Bioactive setup questions

zbarry

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Hi I was trying to get some advice on making a bioactive setup for my Russian tortoise. I've done a little research but I figured there might be some experts here that could provide good advice. So really I would like to know what kind of subrate would be recommended for a bioactive setup and would I need to add anything to the substrate? I was also wondering if it would be good or bad to grow grass with edible plants in the bioactive setup? Then should I use pill bugs or earthworms? And lastly if I do this would I ever have to replace the substrate or would it just always be fine from the insects cleaning and me spot checking?
 

zbarry

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Or would it just be easier to get the biodude bioactive kit and add insects to it?
 

jsheffield

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I ordered pillbugs online last winter and split the order among all of my enclosures: 3 forest and two desert... I wasn't sure if they'd survive in my enclosures (which are all a mix of cypress mulch, orchid bark, and coconut husk) but they're thriving in all of them.

Jamie
 

jaizei

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A mix of peat/coir and fir bark works well as a base, then you can add other organic matter, like leaf litter or moss. I'd go more for pill bugs than worms; a few worms is good, but I think the pill bugs work better as cleaners. Once established, you shouldn't have to change the substrate per se, but the bugs are going to be consuming the substrate and you may need to replenish it so that they continue to thrive. Remove part of the substrate (use it as compost/fertilizer), replacing it with a similar amount.
 

ZenHerper

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Earthworms are kinda fragile, and then they become a project/chore.

Isopods are much hardier, do a more varied kind of work, and look like wee teeny torties! They come in a range of colors, so are fun to collect in themselves.
 

zbarry

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Ok so pill bugs sound like the way to go then. Now what about like plants would i be able to grow like grass and some edible plants. Or just edible plants by themselves?
 

ZenHerper

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I'd suggest potted decor...torts tend to hulk-smash everything.

Pots let you keep plants safe until you want to feed them, makes maintenance chores easier, and provide some enrichment to the landscaping. Choose some edibles that will hang down for hiding and occasional nibbles.
 

zbarry

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Earthworms are kinda fragile, and then they become a project/chore.

Isopods are much hardier, do a more varied kind of work, and look like wee teeny torties! They come in a range of colors, so are fun to collect in themselves.
So with the pill bugs or isopods would I need to put anything in the substrate for them to eat?
 

ZenHerper

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So with the pill bugs or isopods would I need to put anything in the substrate for them to eat?
They will set up housekeeping under dishes and pots, and eat all of the stuff used for bedding: coco shreds, bark chips.

If you collect or purchase a small handful of isopods, you may want to 'culture' them before releasing into a large enclosure:

 

method89

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I started with 20 isopods in my enclosure and now there are hundreds in all cycles of life. They are a great addition to the tank as they clean up it and they are fun to watch as well. They remind me of the Doozers from Fraggle Rock. Not the main show but definitely provide entertainment.
 

jsheffield

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There are definitely more in my humid enclosures than in my desert enclosures, but both environments support them without any effort or thought....

Jamie
 

DebbiLynn

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Or would it just be easier to get the biodude bioactive kit and add insects to it?
Hi... I’m a newbie, and following this thread since I too am considering investing in a large custom closed chamber and bioactive kit from’The Biodude’. I read on another thread by Tom that he uses ‘Animal Plastics’ closed chamber? I’m debating on the two; waiting for the experienced experts to chime in with their opinions. I know whichever route will be an investment and I really want to get it right the first time.
 

method89

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I have an animal plastics enclosure and I can't recommend it enough. Its was easy to put together and was customized exactly the way i wanted it. The problem with AP is the wait time. you are looking at @ 6months or more before you see it. That said, @Markw84 makes an enclosure that looks amazing and has everything and anything you could need in it. I don't have personal experience with it but @Tom and @Kapidolo Farms can speak to its quality and ease of assembly/use. I added a link so you could see everything about it.

 
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DebbiLynn

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I have an animal plastics enclosure and I can't recommend it enough. Its was easy to put together and was customized exactly the way i wanted it. The problem with AP is the wait time. you are looking at @ 6months or more before you see it. That said, @Markw84 makes an enclosure that looks amazing and has everything and anything you could need in it. I don't have personal experience with it but @Tom and @Kapidolo Farms can speak to its quality and ease of assembly/use. I added a link so you could see everything about it.

Thanks so much for suggesting @Markw84, I had not seen his enclosures. I'm so thankful I found this forum. I've already learned so much from reading posts from @Tom ,@Kapidolo Farms, and several others. I have been able to make quick corrections on substrate and tweak the temps thanks to info shared on this forum. I've only had my hatchling for 5 days. He wasn't very active for the first couple of days,(probably my fault) but since I made a few changes he's much more active and eating like a little pig. He's very young; ~a month old, tomorrow. Thanks again :)
 
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