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Are millipedes sensitive to soil pH?

Discussion in 'Myriapods' started by Exoskelos, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. Exoskelos

    Exoskelos Arachnosquire

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    I've just finished mixing up a large batch of substrate with roughly a 30% peat moss component, and just read that peat acidifies the soil. Is this a problem? Its mixed with hardwood leaves/wood and coir in almost equal parts, with a slightly higher wood/leaf component, and a few handfuls of calcium mix. I'm planning on using this substrate for spirobolid millipedes.

    I know that pine and other conifers cause the soil to be acidic, and millipedes should not be exposed to resin bearing wood, but are they affected by the acidity alone, or by the insect deterrent compounds in the conifers? Or is it a combination of the two?
     
  2. MarcoVincelli

    MarcoVincelli Arachnosquire Active Member

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    I would say that the insect deterrent in the conifers is the only real problem in a millipede enclosure. I don't think that the overall pH is anything that anyone has ever worried about, I know at least that it isn't a concern of mine. If other people are concerned about that, it would be enlightening information for me. Insect deterrent would be my concern any day. pH is something people usually worry about when they have aquatic tanks and such. Looking forward to hear what other people have to say, but I would not be concerned what so ever.
     
  3. mickiem

    mickiem Arachnoprince Active Member

    Any kind of decaying wood and leaves are going to be acidic. An area of my garden where I find millipedes (my rose garden) is slightly alkaline, so I would think either are ok. Maybe some millipedes are more sensitive. Maybe someone will have more specific information.
     
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  4. Exoskelos

    Exoskelos Arachnosquire

    I did a little bit of research, and apparently coir is close to neutral. By mixing peat and coir, I may have raised the pH to be less acidic. Also the calcium helps raise pH, but the amount in the substrate is probably negligible for that purpose.

    I have noticed though, just from inspecting the new enclosure, the substrate is putting off a small amount of heat. Not a major concern for me right now, but it's something I'll have to keep an eye on. Can't be accidentally cooking my millipedes by using peat in the substrate.

    It would make a wonderful substrate mix in the wintertime though, especially for temperature sensitive millipedes.
     
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  5. MarcoVincelli

    MarcoVincelli Arachnosquire Active Member

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    Interesting! Cool observation! Let us know what happens, sorry there was no specific experiences we could offer. I think it’s pretty cool that you’re thinking so far ahead as to the entire pH composure of the substrate. Shows a great keeper.
     
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  6. JanPhilip

    JanPhilip Arachnoknight Old Timer

    Most millipedes are extremely sensitive to PH, as it affects the calcium deposits in their tergites. In the same area you will almost always find the least, if any, species on acidic grounds. I do not keep a lot of species, but most will do fine on unfertilized potting soil. I usually mix in white-wood and dried leaves. I am not sure what the propper name is for the type of wood in english, but it is fermented/digested by a specific kind of mushroom. Where I live you can find it quite easily in the forest. It is very popular as food with beetle breeders. A year a go i got some very small pedelings off a friend of mine and I keep them on flake-soil, which is also a beetle breeders substrate. It also works like a charm, but it is very expensive and probably a total overkill for most species.
     
  7. Elytra and Antenna

    Elytra and Antenna Arachnoking Old Timer

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  8. Exoskelos

    Exoskelos Arachnosquire

    Well that settles it. I'll be mixing up new batches of substrate then, perhaps if I let this batch with the peat sit outside for a while and weather, or just use it as a supplemental addition, a handful or so mixed in well with my tried and true mix.

    If I had a way to test the pH of the substrate, it might be okay, but reading a little bit more, seems that peat is anaerobic and will slow the decay of other substrate components. If there was a way to "wash" it, and remove its acidity, it would probably work well though.
     
  9. If you mixed calcium into the substrate that should be more than enough to neutralize the acidity of the peat. Even washing peat with slightly alkaline water destroys its acidity.
     
  10. Exoskelos

    Exoskelos Arachnosquire

    When I got it, it had a somewhat rancid, sour odor, but I mixed it with coir, calcium and the hardwood material, two days later it smells like fresh potting soil. Either way, I'll suspend using it until I can get some litmus paper or a pH testing device. I would presume it slowly regains its acidity over time though.
    I'm in the process of experimenting with various substrate mixes, something that will work well using materials that I can get for free, or cheaply.
     
  11. Nope, as long as the calcium is in there the calcium is in there. If calcium is present, the acid is neutralized. I suppose the millipedes might gradually use up the calcium as they consume the substrate, but I doubt the peat would completely regain its acidity and if you continue to add calcium sources for the millipedes it almost certainly wouldn't.
     
  12. Exoskelos

    Exoskelos Arachnosquire

    I'll keep an eye on it. Interestingly enough, when the substrate was putting off heat was after I had thoroughly mixed it with the other materials. It's room temp now, and smells far better than it did when I opened the bag.

    Using potting soil is not much better than peat, as almost all commercial potting soils contain peat as a major component, regardless if they have fertilizer or not. Also I have read, that at least here in the states, potting soils labeled as organic may contain sewage sludge.
     
  13. Insectopia

    Insectopia Arachnopeon Arachnosupporter

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    It’s called kinshi
     
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