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Old 06-12-18, 05:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Bioactive thoughts

So I'm setting up my first bioactive tank for my ATB and I'm looking for thoughts on a substrate mix.

It's a biggish tank (36x18x36 exo terra) that's already eating into my budget so I'm looking to be cost effective where I can.

Would the following mix work for a bioactive substrate (I have many of these ingredients on hand already). Is there any that are a waste adding, or any that for sure I need to include?

Coco Fiber
Sphagnum Moss (shredded up)
Cypress Mulch
sand
peat moss
leaf litter (crumbled up and mixed in as well as a layer on top of the substrate).

Here's the tank progress so far.
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Old 06-12-18, 07:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive thoughts

When I set up my bioactive RETF viv, I used ZooMed Reptisoil on top of mesh, on top of a base layer of hydroballs to create a water table/drainage. I liked the Reptisoil because it's a blend of sand, soil, carbon and peat moss so it was only one product to buy instead of multiples. It's a great medium for live plants too.
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Old 06-13-18, 05:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive thoughts

Ummm... what exactly does a finished bioactive tank look like? I don't think I've ever tried making one.
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Old 06-13-18, 07:10 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive thoughts

You'll need some kind of nutrient rich dirt or soil to mix in, especially if you're going to put live plants in there. Coco fiber just doesn't cut it. Good start, though!
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Old 06-13-18, 08:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive thoughts

It's easiest/best to buy some sort of topsoil or potting soil that doesn't have fertilizers added. Then add leaf litter or whatever you want to it to get it to hold the amount of moisture you desire and introduce microorganisms. It's a good idea to mix in some dirt from outside too.

I added a fair amount of sand in the mix for my indigo, but with a tree boa, you'll probably want a soil that holds more moisture than what I needed.
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Old 06-13-18, 01:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive thoughts

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Originally Posted by ClockwerkBonnet View Post
Ummm... what exactly does a finished bioactive tank look like? I don't think I've ever tried making one.

I wouldn’t call mine completely finished but so far it looks like this. It houses 1.1 Red Eyed Tree Frogs. (Sorry it’s sideways.)
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Old 06-13-18, 01:17 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive thoughts

For my Spilotes enclosure I use a layer of pebble stones and a layer of hydroballs as drainage, mesh to separate the drainage layer and topsoil with some leaf litter on top. I added a breeding group of isopods and some millipedes as cleanup crew. The smaller plants are planted directly into the soil, two larger plants are left in their pots to give them a better support for stability.
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Old 06-24-18, 03:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Bioactive thoughts

I don't know ATB but I'd agree it needs some actual soil in there. Aside from some very sand or clay heavy locations most of the world is some type of organic soil from breaking down plant matter and the occasional animal. I use top soil or humus type plant based compost depending how "rich" I want and some differences in absorbency. Then add the things like sand and coco fiber in different ratios to that base for drainage and humidity. Coco fiber will eventually break down but you don't want too much "composting" actively going on deep in your substrate. It's harmful if you put in plants and feeds fungus. That's why I always use an already broken down or composted plant product as the majority of the substrate. Better to coat the top in more of the material that is not broken down if necessary instead of making it a major portion of the whole substrate.
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