Terrestrial Substrates: what do you use?

Greatwtehunter

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.
 

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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

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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!
 

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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.
 

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I use Wild collected moss and dirt.Sometimes I layer it with Flukers brand moss.
 

Jan

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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

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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

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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
 

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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

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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

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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
 
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