.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,437 Posts
frog friendly fertilizer

Send a pm to rbrightstone, he has found a fertilizer that is safe to apply to individual plants in a terrarium. I don't know of too many you can apply to the entire terrarium when the frogs are in it (or ones I would be willing to try). Give him a few days to respond, he owns his own business and the holidays are crunch time for him!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,045 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks everyone for the great advise, I've always thought of the frog scat more of a polutant than an fertilizer...I guess it's one in the same if everything is in balance (microbacteria, insects, decomposition). I guess this is another good argument for giving vivs have a chance naturalize before introducing the frogs....sorta like a fish tank, if you introduce a lot of fish into a new terrarium, without building up the bacteria that breaks down the waste first, you will have dirty water.

I'll look further into a few of the safe products you mentioned. Thanks again everyone.

Note: I'm documenting (photos) each step of setting up my 18gal high viv. I'll post when complete. :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,921 Posts
kleinhanz said:
Thanks everyone for the great advise, I've always thought of the frog scat more of a polutant than an fertilizer...I guess it's one in the same if everything is in balance (microbacteria, insects, decomposition). I guess this is another good argument for giving vivs have a chance naturalize before introducing the frogs....sorta like a fish tank, if you introduce a lot of fish into a new terrarium, without building up the bacteria that breaks down the waste first, you will have dirty water.

I'll look further into a few of the safe products you mentioned. Thanks again everyone.

Note: I'm documenting (photos) each step of setting up my 18gal high viv. I'll post when complete. :D
Well, here's the deal. Those "pollutants" in frog poop are ammonia and nitrate. They are toxic to the frogs which is why we think about things like microbial nitrogen cycles. The main ingredient we are after in plant food is nitrogen which will come in the form of ammonia or nitrate regardless of how "safe" the fertilizer is. The only difference in fertilizers is how fast they release these things. Wait a minute, didn't I just mention these nutrients as a toxic pollutant? Yeah, you get the picture. Of course plant fertilizer usually also contains phosphorous and pottasium (the P and K in the formula). But you should have to worry about these in a viv and here is why. Nitrogen is very labile meaning that it moves freely in solution, changes form easilty through bacterial action or plant uptake, and eventually is lost to the atmosphere through denitrification or exportation (a.k.a. plant clippings). Phosphorous and potasium, on the other hand, are conserved very tightly in the system. They don't go away as easily as nitrogen and the bugs constantly fed to the viv supply plenty of P and K, as well as N.

As far as "safe" fertilizers, on one hand there are no safe plant fertilizers because they all contain nitrogen that is toxic to the frogs. On the other hand, they are ALL safe because they ultimately supply the same nutrients and so long as the nutrients are not released in such a way as to produce toxic spikes, then there is no problem. Even pure ammonia could safely be applied to a vivarium if it were diluted properly and added at a suitable rate.

But the real question to me is why fertilize a vivarium? Not for general plant growth. Given proper light and substrate, luxuriant plant growth is going to happen. The real challenge in a viv is getting plants to grow healthy but slow. Of course there are those occasional plants that get a little anemic looking from lack of nitrogen. These are typically epiphytes that just don't happen to be where the nitrogen is being distributed by the frogs. For these plants, I recommend giving them a very natural and slow release nitrogen source. My current favorite is to pick up a pellet or two of moose poop from the front yard and place it near the roots of the ailing plant. I realize not everyone has access to moose poop and there is actually a potential parasite risk from this source but easily obtained alternatives are things like crushed crickets place near the plant. The nutrients in the cricket will be released slowly by microbes and then become available to the plant. If you have a plant in need for a quick fix of nitrogen, you can safely supply it with just about an commercially available plant food. Just dilute it to 1/4 or less strength and mist it on and around the plant. After an hour or so, you could rinse it off with clean water to remove any potential residue if you want to be really safe.

Lastly, I don't really believe in the need to let vivs season before adding frogs. Terrestrial plants are so effecient at locking up nitrogenous waste that there really isn't a need to let a viv "mature". I typically let new vivs seaon a good 10 to 15 minutes before adding frogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
269 Posts
Wow! and I thought my 24-48 hours of 'seasoning' was short.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,045 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
...Yes, thanks for the info Brock, I always enjoy the scientific answers for life's questions. Looks like you know a good deal about Biology and Chemistry. My training is in Microbiology (I worked on the Human Genome Project and currently work with DNA Microarrys), but I'm awful with Chemistry.

My initial thought regarding the need for a commercial fertilizer was because it seems orchid bark and coco fiber is such a sterile substrate. I will add leaves (pesticide-free), which will break down over time and feed the plants, however I was concerned about giving the plants a "kick-start".

Thanks Again!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,921 Posts
kleinhanz said:
...Yes, thanks for the info Brock, I always enjoy the scientific answers for life's questions. Looks like you know a good deal about Biology and Chemistry. My training is in Microbiology (I worked on the Human Genome Project and currently work with DNA Microarrys), but I'm awful with Chemistry.

My initial thought regarding the need for a commercial fertilizer was because it seems orchid bark and coco fiber is such a sterile substrate. I will add leaves (pesticide-free), which will break down over time and feed the plants, however I was concerned about giving the plants a "kick-start".

Thanks Again!!
In case you are interested, I'm a wildlife biologist and ecologist who works for a major conservation organization. All of this stuff is basic ecology.

So the orchid bark and leaves brings up more stuff. Orchid bark isn't really sterile but it tends to nitrogen starve plants. The reason for this is because it provide a lot of carbon which is one of the factors that limits bacterial growth. This causes nitrogen to be the limiting nutrient so with and ample supply of carbon, the microbes gobble up all of the nitrogen that is available. That leaves the plant hungry for N. That's why orchid fertilizers tend to be heavy on nitrogen (the first number in the formula) and light in the other two major nutrients. Adding leaves might not help much, especially dead leaves. Leaves also are high in carbon so they have the same properties as the bark. What you need for the plant is a good source of nitrogen. The most available forms of nitrogen are nitrate or ammonia but these are also the toxic forms so you have to be careful. Poop or protein can provide a slow release form because the microbes break down the protein to extract the N out of it and then when the microbes die, they release ammonia and nitrate which the plants can get. What you are actually trying to do is lower the carbond to nitrogen ratio. High ratios (lots of carbon not much N) leads to nitrogen immobilization because the microbes are locking up the N in their bodies as fast as it becomes available. This is good for locking up the toxic N but bad for the plants that must compete with the microbes for the N. A lower ration mobilizes N because microbes are more limited by the carbon and the populations turn over at a faster rate. The faster they turn over, the faster they consume and then release the N.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,045 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks again Brock!! I appreaciate the details in your post. I, along with others reading this thread, can take and apply this useful information.

:D
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top