Terrestrial Substrates: what do you use?

Greatwtehunter

New member
Joined
Jul 1, 2008
Messages
2,297
Reaction score
64
Points
0
Age
37
Location
Roanoke, VA
Country
United States
Display Name
Justin
I use a 50/25/25 mix. Fifty percent coco-fiber, twenty five percent organic topsoil, and twenty five percent of what I call "special dirt". Special dirt is that dirt you find in the damp, dark, cool parts of the forest. You'll have to sweep away all the leaf liter to get to it but once you see it you'll know what I am talking about. It has a real dark color but almost a fluffy texture to it. And before you even say anything, yes I know I sound and/or am crazy.:p But trust me, this stuff is full of nutrients. Do keep in mind that it is from the wild so you may get unwanted guests in with it. Which is why I only use twenty five percent in the mix.
 

SludgeMunkey

New member
Joined
Nov 11, 2008
Messages
2,299
Reaction score
70
Points
0
Location
Bellevue, Nebraska
Country
United States
Display Name
Johnny O. Farnen
Any of you played around with laterite based substrates at all? This is commonly sold for aquarium use in heavily planted tanks.

I have read that some folks use it as a base layer in their terrestrial set ups also.
 

fishkeeper

New member
Joined
May 7, 2007
Messages
563
Reaction score
11
Points
0
Age
30
Country
United States
Display Name
Joseph S
Egg crate works great. I would not reccomend laterite much for newts as it is more or less similar to gravel...just much more porous. Home Depot sells something they call "Aquatic Plant Soil" clay granules that look like laterite or reddish gravel. They could be an impaction hazard, however, so in hindsight the clay balls may be better.

GWH: That is humus. Great stuff.

For my viv I have an eggcrate false bottom, layered over with that aquatic plant soil, and the topmost layer is coir.(of course this gets mixed up very fast). To hold up certain steeper areas bentonite clay is mixed in. This starts off very pasty but eventually dries to a claylike consistency.
 

mechanic380

New member
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
48
Reaction score
3
Points
0
Location
Texas
Country
United States
I am using forest floor coco material but will be adding some organic soil and some "special dirt" when I fully replace the substrate. I also put some expandable moss that comes in a brick on top. I will be replacing that with live moss if possible also.
I am very curious what the advantages of these elaborate layered substrates are. There is even this setup from another thread with a filter.
" [FONT=&quot]The enclosure is a 10g aquarium. There is an undergravel filter (from a fish tank) with the air towers. On top of that is 3 inches of aquarium gravel, then about 4 inches of cypress mulch mixed with coconut husk mulch. That is topped off with a layer of cork bark covered in live Sphagnum moss. The salamander usually hang out under the cork bark, but occasionally will be between the moss and the bark. All of this is misted daily with Reverse Osmosis water, usually in the morning. The bottom of the tank has a drain so any excess water just fall out of the tank"
[/FONT]​
I will ask the poster to comment here about its advantages.
 

SludgeMunkey

New member
Joined
Nov 11, 2008
Messages
2,299
Reaction score
70
Points
0
Location
Bellevue, Nebraska
Country
United States
Display Name
Johnny O. Farnen
It is all about drainage.

Terrestrial substrates in enclosures that meet the needs of most amphibians are relatively wet. Too much water can result in a swampy, anaerobic mess that promotes bacterial and fungal growth. By layering substrates and adding various drainage gaps, like an undergravel filter or plastic egg crate, it allows the hobbyist to remove excess water. Faulty drainage, or lack there of, is probably the most common reason for complete failure of a terrarium.
 

jclee

New member
Joined
Jul 6, 2009
Messages
390
Reaction score
16
Points
0
Location
Northridge, CA
Country
United States
Display Name
jclee
My terrestrial set-ups tend to be well planted, so I use the same "tips" as for contained, indoor gardens. I start with a 2" (Or more, depending on the height of the tank) layer of gravel, then a layer of activated carbon (1/2-1" thick). This prevents odor buildup if there is any bacteria growth toward the bottom of the soil where water is densest. Then, as many inches of soil as needed to let the plants root well. (My current tank is sloped with ~3" soil in the foreground, and ~5" soil at back.) I didn't know if/how much you wanted to plant the enclosure, but I thought I'd mention the carbon, since I hadn't figured that out at first, and it really makes a difference. As with any substrate, the whole thing will, eventually, need to be dumped and replaced, but if well planted, and not excessively watered, this can last quite a while before becoming a den of bacteria.
 

SludgeMunkey

New member
Joined
Nov 11, 2008
Messages
2,299
Reaction score
70
Points
0
Location
Bellevue, Nebraska
Country
United States
Display Name
Johnny O. Farnen
My enclosures tend to be very heavily planted.

I am currently researching substrates for a few writing projects I am working on. I like to see what people actually use, as compared to what various books and websites suggest. Posts, like yours and the others that have added to this thread are extremely helpful in this process!

My theory is that we all do things a bit differently based on a number of factors. It is very interesting to me to see how folks each modify "standard" methods to suit their own climate/setup/materials availability.

When I started out on these endeavors, I was a bit cocky. The more research I do, and the more hobbyists I share information with, the more humbled I am. It is simply amazing to me how we all adapt to get the same basic results!


Thanks again to everyone that has been adding information to this thread, I hope to see more!
 

Jennewt

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 27, 2005
Messages
12,405
Reaction score
66
Points
0
Location
USA
Country
United States
It is all about drainage.
The needs of each species vary. However, I've never felt the need to keep any of my terrestrial setups so wet that they needed drainage. I regulate the moisture level by adding water only on one side, and striving to keep one side wet, the other side semi-dry. Coco fiber retains so much moisture that I only have to add water to the setups every few weeks. Often, what I spill when changing the water dish is enough without adding any more.
 

giantsalamander

New member
Joined
Jul 20, 2009
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Country
United States
I use Wild collected moss and dirt.Sometimes I layer it with Flukers brand moss.
 

Jan

Site Contributor
Joined
Mar 3, 2006
Messages
1,626
Reaction score
32
Points
0
Location
Philadelphia, PA
Country
United States
The needs of each species vary. However, I've never felt the need to keep any of my terrestrial setups so wet that they needed drainage. I regulate the moisture level by adding water only on one side, and striving to keep one side wet, the other side semi-dry. Coco fiber retains so much moisture that I only have to add water to the setups every few weeks. Often, what I spill when changing the water dish is enough without adding any more.
Ditto - I have the same experience.
 

gcollin

New member
Joined
Jun 5, 2009
Messages
127
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Age
30
Location
loveland colorado
Country
United States
Display Name
collin
I put organic soil in the tank (nothing fancy) then change it every so often, i find wild plants (make sure they are safe) then plant them in the tank.



-Collin
 

ntny

New member
Joined
Aug 1, 2009
Messages
287
Reaction score
4
Points
0
Country
United States
Display Name
ntny
hello folks,
need some advice
i have been using coco coir 70% + some garden dirt 30% all these while and the are pretty good with no salamander losses.
but i notice using this coir substrate tends to foul the water dish very quickly.
i have been experimenting using a layer of bark chips on top of coir with some frogs and the water dish are much more cleaner!
may i know if using a layer of bark chips on top of coir is OK for salamanders?

Thanks and have a nice day
 

Jennewt

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
May 27, 2005
Messages
12,405
Reaction score
66
Points
0
Location
USA
Country
United States
hello folks,
need some advice
i have been using coco coir 70% + some garden dirt 30% all these while and the are pretty good with no salamander losses.
but i notice using this coir substrate tends to foul the water dish very quickly.
i have been experimenting using a layer of bark chips on top of coir with some frogs and the water dish are much more cleaner!
may i know if using a layer of bark chips on top of coir is OK for salamanders?

Thanks and have a nice day
I would say yes, depending on the kind of bark. I have used "repti-bark" (fir bark) chips as a top layer in some of my setups for many years, and it works fine and seems safe.
 

ntny

New member
Joined
Aug 1, 2009
Messages
287
Reaction score
4
Points
0
Country
United States
Display Name
ntny
Hello Jennewt,
Thanks for kind advice again. you are always very helpful.
Specifically i am going to try 1" size layer bark chips on top of coir/soil for Fire salamanders. i read and observed they don't borrow too much.
The bark chips i used is packaged for Reptiles but i am not 100% sure if they are Fir or Pine bark?
For Tiger and Marble salamanders i observed they borrow a lot and i am not sure if bark chips is OK for them. Tiger salamanders fouls water dish quickly with coir substrate...

Thanks
 

ntny

New member
Joined
Aug 1, 2009
Messages
287
Reaction score
4
Points
0
Country
United States
Display Name
ntny
Hello Jennewt and Folks,
i tried with a thin layer of "Reptile BarkChips" about 1cm on top of coir/soil substrate for over a week now
and the water dish is much more cleaner.
i am still observing if this will cause any other problems with the Fire salamanders skin or other issues.
Does anyone knows and advice bark chip is OK to use with tiger and marble salamanders?
Thanks and have a nice day
 
General chit-chat
Help Users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
  • John:
    Well I hope it works out better than I said
    +1
    Unlike
  • Nioa:
    me too
    +1
    Unlike
  • Nioa:
    are you in quarantine right now, or are you working?
    +1
    Unlike
  • John:
    I'm staying home 24/7 with the kids. Only my wife goes out. She's an infectious disease physician
    +1
    Unlike
  • Nioa:
    ah, that sounds pretty necessary right now.
    +1
    Unlike
  • John:
    Testing
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    John has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    magpie3 has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • bellabelloo:
    Hello chat room 😊
    +1
    Unlike
  • KellLvsHurLotl:
    hi new here
    +1
    Unlike
  • Viking:
    There are not many people here!
    +2
    Unlike
  • blocboyjking:
    just got some danubes theyre still larvae any one have any tips?
    +1
    Unlike
  • Viking:
    Feed them live food either daphnia or black worms. How old are they?
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    Guest Anthony has joined the room.
  • (Guest) Anthony:
    hello
  • (Guest) Anthony:
    I am here seeking answers to my salamander problems
  • Chat Bot:
    Guest Johnny5 has joined the room.
  • (Guest) Johnny5:
    This is such an awesome site!!! I can't wait to meet other people who keep salamanders!
  • Chat Bot:
    Anonymous User has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    Anonymous User has joined the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    Anonymous User has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • winter.shadow:
    Can someone please give me advice asap
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    John has joined the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • John:
    Good evening
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    John has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
    Chat Bot: John has left the room. +1
    Top