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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What is everyone's opinion on using wild dirt dug out of the ground. I got some from a forest behind my house and there seems to be lots of mole crickets, some small red ants, pill bugs and other critters in it. Is this ok to use in a viv? Also got a bunch of leaves and some moss i found? Can i use this? Should i clean it somehow?

-Luke
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
what do you mean by loamy?
 
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That it's fairly light and porous...maybe a combination of leaf litter and other materials that have broken down over the last few years, rather than just a bunch of sand or dirt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, it definitely has pieces of leaf litter, sticks...i actually dug it out from under a large leaf pile which has been sitting there for a while...
 

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At the very least, I'd add coco fiber and orchid bark. When I first started making vivariums I used soil and compost from the pile in my yard. Initially the plants went nuts because of the nutrient value in the soil (I really did not want that) and then after a year or so the soil had compacted so much that it really got nasty and actually started retarding the plant growth.
Ed
 
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Ya with my first red-eye tank that was heavily planted i just used soil and this bedding for forest reptiles and it was great for a while but it soon clumped and started cubing plant growth.
 

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i'd be careful using that stuff. I have used old bog soil from my carnivorous plant garden, but I always poured boiling water over it. Same goes for garden soil. While chances are nothing can be harmful, you never know what pathogens can be contracted in that stuff.

However, old clay garden soil works wonders for aquatic plants, as they require high iron levels to grow properly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hmmm...to avoid any potential problems, i'll probably just make substrate from scratch rather than use it from my yard. RainFrog is right, i'm really not sure what's in it (probably nothing) and i would rather avoid any extra problems especially since this will be my first pdf tank...
 

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While pathogens could be a problem, a much more important thing to consider is WHERE you get the soil. We put down "weed and feed" to fertilize the grass and kill weeds every spring. Luckily, I took soil from my bog, not the ground when I put together my tank. Many people forget about herbicides and pesticides that we put on our lawns and gardens. If you put Preen or fertilizer down on your garden, just forget about that location too. Soil by creeks could have sewage water running through it, while soil near ponds can harbor nemetodes and flatworms that could be very dangerous. Even though you aren't raising tadpoles, part of the frog deformities have been caused by an outbreak of nemetodes that produce cysts in the limb buds of tadpoles, causing them to splice, resulting into multiple growth points and multiple legs!!! :shock:

Here's a good soil recipe I use for all my vivariums:

1 part coco peat/ peat moss
1 part orchid bark
1 part top soil, or sterilized proven safe garden soil
1 part long fiber shagnum moss

BTW, I use the bricks of coco peat from my local garden center with no problems. Then again, I am not familiar with other brands that could potentially harbor chemicals, like wetting agents...at the garden centers near you. However, my nursery carries this safe coco brick for only half the price of eco earth or bed a beast.

Rain
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Do you just put the sphagnum on the top or mix it in?

Also, what are the differences with peat brick and coir?
 

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not sure what coir is (never used it). I mix a little shagnum into the substrate to give it better aeration. It is something more important than putting it on top. Wait a few months, dig under substrate without moss, and take a BIG whiff! Whew! :shock: :lol: The smell of anaerobic bacterial waste!

Putting on the top of the soil is good too. If you have peat moss substrate, shagnum moss will grow in shadier corners after a while.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
OK, coco peat is just coco bricks right? It's a replacement for peat moss from what i've read...it's more durabel and will not mold as easily. Correct?

Also, last question...where can i get some orchid bark...having trouble locating any hydroponics stores...

-Luke
 
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Many years ago a friend and I tried it. We had no problems, but perhaps we were lucky. What could could do is just put some leaf litter ground up in the soil mix of your choosing to introduce some microfauna.
j
 
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if you're interested in establishing the nitrogen cycle in your viv, then a handful is good. but a whole tank full, might have some pesty guest later...
 
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