Bioactive substrate

musiclover18

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I am looking at doing bioactive substrate for my cherry headed red foot tortoise and I am looking for tips and tricks. I have a wooden zoomed enclosure. I understand that most bioactive substrates are done in an aquarium. Can I do bioactive in a wooden enclosure? How would this work on keeping it wet? I run a fogger off and on during the day. What should I use for substrate. I have read that the bottom should be lava rock then soil and sand then moss.
 

jsheffield

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I added pillbugs and earthworms to all of my tort enclosures, and have been amazed at how well they handle the waste, both excess food and poop.

I don't imagine it'd work as easily with wooden enclosures... all five of mine are some form of plastic or poly. The Russians' enclosures are drier than the others, but still have a fair amount of moisture near the hides and under the water bowls.

Following, to learn....

Jamie
 

ZenHerper

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The wooden zoomed boxes are not enough room for even very young cherryheads...and the wood will very quickly succumb to the amount of humidity needed to support the animal and a bioactive substrate.

A shower curtain liner will do for a temporary water-proofing fix, but your pet will need a much larger and more fully-enclosed habitat.

Plain packed coir with fir bark topper will be sufficient. The full terrarium layered set up only works for species that don't burrow (tree frogs, etc.), and the subs you've listed are digestive hazards for torts that burrow and graze from their furrowed surface.

Most coir and fir bark come with springtail eggs included. Wet thoroughly, heat, and enjoy!

Check your national/regional regs concerning isopods. (Note U.S. keepers: Isopods are USDA regulated now, so be sure to source them within your state if you don't plan on applying for a license to receive them from a likewise-licensed seller out of state.)

Get earthworms from a trusted source that sells for food (not fishing) purposes. Worms are a lot more temperature and humidity sensitive than crustaceans.

Since RFs are omnivorous, they will eat a lot of isopods and worms, so be prepared to refresh your cultures from time to time. Larger enclosures give them more room to establish and hide.

Isopods living with predators are more noctural and will drown even in shallow pans. Consider removing water pans when you turn lights out at night to preserve your culture.
 

musiclover18

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May 24, 2021
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7
Location (City and/or State)
ontario
The wooden zoomed boxes are not enough room for even very young cherryheads...and the wood will very quickly succumb to the amount of humidity needed to support the animal and a bioactive substrate.

A shower curtain liner will do for a temporary water-proofing fix, but your pet will need a much larger and more fully-enclosed habitat.

Plain packed coir with fir bark topper will be sufficient. The full terrarium layered set up only works for species that don't burrow (tree frogs, etc.), and the subs you've listed are digestive hazards for torts that burrow and graze from their furrowed surface.

Most coir and fir bark come with springtail eggs included. Wet thoroughly, heat, and enjoy!

Check your national/regional regs concerning isopods. (Note U.S. keepers: Isopods are USDA regulated now, so be sure to source them within your state if you don't plan on applying for a license to receive them from a likewise-licensed seller out of state.)

Get earthworms from a trusted source that sells for food (not fishing) purposes. Worms are a lot more temperature and humidity sensitive than crustaceans.

Since RFs are omnivorous, they will eat a lot of isopods and worms, so be prepared to refresh your cultures from time to time. Larger enclosures give them more room to establish and hide.

Isopods living with predators are more noctural and will drown even in shallow pans. Consider removing water pans when you turn lights out at night to preserve your culture.
I have heard of many people using organic soil with red foots.
 

Marumau_

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Joined
Jun 23, 2021
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4
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Sacramento, California
I am looking at doing bioactive substrate for my cherry headed red foot tortoise and I am looking for tips and tricks. I have a wooden zoomed enclosure. I understand that most bioactive substrates are done in an aquarium. Can I do bioactive in a wooden enclosure? How would this work on keeping it wet? I run a fogger off and on during the day. What should I use for substrate. I have read that the bottom should be lava rock then soil and sand then moss.
I am looking at doing bioactive substrate for my cherry headed red foot tortoise and I am looking for tips and tricks. I have a wooden zoomed enclosure. I understand that most bioactive substrates are done in an aquarium. Can I do bioactive in a wooden enclosure? How would this work on keeping it wet? I run a fogger off and on during the day. What should I use for substrate. I have read that the bottom should be lava rock then soil and sand then moss.
I know this was posted back in June, but you can definitely do bio active in a wooden enclosure! What I’ve found to be best to prevent the wood from molding is to line the inside of the enclosure with a PVC pond liner. It’s waterproof, it doesn’t mold, and it’s really safe to use for reptile enclosures. Lava rocks and even hydro balls (clay balls) are really good as a drainage layer and it would be good to have a layer of spahgnum moss to separate the drainage layer from the substrate and it helps retain humidity. For the substrate do not use sand! A lot of people use eco earth coco soil, but I use the reptisoil and mix it 50/50 with fir (orchid) bark and mix/top off with some of the Galapagos spaghnum moss https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KZDT346/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20 . I know reptisoil has some sand in it but as long as you mix it with the bark or have a mixture of sand/soil + coco chips, cypress mulch, etc. you should be fine.
The bio active really comes from the addition of isopods, millipedes, earth worms, and any “cleaner” insects/worms that take care of all the dirty work for you. Definitely add plants that are safe for your tortoise to eat and include a cave like hide your tortoise can crawl into. As for humidity, make sure to stay within 70%-80%, if the substrate is too wet it can cause shell rot.
Here is a link that gives you info on substrates and plants that are safe for cherry head red roots:


It’s straight from the tortoise library so feel free to also look through the whole site and get more information on caring for your red foot.
If you need any more help feel free to reach out to me. While I’m still learning, I have done tons and tons of research and can probably answer some questions here and there.
 
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