Substrates...which are which.

R

raphael

Guest
I just need to get this cleared up because I'm still confused. So here are a couple of questions I hope I can get answered.
Which moss is bad and for which species?
People keep saying the jungle mix is good but vermiculite is bad, and vermiculite is in the jungle mix. Good or bad?
which woodchips are harmful and to which species?
Thanks for all the help, it is much appreciated.
Raphael
 
N

nate

Guest
I don't know about the vermiculite issue, but the moss that is thought to be potentially bad for caudates is peat moss/sphagnum moss. This is because it is so acidic, it leaches ions from the salamander's body. I don't know why people don't just use plain old soil and be done with it. There is no need for jungle mix, moss, or wood chips and all the potential problems they present...in my opinion ;)
 
K

kai

Guest
Hi Nate,

soil/clay is just too easy to get & friggin' cheap - can't be any good...


Not that there's anything wrong with collecting different mosses in the woods and just trying them out either...


Best wishes,
kai
 
A

amy

Guest
I have had so much trouble with substrates! I have never used soil because I was scared there would be something in it(bugs/fungi) that might hurt my newts so I have always used moss. I find live moss is best but find it so hard to get. I bought some moss from a web site that seemed really good so I put it in with some of my juvvies and the next day they were dead! I can't just go and pick it cos for a start I can't find any and secondly it's kinda frowned upon here. Is soil safe for me to try with my juvvies?
 
J

jennifer

Guest
Substrates are a problem because everyone has different things available to them (different native soil/moss outdoors, different products available, etc.) What works for one person may fail for another. I can't use the local outdoor soil because all the neighbors use pesticides on their lawns. And the other problem with soil is that there are hundreds of completely different substances called "soil". Soils can vary drastically in pH, moisture retention, etc. I do recommend using soil, but it may take some trial and error to get a kind that is safe and effective. I've had problems with soil drying out too quickly. I have better results when I mix soil with some kind of bark/mulch/jungle mix stuff to increase the moisture retention.

Amy, if you are worried about critters in your soil, you can always bake it first. Won't make the kitchen smell great, but it does the trick. If you can afford it, I like Jungle Mix. I don't think vermiculite is a problem if mixed with other stuff, it's just an inert mineral that retains moisture.

Raphael, I don't know of any wood chips being bad, except for pine. Pine has sap and it decays too quickly. Cypress mulch is fine, fir bark is fine, etc.
 
R

raphael

Guest
Thanks to all of you for your info. I've decided to use the jungle mix for my spotteds and marbleds. They seem to really like the setup better than just plain wood chips.
thanks again!
Raphael
 
E

edward

Guest
Hi All,
Along with pine add cedar chips or bark to the toxic list. Cedar is more toxic than pine to small animals due to the aromatic oils.
If any one has lighting over thier terrariums and wants to grow a nice looking moss, take a small pot and fill it with a 50/50 mixture of peat moss and rinsed play sand. Keep it in a small tray (or dish of water so it stays damp) cover with a plastic bag to keep the humidity up and put under the flourescent lights. In a few months the top of the pot will be covered in a moss and possibly a fern or two. Transplant plugs of the moss into your terrarium and keep damp. The moss should take and start to spread if kept humid and damp.
(This stuff always overruns my sundews but now I'm trying it in some cages at work.
Ed
 
K

kai

Guest
Hi Ed,

try steam-sterilizing your mix for sowing sundews and keep the pots covered until the seedlings are strong enough to cope with competition; a very shallow top layer of pure sand makes it harder for the odd intruding moss spore, too.


Best wishes,
kai
 
K

kai

Guest
Clay works fine for me - adding some powdered limestone or dolomite helps to avoid acid conditions. If it's too sticky dilute with sand or perlite (vermiculite should be ok, too).

You should be able to get some in areas not too affected by human pollution, e.g. some non-protected forests, river banks, etc.

If you have to use topsoil with a high organic content and worry about "critters", you could bake it or preferably steam-sterilize it but make sure to let it rest (with enough moisture) for several months before use (this usually is sufficient even if you don't sterilize it). The remnants of all the killed organisms will favor the growth of less-than-healthy bacteria and fungi at first and it's worth to wait for the soil community to regenerate adequately - helps with sowing plants, too.


Best wishes,
kai
 
E

edward

Guest
Hi Kai,
I've had it overrun some pretty big sundews, (usually because I'm working too much at the time)like D. alicia. A little thinning and its usually fine for the sundews. I know quite a few people that either microwave the peat or bake it but the wife isn't quite that understanding as of yet. Worms in the fridge and freezer are fine, tanks of plants and animals are fine, bowls of thawing rodents are fine (as long as the bowl doesn't end up in the dish rack to dry after beign washed) but soil or dirt in a food prep item so far is a little too much. (lol)
I'll try the deeper sand suggestion to see how it cuts down on the moss's growth.
Also if people are trying to get moss to spread in an area supposely a good way to do this is to blend the moss in some buttermilk and then spray it where you want it to grow. Of course you would need to do this a significant period of time before you put animals into the cage (on on the frognet listserve apparently this is used to establish moss in terraria for dart frogs and has not hurt the frogs).
Ed
Ed
 
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