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Best Substrate recipe


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I have never been to Columbia, but I do make a substrate that works very well with tropical jungle species that I keep to include arachnids, isopods, and roaches.

50% of the mix is Fox Farm Happy Frog. Great product and would suffice as a lone ingredient in many cases. It contains a small percentage of perlite, which many avoid but it causes absolutely no issues.

50% is what I call "aged wood fibers" to purposefully avoid the term "flake soil." There is growing evidence and consensus that cellulose is not what many detritivores are after or benefit from in and of itself. The biofilms on the fibers are what they are after. Taking that into consideration, I threw the "fermented sawdust" rulebook out the window and took the road less traveled. After much time and many experiments over several years, I have come up with what I believe is a rock solid process to develop aged wood fibers.

.5 cubic feet of double ground hardwood mulch (I source this local, it is 70 maple/30 oak and contains no metal or plastic from pallets and other post consumer wood products.)

2 CC of worm castings (CC = 30 oz Folgers plastic coffee can)

Optional: 1 tsp of Bacillus pumilus incoculant, 1 tsp of Bacillus lichinformis inoculant. Both are found in worm castings, but a direct inoculant hastens the process.

80 oz water with .5 cup raw sugar and .5 cup molasses dissolved in it. I use well water, if you use municipal water be sure and treat for chlorine, chloramines, etc.

Mix thoroughly and allow to sit for 24 hours.

At this point I take two batches and put them in a woven polypropylene bag (40 x 20), zip tie it shut for 6 months in a warm, dark location.

Once the process is complete, I mix it 50/50 with Happy Frog to make the substrate. You can mix in crushed hardwood leaves, sphagnum moss, calcium source, etc. depending on the specie being kept. The calcium source I use is pulverized crab, lobster, and oyster shell. A very good ratio of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus to promote cuticle health in isopods.

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