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Old 06-05-2013, 08:38 PM
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Default Substrate for planted terrarium.

Sorry, I know there are loads of threads like this already but everyone I read seems to be different. This is my first planted tank and I want to get it right, I have a 45x45x60 exo terra, will 1.1 kg of hydroballs be enough? Eco earth or plantation earth? and how much will I need. Then mix that with same amounts of organic compost? Anybody recommend a brand from Homebase/B&Q? Do I need to add anything to that? seen some people say orchid bark and others don't like it. Sorry, its a lit of questions, I just want to make sure I have it right so I can get started on it.
Thanks
Paul..



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Old 06-05-2013, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul_c View Post
Sorry, I know there are loads of threads like this already but everyone I read seems to be different. This is my first planted tank and I want to get it right, I have a 45x45x60 exo terra, will 1.1 kg of hydroballs be enough? Eco earth or plantation earth? and how much will I need. Then mix that with same amounts of organic compost? Anybody recommend a brand from Homebase/B&Q? Do I need to add anything to that? seen some people say orchid bark and others don't like it. Sorry, its a lit of questions, I just want to make sure I have it right so I can get started on it.
Thanks
Paul..


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i have a mix of coco fiber and organic compost then a bit of orchid bark in when it comes to the hydroball i just had a big bag of then so just put in what looked ok
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Old 06-05-2013, 09:09 PM
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Not sure on the hydroballs, to give a depth of 4 cm you need to multiply the area, in this case 45x45=2025, by the depth, 4cm, and convert the result, 8100, into litres, which is 8.1 litres. So a ten litre bag will do it, i'm not sure what that is in weight though i'm afraid.

For substrate, it's not an exact science. The yanks prefer an ABG mix, which has peat, charcoal, bark, etc in it. This is a very good mix, but in my opinion creates far too much growth, leading to excessive trimming of plants. I personally use either orchid compost, or a mix of organic compost and orchid bark. This balances good drainage with a decent nutrient mix.

Others use eco earth or plantation soil, this however is feeble for plant growth, pretty much the only nutrients in it will be what is produced in the waste from your pets.

Worth checking out the planted section with a quick search, or head over to amphibians. I warn you though, every frogger has his/her own mix, as do most others who make planted vivs. Trial and error is the way ahead. To be honest with you, sorting your lighting and watering is far more important in my opinion, a lot of tropical plants grow naturally in very poor soil, but thy do require decent light and watering.

Dave
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Old 06-05-2013, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by bigd_1
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i have a mix of coco fiber and organic compost then a bit of orchid bark in when it comes to the hydroball i just had a big bag of then so just put in what looked ok
ok thanks.
I have no idea what 1.1kg of hydroballs looks like! lol. I want to get everything ordered then I can get cracking with it. I don't want to then wait another week for another bag of hydroballs to turn up cause I didn't order enough!



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Old 06-05-2013, 09:14 PM
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Hydroballs I found difficult to judge personally, try to get a litre figure for the amount you need and then the amount in a bag, although if you have too much you can use it in other jobs
I don't know what you are making the tank for, but there is a mixture called ABG mixture. It was developed by the Atlanta Botanical Gardens hence the name. It is a very rich mix and some people say it makes plants grow too quick. The recipe I followed was this
2 parts FINE orchid bark
2 parts tree fern fibre
2 parts organic lumpwood charcoal that is crushed (i ran it over in my car a few times lol)
1 part milled sphanum (the stuff in the compressed brick that is a powder
1 part coco eco earth

Mix it all together and jobs a gooden. If you Google abg recipe you will get a lot of results.

Remember to seperate the hydroballs with mesh such as exo terra hydrodrain. Remember to seed it with micro fauna and it should last a good while.


Edit: I told you some people say it is too rich lol
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Old 06-05-2013, 09:21 PM
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Thanks Dave.
I will see if I can find somewhere that does hydroballs by litre and not weight.
I am trying to avoid the trial and error bit if I can lol. I don't have the time or money to keep changing everything untill I get it right!
As for the lighting etc after weeks of reading I think I have that sorted now, its just the fact that everyone seems to use a different mix for substrate. Ah well, I may just have to bite the bullet and go with a rough average and see what happens!





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Old 06-05-2013, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul_c View Post
Thanks Dave.
I will see if I can find somewhere that does hydroballs by litre and not weight.
I am trying to avoid the trial and error bit if I can lol. I don't have the time or money to keep changing everything untill I get it right!
As for the lighting etc after weeks of reading I think I have that sorted now, its just the fact that everyone seems to use a different mix for substrate. Ah well, I may just have to bite the bullet and go with a rough average and see what happens!
May I ask what you have planned for lighting, I may be able to offer some advice (I've used just about every type of lighting available!! )

And I really wouldn't flap about the substrate, at the end of the day if everyone uses something different and yet no-one is saying "don't use such and such, it's bloody awful" then you really can't go wrong! If, like most of use, you're impatient for your first viv to get up and growing, then you may be best of looking into ABG mix, it is awesome at giving your plants a real kickstart. If, however, you want a really sustainable long term viv with lower maintenance needs, go with something a little less dynamic.

Here is the original ABG mix, as created

1 part milled peat

1 part milled sphagnum moss

1 part fine charcoal

2 parts fine tree fern fiber

2 parts fine orchid bark


The charcoal amount is usually increased upto 2 parts.

Now, for a bit of honesty, if you're anything like the majority of first time planted viv makers, you'll end up learning a lot fom this viv, and regretting a lot, and in 6 or 12 months ripping it all out and starting again. No harm in it, I think we've all done it, and therefore try and relax and just have fun with it. So far I've created 10 planted set-ups, but only in five vivs. Two of those haven't been ripped out, the other three have, two of them twice. It's the way it goes, now i'm at the stage where I kind of know what i'm doing, and to make a set up i'm happy with just needs tweaking as opposed to nuking, but it's a long learning curve, and I doubt many would disagree.

Dave

edit: Just dug up this thread from Dendroboard for you, if you're serious about your substrate have a look at it. It's actually worth joining dendroboard even if you're not into Darts, I joined long before I got any, as some of the stuff they do with their vivs leaves you speechless, some really good info on there.

http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/par...t-abg-mix.html
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Old 06-05-2013, 09:35 PM
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this is what fatlad69 told me

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The pure peat moss is hard to find. I did come across one seller on eBay who sells it with no additives http://bit.ly/10UdeeQ as he uses it for carnivorous plants. I don't use charcoal just peat moss tree fern, torn up sphagnum, oak leaves and orchid bark. The substrate drains well and the plants go mad. It's a mix Wolfenrook recommended, you can usually find him in the phib section.

Adam
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Old 06-05-2013, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by my_shed View Post

Here is the original ABG mix, as created

1 part milled peat

1 part milled sphagnum moss

1 part fine charcoal

2 parts fine tree fern fiber

2 parts fine orchid bark


The charcoal amount is usually increased upto 2 parts.
That is the mixture i followed, but with some PMs to a member on dendroboard, i found you can switch out milled peat for eco earth. It is hard find peat at resonable prices in the UK.

This has reported to last 5+ years in a viv, but as mentioned, you will probably rip it out in less. ABG is all the rage in the states and seems to guarantee plant growth, so that's why is have chosen it for my first.

If you went for thumbnail darts, i would say to look into clay substrate. that is more in the experienced realm though




a question to Dave,

will a 2 54w bulb t5ho fixture be enough for a 4' long x 16" deep tank?
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Old 07-05-2013, 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by plasma234 View Post
That is the mixture i followed, but with some PMs to a member on dendroboard, i found you can switch out milled peat for eco earth. It is hard find peat at resonable prices in the UK.?
As far as I can work out the milled peat doesn't do much more than just bulk it up and give it some substance, everything else is kind of bitty, with no ability to clump up or give the roots much to hold to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plasma234 View Post
This has reported to last 5+ years in a viv, but as mentioned, you will probably rip it out in less. ABG is all the rage in the states and seems to guarantee plant growth, so that's why is have chosen it for my first.
ABG should in theory last the lifetime of the viv, as the animals will fertilize it to replace missing nutrients, and fallen leaves etc add to it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by plasma234 View Post
If you went for thumbnail darts, i would say to look into clay substrate. that is more in the experienced realm though
I've been considering a clay based substrate myself, but have yet to see any real evidence that it is any more beneficial than just adding powdered cuttlefish or similar into your ABG mix every few months. The calcium supplementation is the reason behind it, I assume, as with thumbs they're too small for dusted prey, or at least the froglets are, but i'm pretty sure a calcium rich additive to the soil would work just as effectively, without the negative aspects of clay.


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Originally Posted by plasma234 View Post
a question to Dave,

will a 2 54w bulb t5ho fixture be enough for a 4' long x 16" deep tank?

Yes, provided it's not immensely high, that will be more than adequate. Of course the choice of tube is important too, the clear consensus is Arcadia Tropical Pro, or Plant Pro. Most suggest Tropical Pro, I personally prefer the light colour of Plant Pro when used alone, although if you're coupling it with a UV tube then the pinkish colour of the Tropical Pro doesn't stand out much.

Hope this helps

Dave
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