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Bioactive Substrate recipe

MIReptilian

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Jul 14, 2019
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Metamora, Michigan
I have a very large indoor tortoise table for my trio of Hermanns. I also have a terrible problem with phorid flies, fungus nats or whatever you want to call them. It's really getting out of hand and the fly population seems to be growing exponentially..

My current substrate is a mix of coconut coir and topsoil with a top dressing of cypress mulch. As of this morning, I removed the cypress mulch as I'm thinking it may be the source of all the flies.

I'm probably going to redo my substrate sometime soon. I want to try a bioactive substrate but am not sure what the correct ratio of materials, layers etc might be.

Can someone give me a good suggestion as to how to start building bioactive substrate for a large tort table (56 square feet)?

Thanks
Jeff
 

Maro2Bear

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The problem is that you have created a perfect environment for these pesky little annoying gnats. Warm, humid, moist substrate and food & water! Perfect for a happy gnat colony.

Even if you replace your substrate, they’ll probably reappear pretty quickly. Best thing is to try and not leave much food laying about. Pick up & clean all the remnants - maybe just feed on a terra cotta bowl that you clean out daily. Some roly-poly pillbugs in there will help clean the cage up of food bits. Some Venus fly plants will help some as will some of those yellow sticky fly tapes hanging down near your enclosure.

Maybe some tips in here -

And of course apple cider vinegar - https://prudentreviews.com/fruit-flies-apple-cider-vinegar/

Good luck!
 

method89

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Also a sprinkling of diatomaceous earth works as well... Harmless to tortoises but cuts up insects
 

Millerlite

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the warm nice tortoise enclosure creates a nice incubator for any eggs laid in the substrate by insects this is why you see the bugs after a few weeks adding to the enclosure. Some people counter this by baking or cooking the substrate the high temps kill the eggs and prevent them from hatching. I use a outdoor bbq to heat up my substrate when I do change indoor enclosure substrates.

For bioactive I don't do it for any of my tortoises or turtles but my leopard geckos enclosure is bioactive. I use a mix of soil/clay/sand mixed and I use mostly isopods, spring tails, few beetles. I also have leaf litter and plants inside the enclosure that are great food for the bugs. The enclosure stays pretty clean I spot clean but at night you will see the bugs come out and start eating any animal waste and dead plants or anything of that nature. It does take a few months to a year for the whole ecosystem to establish and kind of "self clean" Its not too tough to do and I would say it helps out a bit.

kyle
 

MIReptilian

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Jul 14, 2019
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Location (City and/or State)
Metamora, Michigan
Thanks for the replies. My issue is getting bad. As I said, my table is big and there is a lot of soil/coconut coir in there. I dont think baking it is an option.. I think I'm going to change out all the substrate with new and introduce predatory mites to the mix. Specifically "hypoaspis miles" which is said to feed on fungus gnat larva.

At this point, I really dont know what else to do.
 

MIReptilian

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Location (City and/or State)
Metamora, Michigan
For anyone reading along.... I'm now researching remedies for my fungus gnat issue. Honestly, it is completely out of control. Quite a few people recommend drying out the substrate and spraying it with a water/hydrogen peroxide mixture. This apparently kills the fly larva.

A few of the dart frog breeders recommend a product called "gnatoral" which is bacteria based organic larvacide that apparently works very well. It is also said to be 100% safe for animals.

My plan is to get rid of all of my current substrate and replace with new.
I plan on using lava rocks as a drainage layer, topping that with a peat moss, coconut coir, and topsoil mix, and the possibly a light layer of mulch and or forest debris. I then plan on getting a bunch of isopods, predatory mites, earthworms, springtails and adding them to the mix.

I really need to do something. Wife and kids wont even go into the greenhouse where the enclosure is located because the fungus flies are so bad.
 

Yvonne G

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I feel your pain! I have sewer gnats in my Vision cage. I've changed out the substrate and in no time they're right back in there. It's gotten so bad that I just keep my canister vacuum cleaner right there on the floor next to the enclosure. Every morning I vacuum all the gnats off the walls inside the enclosure - hundreds of them! They're drawn to light, and in the evening when the lights go off, a few stragglers make their way into my bedroom where I'm watching TV and pester the life out of me!
 

mark1

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i got a room with what I assume is bioactive soil , it's filled with about 10-12 inches of same dirt for the last 15-20yrs , lots of water and overgrown with plants ……. the stuff living in that room is pretty much whatever lives outside here ….. i'd need an entomologist to tell me what's living in there , I use a bug light/zapper , it does a great job …...
 

Yvonne G

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i got a room with what I assume is bioactive soil , it's filled with about 10-12 inches of same dirt for the last 15-20yrs , lots of water and overgrown with plants ……. the stuff living in that room is pretty much whatever lives outside here ….. i'd need an entomologist to tell me what's living in there , I use a bug light/zapper , it does a great job …...
It never occurred to me to hang a zapper indoors I have a couple of them outside. H-m-m. . . thanks!
 
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