Should you bake, boil or freeze loose coconut fiber substrate?

J0KER

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Hello everyone, I just bought some Zoo Med eco earth loose coconut fiber substrate but i’m worried about having a mite infestation. I wanna know if others have had pleasant experiences with this substrate, or how I should clean it before adding it into the enclosure.

- Thanks in advance!
 

Hamiltondood

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Hello everyone, I just bought some Zoo Med eco earth loose coconut fiber substrate but i’m worried about having a mite infestation. I wanna know if others have had pleasant experiences with this substrate, or how I should clean it before adding it into the enclosure.

- Thanks in advance!
you CAN bake it, if you want to get rid of springtails
you shouldn't get mites from the substrate..?
any tiny white bugs in the substrate are springtails, theyre completely harmless.
i also have phorid flies, super annoying
but i put yellow sticky fly traps inside my tortoise's enclosure
after about a week or two, i barely see any flies anywhere (not exaggerating)
i haven't baked my coco coir so i'm not sure how long you should bake it but i THINK i've seen 200 degrees f for 35-ish minutes or so would be okay.
to save money, you can just buy a 10lb block of coco coir for $15
 

J0KER

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you CAN bake it, if you want to get rid of springtails
you shouldn't get mites from the substrate..?
any tiny white bugs in the substrate are springtails, theyre completely harmless.
i also have phorid flies, super annoying
but i put yellow sticky fly traps inside my tortoise's enclosure
after about a week or two, i barely see any flies anywhere (not exaggerating)
i haven't baked my coco coir so i'm not sure how long you should bake it but i THINK i've seen 200 degrees f for 35-ish minutes or so would be okay.
to save money, you can just buy a 10lb block of coco coir for $15
Thank you very much for the response! I’m going to try and bake it tomorrow, I just want to avoid any springtails altogether so hopefully this works. I will also check out those yellow sticky fly traps if at some point i find myself having a similar problem!
You said you haven’t baked your coco coir, do you have any springtails at all in your enclosure? Or does the coco coir work really well without any baking or anything? & Which brand do you use?
 

maggie3fan

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Spring tails are very beneficial to the soil. They eat tortoise or turtle poop. I have spring tails in my box turtle tort tables and I have had the same soil in a couple of them for 8 or 9 years. The end result is good soil and remember spring tails are harmless to the animals
 

J0KER

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Spring tails are very beneficial to the soil. They eat tortoise or turtle poop. I have spring tails in my box turtle tort tables and I have had the same soil in a couple of them for 8 or 9 years. The end result is good soil and remember spring tails are harmless to the animals
Thank you for the response! Hmm, I just hope I’m not left with more springtails than substrate lol. If they can be kept in moderation small amounts that’d be great, i just don’t want an army of them.
Would you also recommend to bake the substrate to get rid of them if they start to take over?
 

Hamiltondood

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Thank you very much for the response! I’m going to try and bake it tomorrow, I just want to avoid any springtails altogether so hopefully this works. I will also check out those yellow sticky fly traps if at some point i find myself having a similar problem!
You said you haven’t baked your coco coir, do you have any springtails at all in your enclosure? Or does the coco coir work really well without any baking or anything? & Which brand do you use?
i just ignore any spring tails. phorid flies are the ones that annoy me the most because they fly
spring tails are great because theyll eat old food and poop, i still spot clean daily
i use this kind:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FB8ZPG7/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

coco coir is great if your tortoise likes to burrow down a bit, i BARELY notice springtails and phorid flies nowadays, any flies or springtails are usually in the substrate.
since my enclosure is enclosed, no bugs really escape.
 

Tom

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Hello everyone, I just bought some Zoo Med eco earth loose coconut fiber substrate but i’m worried about having a mite infestation. I wanna know if others have had pleasant experiences with this substrate, or how I should clean it before adding it into the enclosure.

- Thanks in advance!
The loose stuff is the least economical way to get coco coir. You will need to dampen it and hand pack it down. Down leave it loose or dry. What species are you keeping on it?

Mites really aren't a problem for tortoises. I've never seen an infestation ever, and I've been keeping them for decades. You are probably referring to phoned flies or spring tails. These don't come from the substrate. They come from the surrounding area and out damp substrate and warm enclosures make an ideal place for them to live, eat and breed. They are harmless detrivores that offer some benefit, and its best to just ignore them.
 

J0KER

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i just ignore any spring tails. phorid flies are the ones that annoy me the most because they fly
spring tails are great because theyll eat old food and poop, i still spot clean daily
i use this kind:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FB8ZPG7/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

coco coir is great if your tortoise likes to burrow down a bit, i BARELY notice springtails and phorid flies nowadays, any flies or springtails are usually in the substrate.
since my enclosure is enclosed, no bugs really escape.
Awesome, thank you! Definitely gonna check out that coco coir. I currently have some repti bark and i do notice he likes to burrow, i think with some coco coir for my next substrate would be great as it’s a little softer for him to burrow into.
If you have an enclosed closure would that be the reason as to why you have a small amount of springtails? Since they come from the area and not substrate?
 

J0KER

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The loose stuff is the least economical way to get coco coir. You will need to dampen it and hand pack it down. Down leave it loose or dry. What species are you keeping on it?

Mites really aren't a problem for tortoises. I've never seen an infestation ever, and I've been keeping them for decades. You are probably referring to phoned flies or spring tails. These don't come from the substrate. They come from the surrounding area and out damp substrate and warm enclosures make an ideal place for them to live, eat and breed. They are harmless detrivores that offer some benefit, and its best to just ignore them.
Thank you for the response! Just to confirm, for coco coir i’ll need to dampen it and hand pack it down? To ensure it doesn’t get dry, and hand pack so it’s not loose. I’m currently keeping a Sulcata tortoise (Skyler).

Very nice! Knowing that brings me a peace of mind. I reckon i’ll go about it without baking it, and just continue to monitor the substrate and my tortoise.

Since you’ve been housing them for decades I do have a follow up question, do you think tortoises need a moonlight heat lamp if they’re indoors? I just want to make sure I give him everything he needs. I’m based off California so we don’t really get too much cold over here, & my room doesn’t really get cold either, I just want a second opinion.
 

KarenSoCal

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For a sulcata, especially a baby, the minimum temp at night is 80°F. Most enclosures need night heat to maintain that. A CHE (ceramic heat emitter) or RHP (radiant heat panel) is used, as both give off heat but no light. If the tortoise is fairly large, the RHP works better.
 

J0KER

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For a sulcata, especially a baby, the minimum temp at night is 80°F. Most enclosures need night heat to maintain that. A CHE (ceramic heat emitter) or RHP (radiant heat panel) is used, as both give off heat but no light. If the tortoise is fairly large, the RHP works better.
Omg thank you very much for that! I really had that feeling like I should buy one. Going to my LPS first thing tomorrow morning to buy him a heater for the night. He’s about the size of my palm, would you reckon I get a CHE bulb?
 

J0KER

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Okay, I just found a CHE bulb & a ceramic socket. For the thermostat though does that come with a specific type of ceramic socket?? How can I control it to reach the desired temperature?
 

KarenSoCal

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The thermostat is just like the one in your house. You plug the CHE into the thermostat, and the thermostat into the wall. You set the thermostat to 80°. In the day, your lights maintain the proper temp. At night, when the lights go off, the temp starts to drop. When it falls to 80°, the thermostat turns on the CHE. It goes off when the temp rises a few degrees, and back on when it falls to 80° again.
 

J0KER

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Ooh okay okay, I see what you mean. That specific one unfortunately wasn’t available, but I found this one and it met the 1000W. So that’s good! For my CHE bulb, I was thinking of a 60W one, or should I do a higher one?
 

KarenSoCal

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I would try to get a couple different ones. You may want to use a higher and a lower, or two lower, or just one high one. I'd get 2 75's, and 2 60's. That gives you options, since only your thermometer will verify the correct setup.
 

J0KER

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Do your lights hang down inside the enclosure, or do they sit on top of the enclosure?
They hang downside of the enclosure, so I have to clamp it on the rim of my tank.

Would the entire enclosure need to be at that 80 degrees mark? Or leave a warm side and a cool side as usual on the daytime? That might help determine whether I should get a 75W or a lower 60W.
 

KarenSoCal

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Did you see post # 17? You might want to get both.

The minimum in the coldest spot in the tank should be 80°, day or night. If a part of it is higher, that's OK.

If you're using clamp lights, be very careful. The clamps easily fail, the light falls into the substrate, and a fire starts. Houses have burned to the ground. We had a lady on here that the light fell onto her hatchling and killed it. Make sure they have a method of securement that they can't fall.
 
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