Clay Substrate for Trapdoors

Ambly

Arachnobaron
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Aug 20, 2012
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So I've read the other threads about zoomed excavator clay, harvesting clay, etc.

Does anyone here use a clay mix substrate? I've had great success with mixing clay with peat moss/coco fiber (for lightness), organic material and some sand.

I am looking to see if there is any easily acquired, cheap clay out there that is useful. I know bentonite clay used for pottery can be good. Might just end up hitting an early construction site and asking for some of that sweet red clay. Thoughts?
 

Hydrophilus

Arachnopeon
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Aug 18, 2015
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30
Bumping this up because I was just about to start a new thread with this EXACT same title. Ambly, what is the ratio of clay to other ingredients that you use(d)?

I have a small group of C. torreya that I setup in a terrarium with pure topsoil, and I absolutely hate it. The topsoil had lots of small rocks in it, and the topsoil itself could not be formed into a single coherent layer. It just ended up being lots of various-sized clods, which does not hold moisture well and which drains too quickly when I attempt to water it. I want to setup a new terrarium using substrate that can be wetted with some better consistency and was thinking of combining some clay (maybe excavator clay?) with coir and sand to produce a substrate that could be shaped into a steep slope, perhaps in a vertically-oriented terrarium similar to what dart frog breeders often do with 10-gallon tanks.
 

Rhino1

Arachnobaron
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Jan 9, 2019
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Hi just a heads up the op posted this 3 years ago.
The mix you have described above is the exact mix I make up and is great for the rainforest and semi arid species I have here. I use a small part clay sand, a small part red clay and more than half coir. Peat doesn't do as well in this mix due to the nature of it and the small hairs and fibres in coir tend to add a more structured element to it. I use it for vertical and horizontal burrowers and lid makers and is a good sub for all of these, I can post some pics tonight if you needed some viv inspiration. Good luck
 
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Hydrophilus

Arachnopeon
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Aug 18, 2015
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@Rhino1 - that would be great to see some setups! I haven't seen photos of any setups that weren't at least 90% coir, which I can't imagine the spiders like much. So your mix is ~25% sand, ~25% clay, and 50% coir?
 

RezonantVoid

Hollow Knight
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Never used clay but I can't easily see it working well. My only concern would be a lack of water reaching through the clay to the bottom of the container if too much is used. The mix ratio described above would be fine I think. Sorry I cant be of much more help, I'll have to experiment with it some day!
 

Rhino1

Arachnobaron
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Jan 9, 2019
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Yeah maybe not quite that much sand, but about 25% red clay. I think it's one of those things that doesn't have to be exact but just use common sense to get the right consistency. I like to cycle all my enclosures moisture content and peat or coir on its own expands and contracts quite a lot and with most traps your looking at a creature that usually spends it's entire life in the same hole with little variation of environmental conditions.
The main thing that made me use a mix was with my golden Trapdoors, if I use straight peat and always keep it very damp the doors will always be soft and flaccid and never harden properly, once again a common sense thing regarding moisture.
 

Rhino1

Arachnobaron
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Jan 9, 2019
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So these are all around 60-75% coir, I allow the clay to dry and add it as a crushed powder to moist coir. Soft enclosures with just peat I was experiencing partial collapses sometimes by just opening the lid.
Golden trapdoor enclosure below, these guys are so big and bulky and in the event of a collapse, I don't believe they would be able to get out on their own means, through my own field research I've seen collapsed burrows where the spider has died. Since using a clay mix I can push on top of the sub and it won't effect the structure of the burrow below, it also allows them to make the cork like door associated with this species, *note the small chamber at the end which allows the spider to turn around and being extremely structural I don't get the coating of web on the glass. This burrow is around 25cm long
RSCN7540.JPG
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Vertical burrowing species below, the clay mix that has been excavated from the burrow is structured enough for them to keep burrowing in it, allowing them to make the 2-5 entrances like they do in a natural environment.
DSCN7534.JPG
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At the end of the day the bulk of the species I keep are generally associated with red clay soil in the wild and I'm just trying to provide suitable long term habitat for what are extremely long lived species.
 
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Rhino1

Arachnobaron
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Jan 9, 2019
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At the end of the day you do what's right for you and your situation, I've been actively keeping traps, Ts and other burrowing species since 2001 and have developed "preferences". Straight coir or straight peat is fine in small enclosures but I would stress too much if it using on long burrows in big enclosures
 

RezonantVoid

Hollow Knight
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@Rhino1 that's actually a really good point about letting the lid set like it would naturally with clay, I'll be sure to try that out one day. Both my Goldie's (well, one of them doesn't even think it's a spider it just behaves so weird) have straight cocopeat but the one that actually built a lid decided to integrate spagnum moss from the surface into the lid to give it structural integrity. It's like this 4-5mm tangled mess of an entrance but it seems to hold well enough without collapsing anything.

The other one is from Victoria and has more of a purse shaped entry and it just always peeks out the top with its feet bundled around its face and pulls whatever side of the burrow it's sitting on across to the other to close it when disturbed. Maybe a more natural substrate will prompt it to construct an actual lid
 

Rhino1

Arachnobaron
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Yeah, imho some need it and some don't. I have one GT in straight peat that just successfully mated and we have an egg sack, but then had another which just looked miserable and used to wander a lot, it refused to build a door and would drag a leaf across the entrance. This is when I changed sub for good
 

Rhino1

Arachnobaron
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Jan 9, 2019
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I will take back any comment supporting straight peat for large trapdoor species, just seen my large GT female wandering the enclosure during the day and further investigation revealed a partial collapse and now there is an egg sac buried in the sub somewhere unless it has been destroyed, all just before I was meant to go out for the day.
Not suitable sub imo for an enclosure that may house a spider for 20-30 years, never again
 

Hydrophilus

Arachnopeon
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Aug 18, 2015
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@Rhino1 thanks for the pics! I don't know why but I didn't receive a notification when you posted these. That's a really cool setup for the horizontal burrowing species! Did you make it yourself? I have been toying with the idea of taking a 10 gallon tank, filling it with a clay/coir mix like you described, then tipping it forwards so the opening would be in the front - obviously with some sort of ventilated door siliconed into place. This would allow my Cyclocosmia to make horizontal burrows, but I wasn't sure whether such a substrate would hold a burrow's shape well. I'm glad to see you've been doing something similar with success!
 
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