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Bioactive terrariums and substrate use.

Discussion in 'Vivariums and Terrariums' started by Frogdaddy, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. Frogdaddy

    Frogdaddy Arachnopeon Active Member

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    Admittedly I'm a noob when it comes to T's. However I've kept and bred many species of Dart frogs for years.
    How many T keepers use a "bioactive" terrarium with microfauna, ie. Isopods and Springtails? Is it a newer trend among T keepers?
    How many T keepers use alternative substrates like ABG Mix? It seems as if straight coco coir is the norm. Old standard or behind the times?
    How many utilize live plants or leaf litter?
    I'm curious and hopefully this well be an interesting and informative discussion.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. moricollins

    moricollins Arachnoking Old Timer

    Very few people do bio active tarantula setups.

    Isopods can be dangerous to tarantulas.
     
  3. Frogdaddy

    Frogdaddy Arachnopeon Active Member

    Please provide a reference supporting your statement that isopods can be dangerous to Tarantulas.
     
  4. moricollins

    moricollins Arachnoking Old Timer

    Search on here. There have been at least 5 threads where Isopods have injured tarantulas or scorpions
     
  5. Feral

    Feral Arachnoknight Active Member

    For my two pennies...

    I have planted enclosures. I don't use isopods or springtails, though I'm not opposed to springtails based on my theoretical knowledge. I would probably use them if I had damper enclosures (for species I keep, I keep moisture at around 3-4 on a scale from 1 to 10). I sometimes use leaf litter on the surface.
    I pretty much use straight cocofiber substratefor my Ts. But for the individual plant containers inside the larger enclosure, I use a modified ABG (basically ABG without sand and wood chucks- still a coco fiber base with shredded moss and leaf litter and activated carbon over a false bottom).

    [edit- I appreciate how plants provide more cover and therefore a sense of security for animals, increase air circulation and air quality and oxygenation, and maintain healthy moisture levels.]

    I'm probably in the minority, but I LOVE planted enclosures and probably will never go back. I think, in many (but not all) situations, and if done correctly, plants are very beneficial for the tarantula and also nice for the human animal.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
  6. moricollins

    moricollins Arachnoking Old Timer

    Planted vivariums are not necessary but also not typically harmful when done correctly. @Feral do you have pictures of your setups?
    (I only keep Isopods, and have given my pods already dead crickets that they consumed instantly, which is another reason why I'd be wary of using Isopods with tarantulas. A molting tarantula is an easy target)
     
  7. Feral

    Feral Arachnoknight Active Member

    Sure. Well, I have one pic handy. A couple of weeks ago I posted this one, the most recent one I built. It's meant to resemble a temperate grassland/Pampas type environment. It's new and sparse yet because it still has some growing in to do.

    [​IMG]
     
    • Like Like x 3
  8. That looks amazing! What spider did you put in there? And can you post more pics of it?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Feral

    Feral Arachnoknight Active Member

    Thanks, you're kind!
    I keep only Grammostola pulchra, I'm obsessed with them, so it was a pulchra that went into this setup.
    Witsi, my little gentleman :pompous: I always talk about, went into this setup last month.

    I think I have only two other pix of that enclosure, but here ya go:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
  10. Dandrobates

    Dandrobates Arachnosquire


    I have a large collection of dart frogs as well and I keep them in naturalistic vivariums for obvious reasons. I don’t bother incorporating any naturalistic elements into my tarantula enclosures though. In my opinion they don’t serve the same purpose. My frogs benefit from ABG mix, lead litter and micro fauna but my tarantulas don’t. I don’t think that incorporating naturalistic elements in tarantula enclosures is necessarily a bad idea per se; I just don’t bother with it.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. viper69

    viper69 ArachnoGod Old Timer

    Isopods often end up being lunch for Ts.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. viper69

    viper69 ArachnoGod Old Timer


    Any blue footed leucs?
     
  13. Frogdaddy

    Frogdaddy Arachnopeon Active Member

    Sorry no blue footed leucs.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  14. Frogdaddy

    Frogdaddy Arachnopeon Active Member

    I agree that I think live plants, while not necessary, can enhance the enviroment.
    Spot watering the plants to keep the rest of the substrate dry would help to keep humidity under control.
    I don't know how ABG or an altered ABG mix would stand up to burrowing or tunneling. I wouldn't think it would workout well.
    I don't think springtails could hurt the T or the microenviroment created in a T vivarium.
     
  15. Frogdaddy

    Frogdaddy Arachnopeon Active Member

    So you only keep Isopods and not T's yet you're dispensing information on how Isopods are not good with T's?
    Since you are dispensing anectodal information I'll relate my experiences. I've keep Giant Orange Isopods with small Dart frogs from the genus Pumilio, as well as other thumbnail frogs (Ranitomeya sp) as well as larger Dart frogs. I've never puncture had Isopods attack and eat vulnerable egg clutches even when the clutches were laid amongst the leaf litter where Isopdods live. Perhaps it is because the Isos had plenty of decaying organic (leaf litter) matter to properly feed on.
    Granted Giant Orange Isos are a larger species. What about dwarf white Isos?
     
  16. Frogdaddy

    Frogdaddy Arachnopeon Active Member

    I underatand the simplicity of using plain old coco coir as substrate. But why? Just because it is relatively inexpensive and readily available? I'm sure other T keepers have experimented with other substrates. I recall seeing a video by Tom Moran using a new substrate from The Bio Dude. Has anyone else used that with success?
     
  17. moricollins

    moricollins Arachnoking Old Timer

    I used to keep and breed tarantulas many years ago, kept them for over 10 years before life took me in different directions.
    I had over 120 tarantulas in my collection plus scorpions, centipedes, ambigli and true spiders. So I would say I have lots of experience with tarantulas ;-)

    If other people's bad experiences aren't enough for you, that's ok. It's not my inverts that will become food for their "clean up crew".
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
  18. Feral

    Feral Arachnoknight Active Member

    I'm not necessarily disagreeing, but since you quoted my post directly and what you said makes me think I didn't explain what I do clearly enough.
    I always add water only to the bottom-most level of substrate so the surface stays dry, whether I'm watering the individual plant containers or the enclosure as a whole. But, having said that, one does need to match the plants' water requirements to the moisture level needed by the tarantula species in question.

    But to me, designing enclosures that are balanced and healthy for both animal species and plant species is part of the fun/challenge.

    I usually only use the enriched substrate (my modified ABG) within the actual individual plant containers, which are inside a larger enclosure that is filled with pretty typical substrate. So my animals aren't burrowing directly in ABG. I don't have any direct experience using original-recipe ABG outside of the plant containers as a regular substrate/burrowing medium, but given its components I don't see why it would be a problem for burrowering tarantulas at all.

    I should also add that I water my plants with leftover aquarium water, which has invert-safe fertilizers and additional nitrogen from the aquatic animals' waste, which helps compensate for a nutrient-poor substrate.

    I'm currently running a experiment with plants in straight, unenriched coco fiber and then watering with the same leftover aquarium water. Right next to them are the same plants within the previously described containers (with the enriched/modified ABG substrate), and they also get the leftover aquarium water. Lighting and everything except the substrate is exactly the same. My intention is to see if an enriched substrate is even necessary within the plant containers.

    All this whatnot is just my opinions gathered from my research and my experiences.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  19. Dandrobates

    Dandrobates Arachnosquire

    I agree with you on all points (particularly regarding isopods). I personally use coco fiber for its low cost but many keepers use soil, soil mixed with vermiculite, etc. (which are in and of themselves even cheeper than Coco fiber in bulk). Ultimately it depends on the keeper’s preferences and the species being housed. The vermiculite for example facilitates drainage within the substrate in a manner similar to ABG mix and false bottoms. It allows for a moisture gradient that many fossorial species appreciate without completely soaking the substrate.

    As far as the bio dude goes, my theory is that he’s trying to expand his market by catering to invert enthusiasts. I think a lot of people are getting suckered in and paying top dollar for items that they don’t necessarily need and/or materials they can obtain elsewhere for lower costs. The “bioactive” boom has become an trend that’s easily capitalized off of. For example, on his website he has a 20 gallon “bioactive” kit for 50 dollars. I can make my own ABG mix and obtain leaf litter etc for half that price if I source properly. He also has an 18x18x24 kit for 100 dollars. I could build 4 dart frog vivariums that size for that cost or less.

    I’ve seen Tom Moran’s videos featuring Bio Dude products and that’s fine. I think his intention was to try the premise out with his showcase terrariums. I respect Tom but I personally think that Bio dude’s products are over priced and unnecessary outside of visual appeal in regards to tarantulas.
     
    • Agree Agree x 3
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