Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Not sure if your plant is suitable for a Vivarium? Substrate Issues and Viv pests discussed.
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Philsuma
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Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Philsuma » Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:28 pm

Peat vs. Sphagnum:

Sphagnum is a variety of mosses that grows in bogs. They are sometimes referred to as "sphagnum peat bogs." Milled sphagnum is just that, finely chopped sphagnum (it’s in original state; it is called long fiber sphagnum). Peat moss is what happens to sphagnum after it dies and breaks down and crumples up. It holds water, is slightly acidic, but does not drain well enough on its own, for our purposes – Dart Frog Hobby.

In the old days; people used potting soil in all their terraria.

Potting Soil = Peat based substance.

It would work for a while, but for enclosures that do not have drainage holes, it would eventually deteriorate after being in contact with water for so long.

Fir bark = orchid bark. Lasts longer than peat, and coir lasts longer than both potting soil and fir bark.

However, coir is fairly inert; it does not have much nutritional value. As such, it needs to be "amended" to make it more useful to plant material. Amendments can include: fir bark, tree fern, long fiber sphagnum moss, crushed leaves;

over the long term, coir-based substrate will last longer than even the ABG mix. The ABG mix is a good, nutritious plant friendly mix though, and will work well in baskets - keep it bulky and airy, not too densely packed.

Coir based - lasts the longest.

ABG (Atlanta Botanical Gardens) – Is the most balanced and nutritious (for plants).


You can use a Coir-based mix (with some fir bark and chopped up oak leaves) as the bulk of your substrate, and then put ABG mix only around the individual plants.

Coir-based mix:

30% peat moss
30% coco-fiber-fir
20% fir bark
10% ground up long stemmed sphagnum
10% crushed pin oak leaves

This is a rough guess as I just go by look and consistency and I don’t ever worry about exact measurements.
The pin oak smells great, and gives springtails more organic matter for food.



One highly recommended mix is the Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG) recipe from Ron Gagliardo:

ABG Mix:

Recipe #1:
2 parts fine fir bark
2 parts fine tree fern fiber
2 parts milled sphagnum moss
1 part fine charcoal
1 part peat moss

Recipe#2:
2 parts Ground Tree Fern Root
2 parts milled Sphagnum Moss
2 part fine orchid bark
(i cannot emphasize *fine* enough here, it's hard to find)
1 part sphagnum peat moss
1 part charcoal

Recipe#3
1 part milled peat (sometimes more)
1 part milled sphagnum moss
1 part fine charcoal (sometimes more)
2 parts fine tree fern fiber
2 parts fine orchid bark

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GrandmasterTree
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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby GrandmasterTree » Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:30 pm

Missing Clay Substrate

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Philsuma
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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Philsuma » Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:32 pm

GrandmasterTree wrote:Missing Clay Substrate


Nah....just waiting for one of our members to write up a nice thread to become a sticky...on the subject. :wink:

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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Michael Lawrence » Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:09 pm

Ive actually talked to Ron about the ABG mix and several others at ABG, I wouldnt call it the end all to the rest, A good start yes but I have had much better luck with it in viv for plants, and microfauna with nothing more than adding a portion or two of clay to it and mixing it up. I have tried a few other things as well just nothing that made it stand out any better.

Michael
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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Philsuma » Sat Aug 13, 2011 11:38 am

I believe that clay is "the way of the future". ABG is good, but when you add some clay / calcium, then it's much better.

The 100% clay substrate is novel and interesting IMO.

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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Michael Lawrence » Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:05 pm

100% clay substrate Ive tried, I did get broms to grow in the bottom of the viv but no better a micro fauna population than the ABG with Clay. I dont know how natural all clay is with comparison to whats down there but I would like to know. I would think for some of the highland locales or darts a soil base and sand for lower regions but again I dont know. I plan to keep working on it and other ideas.

Michael
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Don't Be A Hybridiot!

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Todd S.
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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Todd S. » Sun Sep 25, 2011 4:52 pm

I dont think 100% clay is the way of the future. To my knowledge clay doesnt hold much as far as nutrients for plants. It may contains some minerals for the microfauna. I agree with Mike, ABG mix with some clay added in is a fairly healthy balance
Im working on a few viv substrates of my own that do not include the tree fern fiber but do include some of the other ABG ingredients. If they work out well I will post them here sometime down the road.


Todd

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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Philsuma » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:58 am

again...like 99.7% of anything in this hobby.....you can experiment a bit with the ratios and even ingredients. The recommended ratios are just that - a recommendation.

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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Lady Bullseye » Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:28 am

I have been wondering if you guys mean the substrate being mixed when you say clay ABG mix, or if you mean more along the lines of ABG substrate and clay BG? If you mean the former, how would you do that? Just have an area that is clay and the remainder ABG? Do an entire layer of clay with ABG over it or what?
Lisa
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R. Imitator 'Cainarachi Valley' 2.3.0
R. Imitator 'Cainarachi Valley' Froglets 8 and counting.

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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Philsuma » Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:37 am

When you say "BG" - you mean "Background" right ?

ABG is light and airy and really can't be intergrated into any background. ABG is soley a substrate.

You can have "pockets" of different substrates - little areas of ABG surrounded by coir or virtually anything else.

Two considerations when designing a Vivarium:

1. Do you need to allow for maximum microfauna (little bugs) - as in an obligate eggfeeder vivarium where the froglets need to forage and consume large amounts of microfauna ? If so, you need a light, aerobic substrate that will never compact and multiple layers of leaf litter.

2. Are you planning for larger non obligates link Tincs, auratus, leucomelas ect, where nothing will be raised in the viv or perhaps no breeding at all ? Then substrate becomes more important for plants and much less emphasis on microfauna environment.

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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Lady Bullseye » Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:49 pm

Yes, I meant Background. What I wrote wasn't clear what I mean either. I have set up my viv, so am familiar with the ABG. I am wondering if "mix" would mean areas of floor made of clay and other areas of ABG? Which I think you basically answered with
You can have "pockets" of different substrates - little areas of ABG surrounded by coir or virtually anything else.
Or if the "mix" was the entire viv, ie background of clay, ABG floor. Is that more clear?

THANK YOU for the remainder of this post!!
Two considerations when designing a Vivarium:

1. Do you need to allow for maximum microfauna (little bugs) - as in an obligate eggfeeder vivarium where the froglets need to forage and consume large amounts of microfauna ? If so, you need a light, aerobic substrate that will never compact and multiple layers of leaf litter.

2. Are you planning for larger non obligates link Tincs, auratus, leucomelas ect, where nothing will be raised in the viv or perhaps no breeding at all ? Then substrate becomes more important for plants and much less emphasis on microfauna environment.


All this time reading and seeing "set the viv up for the type of frog you are getting" and THAT part of it never clicked with me. I considered floor space, climbing or not, planting, hides, substrate, even the microfauna to put in, but not this facet of the microfauna. But this is a gem for a newbie like me. I think it should be in a sticky for viv set up somewhere...
Lisa
In central NY

R. Imitator 'Cainarachi Valley' 2.3.0
R. Imitator 'Cainarachi Valley' Froglets 8 and counting.

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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Philsuma » Sat Feb 04, 2012 7:02 pm

All microfauna is "good" , as it is almost as important in a "janitor" role as it is a prey item.....so no worries there.

Ah..I see what you mean about clay now. Yes, clay in the substrate is also cutting edge. It allows for calcium build-up and microfauna scrape and eat that and the biofilm that accumulated on and around it. Very beneficial, but it's still in its infancy and not too many builds and DIY threads exist that can point us to a "ahhhhh so THATS how it's done" type thing.

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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Philsuma » Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:06 pm

The big thing with most clay builds is the inevitable compaction which leads to anerobic compartments, or lots of spaces without oxygen. That means no microfauna can live there - bad. Very hard to get the clay / turface introduced into the substrate "just right".

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Lady Bullseye
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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Lady Bullseye » Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:40 pm

Yes, that makes sense. I was thinking about rearranging and putting just a small "spot" of clay. This would allow micorfauna to visit it if they needed to up the calcium, along the idea of how wild animals will go and eat either the earth or vegetation in mineral rich spots when they need it.

It seems I read somewhere about the frogs absorbing it through skin contact? As in, absorbing calcium by sitting on the clay?
Lisa
In central NY

R. Imitator 'Cainarachi Valley' 2.3.0
R. Imitator 'Cainarachi Valley' Froglets 8 and counting.

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ChrisK
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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby ChrisK » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:14 pm

Yeah I think Ed actually pointed out they can absorb ions in the clay through the drinking patch.

I only use clay substrates - so far either Matt's recipe, Turface or a combination.

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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Philsuma » Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:29 am

The clay / substrate would have to be pretty solvent - liquid-y. I wonder if 'moist' clay would have any appreciable effect.

Either way...I'm personally convinced that we, as a hobby, need to experiment further and make clay an ingredient in all our vivariums. Just my opinion, obviously.

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Re: Some Soil / Substrate Terminology and ABG

Postby Philsuma » Fri Aug 08, 2014 5:01 pm

I would not use cedar or pine of any sort in a vivarium. The fumes and sappiness would prove injurious to the animals, I would think.


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