do's and don'ts for live plants in tarantula enclosure?

KristinaMG

Arachnosquire
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Aug 10, 2015
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Could anyone share some quick do's and don'ts? I've heard a lot of 'don'ts' from naysayers, but would like to hear from the crowd that actually does this successfully. At present I have a small bromeliad in it's pot, pot nested in substrate, in with one of my juvenile A. avics. She's very fond of it (loves to sit on it), but I have read so much negative regarding live plants in enclosures that I am at the point of wondering if I should take it out. I don't want to jeopardize her health. On the other hand, my original thinking was that if it doesn't work out she will be getting rehoused into a permanent enclosure in the next 6 months anyway, so I can always skip the plant when I rehouse her. I have 10 Ts right now, and if this experiment works out I'd like to try live plants in some of my other enclosures. But I am very nervous due to how many recommend against it. Any thoughts? TIA.
 

viper69

ArachnoGod
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Nothing to be nervous about. Plants and Ts live together in the wild.
Keep native plants with native species.
Some Ts will dig up plants though!

You can use wire to strap down air plants to cork and wood, quite common.
 

varanoid

Arachnopeon
Joined
Jan 22, 2010
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Could anyone share some quick do's and don'ts? I've heard a lot of 'don'ts' from naysayers, but would like to hear from the crowd that actually does this successfully. At present I have a small bromeliad in it's pot, pot nested in substrate, in with one of my juvenile A. avics. She's very fond of it (loves to sit on it), but I have read so much negative regarding live plants in enclosures that I am at the point of wondering if I should take it out. I don't want to jeopardize her health. On the other hand, my original thinking was that if it doesn't work out she will be getting rehoused into a permanent enclosure in the next 6 months anyway, so I can always skip the plant when I rehouse her. I have 10 Ts right now, and if this experiment works out I'd like to try live plants in some of my other enclosures. But I am very nervous due to how many recommend against it. Any thoughts? TIA.
I have a couple of pointers for you. As a dart frog keeper I am very experienced with plants in vivariums.

First is to thoroughly wash any plant you are going to put into a vivarium, including its roots. Most nurseries or suppliers of plants use pesticides and fertilizers which can potentially be toxic to your spiders. I hope you did so with your bromeliad.

Find a light bulb that emits light at 6500 kelvin or close to it. With that light, you will be able to grow the greatest number of different plant species.

Find, or construct a soil that is fast draining and allows a plants roots to breath. This means no soil that will compact over time.

Depending on the water quality where you live, you may want to use a more pure water source. Minerals in water will build up in the soil over time and be toxic to your plants. Those minerals have no where to get washed away in a vivarium.

This covers the basics. Plants need three things, light, soil, air.

Some further comments on bromeliads. I mount my bromeliads in my vivs by wrapping some sphagnum moss around the base and then mounting them to the background of the viv using toothpicks or wire until the roots grab hold of the background. Look into the genus Neoregalia. They stay small, come in all colors of the rainbow, and will produce pups if they are happy and you get some new bromeliads for free. Just snip the pups off at the base and you have a new plant.
 

vespers

Arachnodemon
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Aug 18, 2012
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709
At present I have a small bromeliad in it's pot, pot nested in substrate
What kind of bromeliad?? Some types will rot/die if kept that way, and should be mounted much like varanoid described.

One of the key things regarding plants in tarantula enclosures, is that certain species (mainly terrestrials) tend to destroy (and dig up like viper mentioned) the plants and landscaping. My dart vivs are different from my T cages. Dart frogs are relatively delicate and don't attempt to demolish everything. I wouldn't use neoregalias in T enclosures, personally. They usually require rather bright light to color up well and thrive, and I wouldn't want to use a very bright light for many T's. Plants like pothos and philodendrons can tolerate lower light levels, and will at least survive letting the substrate dry out a bit between waterings. Pothos are also one of the better plants at holding up to the physical abuse of tarantulas.
 

KristinaMG

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What kind of bromeliad?? Some types will rot/die if kept that way, and should be mounted much like varanoid described.

One of the key things regarding plants in tarantula enclosures, is that certain species (mainly terrestrials) tend to destroy (and dig up like viper mentioned) the plants and landscaping. My dart vivs are different from my T cages. Dart frogs are relatively delicate and don't attempt to demolish everything. I wouldn't use neoregalias in T enclosures, personally. They usually require rather bright light to color up well and thrive, and I wouldn't want to use a very bright light for many T's. Plants like pothos and philodendrons can tolerate lower light levels, and will at least survive letting the substrate dry out a bit between waterings. Pothos are also one of the better plants at holding up to the physical abuse of tarantulas.
It looks a lot like this except the flowering part was not nearly as tall: http://www.amazon.com/Orange-Blazin...TF8&qid=1440421106&sr=8-14&keywords=bromeliad

It's in with a juvenile A. avicularia. She likes to perch on it, but has not disturbed the soil at the base (she never really goes down there), and has chosen to web on the bark and wood pieces in the enclosure, so the plant has remained intact and appears healthy. I've had it in there for several weeks. The tag said it only required medium light, and the room where my Ts are gets a lot of natural light during the day because I have skylights (though obviously I placed them in a part of the room where they are never under direct lighting). I know some people disagree with keeping Ts in a well lit room, but mine have lots of hides, fake plants etc as shade sources, and I feel our setup more closely mimics the natural experience of light from day to night, season to season.

I was thinking of trying some other plants in enclosures that are all set up but have no Ts in them. That way I could try it for several months to determine if it able to handle the conditions in my enclosures before moving a T in.. is that a realistic idea?
 

vespers

Arachnodemon
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Its a Guzmania? Those are generally epiphytes in the wild. They can be grown in substrate, but a chunky and fast-draining type of substrate...something with a heavy orchid bark component perhaps. And how large is your enclosure? Many Guzmanias grow too large for most smaller tanks, and require a decent amount of humidity.
 

KristinaMG

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Its a Guzmania? Those are generally epiphytes in the wild. They can be grown in substrate, but a chunky and fast-draining type of substrate...something with a heavy orchid bark component perhaps. And how large is your enclosure? Many Guzmanias grow too large for most smaller tanks, and require a decent amount of humidity.
It's not in the substrate. It's in a pot (with potting soil), and the pot is nested in the substrate. The enclosure is 10 inches high. Can I trim the plant down as it grows, or would that kill it? Maybe this is going to require more research and invested time than I have to give right now. If it is really complicated I may just go back to silk plants when it is time to rehouse this T. :/
 

vespers

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It's not in the substrate. It's in a pot (with potting soil), and the pot is nested in the substrate.
It is in substrate. That's just a basic term for whatever medium an organism lives in or on. Regular potting soil will not be healthy substrate for a Guzmania long-term.
The enclosure is 10 inches high. Can I trim the plant down as it grows, or would that kill it?
Many commonly found Guzmanias, such as Guzmania lingulata can grow up to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Attempting to continually trim it to reasonably fit a 10 inch container as it grows would eventually result in a sort of stump, and possibly kill it.
 

KristinaMG

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It is in substrate. That's just a basic term for whatever medium an organism lives in or on. Regular potting soil will not be healthy substrate for a Guzmania long-term.
Many commonly found Guzmanias, such as Guzmania lingulata can grow up to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Attempting to continually trim it to reasonably fit a 10 inch container as it grows would eventually result in a sort of stump, and possibly kill it.
Yeah, I get that, what I meant was that it is not planted directly into the T's substrate, but has it's own separate soil in the pot. Anyway, bummer about how big it gets..I clearly don't know enough about plants to do this successfully right now. Thanks for your help.
 

varanoid

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Jan 22, 2010
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Yeah, I get that, what I meant was that it is not planted directly into the T's substrate, but has it's own separate soil in the pot. Anyway, bummer about how big it gets..I clearly don't know enough about plants to do this successfully right now. Thanks for your help.
Don't get discouraged. There is definitely a learning curve but it's not rocket science. Your bromeliad may work if you remove the potting soil and use orchid bark. Just don't sell yourself short.

A lot of the best viv plants are not readily available at store and are best sourced from hobbyists. Most of the stuff you find at nurseries is either not suited to viva or simply grows too large

For the record I don't do live plants in my tarantulas enclosures. They either get webbed up to the point they can't breathe or buried and trampled. Plus my spiders didnt like the bright lights. All this I had to learn from experience.
 

The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
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Just an observation. The slowest growing organisms in a contained environment should be the first in and established, then the faster growing organisms that suit the established environment and so forth. That basically equates to plants and biosphere go in first then animals that tolerate the environment come last. So fitting a plant to an established biosphere is a tricky business. Keep in mind, plants will alter their environment, the moisture and humidity, to suit their needs. This may not be what your T will be the healthiest in.
 

vespers

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A lot of the best viv plants are not readily available at store and are best sourced from hobbyists. Most of the stuff you find at nurseries is either not suited to viva or simply grows too large.
True; and many are too delicate and expensive to waste on being killed off by a tarantula.

For the record I don't do live plants in my tarantulas enclosures. They either get webbed up to the point they can't breathe or buried and trampled. Plus my spiders didnt like the bright lights. All this I had to learn from experience.
Also quite true. There are only a select few species I've kept in planted enclosures long term.
 

varanoid

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There are only a select few species I've kept in planted enclosures long term.
I have only kept pothos long term in a spider viv for the reason you mentioned above - they get killed off. I have been a dart frog keeper for many years and have been fortunate to acquire quite a nice collection of tropical plants that have done well for me. I get cuttings and make clones all the time. All of the plants would die in t tanks though. Some I thought would have a chance but still didn't work.

And even still, in the spider tanks that I have tried pothos, the pothos grows long and spindly with extended nodes. Hardly natural or healthy looking imo.

At some point, I may try some succulents (spineless) with some of the drier species not prone to webbing, but only if someone gives me a cutting or something for free.
 

vespers

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And even still, in the spider tanks that I have tried pothos, the pothos grows long and spindly with extended nodes. Hardly natural or healthy looking imo.
For a while I had a P. vittata viv set up with pothos growing in it. It was a 12x12x18 Exo Terra, and I used a Sylvania 5 watt 6500K CFL (25 watt equivalent) in the Exo Terra hood. It was enough light to keep the pothos looking decent, but not too much light to irritate the spider.
 

varanoid

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For a while I had a P. vittata viv set up with pothos growing in it. It was a 12x12x18 Exo Terra, and I used a Sylvania 5 watt 6500K CFL (25 watt equivalent) in the Exo Terra hood. It was enough light to keep the pothos looking decent, but not too much light to irritate the spider.
That would be sufficient light for many species of plant and would avoid the problem of extended nodes I mentioned earlier. I just stopped using lights on t tanks due to the fact I would never see them in the open during the day. I don't do plants anymore but when I've tried I usually relied on ambient light.

Curious what your photo cycle was? Did your pokie ever show its face during lights on? I haven't owned a pokie for a long (5 year break from hobby) while but I remember my pokies being the most photosensitive of all my ts.
 

vespers

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That would be sufficient light for many species of plant and would avoid the problem of extended nodes I mentioned earlier. I just stopped using lights on t tanks due to the fact I would never see them in the open during the day. I don't do plants anymore but when I've tried I usually relied on ambient light.

Curious what your photo cycle was? Did your pokie ever show its face during lights on? I haven't owned a pokie for a long (5 year break from hobby) while but I remember my pokies being the most photosensitive of all my ts.

PvEnclosure2.jpg

Yes, it was out quite often. The cycle was 10 hours on per day, IIRC.
 

kydonfletcher

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Oct 9, 2021
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Nothing to be nervous about. Plants and Ts live together in the wild.
Keep native plants with native species.
Some Ts will dig up plants though!

You can use wire to strap down air plants to cork and wood, quite common.
do plants in with t’s have to be native? i’ve just bought some plants for t but they are not native..
 

viper69

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do plants in with t’s have to be native? i’ve just bought some plants for t but they are not native..
Not necessarily - but I think it makes sense to use the same species they would encounter in the wild.
 

kydonfletcher

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Oct 9, 2021
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so do you think it would be ok to put some sort of heather i’ve bought into an LP’s enclosure? Thanks alot
 
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