Can't drain very well... Soil-based enclosure

bombadillo2

Member
Hi,

I have a setup which has a soil base and live plants growing in it. I also have a stand with a potted plant so that there are more vines for my cham to climb on, and a bunch of fake vines and basking spots squiggling throughout. Under the soil, I have a fairly deep layer of volcanic rock for natural draining (0.5-1 inch).

The bottom of my enclosure is entirely sealed (essentially, could have been filled with water and still not leaked).

I am getting a simple misting system and probably also will continue to hand spray. Right now I spray Miles' smaller enclosure a few times a day (he's a baby and I haven't finished setting up his larger enclosure yet). Do I need to worry about a misting system flooding my enclosure?

I had already set up this entire thing before coming across a post about drainage.... which I didn't even know was a thing. I can't really go for a different set up, and I can't afford a new enclosure. I do let him play and sleep on the free range sometimes (a large pot with 4 dracaena), which he loves. So far, he's been doing fine drinking off the plants that I spray. I haven't had any issue with flooding for the temporary enclosure.

When I used a drip system, there was way too much water and not nearly enough spread on the plants. Seemed more like it dripped and disappeared into the bottom of the cage. The spray bottle has worked way better. But I want to be able to set up something automatic. Sometimes I have to be gone for a day or get home late from work or whatnot. So I am setting up a mister with timers. I probably will do a few minutes of mist ~3 times a day.

tl;dr: Can't drain my soil-based enclosure; will a misting system make it flood?
 

GoodKarma19

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hello, and welcome to the forums! :)

A couple questions for you- are you running a bioactive vivarium, or a vivarium that just has soil/plants in it? While a correctly set up bioactive enclosure with a robust clean up crew (springtails, isopods, etc) is highly beneficial, substrate (I.e. soil) is otherwise largely frowned upon due to the potential for mold, bacteria build up, and potential for impaction if your little guy happens eat any chunks. Can we get some pictures, top down of the current enclosure including lighting?

Re: your drainage layer, it's generally advised to have at least 1-3" of drainage material (lava rocks, hydroballs etc.). Do you have a screen/weed barrier separating your drainage from your soil? If not, you can place a piece of PVC pipe down through your soil layer into your drainage, which will allow you access to siphon off extra water.

232956
 

Pjtbug

Member
Hello, and welcome to the forums! :)

A couple questions for you- are you running a bioactive vivarium, or a vivarium that just has soil/plants in it? While a correctly set up bioactive enclosure with a robust clean up crew (springtails, isopods, etc) is highly beneficial, substrate (I.e. soil) is otherwise largely frowned upon due to the potential for mold, bacteria build up, and potential for impaction if your little guy happens eat any chunks. Can we get some pictures, top down of the current enclosure including lighting?

Re: your drainage layer, it's generally advised to have at least 1-3" of drainage material (lava rocks, hydroballs etc.). Do you have a screen/weed barrier separating your drainage from your soil? If not, you can place a piece of PVC pipe down through your soil layer into your drainage, which will allow you access to siphon off extra water.

View attachment 232956
Yeah, what they said. It’s very important that your substrate dries out between mistings to lower the risk of bacteria, so the 1-3 inch drainage is very important in letting the water flow out of the substrate.
 

Goose502

Chameleon Enthusiast
I mist fairly heavily(depending on ambient humidity), and have never had water collection in my bioactive setup. I attribute this to appropriate soil, and HEAVY planting. My enclosure is coming in at 4 years now, and I’ve only had to prune plants, and clean bug guts off the glass. I’ve never had URI’s, impaction, or mold/mildew. I do have a very strong clean up crew, and allow multiple feeders to cocoon and hatch in the enclosure. As long as you use good soil (ABG mix, biodude, etc) and have a drainage layer set up, it should work. Using a PVC siphon or bulkhead is always a good idea, I’ve just never had to use it.
 

bombadillo2

Member
I mist fairly heavily(depending on ambient humidity), and have never had water collection in my bioactive setup. I attribute this to appropriate soil, and HEAVY planting. My enclosure is coming in at 4 years now, and I’ve only had to prune plants, and clean bug guts off the glass. I’ve never had URI’s, impaction, or mold/mildew. I do have a very strong clean up crew, and allow multiple feeders to cocoon and hatch in the enclosure. As long as you use good soil (ABG mix, biodude, etc) and have a drainage layer set up, it should work. Using a PVC siphon or bulkhead is always a good idea, I’ve just never had to use it.

Good to know! A bit more info here https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/meet-miles.169315/#post-1482637
But tl;dr, I have volcanic pumice (1 inch ish), organic soil, and a top layer of local organic earthworm compost soil. 4 plants planted in the soil so far, room for more.
 

Daesie11

Chameleon Enthusiast
I mist fairly heavily(depending on ambient humidity), and have never had water collection in my bioactive setup. I attribute this to appropriate soil, and HEAVY planting. My enclosure is coming in at 4 years now, and I’ve only had to prune plants, and clean bug guts off the glass. I’ve never had URI’s, impaction, or mold/mildew. I do have a very strong clean up crew, and allow multiple feeders to cocoon and hatch in the enclosure. As long as you use good soil (ABG mix, biodude, etc) and have a drainage layer set up, it should work. Using a PVC siphon or bulkhead is always a good idea, I’ve just never had to use it.
Do you have pictures and info on your setup anywhere?? This sounds so interesting! I'd love to know more about how you went about setting this up.
 

Goose502

Chameleon Enthusiast
image.jpg
image.jpg

As you can see, my ficus trees are robbing a ton of light, and are in need of pruning. Otherwise this enclosure is left untouched. It’s hard to see with the glare, but my substrate is full of tunnels from different bugs, and there is no standing water in my drainage layer.
 

Zevil

Avid Member
Hydroballs/expanded clay pebbles are better than lava rocks. It's lighter and also absorb water. It's also call LECA in the gardening industry. You will have to learn the basics of gardening and not just dumping plants in there and hoping it will work like I did lol. I killed off quite a number of plants before I got it right. Also keep to one species of isopods is best to keep it simple. I have a dwarf white and a dwarf gray. Eventually my whites all died off, outcompeted by the grays.
 

Connorology

Established Member
To address the original question: yes, a misting system has the potential to flood your enclosure over time. Goose may have reached misting equilibrium, but the amount I need to mist my vivarium to keep the humidity within the acceptable range will flood my setup within a month or two (based on the pictures I believe Goose and I have the same enclosure, so this is likely dependent on the temperature and humidity level in your home). I would recommend coming up with a way to drain the enclosure in case you do need it.

I have used the aforementioned PVC pipe drainage method. It's easy to set up and it works well. You can get an aquarium siphon for a little under $10 off amazon I believe, so you won't accidentally get a mouth full of run off. I recently shifted from LECA (hydroballs) to a plastic false bottom made from light diffuser. Personally, I like the light diffuser false bottom for drainage more than the LECA or something like lava rock because it lets a greater volume of water pool and is also easier for me to drain. That said, any of those options should work and I used LECA for years without issue.
 
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