Potting Soil

Tarantula Lover

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i read the back of my potting soil i use for all my T's and it has pottasium, is that bad? Thanks,

James
 

JacenBeers

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All the potting soil I have ever used has had traces of patassium and it has done nothing to harm any of my tarantulas.
 

MrT

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James,
Look up potassium in your Dictionary. I did, and theres about 10 or 12 different kinds of potassium listed. Some is harmless and some will kill ya, ie.potassium cyanide. I'm sure the stuff in potting soil is ok..
Check it out buddy,

Ernie
 

skinheaddave

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James,

I'll agree with Jacen and Ernie on this one. There are a few things to keep in mind here.

- There are free potassium ions in the water you drink.
- Vermiculite, a commonly used substrate for Ts, is simply mica. Most micas have potassium as part of their composition.
- Potassium chloride is a healthier table salt than sodium chloride
- It is the cyanide in Potassium cyanide that'll kill ya.
- If it weren't for potassium, your nervous system wouldn't work right.

Now I feel like I'm making a brochure. "Potassium: Your friend and mine" or the likes. Anyhow, I hope you're worries have been dealt with.

Cheers,
Dave
 

danread

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Do many of you use potting soil as a substrate?? And if you do, do you bother to sterilize it first and how would you sterilize it? I've heard people talking about using the microwave or the oven, but in my experience once soil has dried out, its difficult to get it to keep its water retaining properties. What do you all do?
 

JacenBeers

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It depends on where I get it from. If I get it from one of those u-bag gardening places then I will sterilize it because it has been outside. I usually just microwave it for a long time. IT still retains water just fine. If it is prebagged then I dont bother.
 

skinheaddave

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You can't sterilize potting soil -- or any soil for that matter. That's why they use vermiculite when a sterile growing medium is needed, as you can run it through the autoclave. Anyhow, I don't use potting soil in my substrate. Peat, vermiculite, wood chips and sand constitute the entirety of the materials used around here. Oh, and sphagnum moss sometimes.

Cheers,
Dave
 

Code Monkey

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Originally posted by skinheaddave
You can't sterilize potting soil -- or any soil for that matter. That's why they use vermiculite when a sterile growing medium is needed, as you can run it through the autoclave.
You can run anything through an autoclave (or pc for the home mad scientist) if you're so inclined. It would be more trouble than it's worth, but you could conceivably fluff it up, pack it into containers loosely and hit it with 15-22 PSI for an hour and have sterile potting soil.

Now, why anyone would bother is beyond me, but that's another matter ;)
 

minax

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Actually, there's been good evidence to indicate sterilized potting soil could be more prone to mold/fungal growth. Source is[Tarantulas and other Arachnids;S.Marshall,2nd edition]. He believes this could kill the "good" bacteria and other things that provide a natural balance to resist mold/fungus. I have used this, apprehensibly at first, and have had no fungal/mold problems since. It does seem to fly in the face of logic in some ways, as he says in the book. You just have to make sure you have good quality soil, no bugs the main worry with non sterilized soil. Check out the section in the book.......quite interesting.:)
 

skinheaddave

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Originally posted by Code Monkey
You can run anything through an autoclave (or pc for the home mad scientist) if you're so inclined.
You can, but the results will be far from perfect. If you want me to get the references for this one, I can ask the supervising prof for the PhD candidate I worked for this summer. I was told that you can not sterlize soil 100% and I have no reason not to believe them.

On another note, one lab was autoclaving soil to kill off a particular form of microrhiza in the soil. My advice to anyone doing this is to wear a nose plug, as the result is a very malodorous concoction.

Cheers,
Dave
 

Code Monkey

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Dave, you're probably right that no protocol would work with real soil 100% of the time (short of something like autoclaving the soil in loosely packed, 50 ml containers for 6 hours at a time). OTOH, there's sterile and there's sterile, and for the average home mad scientist, the first will do just fine.

But, for anyone who thinks it would be better to try anyhow, what minax says is true: since we don't raise our animals in clean rooms, the minute you put the substrate into the cage it's fair game for whatever wants to move in there. Since you've killed off everything (or almost everything as the case may be ;)), what gets to move in with the less than natural selections of spores that occur in the household is anyone's guess. You're far more likely to get a lovely culture of a pathogenic mold or bacteria starting with a sterile medium than you are a "thoroughly infested" with relatively harmless bacteria and fungi medium.

This is why I sterilise nothing and I don't sweat springtails, or even what are obviously just scavenging mites, - trying to eliminate what are harmless tank residents would just leave me open to getting actually harmful ones. As they teach you in ecology, only one species can dominate any particular environmental niche - so long as the niches are occupied by harmless flora and fauna, anything else would have to be an unusully good competitor to get a foothold.
 

skinheaddave

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Originally posted by Code Monkey
OTOH, there's sterile and there's sterile, and for the average home mad scientist, the first will do just fine.
Well, if you want a balanced view of life, you are looking to the wrong person. ;) I'm madder than your average scientist.

Cheers,
Dave
 
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