Soil

Chammy007

Member
Hello, I’m planning on setting up a bio tank. What soil/ substrate would you go with? Any suggestions? How much soil/how deep?
Or other threads you’d vouch for? I have a FICUS TREE, 2 money trees and a few other various plants. And four HIMALAYAN MAIDENHAIR FERN’S arriving some time this week, hopefully. See below.
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Jevin

Chameleon Enthusiast
Honestly I'm just getting ready to do the same thing and from the research I'm doing I would recommend black earth as a soil, essentially a soil with higher organic material content and no additives like fertilizer is ideal. Then there are additives you can add to improve the soil further like coco fibers or long strand sphagnum moss if I remember correctly. As I said, I'm in the process of setting up a bioactive enclosure myself. The depth of the substrate should be 6" deep at a minimum I believe with a 1"-2" drainage layer with landscaping cloth or something similar on top to prevent the substrate from entering the drainage layer. And a method to either access the drainage layer for removal of water or a drainage system to deal with it. And about 1"-2" of leaf litter on top of the substrate and hiding places for the cleanup crew.
 
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Jevin

Chameleon Enthusiast
Designs vary, I'm going with a floor drain in my build, but some use a pvc tube with a cover that reaches the drainage layer and a pump to remove water. Depends on the design of the enclosure and how much you can adapt or alter it. My enclosure I'm in the process of getting built hopefully is being built from scratch so I've been able to customize it.
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
hello, besides adding a draining system what do you recommend for removal of water from the drainage layer?
:confused: Sorry, I don't understand the question. :unsure: It's called a drainage layer for a reason.

If you mean besides a gravity system, a sump (with pump) is the only other reliable way I'm aware of; a siphon (another gravity system) might work, but any time it went dry and got air in the line, it would have to be re-primed, which IMO would be a PITA.

Designs vary, I'm going with a floor drain in my build, but some use a pvc tube with a cover that reaches the drainage layer and a pump to remove water.
Yes, that describes a sump.

Personally and experience-wise, I'd go with a gravity drain—no moving parts, and gravity isn't subject to outtages or other SNAFUs, so fewer opportunities to fall victim to Murphy's Law.
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
I use root pouches which sit on top of substrate trays. I have a drainage layer of lava rock in the pouch. I’ve had this set up for not quite a year and haven’t had to worry about any excess drainage. If anything, I have to every now and then water the plants that are planted in the substrate.
You can use a gravity drain, which if I were to not use the pouches I would definitely use. Other options are adding that pvc pipe segment to drain the excess as needed with whatever type of pumping system works for you...even something like a wet vac would be efficient I would think.
 

Jevin

Chameleon Enthusiast
Yeah, I'm just getting into bioactive, and I've seen variation on the designs for removal of water from the drainage layer, my design for my setup is going to be a floor drain as while using a pvc pipe to access it, it seems like too much of a hassle to do.
 

Chammy007

Member
I’m basically a simple person. Should I just drill a hole on the bottom of my terrarium and place a dripping pan underneath?thanks
 

Chammy007

Member
Hello, I could just Google but I’m wanting to hear your opinions. I’m better at watching video instead of reading. Often I suffer from lack of comprehension when trying to read. Any videos on YouTube or elsewhere you'd recommend for getting a bio tank set up?thanks much
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
If you can't drain from the bottom(like a glass tank), you can have a small pump in the drainage layer with a tube connected through a pvc pipe. You could have it on a timer to pump water out. Many ways you could go about controlling that.

If you don't have glass, you could simply drill holes and let it drain out the bottom. For my parson's bioactive display, I built a stand with pond liner and 2 feet of substrate depth. I had water drain through the bottom into a long shallow tub which held probably 20 gallons of water. There was a compartment at the bottom of the stand for it to fit into, but I couldn't move it with water. I had a fountain pump in there start a siphon on a timer once a day which drained the water out into my backyard.

If I was to do again, I'd do the 'hydroponic' method for added plant support. With this you have the gravity drainage on the side just below the soil layer so the soil doesn't flood and become anaerobic, but the drainer layer fills with mineral water. This allows the plant roots to grow down into it.
 
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