New Terrarium, Gray Fuzz(?) on Substrate

Pyrite

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 6, 2016
Messages
3
So, I am brand new to this hobby and am just about to make my foray into scorpions. I was thinking about Heterometrus spinifer, based on suggestions I have seen on this forum.

Because I am brand new to this, I set up the tank in stages so I could watch it and keep an eye on temperature and humidity before I brought an animal home. I do not presently have any critters - I am pleased with that decision.

The primary question is this: I noticed the other day that there was a pale grayish fuzz growing on top of the substrate in places - just places, not the whole tank, and only on top. I have attached pictures, where you'll see that it isn't covering the whole top, and didn't grow in the spot where I rested the analog gauge I was testing (I have a digital humidity/temperature gauge, but I also have analog gauges in there at the same time, because I wanted to see the difference. I have seen the difference, it is impressive.)

I assume this is mold (it has a dusty look) that is growing because the substrate was already moist when I put it in (I got it to the point that it didn't drip unless squeezed hard). I didn't add water to the false bottom yet, but there isn't a tremendous amount of ventilation where I put the tank (which is NOT going to sit next to the window, I put it there to see what the sun would do to the fuzz).

To run through what I've done:

I set up a glass 10 gallon terrarium with a false bottom (just a couple inches of larger aquarium gravel with a fill pipe on the side) under the Eco Earth expanding brick substrate. I picked up a small Pothos, washed its roots and leaves to get as much of the potting soil in those roots out as possible, and planted it in the substrate (it is doing quite well off the moisture just in the Eco Earth, in its shady corner). My apartment's ambient temperature this time of year is in the low to mid 70s, so I put a heating pad on one side of the tank (on the side, above the gravel line, not underneath) to give it a gradient, and was thinking about adding a heat lamp when things get cooler (my ambient winter temperatures are upper sixties/low seventies). For reference, the fuzz didn't grow on the substrate next to the heating pad. I have a water dish thing and a partially buried hide with the start of a burrow as well.

So, questions: Is this mold? Should I take the substrate out and bake new substrate before I put it back in? Is this type of mold not a big deal? What do you all recommend for disinfecting the tank without leaving too many chemicals (for those things I have that are plastic and can't go in the oven)?

Again, there are NO ANIMALS, scorpions or isopods, in this tank, because these are exactly the kind of kinks I wanted to work out before I accidentally killed something with a bad setup. It will not normally sit by the window, it will sit in a corner on the other side of a bookcase from the window, where the only light it will get will be room lighting and indirect light. I have included pictures of what I'm seeing.

Thanks all!

bro image.jpeg
 

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Ginron

Arachnosquire
Joined
Jun 30, 2016
Messages
50
looks like the same type of mold i had in one of my terrariums, introducing more light and air flow into the tank helps to prevent mold growth from what i have seen. Maybe try getting the heat lamp and see if that solves the problem?
 

billrogers

Arachnoknight
Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
216
First, let me just say THANK YOU for doing your research before getting a pet!

To get rid of mold I'd suggest what @Ginron said, as well as getting some springtails. They eat mold.
 

Pyrite

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 6, 2016
Messages
3
Thanks for your advice!

I'll see about picking up some springtails and getting that other heat source. For ventilation, I have a little fan I can put over the top of the terrarium - and the humidity levels have so far stayed high even without a piece of plexiglass over the top grating. Again, haven't tried putting water in the false bottom yet. Stages at a time.
 

Henry1975

Arachnopeon
Joined
Apr 17, 2016
Messages
39
Thanks for your advice!

I'll see about picking up some springtails and getting that other heat source. For ventilation, I have a little fan I can put over the top of the terrarium - and the humidity levels have so far stayed high even without a piece of plexiglass over the top grating. Again, haven't tried putting water in the false bottom yet. Stages at a time.
If I were You I would start over again with fresh substrate. Why? I have experienced just that. First time I just wetted the substrate and when it had expanded I just put it in the terrarium. Result: Mold, just like in Your pictures.

Then I learned that if You squeeze the substrate (Did it by hand literally and it took some time.) until it stopped dripping redundant water You do not get the mold. And I have not got any mold since starting doing like this.

So my experienced based advice is: Start over, Squeeze the redundant water out of the substrate before You put it in the enclosure.
 

Pyrite

Arachnopeon
Joined
Sep 6, 2016
Messages
3
So my experienced based advice is: Start over, Squeeze the redundant water out of the substrate before You put it in the enclosure.
Since the beginning dampness never quite clearing up to the degree it needed to does appear to be an issue, I was thinking about, rather than the expanding brick, trying the pre-expanded bag substrate. I figure if I can better control the moisture going in by making the gravel in the false bottom (well, not counting the plants' impact) the only variable for it, that'll help. I won't be able to make any changes until this Sunday, but when I do, I'll make an update.

Thanks again for all the help!
 

ratluvr76

Arachnodemon
Joined
Jul 12, 2014
Messages
741
you could put isopods in now, they will eat up the mold and if you don't have anything else in there for now, no big deal, just drop a dead cricket or something in for them to eat.. that's what they eat isn't it?

(more experienced people please correct me if i'm wrong.)
 

brolloks

Arachnobaron
Joined
Apr 6, 2016
Messages
348
you could put isopods in now, they will eat up the mold and if you don't have anything else in there for now, no big deal, just drop a dead cricket or something in for them to eat.. that's what they eat isn't it?

(more experienced people please correct me if i'm wrong.)
They usually feed on decaying plant matter but are opportunistic and will feed on a variety of items if given the chance, such as left over feeders that your scorpion did not eat. I have also heard some species will even munch on moulting scorpions, so watch out for that.
 
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