Live planted tanks- How do you do YOUR plants?

Sarah_RainyDay

Chahoua Egg
Messages
8
Location
Washington
Hey all! I'm just starting to get into the very basics of live tanks for my chews and leachies, including growing pothos from cuttings. How do you like to set up your plants? Do you directly plant into the tank soil or do you like to place the plant still in its pot into the tank, separate from the ground soil? I'd love to hear what you prefer and why. Also, what plants do your chahoua specifically seem to LOVE?
 

MichaelMDG

Administrator and Gecko Guru
Staff member
Messages
269
Location
Atlanta, GA
I love this topic! I have kept my animals in live/bioactive vivariums for several years, both because I think they help maintain humidity and I personally like how they look.

I have never put drainage layers in mine and personally think those work better for super humid species like dart frogs. With that in mind, all of my tanks start with 6" inches of organic potting soil and then I plant pothos in there. There are some websites, such as Josh's Frogs, where you can get plants that haven't been raised/cultivated with fertilizers and insecticides.

I use UVB on my adult breeder tanks, and I think that helps with the plants too.

The core vertical elements are cork, but I've also spent a lot of time in my yard and local forests finding right-sized branches. I bathe these in a bleach/water solution, then let them sun dry, then bake them in my oven for 2-3 hours at 250 degrees.

Day to day, of course the tanks get misted heavily. Roughly every 5-10 days, I dump in a liter or two of water to make sure everything is humid enough, but other than that, they're very low maintenance and easy. Isopods definitely help with the cleanup!

 

ArborealsAnonymous

Chahoua Fan
Messages
107
Hmmmm I use a drainage layer on mine but the bigger geckos dug through and ripped out the barrier fabric. Maybe I should redo the tanks and just skip the drainage. How long have your tanks been running like this? How often do you tear them down/how do you manage deep cleaning?
 

MichaelMDG

Administrator and Gecko Guru
Staff member
Messages
269
Location
Atlanta, GA
Hmmmm I use a drainage layer on mine but the bigger geckos dug through and ripped out the barrier fabric. Maybe I should redo the tanks and just skip the drainage. How long have your tanks been running like this? How often do you tear them down/how do you manage deep cleaning?
I've been using this setup for probably 7-8 years now? Once a quarter, I take everything out, turn and aerate all the soil, wipe everything down, etc. It has worked very well for me overall.
 

MelissaSR

Moderator & mad scientist
Staff member
Messages
111
Location
Toledo, OH
although 2 of my 3 breeder tanks have drainage layers in them, one doesnt. I also keep all of my male cresteds bioactive, again with no drainage layer. It is really more necessary when you have a super saturated enclosure. I however am not as anal as Michael, I don't bleach wood, hell anymore I dont bake branches that are not covered in a thick bark, free temperate springtails!
 

ELSGeckos.com

Chahoua Egg
Messages
5
I have all of my breeding pairs in bioactive, some with drainage layer and some without. I find the drainage layer to be a problem mostly b/c crickets somehow find a way under and will hide away there and not get eaten. IMO benefit of drainage layer is that it self waters the plants with a wick effect so is good when traveling: One can intentionally overwater, water drains to layer and is pulled up as needed. When you come after (even after 7+ days) the plants still look great.
 

Just for fun

Chahoua Egg
Messages
15
I love this topic! I have kept my animals in live/bioactive vivariums for several years, both because I think they help maintain humidity and I personally like how they look.

I have never put drainage layers in mine and personally think those work better for super humid species like dart frogs. With that in mind, all of my tanks start with 6" inches of organic potting soil and then I plant pothos in there. There are some websites, such as Josh's Frogs, where you can get plants that haven't been raised/cultivated with fertilizers and insecticides.

I use UVB on my adult breeder tanks, and I think that helps with the plants too.

The core vertical elements are cork, but I've also spent a lot of time in my yard and local forests finding right-sized branches. I bathe these in a bleach/water solution, then let them sun dry, then bake them in my oven for 2-3 hours at 250 degrees.

Day to day, of course the tanks get misted heavily. Roughly every 5-10 days, I dump in a liter or two of water to make sure everything is humid enough, but other than that, they're very low maintenance and easy. Isopods definitely help with the cleanup!



Just curious what brand of organic potting soil do you use? Thanks:)
 

MichaelMDG

Administrator and Gecko Guru
Staff member
Messages
269
Location
Atlanta, GA
Just curious what brand of organic potting soil do you use? Thanks:)
I think I JUST ran out and threw the bag away, but the brand I used is organic and has no "extras" added to it. Probably not great for growing plants, but it's been great for growing geckos!
 

Just for fun

Chahoua Egg
Messages
15
I think I JUST ran out and threw the bag away, but the brand I used is organic and has no "extras" added to it. Probably not great for growing plants, but it's been great for growing geckos!
Thanks for responding back! I was just curious as I am on the “great soil search” 😂 I can not find an organic potting soil that does not have
vermiculite or perlite which I have read can be dangerous?? The other organic soil either potting or garden have fertilizer’s which I also heard can be bad?? So I bought plain old top soil but it is not organic. I am just trying to figure out what is best🙂
 

MelissaSR

Moderator & mad scientist
Staff member
Messages
111
Location
Toledo, OH
There is a difference between top soil and potting soil. If you get top soil, this will not have perlite or vermiculite. But there isnt a huge danger with this, for years perlite was what people used (myself included) on egg laying box medium. And generally the fertilizer you find in organic soil humic acid (which is found in natural soil), nitrogen which is often in the form of urea (they produce urea, we produce urea, pretty much if it poops or pees, it produces urea), calcium nitrate (derived from limestone), potassium nitrate (natural occurring in soil), and ammonium nitrate (naturally occuring in soil). Now I am not saying run out and buy organic potting soil, but everything in it you will find in trace amounts in even organic top soil. And sorry my soil nerd came out, I used to work in R&D making fertilizer lol.

My mix is organic top soil, but in a pinch I will use potting soil. I mix orchid bark and sphag moss into it. Top layer is more sphag moss and leaf litter.
 

Just for fun

Chahoua Egg
Messages
15
There is a difference between top soil and potting soil. If you get top soil, this will not have perlite or vermiculite. But there isnt a huge danger with this, for years perlite was what people used (myself included) on egg laying box medium. And generally the fertilizer you find in organic soil humic acid (which is found in natural soil), nitrogen which is often in the form of urea (they produce urea, we produce urea, pretty much if it poops or pees, it produces urea), calcium nitrate (derived from limestone), potassium nitrate (natural occurring in soil), and ammonium nitrate (naturally occuring in soil). Now I am not saying run out and buy organic potting soil, but everything in it you will find in trace amounts in even organic top soil. And sorry my soil nerd came out, I used to work in R&D making fertilizer lol.

My mix is organic top soil, but in a pinch I will use potting soil. I mix orchid bark and sphag moss into it. Top layer is more sphag moss and leaf litter.
Thanks for all the info! I am pretty sure I am over thinking it 😂 I am just going to use the non-organic topsoil(cannot find organic topsoil anywhere), a little coco coir, and Sphagnum moss.
 

MelissaSR

Moderator & mad scientist
Staff member
Messages
111
Location
Toledo, OH
This is the brand of sphag moss I recommend, its really clean (very little sticks)

You can also mix organic peat moss into it also, I used to use this when I did live plants, however now I get a little more scientific and actually add things like worm castings, and when I have fine to go get it, ProMix is an amazing soil mix for those who do planted tanks. Not all of my bioactives are planted so I don't use work castings or promix in all of them, but the ones I do plant I use it. Otherwise its not really benefiting anything at all by using those unless youre an isopod nerd like me and buy it for their little bioactives lol
 
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