I think we need to get rid of the word 'bioactive'

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
Well, it's an easy word to say, but It overcomplicates everything. If you buy a plant from home depot, you can probably bet that soil is 'bioactive'. I think it would lead to less confusion in the community, there's no magical 'bioactive' vs regular soil. All of the fancy layers are only to encourage plant growth and drainage. Bioactive is simply soil that's had time to establish(as almost any soil you'll come across has unless it's been recently sterilized, which in time will establish again). The thing we want to avoid is only having bark, gravel, rocks, etc which are not conducive to the growth of beneficial bacteria(aerobic bacteria found in all healthy soil). We also want something that can drain water without turning to mud and 'killing' the soil(turning it anaerobic and smelly, easy to tell when this happens). The soil is also a source of nourishment/shelter for the CuC which handle larger waste. You could let the soil itself break down waste safely if for some odd reason you didn't want to add beneficial fauna, but it just takes longer.

Anyone that's been into aquariums, especially saltwater, should have a simple understanding of what it's about.

These are older pics of my 'bioactive' enclosures that I easily set up with a very thin layer of leaves and soil. Did them quickly because I had just moved and needed something set up asap. I kept the plants potted and the water drained out the bottom like a barebottom enclosure would. I had isopods, springtails, and other critters thrive in these set ups just as much as they did in my enclosures with 2 feet of soil. BTW the one on the far right was my female's bio which had to be deeper for egg laying. 20171006_183914.jpg20171003_174448.jpg
 

Mendez

Chameleon Enthusiast
This is something I have been wanting to do for a while now--keeping the plants in pots but still having soil with a drainage layer etc. Never really thought that this was an option until I started reading some of your other posts. I thought it was an all-or-nothing endeavor where either you have soil that is deep enough for large plants or you keep everything sterile. The funny thing is, and I hope nobody flames me for this, but I actually hardly (almost never) clean my chameleon's cage. There were a few tiny millipedes that hitched a ride on my large schleffera that ended up multiplying and now act as a clean-up crew. Leaves that shed from the plants are left in the bottom to provide shelter for the millipede and other life forms that pop up. I often feel discounted when people talk bioactive because my cage floor is full of life, yet I have no soil at all. The next step in this journey is adding soil and adequate drainage to avoid anaerobic soil.

I totally agree with you that the word "bioactive" overcomplicates everything. The word has turned me off more times than I can count when in fact it can be very simple. Thanks for the post. Might be adding soil this spring break if I'm not swamped with homework and class projects. Plus, I've been feeling bad for those few dubia escapees--time to give them a more hospitable environment.
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
This is something I have been wanting to do for a while now--keeping the plants in pots but still having soil with a drainage layer etc. Never really thought that this was an option until I started reading some of your other posts. I thought it was an all-or-nothing endeavor where either you have soil that is deep enough for large plants or you keep everything sterile. The funny thing is, and I hope nobody flames me for this, but I actually hardly (almost never) clean my chameleon's cage. There were a few tiny millipedes that hitched a ride on my large schleffera that ended up multiplying and now act as a clean-up crew. Leaves that shed from the plants are left in the bottom to provide shelter for the millipede and other life forms that pop up. I often feel discounted when people talk bioactive because my cage floor is full of life, yet I have no soil at all. The next step in this journey is adding soil and adequate drainage to avoid anaerobic soil.

I totally agree with you that the word "bioactive" overcomplicates everything. The word has turned me off more times than I can count when in fact it can be very simple. Thanks for the post. Might be adding soil this spring break if I'm not swamped with homework and class projects. Plus, I've been feeling bad for those few dubia escapees--time to give them a more hospitable environment.
Yes! Those millipedes are excellent cleaners. In time I'm sure those leaves and whatever falls would create it's own soil.
 

Turfmonahan

New Member
Well, it's an easy word to say, but It overcomplicates everything. If you buy a plant from home depot, you can probably bet that soil is 'bioactive'. I think it would lead to less confusion in the community, there's no magical 'bioactive' vs regular soil. All of the fancy layers are only to encourage plant growth and drainage. Bioactive is simply soil that's had time to establish(as almost any soil you'll come across has unless it's been recently sterilized, which in time will establish again). The thing we want to avoid is only having bark, gravel, rocks, etc which are not conducive to the growth of beneficial bacteria(aerobic bacteria found in all healthy soil). We also want something that can drain water without turning to mud and 'killing' the soil(turning it anaerobic and smelly, easy to tell when this happens). The soil is also a source of nourishment/shelter for the CuC which handle larger waste. You could let the soil itself break down waste safely if for some odd reason you didn't want to add beneficial fauna, but it just takes longer.

Anyone that's been into aquariums, especially saltwater, should have a simple understanding of what it's about.

These are older pics of my 'bioactive' enclosures that I easily set up with a very thin layer of leaves and soil. Did them quickly because I had just moved and needed something set up asap. I kept the plants potted and the water drained out the bottom like a barebottom enclosure would. I had isopods, springtails, and other critters thrive in these set ups just as much as they did in my enclosures with 2 feet of soil. BTW the one on the far right was my female's bio which had to be deeper for egg laying.View attachment 295691View attachment 295692
I think we need to get rid of the nomenclature “old world chameleons”. Makes us sound like Christopher Columbus
 

Madmango

Established Member
I agree that bioactive has become a bit of a buzz word. And yes you would be right that a plant from home depot could be considered bioactive. This is because the definition of bioactive is (of a substance) having or producing an effect on living tissue bioactive.

bioactive vivarium (are what we create when for our chameleons)is a terrarium for housing one or more terrestrial animals that includes live plants as well as populations of small invertebrates and microorganisms to consume and break down the waste products of the primary species.

living soil is what is used to create the substrate for our habitat in a bioactive viv
https://www.sare.org/publications/building-soils-for-better-crops/the-living-soil/

Yes, I agree that using the The term bioactive is not straight forward and can be very confusing.
 

CasqueAbove

Chameleon Enthusiast
I am just wantingit to be applied properly, like you say in aquarium. In aqua culture this bio-active process is well known and necessary. In land based bio-active is should mean the same. The established colony of healthy bacteria. In a tank this is viewed the same if it is a bare bottom tank or a natural planted tank. In the reef world the CuC is understood for what it is and what each ones job is, and that they alone do not establish bio-active and the same for plants.
Bio-active - is the microbes and bacteria needed for healthy soil and to process and break down waste products. As mentioned this is likely any soil that is not sterile.
CuC - small insects and isopods that help break up the larger pieces of derbies making it easier for the microbes to do their job.
Plants - further break down and reprocess the final waste produced by the CuC and bacteria/microbes into new plant mater completing the cycle.

In the aqua world it is called a natural planted tank, as they are all bio-active.
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
I agree that bioactive has become a bit of a buzz word. And yes you would be right that a plant from home depot could be considered bioactive. This is because the definition of bioactive is (of a substance) having or producing an effect on living tissue bioactive.

bioactive vivarium (are what we create when for our chameleons)is a terrarium for housing one or more terrestrial animals that includes live plants as well as populations of small invertebrates and microorganisms to consume and break down the waste products of the primary species.

living soil is what is used to create the substrate for our habitat in a bioactive viv
https://www.sare.org/publications/building-soils-for-better-crops/the-living-soil/

Yes, I agree that using the The term bioactive is not straight forward and can be very confusing.
Because the term bioactive in reference to reptile vivs is mostly just made up and passed down from person to person. The soil type rarely matters(within reason). I've tried dozens, made my own, etc. They all accomplished the same goal(assuming they didn't turn into muddy anaerobic messes). The bacteria colonization is the single most important factor and the rest is just there as an addition, but not a necessity. The fauna almost always finds it's way in too(good luck keeping springtails out of a snail bin haha).

Now, regarding plant health, yes the soil matters. You may have a plant that wants moist soil or dry soil, in those cases the mix would matter, but it wouldn't have any effect on the 'bioactivity' or cleanliness of the substrate...once again, assuming you didn't flood it and kill the aerobic bacteria.
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
this!

It seems people (me included) use the term “bio-active” to describe what is actually Called a naturalistic Vivarium.
You could have a naturalistic aquarium with no plants, most reefs are this way. But then many have refugiums plumbed in with beneficial flora and fauna, macroalgaes and copepods, etc. The bioactivity stays the same regardless of plants or custodians though, it's all about the bacteria.

Either way, I get the point and agree with all of the above
 

Madmango

Established Member
@jamest0o0
“Because the term bioactive in reference to reptile vivs is mostly just made up and passed down from person to person”. This may very well be true, it however helps to explain that you need more then just soil. You also need the “clean up crew “that help clean.

the key is living soil that contains fungi and bacteria as you have said. Also add the “clean up crew” of a healthy soil ecosystem.

you are 100% right that healthy soil is the way to go.
 

Lennoncham

Chameleon Enthusiast
You could have a naturalistic aquarium with no plants, most reefs are this way. But then many have refugiums plumbed in with beneficial flora and fauna, macroalgaes and copepods, etc. The bioactivity stays the same regardless of plants or custodians though, it's all about the bacteria.

Either way, I get the point and agree with all of the above

true. But would that not still be “naturalistic” for reef fish? Just as plants would be naturalistic for chameleons?
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
@jamest0o0
“Because the term bioactive in reference to reptile vivs is mostly just made up and passed down from person to person”. This may very well be true, it however helps to explain that you need more then just soil. You also need the “clean up crew “that help clean.

the key is living soil that contains fungi and bacteria as you have said. Also add the “clean up crew” of a healthy soil ecosystem.

you are 100% right that healthy soil is the way to go.
IDK...I do not think you need a clean up crew theoretically in some cases(you'll prob get one whether you like it or not). I would almost always suggest it though. Would also depend on the size of the reptile and how often it poops. A large monitor? Definitely need a clean up crew as they'll poop too often, too big, and the enclosure is too small. For a small reptile, the bacteria *could* handle it and worst case you could just turn some soil over on top of it, which will quickly break it down.

Anyway, you can seed a whole enclosure with springtails from just a little pinch of them. Idk why someone would leave out a CuC for reptiles... Even isopods takes a dozen or two and some patience and you'll have hundreds. So there's not a case except for in some invert bins(like shy roaches) where I wouldn't use a CuC.
 

suprdude

Established Member
I agree "bioactive" is overrated as a term. I'm so tired of the endless debates on this topic. Chameleons live above the ground anyway.

PS. Love the leaf litter bottom, looks way better than the plain bottom most people use.
 

Sonny13

Chameleon Enthusiast
Fully agree with your statement and the alternative with the plants in their pots. Unfortunately I want and need the full height of soil as an alternative lay bin.
All the other plants hanging in the enclosure, have their plastic pots been swapped with cocos fibre pots. Looking more aesthetic and regulates air / moist better, the soil inside the pots can 'breath`better.
 

Pickle-cham

Avid Member
I use the term bio-active more for the non use of chemicals for cleaning opposed to the use of chemicals for cleaning and sterilising enclosure.
I agree there are what i call pseudo-bioactive where by the chucking soil cuc & calling it bioactive.
When cycling aquaria ready for fish it is strongly recommended to do a fishless cycle where the beneficial bacteria is built up by use of ammonia, nitrate & nitrites rather than the suffering of fish in a toxic soup before the fauna flora takes hold.
Where as with chameleons & reptiles i have never seen this practice only to gamble on the reptile will survive the fungi & bacteria spikes
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
I thought bioactive meant bugs in the soil... Else its a "planted vivarium" :)

And i like old world chameleons. I can barely tell the difference between them and the American chameleon or the Jamaican chameleon :p

Nope, and either way, bugs will almost always show up whether you like it or not.
 
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