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mulling over substrate change

Discussion in 'Tarantula Enclosures' started by Whitelightning777, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. Whitelightning777

    Whitelightning777 Well-Known Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I've used Eco Earth and had good results with it with one exception. A mold outbreak in my M balfouri enclosure might or might not have led to fecal impaction and death of the spider.

    I was researching better alternatives. Currently for my Versicolor I'm using vermiculite and nothing else. Aside from cushioning the T in a fall, it serves no other purpose. An arboreal doesn't need to walk on the ground a whole lot anyway so the issue of Ts not liking to walk on it isn't an issue.

    I'm contemplating going that for my P striata as well. I just wonder if it's worth the risk of removing and replacing her from the enclosure. Pokies aren't removed and replaced unless there a pretty good reason for it.

    For my terrestrials, I'm thinking about going with peat because it's mold resistant and can retain a bit of moisture. I haven't decided if I'm gonna add vermiculite or eco earth to that. There seems to be a lot of variation on that but few really hard facts.

    I got a bag of peat from Amazon that has no additives of any kind for $8, which is a few dollars cheaper then bagged eco earth.

    Currently everything is on straight eco earth. The one exception is my P sp machala which is on eco earth with some sand mixed in do the moisture will drain to the bottom a little better. I refrained from vermiculite because my L Klugi hated the mix of that and eco earth even though it was only 20 to 25 percent vermiculite.
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  2. MassExodus

    MassExodus Well-Known Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I used eco earth for a long time, then switched to jungle mix, then started mixing both with potting soil and vermiculite. After using potting soil awhile, im cutting it out of the mix. I like the smell of it but It molds easier than the rest. For your damp species like the machala, have you tried false bottoms? I like them, but they make the tank pretty heavy.
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  3. Whitelightning777

    Whitelightning777 Well-Known Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    No. I've heard some people mess with them. I've never tried it myself. Wouldn't adding just 1" of wet vermiculite on the bottom with other substrate on top but not mixed in do the same thing?

    Soil has to be baked or completely frozen or both before use doesn't it?
  4. Mr. P

    Mr. P Well-Known Member

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    I honestly don't think it would be the substrate itself as much as it would be the combination of ventilation and compaction. Mold will grow anywhere it stays damp, even damp concrete grows mold if not allowed to dry out once in a while. Things to look at would be ventilation and if there is enough to allow moisture to escape. Also take a look at how you compact the substrate if it is wet, too much can hinder evaporation but many like it as it holds a shape better for burrowing.
    I would keep the substrate dry and use a bigger, shallow water dish for more surface area and overflow slightly once a week, if more humidity is needed then mist once a day as surface moisture evaporates much easier then trying to dry out the substrate.
    Everyone will have their own opinion but the bottom line will come down to a delicate balance of mositure and ventilation.
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  5. Whitelightning777

    Whitelightning777 Well-Known Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    Things seem ok for now.
  6. Enn49

    Enn49 Moderator Staff Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I've never used vermiculite for Ts. I used to use it for incubating snake eggs and saw how much dust came off it and stuck to the hatchlings as they emerged so it worried me that that dust would clog Ts book lungs.
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  7. Arachnoclown

    Arachnoclown Well-Known Member Premium Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    Your supposed to rinse vermiculite before you use it. There's also many types of vermiculite out there. I use coarse agricultural type...designed to retain moisture in soil. If vermiculite is used dry it can be extremely dangerous...it will suck the moisture out of everything.
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  8. MassExodus

    MassExodus Well-Known Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I did not know that..f@$!
  9. Enn49

    Enn49 Moderator Staff Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I used the one for gardening but I didn't know about rinsing it :oops:
  10. Arachnoclown

    Arachnoclown Well-Known Member Premium Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I'm not a snake guy but when you incubate the eggs aren't they suppose to be on damp substrate? By rinsing the vermiculite it then would be damp and ready to go...dust free.
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  11. Enn49

    Enn49 Moderator Staff Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    It was moistened by mixing with water in a box so not rinsed through running water.
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  12. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, you gotta be careful with dry vermiculite, it's very bad for your lungs, you should really use a dust mask when dealing with it, you would if you worked in a plant nursery, as soon as it's wet it's not an issue though.

    In a few threads I've read lately people have said that it doesn't matter about the substrate with some arboreal species as they never walk on it anyway, something that crossed my mind is why not do as some reptile keepers do and use artificial lawn off cuts or samples? Purely hypothetical on my part as in Australia I'll never have those species anyway.
  13. Arachnoclown

    Arachnoclown Well-Known Member Premium Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    Oh good...I was hoping it wasn't dry...:). I rinse mine through a kitchen strainer to remove the dust and small particles.
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  14. Arachnoclown

    Arachnoclown Well-Known Member Premium Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I've tried placing it in the bottom and covering it with just coco fiber. The problem I found was when they burrowed. I just mix it now...my Theraphosa and Pamphobeteus love it. I never have mold issues and I run wet with my Stirmi's. I use to use potting soil and sand but too much mold and maintenance. I'm strictly a coco fiber vermiculite guy now.
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  15. Whitelightning777

    Whitelightning777 Well-Known Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    My L klugi absolutely hated substrate mixed with vermiculite. I had to pull her back out and add another inch of pure Eco Earth. --. Pure happiness now!!

    The vermiculite holds moisture but won't support mold. The moisture should gradually penetrate through and add just a slight amount of humidity to keep the water dish from drying out twice a day.