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Safety of substrate - Ecoearth from brick has a chemical smell after water added

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by LisaD, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. LisaD

    LisaD Arachnosquire

    Thanks a lot for all the replies. I've used various substrates, peat, top soil, sphagnum. I'm going to need a lot of sub and thought I'd coconut fiber a try. I find the bricks very convenient and very easy. I'll set up some crickets on the substrate and see how they do.
  2. Tim Benzedrine

    Tim Benzedrine Prankster Possum Old Timer

    I've always noticed that odor. Never had any negative results from going ahead and using it, though like you, I was a bit concerned at first and wondered if it might be some sort of residue from the machinery that processes the stuff. Virtually anything can become contaminated, even bagged topsoil.

    I keep a few bricks on hand. Since I don't have many spiders (5 plus 3 scorpions) I don't really burn through the stuff fast, and find the convenience to outweigh the storage of a bag of dirt, personally. Since the only truly convenient place I have to store something like that is an out-building, I guarantee that stored soil would end up smelling like gasoline and oil due to stored lawn equipment. Which I can't see how that would be anything but a bad thing.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. sschind

    sschind Arachnobaron Old Timer

    I use the coco fiber (compressed brick) for my frogs so I usually have plenty left over for my T's. I don't use dirt for my frogs because it is dirty. That probably isn't an issue for T's but since I already have the coco I use it. Besides it isn't as heavy.

    I tried topsoil for a Savanna monitor ( I know its not a T) once and I couldn't hold him without getting dirty. A quick dip in water washes off any coco fiber while the same with topsoil results in mud. That's when I switched to using it for everything. if you can point me to a source of clean dirt I'm willing to give it a try.

    As for the bricks vs loose I've never compared costs but with the quantities I use it would take me a lot of bags of the loose stuff so the bricks are just easier. I just put one in a bin and dump water on it and let it soak up. I'd have to dump water on the loose stuff anyway (for my frogs that is) so its not really a big deal.

    It seems to me that purchasing the already expanded fiber would be like purchasing already watered water crystals.

    But hey, whatever works for you.
    • Dislike Dislike x 1
  4. StampFan

    StampFan Arachnobaron Active Member

    I can buy a bale of peat moss, ready to go, for less than a Big Mac meal. And it is as light as coco. I don't get how the coco brick is more convenient or less expensive (unless peat is just really cheap here) or superior in any way, unless you prefer a lighter shade of brown....
    • Like Like x 1
  5. LisaD

    LisaD Arachnosquire

    I like the bricks. Storing 6-9 of them is a lot more space efficient than storing an equivalent amount of expanded coco fiber, peat or soil. And my Ts are in my small office at work!

  6. Tim Benzedrine

    Tim Benzedrine Prankster Possum Old Timer

    Going by the various comments thus far, I think it boils down to cost vs convenience vs storage with the number of spiders being kept playing a factor as well.
    I haven't seen any evidence that either is superior to the other in any truly meaningful way st least in regard to the species I keep. Coco fibre can have a bit of a mould issue compared to peat, but mould isn't the end of the world as long as you use common sense and keep it in check. I had to pluck a mushroom from my LPs enclosure just the other day, which sprung up in one of the moister zones I keep for the spider. I may have left it for a more "natural" look, but didn't want further spores to be produced possibly causing an outbreak of mushrooms.
    Another time I had a pretty big one crop up seemingly over-night.
  7. darkness975

    darkness975 the sun grows ever darker Arachnosupporter

    When in doubt throw it out, not worth the risk to your pet's Health if there's some kind of industrial chemical in there. I buy the dry bags of Eco Earth any way.
  8. MintyWood826

    MintyWood826 Arachnoknight Active Member

    Personally, I'd would worry more about mushrooms than mold. It's probably irrational but I had some pop up overnight in a pot with one of my plants.
    I shouldn't say overnight actually because I have no idea what time of day they grew because mom noticed them at night.
  9. LisaD

    LisaD Arachnosquire

    I agree, except that if it is normal, why throw it out? I moistened, let it dry some, put feeders on it, now have it for most of my recent rehouses, all are doing well. I wasn't comfortable using it while it had the odor, but that odor faded in time. Thanks again, everyone, for sharing your experience and opinions.
  10. Nightstalker47

    Nightstalker47 Arachnoking Active Member

    Mushrooms aren't dangerous to tarantulas. ;)
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. Ungoliant

    Ungoliant Malleus Aranearum Staff Member

    • Funny Funny x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  12. MintyWood826

    MintyWood826 Arachnoknight Active Member

    But it would annoy me if they popped up everywhere in the enclosure :)
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. MikeyD

    MikeyD Arachnosquire Active Member

    Molds are a group of fungus called Hyphomycetes and mushrooms are the reproductive structures that grow from fungal mycelium of fungus from the groups Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. Those last two groups are often called the higher fungi because they make more complex reproductive structures such as mushrooms, bracket/shelf structures, cups etc.. The Hyphomycetes instead just make simple reproductive structures and sporulate right form their surface on little stalks, like when you see Penicillum mold grow on bread and turn blue/green when it starts producing spores.
    Mushrooms aren't going to hurt anything unless they release many spores in an enclosed area and effect air quality that way, or if they are poisonous and you eat them. Same goes for molds, they can release many spores or contaminate food with myco-toxins. But having an enclosure full of fungus can pose problems for an inhabitant for those reasons I mentioned above. It all depends on the species involved and just how well it's able to grow in the enclosure. Personally I would view any significant growth as a contamination and deal with it. It's essentially like creating a compost heap in the enclosure because the fungus is breaking down organic matter and that's not the healthiest place for a Tarantula to be. Active decomposition by fungi means that carbon that is contained in the organic matter is broken down and released/transpired as Cardon Dioxide by the fungus so that can't be a very healthy situation in an enclosure as C02 is heavier than air and could build up inside an enclosure.

    Anyways, just wanted to let you know that mushrooms are essentially the fruit, think of them as the apples on a tree and the tree itself is the network of fungal mycelium that often lies hidden below ground or within whatever it's decomposing.

    I really don't know enough about Tarantulas to know if they can suffer from fungal infections in their book lungs or just how those function. I do know that they are sometimes preyed upon by the parasitic Cordyceps genus of fungus but not sure how the spores penetrate the Tarantula, if they are taken into the book lungs or even eaten as a contamination on a food item. If you wanna see some pretty crazy pics then google Cordyceps or Cordyceps Tarantula. It's a pretty alien looking process when the fungus fruits from the hosts body.