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Old 12-09-12, 11:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Bioactive Substrates

So in another thread (not the wood mite thread) there was a small bit about bioactive substrates. I want to know more about this.
What is a good mix to use?
Where to get it?
What to avoid?
What in it eats poop?
Why is it better for my snakes than aspen or paper?
What are the bad points if any?
Please only post facts and from experience. I can google just as good as the rest of us. This should be only accurate information and not second hand guesses at what should work. I know some of you use this so please post up!
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Old 12-09-12, 12:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

I use Eco Earth or an Eco Earth, children's washed play sand mix. I use a mix of wood mites, springtails (most effective poop eaters), earth worms (also very effective) and isopods. You can get colonies of springtails and wood mites online where they sell food for dart frogs, or you can collect your own. I've got some on logs I've foudn outside, on leaf litter, on branches, etc. I've also discovered that if I have a lot of springtails in one enclosure, I can put a piece of rotting fruit in there and use it to move springtails to another enclosure, so the rotting fruit trick may work outside as well. This method hasn't been tested.

You can also collect isopods and earth worms (I prefer night crawlers) outside, but you can get isopods from garden stores and worms from bait stores.

Avoid black mites.

To have a truly bio-active enclosure, you need both bugs and plants. The type of plants depend on the species, but this is an excellent website to determine what plants to use: Vivarium Plants

I have officially moved every single one of my reptiles over to bio-active enclosures. It's easier to maintain (I rarely need to clean it). It doesn't smell (I've had people who have never been around reptiles come into my home of over 70 reptiles and not be able to smell them, I've even had a vet and a zoo official stick their heads in my enclosures and not be able to smell anything other than "forest"), and my vet had tested that compared to non bio-active subtrates, there is less amonia and nitrates.

The bad points is that it takes a little while to set up and while your bugs are establishing, you will still need to spot clean. You also can't move stuff around in the enclosure or transfer it to another enclosure without disrupting the ecosystem. I've moved my enclosure to a larger one and I had to wait to re-establish the colonies.

Another thing to keep in mind, if you have something that likes to eat worms or isopods, that can't be the main source of bugs in your enclosure, because your animal will eat them faster than they can clean up.
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Old 12-09-12, 12:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

Thats great. Of your reptiles do you have beardies? If so do you mix the soil differently to suit their natural habitat?
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Old 12-09-12, 12:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

I don't have beardies, however I know many people who keep them on bio-active substrates. I will ask them what mixture they keep them on.
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Old 12-09-12, 01:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

Here's the first answer I got.

Quote:
i was using top soil and sand mix but i got rid of that and dug up my own dirt
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Old 12-09-12, 01:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

I plan on using bioactives as well thats why I am so interested in it. I've been experimenting with my lacertas using black earth playsand mix with a couple of plants and I can tell you the difference is remarkable. so far with them I have not used any mites or springtails. Though I spot clean, the earth gets tilled by my lizards and myself, plants help breakdown and absorb waste etc. I have had crickets breed in that tank as well and since there is plant matter, fresh water not to mention I feed my lacertas calcium-rich gecko food they dont pester my lizards
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Old 12-09-12, 02:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

I have tried every substrate under the sun except for this. Almost sounds to good to be true. I hope some others who use this chime in as well. Great input so far thanks!!
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Old 12-09-12, 02:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

I picked up simple black earth
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Old 12-09-12, 02:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

It's not so much about what substrate you use, but more about what is in the substrate. The substrate you choose is just there to support the humidity levels your animal needs, as well as the plants you decide to add.
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Old 12-09-12, 02:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

Beardies are the one animal I have that I havent tried bioactive with. Ive always been told they need low humidity and as a result I didnt think soil would work. I would also think they would try to devour any plants that might go in, so not sure how that would work.
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Old 12-09-12, 02:42 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

Would grasses from thearea the animals are native be enough or do you need to have plants?

I would love to do this for all my snakes at some point in the future.
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Old 12-09-12, 02:45 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

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Originally Posted by Lankyrob View Post
Would grasses from thearea the animals are native be enough or do you need to have plants?

I would love to do this for all my snakes at some point in the future.
Yeah. I use grasses in a few of my habitats.
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Old 12-09-12, 03:02 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

I have been using play sand mixed with lawn soil I dug up myself out back.

I found that everything I need is already in there.
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Old 12-09-12, 03:40 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

Thanks everyone. I am so going to try this. I think I will start with my king. Do it a few weeks and see how it goes. He is the only snake I have that doesn't seem to care when I change his substrate.
Anyone got pictures ??
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Old 12-09-12, 04:16 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive Substrates

Is it plausible to have bioactive substrate in a front-opening enclosure, or would the bugs just crawl right out?
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