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Want to Do a Clay Substrate

Discussion in 'Substrates/Bedding/Flooring' started by DollemanH, Jan 6, 2009.

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  1. DollemanH

    DollemanH Elite Member

    Hello all. Once again I find my self seeking to pick your well endowed brains.

    I had been using repti-sand for my uromastyx and for my leopard geckos. No they are not housed together. Then after hearing the horrors of impaction I went to the repti-carpet. While it is safer, The "Kids" do not like it. They sure are not as active and don't seem to like it at all. so i have decided to go with clay. But as I know slightly more about clay Substrate then I do about astrophysics. I figured I would ask the right people. I have a 75 gal and 40 gal tank. So here are the Questions What is it, How do I use it, Where do I get it, When does it need to be changed? Remember its for my little one so please don't blame them for their dad stupidity. As alway thanks for any info. :eek:
  2. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    For your uro, we often suggest the best thing to put them on is a combination of organic potting soil and childrens play sand, then feed them outside the tank. Uros want to dig and will be unhappy if they can't.

    For the leo, reptile carpet should be fine. Perhaps add in some extra things to keep them busy, like some large branches and more caves to explore.
  3. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    No stupidity involved here!;)
    If you just changed the enclosures out, reduced activity is to be expected regardless of what you changed it too.
    The product I beleive you are referring to is called Excavator. I have no personal experience with it but I understand that it is quite expensive to use and when dry is almost impossible for anything to dig in.
    I beleive it was Kriminaal who was looking into it.
  4. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

  5. venus

    venus Founding Member

    You can also use different shelf liners for you leo to give it some variety. Its prettier than repti carpet, lol
  6. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Merlin is correct. The clay substrate would cost you a few hundred bucks to provide enough for your enclosure.
    Uromastyx substrate is similiar to what monitors require.
    You want to have some moisture under the surface to facilitate burrowing but have it relatively dry on top.

    I would suggest using the mix of sand/soil with perhaps a few inches of the excavator product on top. From what I've heard though once dry they will not be able to dig new burrows through the surface. Perhaps mixing a little sand in with it will prevent it from becoming too hard.

    Another alternative to to scour construction sites after they have dug for the foundations. Some of the best substrate with clay in it will be found there.
  7. titus

    titus Elite Member Premium Member

    Zoo meds Excavator is the only clay/sand substrate that I know of in the states. But you can make your own easily. If you can find natural loam to mix your sand with I would mix it about 3 to one by weight. You can try the zoo med but if it's really so hard I would mix a extra bag of sand in to loosen it up a bit.

    As far as the clay based substrates them selfs, they rarely need to be changed so long the top is swept off and all waste is removed. You'll need to mist the surface every 1-2 weeks and sweep the loose particles away, though there's normally not much maybe one or two tea spoons worth. Misting helps reinforce the burrows that have been dug as well and reset a lot of the loose particles from digging.

    The one draw back to this type of substrate is that it is very heavy I was buying it in 50 pound bags for about 30US from a place here. One bag did a 40 gal and that was it.
  8. DollemanH

    DollemanH Elite Member

    I thought that the potting soil might be to moist and create to much humidity. I live in Florida and there is a little gray clay could this be used?Or could i order clay and mix it with sand or soil?
  9. DollemanH

    DollemanH Elite Member

    Would they sell loam at a hydro store or a nursery and what type of sand should I use?
  10. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    The clay that you would need would be similar in texture to the modeling clay we used as kids, when wet, slick feeling and sticky. You can generally find it down under the layers of topsoil. As Mike said you can find it where they are digging in constructin sites, or as strange as it sounds where they have been digging graves in a cemetary.

    Around here it is red colored!
  11. DollemanH

    DollemanH Elite Member

    Thanks I was wondering if I could use that orange clay. We have a vein of it at my camp in the woods. I'll try that.
  12. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    You'll find that too high of a percentage of topsoil will give you a very mucky substrate, when it's wet. Soil also dries out rather quickly by itself under a heat lamp.
    Just experiment with adding the clay and playsand until you get a mixture you are happy with.
  13. Kendalle

    Kendalle Elite Member

    You could probably find clay at any good art supply store, pottery is clay after all. If you don't have a good store talk to the art department at the college or high school.. In high school we got big bricks of clay and in college we get bagged clay that is dry like cement bags and we mix water in it.

    You can find any type of clay you want that way. and any color...
  14. DollemanH

    DollemanH Elite Member

    Thanks Kendalle i hope to get started this weekend. I will definitely try a pottery store to get some clay. I'll keep everyone posted with my progress.
  15. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Try to get the dry stuff if you can. I think it would be impossible to mix the bricks with sand.
    I tried some 100 percent clay kitty litter one time. It was in very small balls, but still didn't mix well.
  16. katie41586

    katie41586 Elite Member

    You mentioned dry stuff for clay? Is there some type that comes in a powdered form but becomes clay-like when wet? I would also like to mix my own substrate for mali`s.
  17. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    From what I've heard, you can buy bags of powdered clay at pottery stores.
    I've never seen any myself though.
  18. katie41586

    katie41586 Elite Member

    I just did some research online and all i could fine was powdered clay used for facials and 12 dollars a bag. I guess thats a bust, but does anyone have a technique for how they mix their own substrate?
  19. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    You are entering into another facet of herp keeping now.;)
    It is a good one mind you. But does take proper care to keep it functional.
    You need to be able to do one of two things.
    1. have an enclosure that is mostly sealed up.
    2. have a way of adding water to the substrate regularly that doesn't soak the surface, thus making mud.
    The reason for this is you want moisture under the surface but very little on top.

    The way I do it is to start by collecting dirt from an area that looks like it has the qualities I need. This is not the black dirt topsoil type. That stuff dries out very quickly under heat.
    You want more of a gravel,clay,sand mix. Just sift out the larger pebbles. Want you want is actually called loam.

    It's more of a trial and error thing next. Adding sand if you think it has too much clay in it or some topsoil to loosen it up a bit.

    When you have it the way you want. Wet the top down and pack it a bit. Then put a strong heat lamp on to bake it and have it harden up.

    Don't worry too much about the consistency at first. You can always stir it up again and add what's needed.

    If you let it dry out too much under the surface it will become very hard and be difficult to loosen up again.
  20. katie41586

    katie41586 Elite Member

    ha thanks, only one problem. Its winter here!:p
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