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Question about substrate. . .

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by FelixA9, Sep 5, 2003.

  1. FelixA9

    FelixA9 Arachnoknight Old Timer

    I've been using potting soil and I've tried spraying water and pouring it in and yet it still dries out in a few days to the point that when the T tries to dig all he can dig is a pit because the dirt collapses. I've got him several hides in there so he's not lacking for a place to hide (he's buried himself in one and been there a few weeks now) but I want him to be able to tunnel if it wants. So any tips on what to use that will hold together a little better without having to make mud? I live in a dry climate (northern Utah)

  2. Nameless

    Nameless Arachnosquire Old Timer

    The substrate I am using is Jungle Mix. I had the same problem you had. Since its super hot here 90F about. I spray so much water into it that the soil part of it became compacted and its much better now. But that being said if your temp is not as high as mine I would suggest you move the T for short while then just soak it and like it dry out then move your T back in. Hope this helps. :)
  3. minax

    minax Arachnoknight Old Timer

    What I use.........

    For my burrowing species is, Shultz peat moss, and some good quality dark potting soil, mixed about 50/50. Then pack it down fairly well. If the soil is slightly damp, this always makes great tunnels for my T's, and even when it dries out, they still are able to dig a great tunnel. Sometimes you have to experiment with different combo's, to find the one that works for you. I have slings that are not even known for digging that have built 5 different holes and tunnels!:)
  4. JBoyer

    JBoyer Arachnoknight Old Timer

    I use a potting soil vermiculite mix and I have very happy diggers! The vermiculite also hold moisture better than just potting soil.
  5. Henry Kane

    Henry Kane Arachnoprince Old Timer

    I just use the standard 70% / 30% peat and vermiculite mix. Like JBoyer said, the vermiculite holds moisture better than just plain soil. It also holds a burrow pretty nicely in my experience. One more benefit of sphagnum peat is that it's much lighter than potting poil, let alone wet potting soil, and is not such a strain on the shelving.

  6. Code Monkey

    Code Monkey Arachnoemperor Old Timer

    Good point, I don't often think of describing it in those terms, but it is a *major* difference between the two.

    I've played around a lot with the ratios, even having some on straight verm, but have retreated to a 50/50 P/V mix again for my more recent acquisitions.
  7. pelo

    pelo Arachnoangel Old Timer

    You can try a couple different things.I use straight potting soil but cut it with cypress mulch or cedar mulch..yes cedar mulch.It won't harm your T's.It will help for burrowing by giving the soil some texture and mulch is excellent for retaining moisture also.Another thing is bentonite.Use about 1 part bentonite to 12-15 parts soil.It'll help firm the soil to support burrowing...peace..
  8. rknralf

    rknralf Arachnodemon Old Timer

    I thought cedar had some insecticide qualities, hence the Cedar chest to store valuables/clothing. I thought the scent helped deter pests such as moths which would destroy clothing.
  9. Henry Kane

    Henry Kane Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Cedar is a natural pesticide. That in mind, using it in your substrate doesn't make too much sense to me. Personally I wouldn't recommend it. Just my thoughts.
    I have heard of people using it in their substrate and claim no ill effects. I am of the mind that there are many shades of "healthy" or "unhealthy" outside of just "alive" or "dead".

  10. pelo

    pelo Arachnoangel Old Timer

    I've used cedar mulch for months with absolutely no ill effects to my T's at all.I learned this from Bruce Carr,(breeder/dealer) of Arachnophiliacs.He's been using cedar mulch in his mix for "many" years and he's got well over a thousand healthy spiders to prove it works...and said he never lost a single spider to cedar mulch.I was using peat/verm for a while.I then met Bruce and was amazed with his T's.I asked him what he attributed the good health,fast growing of his T's was.He told me the secret's in the soil mix.He uses Presidents Choice Black Earth soil mixed with just enough cedar mulch to give it a nice texture.Since then I've changed over to it and have noticed big time results in faster growth,improved longer lasting color,molting success...just overall healthier faster growing spiders.It also works great for burrowing species.I'll be using this mix as my main substrate from here on in.Great mix!.There's a couple members here who can vouch I have very healthy,active spiders and I attribute it a lot to the soil mix.Cedar mulch being harzardous to T's is an old wive's tale to me..peace..
  11. Henry Kane

    Henry Kane Arachnoprince Old Timer

    I wouldn't say that cedar mulch being hazardous to T's is a wives tale. Try keeping one of your T's on straight cedar and see what heppens. A soil/cedar mix not being hazardous to T's is something else.
    As far as attributing cedar to a T growing faster or being healthier, I'm definitely skeptical. I'm not saying your T's are not healthy but to attribute it to cedar? I dunno about that. I have been keeping T's for well over 5 years and have NEVER had a bad molt. My T's also grow rapidly (due to feeding frequency, not substrate) and all are plump, healthy and quite alert. I wouldn't go so far as to say "it's all because of the substrate".

    Sorry Pelo. A soil cedar mix may be fine for you and Bruce. If it's not harmed your T's, cool. I think the "secret miracle mix" bit is a little far fetched.

    Last edited: Sep 5, 2003
  12. pelo

    pelo Arachnoangel Old Timer

    >>I don't attribute the results to the "cedar mulch"but rather the "soil"...cedar mulch just enhances/enriches the soil and I was just stating cedar "won't harm" your spiders.Cypress mulch for enchancing/enriching soil will work well also.

    >>your T's grow rapidly from your feeding frequency.Sounds like power feeding for growth results.I don't powerfeed.My T's from slings to adults get fed once a week...sometimes every 2 weeks and growth rate is more than previous results on different substrates.What's more natural to a spider..a nice rich earth soil or peat/vermiculite??

    >>"miracle mix"....I don't recall calling it a "miracle mix",but rather just stating I've had great results with it.Many people have great results with other mixes as well.Black earth/cedar mulch works well for me and I highly recommend it as a substrate

    >>I've got proof cedar doesn't harm spiders...do you have proof it's ever killed/harmed them...or anyone else have proof for that matter?I've not ever read one documented case saying the death or ill health of a spider was directly linked to cedar mulch.Now I've read a lot of reports of people saying not to use when infact they've never used it but are just repeating what they've read/heard.Find me some proof it kills/harms spiders rather than hear say.Have you used it?I have used it,do use it and will continue to use it.

    >>try keeping a spider on straight cedar...yea ok..:? ..eventually it would die...not from it being toxic but it's just not a suitable substrate for raising spiders..either is sand..marbles..wood chips..gravel..Now if it died because it was on a straight substrate of gravel,sand,woodchips,gravel..it would be because it's not suitable for raising spiders..But if it died on straight cedar,right away it's not because it's not a suitable substrate..darn stuff is just toxic..lol....peace..
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2003
  13. Henry Kane

    Henry Kane Arachnoprince Old Timer

    That's probably because T's don't naturally habitate in cedar and anyone in the hobby with a lick of common sense won't keep a T on straight cedar mulch. How would there be any documentation?
    There is however plenty of documentation on the (ill) effects of cedar on other pests. I just ran a google search and found a ton.
    I realize you never said a thing about straight cedar though so my point is irrelevant..except that I personally would not risk using cedar. It's probably more of a mental-peace-of-mind thing. ;)

    Last edited: Sep 5, 2003
  14. MizM

    MizM Arachnoprincess Old Timer

    I STILL swear by straight up Verm. It holds water, they can burrow to their little heart's content, and I have NEVER gotten mold on it. When I use soil/verm, I always seem to get mold or mushrooms or SOMETHING! I know, I know, I'm probably keeping it too moist, but I have the ventilation WAY up.

    And, the weight thing is a MAJOR for me, since we're mobile!!!
  15. Code Monkey

    Code Monkey Arachnoemperor Old Timer

    Cedar mulch is not the same thing as cedar, Gary, from the p.o.v. of danger

    The volatile compounds in pine, cedar, and other conniferous woods that are *suspected* to be harmful to arachnids (but zero proof of that, only with insects is this a proven character) are completely dissipated by the time the wood is broken down into mulch. There is nothing wrong with using it if it's sufficiently broke down.
  16. pelo

    pelo Arachnoangel Old Timer

    >>I had the same problems when I first started using soil but have since learned a way to manage molds,mushrooms etc.I water the soil for terrestrials like you would a plant.Let the substrate dry completely then water.Letting it dry eliminates/reduces the chances of pest infestation or anything organic growing..molds,mushrooms etc or at least getting a major foothold in the enclosure.
    With burrowers I water from the bottom up..usually immersing the container into a larger container and only letting about 1/3- 1/2 the substrate get wet,which also allows the spider to pick it's RH comfort zone and no molds,organic growth or pests on the dry surface.
    With aboreals again let the substrate go through a wet dry cycle also,misting occasionally for drinking needs.I never get molds,pests or anything organic growing.As you stated though ventilation is also very critical....peace
  17. MizM

    MizM Arachnoprincess Old Timer

    Hey, thanks. That takes me off the hook for weeks! I can ignore them until they dry out.... JUST lke I do my plants!=D
  18. pelo

    pelo Arachnoangel Old Timer

    >>just make sure they always have access to drinking water though...especially through the dry out stage...peace..
  19. MizM

    MizM Arachnoprincess Old Timer

    Oh YEAH! Even my little 'uns have soda bottle caps!:D
  20. Henry Kane

    Henry Kane Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Re: Cedar mulch is not the same thing as cedar, Gary, from the p.o.v. of danger

    That's got to be the case. I pretty much realized that hence my "mental peace of mind" comment earlier.
    On another note, I have a few keeping practices that folks wouldn't generally recommend either.