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The ultimate clay-based substrate thread

115105 Views 345 Replies 64 Participants Last post by  Ed
With the recent discussions on a few posts concerning Brent's redart clay substrate I was wondering if anybody is thinking of switching to this substrate and how you were planning on doing it.

Merged Red-Art Clay thread and part of Husbandry improvements thread from Science and Conservation - Oz
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after seeing his set up and trying to combine with some of mine I decided it was best not to use it with a water fall or drip wall.I've been using pond plant soil that I found a home depot(a cheap version of flourite).Unfortunately the pond soil,which is nothing but shattered clay fragments, doesnt give you the microfuana build up that the moist redart clay does.A misting system seems to work best for the clay substrate.
I mixed up clay substrate (bentonite) about 75/25 with peat as a trial and it holds up well to a drip system as long as you don't let it dry out.

There are a couple of efforts ongoing to try to replicate a more "rainforest like" soil.

I think the key thing to note which is a big thing I am fighting is that most normal substrates do not handle the extended damp conditions of our tanks. They break down over time.

At least for larger collections or well misted ones I am thinking that even fine aquarium gravel would be better than some of the common substrates, but don't quote me on that. :)

I am going to test a couple of different things and see how they do over time as I think a number of other people are as well.
Is the purpose of the redart clay to keep the substrate from breaking down and needing to be replaced? Or does the redart clay contain minerals/trace elements that are beneficial to the frogs?
I think the clay in general is for drainage, but some of the "soil geeks" would need to explain the real reason.
.....does the redart clay contain minerals/trace elements that are beneficial to the frogs?
I dont know if there is a direct benefit to the frogs but the plants seem to appreciate it.There is so much clay in the soil around here that I decided to try it out in my tank with a layer of cypress/cocofiber/moss over that followed by leaf litter.I still prefer the bentonite,but I dont know where to find it down here. It has a waxy consistency that holds better in saturated enviorments.I'm still looking for a better way to bind the clay to the wall, It had interesting texture to it but it wasn't able to withstand the moisture and fell down.
Yes there are benefits for the frogs, check out the posts on soils by Brent... one of the benefits talked about was the higher calcium levels found in substrate microfauna that were being fed on by froglets in a tank produced by Matt Mirabello (check out his thread for more) and how Brent does not have calcium problems in tank raised pumilio froglets on his soil substrate.
The question I have is can the calcium levels be adjusted in other soils with some of the same methods?

I just ordered some of this to try, and plan to add some laterite and some other things to it.

I am also trying one of the suggested clay based soils, but currently do not have any pumilio to get a true test. I may have to break down and get some escudos to test with. :)
Yes the calcium level of the soil can be adjusted but you have to know the calcium content first...
Also you have to have soil invertebrates which are going to be in the soil for the frogs to ingest...

Guess the link would help... ... 004+113555

Interesting Ed and Im trying a couple of things. At least my current thinking is to use one thing for pumilio and something else for the none egg feeders. Having had poor luck with pumilio until now I am preparing a larger tank for another shot at it. I am hoping to use a "Brent based soil". :)

If I had to guess at my problems they would go like this in order:
- too small of a tank
- poor substrate which broke down over time and became infested with mites.
Flora Base, interesting, let us know how that works out. I just ordered some Fluorite to give that a try.
Has anybody bought a large bag of the redart clay and wants to sell a small quantity of it?
We just received a 1000 lb shipment of tropical Laterite clay and will have it for sale on our website very soon. It will be offered in powder and crushed forms. Pricing will be .50 per lb and we can fit 5 lbs in a 1 gallon bag. Shipping is USPS priority flat rate box. Two 1 gallon bags can be shipped in one box to save on shipping. We have personally tested this product for over a year and it is currently being used in all 60 + of our tanks with very good results.

We do have both for sale.

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Interesting - what % are you using in soil?

I use ABG mix, so I'm not sure that this would be a proper additive for it, but I'm very interested in Brent/Matt's view on the soil world.

So why would one choose Redart vs Lateralite (sp?)?
UmbraSprite said:
So why would one choose Redart vs Lateralite (sp?)?
I'm interested in the answer to this as well before I buy one or the other.

From previous discussions it sounds like the calcium level in the substrate is what people are concerned about. Does one or the other contain more calcium? Are there other advantages to using one over the other?

I use ABG mix, so I'm not sure that this would be a proper additive for it, but I'm very interested in Brent/Matt's view on the soil world.
If you're thinking of the clay in terms of using it as an additive in more organic substrates, I think you're missing the philosophy behind it (I'm not picking on you at all, Scott--just pointing out the idea of using it as an additive, which has popped up in nearly every thread about soil). Organic substrates are useful for growing plants. A clay-based substrate is about helping bridge the gaps in the ecological cycle in our vivs and the overall health and well-being of the frogs contained in them.

Organic substrates break down into muck and lose their structure over time. Clay-based aggregates hold their structure, providing a permanent habitat for microfauna to inhabit and repopulate. Adding aggregate to an organic substrate defeats the purpose, because you eventually end up with clay particles surrounded by dense muck--there isn't any suitable space provided for inverts.

Dealing with clay-based soil is a complete shift in mindset from working with organic substrates. I don't see that the two can be cohesively integrated.
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Thanks! That's why I asked... I've followed it, but not as closely as I could (or will).

I know tree fern (loose) is an organic substrate, but it seems to hold up well over time for me. Would making a mixture of that and the clay still defeat the purpose of using the clay?

KRM, I too would like to hear more about any comments you might have on laterite vs. redart, thanks.
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