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My Very Fussy MILLIPEDE Substrate

Discussion in 'Myriapods' started by mickiem, Dec 15, 2017.

  1. mickiem

    mickiem Arachnoprince

    I have been mixing my own substrate and changing it a little each batch to improve it. This is the mix I have been happy with for a year or so. It seems fussy with all the rinsing, baking etc., but my losses are almost 0 and all but 1 mature species have produced pedelings (I most likely had pedelings there but also isopods and I never saw pedelings - you do the math :nailbiting:). This isn't the only substrate recipe that works, but this is the one that works for me. I mix it 30 gallons at a time, so 10+ gallons of each portion and then about 1/3 gallon of calcium. I know that isn't mathematically accurate, but I'm an artist not an engineer. I keep it moist to the point you can almost squeeze a drop of water out of it, but you can't. If you put a handful in a paper towel, the paper towel shouldn't have an obvious wet spot. I stir through it when it is not being used to prevent anaerobic bacteria and I add springtails to each new set up.


    COIR: It holds moisture and texture better than anything else I have found. Great for tunneling and making molting and birthing chambers. Color lightens as it dries making it a good indicator of substrate moisture content.

    Green Envy Leaf™ compost: (Or any other ORGANIC leaf compost). I bake it at 250° for two hours. Any bagged product may have plastic and metal pieces in it, so I go through it thoroughly. This compost makes up about 2/3 of the leaf portion.
    Leaf Litter: I rinse in water; then I let the leaves air dry. After they dry, I bake them for two hours at 250°. I cover the pans (to prevent flyaway leaves, for safety sake) with foil (shiny side out to reflect more heat). Then I crumble them into the mix. (I also add leaves on the top.) I use all or mostly oak, but also small quantities of apple, beech, birch, hickory, maple, rose, viburnum, walnut and other hardwoods. This is the other 1/3 portion of the leaf portion.

    Traeger Oak Pellets: Since these are very small chips, they decay more quickly than other wood sources. I soak them first. They increase 3 X their volume when soaked. Anything to add variety can’t be a bad thing; possibly adding trace nutrients.
    Aspen Shreds: I think this adds a good texture to the overall mix. It also decays quickly. (If my enclosures become too wet, I add aspen to help dry them out.)
    Hardwood: If close to decaying, I put apple, cherry, hickory, maple and oak in my pressure cooker at 15 pounds pressure for 45 minutes. It should crumble nicely. I use both light and dark rotting wood, but I choose only wood that had isopods and others living within it. If not close to decay, I run the wood through a small chipper reserved for “millipede safe” woods only. I treat it the same as I treat my leaves: rinse and bake at 250° for two hours.
    *Each of the wood components are of different sized particles and so all break down at different time intervals; adding a “time release” characteristic. By that I mean each source will become available for food at different periods.

    I mix: Ground Cuttlefish Bone, Bird Grit, Oyster Shell Flour, caliche, egg shells (crushed and baked at 200˚ for 20 minutes). I also crumble shed skins from healthy reptiles into the mix. I add this to the mix and I also sprinkle it on the substrate about 2X a month.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
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  2. LawnShrimp

    LawnShrimp Arachnoangel

    This is a great recipe for substrate! I use basically the same thing and it works very well.
  3. RTTB

    RTTB Arachnoprince

    Thanks for sharing your recipe.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. mickiem

    mickiem Arachnoprince

  5. Annamarie

    Annamarie Arachnopeon

    Hey thank you for the tag! I have a few questions: 1. Do you need to use all three types of woods you mentioned in the wood section? 2. How often do you change the substrate in the enclosure? 3. Do you layer the different portions of the mixture or do you combine all of them?
  6. mickiem

    mickiem Arachnoprince

    1. You wouldn't have to do so. I like those types because they break down at different intervals so there is always something "rotting". But that would happen eventually anyway. The only thing I would worry about is using only aspen shreds. It probably wouldn't be edible for a few months. But if you could find some rotting wood in a chemical free area, you could just add that. Make sure there are isopods or some kind of life in it to show you it is edible and then try to remove all the living creatures and bake it to make sure nothing hitchhikes that could be harmful to your AGBs.
    2. I add a handful of substrate to the top about every 3 months, but I don't change it but once or twice a year depending on how many millipedes are inside.
    3. I mix mine thoroughly and completely. The added coco fiber gives it a good texture for tunnels and molting and breeding cells. I know not every one mixes there and they also have good results. The mixing just makes more sense to me.

    Feel free to ask anything, anytime!
  7. Annamarie

    Annamarie Arachnopeon

    Thank you so much that makes so much sense! If I have any further questions, I will let you know.
  8. Joxer

    Joxer Arachnopeon

    This sounds like a good mix for Isopods also. Question. On the pellets is it just oak or can you use others. (Apple, Mesquite, maple, cherry, or Hickory)

  9. mickiem

    mickiem Arachnoprince

    because I think variety is the spice of life, I use many. I use mostly oak but I throw in a few pounds of 2-3 different kinds each time. Of all you mentioned, I would stay away from mesquite but I have used the rest. I use mesquite for the desert mix but I think it’s too resinous for the others.

    I use this mix for my isopods but I add organic orchid mix (no fertilizer). I also use more coconut fiber.
  10. Joxer

    Joxer Arachnopeon

    Orchid mix. Didn't think of that. Whats your opinion on wood chunks that you can get for say smokers. I smoke meat so hard wood chips and chunks I usually have on hand.
  11. mickiem

    mickiem Arachnoprince

    I have used those but they are pretty large which means they don’t break down as fast so don’t become available as food too quickly. Traeger pellets start breaking down immediately. I found an off brand and it soured after I soaked it. I baked it and used it anyway, but will switch back to Traeger. The off brand was at Rural King and was 1/4 the price. It lists the ingredients the same as traeger, but something is very different.
  12. Exoskelos

    Exoskelos Arachnosquire

    @mickiem Did that mixed wood substrate work well? PM me please. Also this thread should probably be stickied, I've had to hunt for it too many times, it's a good mix.
  13. mickiem

    mickiem Arachnoprince

    Thanks, Exo! That wood is AWESOME! I’m out of town until Monday but I definitely will pm you when I get back. I actually didn’t use it until a week ago. I spent 3 days making 40 gallons of substrate. That should last a few months....
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