Bioactive Terrarium Requirements
Okay, you might be wondering why something needs to be cleaned in a bioactive terrarium, right? After all, it should be the responsibility of the cleaning team (i.e. microfauna) to break down decaying substances such as plant leaves and animal waste. And it`s true. I want to have a bioactive vivarium and I`m trying to figure out what species I want. The mourning geckos, green anoles, arrow frogs, tree frogs, green snakes, and centipedes I`ve seen are great for bioactive reservoirs. I want a mix of some of them (plus a cleaner crew), but I don`t want the tank to be larger than 30 gallons. What animals and how much do you recommend for this? Another thing to keep in mind is the size of the habitat. Bioactive vivaria must be much larger than “sterile” enclosures with the same inhabitants. As a general rule, try to choose an enclosure that is at least twice the size you would normally provide to residents, and three times larger would be even better. Reptiles living in the desert are also difficult to maintain in bioactive vivaria, as it is difficult to create a habitat that is dry enough for your pet, but equipped with shelters that are humid enough for decomposers. As a result, it is generally advisable to choose species that inhabit forests or riparian areas. Most hobbyists will want to add a drainage layer to their bioactive vivarium, and this is the right step in the vivarium building process to do so. A drainage layer helps prevent the lower layers of the substrate from being soaked and promoting bacteria and fungi.
The ultimate goal for many terrarium creators is to do something as self-contained as possible. It is a great satisfaction to have created a real ecosystem that works on a cyclical basis. Adding elements to promote bioactivity is a great way to achieve this. And remember, since your desert terrarium probably contains less organic matter, you`ll need to store it more often with tasty edibles like leaf litter. For more tips on this, you can read my article on creating a desert terrarium, but there are a few things to consider if you want to become bioactive. But we will explain the basics of this process below so that you can enter and test the bioactive waters yourself. Scary crawlies rarely save the day, but they are the heroes of your bioactive speaker. Different species of microfauna/tank keeper/cleaning crew can be added depending on the environment to break down and dispose of waste, serve as a food source in the tank, and even compete with the bad guys.
Unwanted mites like reptile mites need moist places outside the host to breed, and your tank keepers fill these places into a bioactive configuration that works well, making it difficult for parasitic mites to colonize your pets! Ideally, you`ll find that your bioactive vivarium “takes care of itself” over time. But you still need to do routine care and maintenance. Although the specific tasks you need to accomplish (and how often you need to accomplish them) vary from vivarium to vivarium, most habitats require you to perform some or all of the following tasks: Jungle habitats are very easy to set up are now very common, but leopard gecko and beard dragon keepers often ask us if they become bioactive in dry vivariums. This can also be done quite easily if you follow a few simple rules, so here`s our step-by-step guide that shows how we set up a dry bioactive vivarium for some leopard geckos. They are not always a suitable option due to their size, although in a medium-sized terrarium, worms not only perform the typical tasks of degradation of organic matter, but also aerate the soil by digging tunnels – which is incredibly beneficial over time, otherwise the soils will compact. Bioactivity tends to be synonymous with closed tropical terrariums. However, your dry planter can come to life with all the benefits and beauty of the first. Perhaps the simplest part of bioactive terrarium care, every four to six months you will find that the leaves in your tank break down and degrade.
All you have to do is go outside to find dry leaves and put them on the ground. Springtails, worms and isopods are microfauna that help break down waste and decaying matter from plants and animals in the terrarium. Bioactive enclosures are currently more popular than ever. If you`re not familiar with the term “bioactive” in terms of reptile farming, it basically means keeping your reptiles in a living ecosystem that lives with other organisms that are part of a natural environment. This can include both live plants and “cleaning crews” that clean and recycle waste in the compound. A balance between the show animals, plants and the cleaning crew is achieved and the enclosure becomes almost self-sufficient. Check out some of our YouTube videos on how to assemble a bioactive pen: besides the care that every exotic animal in the tank needs, there are a few things you need to do to make your vivarium work well for all its residents. I cover the basics of bioactive terrarium care in this article. Depending on the type of exotic animal living in your bioactive configuration, you may find that the microfauna sometimes becomes too high or too low.
Frogs and lizards can eat some of the microfauna, so you need to add more to the tank. You`ll know the levels are too low if you can`t find any of the tiny creatures when you turn over the leaf litter or dig into the ground. Your bioactive substrate mixture depends on your plants, although it usually combines orchid bark, peat moss, tree fern fiber, and often coconut fiber. You can, if you wish, include activated carbon in your substrate mixture and not as a separate layer. Bacteria grow in a bioactive reservoir. Most species are benign or beneficial, but some can be harmful. To ensure that healthy bacteria settle in your bioactive housing, be sure to use a well-drained substrate and not leave it soaked. You want the substrate to stay aerated – an occasional flip with a fork can help reduce the risk of bad bacteria growing. Bad bacteria often smell like sulfur or rotten egg.
If your soil stinks, it`s probably due to an accumulation of bacteria. Turn the substrate over or replace it. We do not recommend adding bacteria directly to your substrate – currently, bacteria from compost are most often added to bioactive accumulations that only serve to break down the substrate faster and are not necessary for a healthy environment. Keep in mind that most terrarium dwellers need a hiding place, so this is usually one of the first things you want to install. Also – and this can never be stressed enough – avoid overcrowding of the enclosure. Most importantly, it reduces the space available for your pets and makes their care more difficult. However, it will also look cluttered and won`t have the desired visual appeal. Low maintenance is often the sale for terrarium lovers. Bioactive terrariums, if done right, can further reduce your liability. However, it is never guaranteed that you will completely waive any obligation. This article was written by Josh Halter (The Bio Dude), so this article was written with their interests in mind. However, ReptiFiles has other articles on the topic of starting a bioactive case that go into more detail, which I think you may be looking for.
A list of these articles can be found in our blog archives: reptifiles.com/reptile-articles. I also recently wrote an article for the bio dude blog on the topic of mixing your own substrate, which can be found here: www.thebiodude.com/blogs/how-do-i-create-a-bioactive-vivarium/the-pros-cons-of-commercial-vs-diy-bioactive-substrates. The right type of substrate is very important for your dry bioactive vivarium. Since this is a relatively dry structure, we do not need to use a drainage layer. The substrate should be a dirty/sand mixture that allows plants to take root in it, but also ensures drainage from above. In a warm configuration, the substrate forms a crust on the surface that traps moisture, which is essential for live plants and the cleaning crew. We use Arcadia Earth Mix Arid, but there are also other brands like ProRep BioLife Desert. Ideally, the depth of the substrate should be about 5 cm to allow for a correct moisture gradient. Absolute! “Bioactive” does not necessarily mean lush and tropical. And the loose substrate is no more dangerous for leopard geckos than for other species, as long as the gecko is healthy and has access to water and a correct temperature gradient. The Bio Dude offers a bioactive leopard gecko kit with its Terra Sahara substrate: www.thebiodude.com/products/leopard-gecko-bioactive-kit.