Bioactive Mentor

Brodybreaux25

Chameleon Enthusiast
Assuming this is for a male then my recipe would be a base of organic soil followed by a mix or organic soil, forest bark mix and also live moss, topped with leaf litter.

As for the cleanup crew, I use the giant orange woodlice and springtails. Just chuck them in and as mentioned in the other thread, feed with Arcadia Custodian Fuel or similar.

As all the internal decoration, vines etc. in mine are all natural, including some nice pieces of oak, that also helps provide a natural environment for the critters.

That's my way, no doubt others do it differently or at least by variation.
Yes, this will be for my 6mo nosy be. I will probably buy the moss, any certain type? Mixing ratio? sounds like I can source almost everything else from nature...
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Brodybreaux25

Chameleon Enthusiast
I like to use ABG substrate, personally! I've tried the pre-mixed, ready to go formulations from Josh's frogs for smaller vivariums, but have mixed up my own, too (which is much cheaper if you need a larger volume). There are a variety of different formulations of ABG, but in general they include: charcoal, sphagnum moss, peat, and tree fern. I like to use a mixture with a certain ratio of specific components as opposed to just dirt from my garden. The charcoal, especially, is something I love in the ABG!

Josh's Frogs also offers their "biobedding" formula, which includes "beneficial fungi" for setting up bioactivity. Don't know what that means specifically, though!

As for springtails and isopods, I get tropical springtails locally from a reptile specialty shop. I've only ever bought them once to seed my first viv and, since then, I've just been taking from that source and re-seeding my newer enclosures. I like to get fun with isopods, so some of my faves are the giant canyons for their size, orange for their color, and zebras for their patterns. Really want to start a colony of clowns because they're so pretty, but it's hard to justify spending $80 on like 12 microfauna lol. For my pygmies and C. linotum I can only use dwarf white/purple isopods, though, or else they get eaten up quickly as a tasty, calcium-rich snack. There are also people on ebay that sell upwards of 100 isopods (armadillium sp. usually, or some other very bland common ones) for $20-ish, which is a great price, but they're probably wildcaught hence the low price tag.

Then I top off the soil with whatever leaf litter I have lying around. Which is usually a lot, from my various cham enclosure and other plant-based projects. Oh, and I like to feed the microfauna every other week or so with a commercially available food made for them
What is the Benifit of charcoal?

I’m going to need about 10gallons of dirt so I will definitely be sourcing my own, what are you mixing in?

I’m also very interested in catching my own cleaning crew if that’s possible. How is that done? Just go turn over some 1/2 rotten logs in the woods?
 

Repti

Member
Don’t know what doodle bugs are but some of the common names are Roly Poly, Pill Bugs, Woodlice
 

Repti

Member
Lol, yup they can get pricey for some of them, and there is a changes that your chameleon might eat them if you get one of the bigger species, it will be one expensive snack.
 

Goose502

Chameleon Enthusiast
I have seen a cup of a dozen isopods selling for $150!!! Some people consider the isopodes the hobby I guess. I have seen a few different types in the wild. I would guess it’s best to raise a colony of wild isopods separate from everything for awhile to prevent any parasitic introduction. I’ve added activated charcoal and cuttlebone into my setup. It’s good for the cleanup crew, beneficial fungi, and the plants. I know some keepers seem to dislike the guy, but thebiodude.com carries some great bioactive substrates. I’ve used both his, and josh’s frogs abg mix and found them both great.
 

SharpShooter

Avid Member
Yes, this will be for my 6mo nosy be. I will probably buy the moss, any certain type? Mixing ratio? sounds like I can source almost everything else from nature...View attachment 220895View attachment 220896
He's going to be one spoilt boy with his new mansion!

I tend to use live sphagnum moss. It's naturally got mild antiseptic properties but it holds the moisture really well, which is my main reason for using it.

I've never really measured the mix ingredients, just mixed it all in a big stable tub adding until I get a mix I'm happy with, that's damp, not wet and holds it well. There's something childishly enjoyable in mixing dirt with your hands. You may be better off with a cement mixer though for the amount you need!

Shocked to read the cost of some of the isopods (woodlice this side of the pond) but I get giant orange cultures for £3 a pot. Admittedly you're going to need quite a few pots but once they settle and start breeding, you'll be sorted.
 

Brodybreaux25

Chameleon Enthusiast
How deep of a substrate and drainage layer are you looking for?
The bin is 6” tall so I was thinking 1-2” of drainage and the rest substrate but I’m completely open to making any changes to ensure success. What do you recommend? Think the bin should be taller? How tall is yours?
 

SharpShooter

Avid Member
The bin is 6” tall so I was thinking 1-2” of drainage and the rest substrate but I’m completely open to making any changes to ensure success. What do you recommend? Think the bin should be taller? How tall is yours?
Given it's for a male, the only thing to worry about regarding the depth is for your planting.

Mine slopes from 4" at the front to 8" at the back 'ish'. Nothing says it has to be flat or you can't have areas that are thicker around plant roots.
 

Brodybreaux25

Chameleon Enthusiast
Given it's for a male, the only thing to worry about regarding the depth is for your planting.

Mine slopes from 4" at the front to 8" at the back 'ish'. Nothing says it has to be flat or you can't have areas that are thicker around plant roots.
Never thought about a slope but I really like the idea!
 

Brodybreaux25

Chameleon Enthusiast
So do you have other plant options available to you vs when your doing a non-bioactive viv? I want some good climbing vines...
 

SharpShooter

Avid Member
So do you have other plant options available to you vs when your doing a non-bioactive viv? I want some good climbing vines...
I'm clueless with regards plants. I went to a garden centre with the safe plants list and hijacked a bloke working there. When I found something I liked, he would check against the list. Typically plants I liked the look of or would have served a purpose in my design, were deemed not cham safe or they wouldn't like the higher temps/humidity.
 

JacksJill

Chameleon Enthusiast
I haven't heard them called doodle bugs since I was a kid in the South.:)
I have heard that they can store heavy metals in their bodies so it is best to only use those you have raised in captivity. So collect the adults and use the offspring in your soil since they could get eaten.
 

Syreptyon

Chameleon Enthusiast
What is the Benifit of charcoal?

I’m going to need about 10gallons of dirt so I will definitely be sourcing my own, what are you mixing in?

I’m also very interested in catching my own cleaning crew if that’s possible. How is that done? Just go turn over some 1/2 rotten logs in the woods?
Several benefits! (1) charcoal is great for absorbing toxins and other harmful substances in the substrate. This is especially useful for keeping your plants and microfauna happy and healthy! (2) charcoal reduces odor from things like decomposition, mold, and whatnot. (3) it's also good for drainage. I buy the chunky horticultural charcoal from local plant nurseries.
 
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