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Substrate Choices

Discussion in 'Tarantula Enclosures' started by Dave Jay, Feb 24, 2018.

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Which of these materials do you use as a substrate or in a mix?

  1. Coco/Coir peat

    82.6%
  2. Natural mined peat

    17.4%
  3. Sphagnum moss

    21.7%
  4. Topsoil/Loam

    30.4%
  5. Potting mix

    4.3%
  6. Garden soil

    4.3%
  7. Sand

    21.7%
  8. Compost

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  9. Bark

    4.3%
  10. Other

    8.7%
  11. Commercial pre mixed substrate

    4.3%
  12. Vermiculite

    26.1%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Well-Known Member

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    While substrate is mentioned in many threads there hasn't been a dedicated thread since 2012.
    Things can change in all animal husbandry, so rather than revive the old one , I thought I'd start a new dedicated thread and incorporate a poll.
    Indicate the components you use on the poll, but in the comments it would be great if you could include details of which specific group/genus/species/stage of tarantula you are tailoring to.
    Please include as many details as you can about both the substrate and tarantula catered for.
    I hope this will become a valuable resource for anyone setting up a new enclosure.
    Arachnoclown likes this.
  2. Whitelightning777

    Whitelightning777 Well-Known Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I usually use straight Coco fiber but my latest T in her new enclosure has a bit of sand, 10-15% or so, mixed in. That mix was originally intended for my M balfouri who sadly enough was impacted and passed away.

    The new spider I have in there now, P sp machala seems to like it just fine.
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  3. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Well-Known Member

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    I've just started with tarantulas so I can't add much advice about substrate choice for them in particular.
    Atm I have Selenotypus plumipes and Phlogius sp. 'stents' . The advice I was given was to keep these species on a 50/50 coir peat/sand mix. Being that they are approximately 1" slings I chose to add more coir peat , around 60/40 peat/sand which is still a very sandy mix. I have given them around 10cm of this mix ,at the bottom of the enclosure I have a layer 1 to 2cm of straight coco peat. I have found this to be a life saver with some of my scorpions as it will hold moisture after the substrate above has dried. It also provides a visual guide to moisture levels as when a few enclosures are side by side you can compare the colour of the peat layer.
    I have tried straight coco peat as a substrate for animals requiring a moist substrate, but I've found that a 1 in 6 sand to peat ratio is easier to pack down and it holds burrows better. I think it's easier to see moisture content by eye than with straight peat.
  4. Enn49

    Enn49 Moderator Staff Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I use Coco fibre, I find it seems do them all fine.
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  5. PanzoN88

    PanzoN88 Well-Known Member

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    Coco fiber, none better in my opinion. Some use topsoil without additives. Others use sphagnum moss. The rest of the choices you listed do not sound like safe options, bark and sand in particular, if I am not mistaken compost is best for millipedes.
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  6. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Well-Known Member

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    Actually it was supposed to be bark chips but I couldn't change it once posted. I tried to think of everything I've seen used as substrate or as an ingredient in a substrate mixture. I'm not recommending they all be used together or separately. Another thing I thought of since is Orchid Potting Mixture, I've come across that before too.
    Thanks for your reply, it's as much about what people don't recommend as it is what they do.
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  7. Arachnoclown

    Arachnoclown Well-Known Member Premium Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I use a mix of Coco fiber and vermiculite for all my Ts. I add a little moss for my Theraposa's though.
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  8. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Well-Known Member

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    Out of curiosity I googled coco peat and coco fibre to show how a product might be called by a different name in different countries. I am in Australia btw.
    Image results for Coco Peat coco peat.jpg
    Image results for Coco Fibre coco fibre.jpg
    I thought this may help, you don't want to order Coco Fibre online because that's what you were told on a forum and be sent the product in the second screenshot!
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  9. Whitelightning777

    Whitelightning777 Well-Known Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    Or you might even get this instead!!

    [​IMG]
  10. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Well-Known Member

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    These are better! Just like a chocolate milkshake only crunchy! coco pops.jpg
  11. Whitelightning777

    Whitelightning777 Well-Known Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    No, the OBT probably won't give it back!!
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  12. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Well-Known Member

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    @ThatGuyWhoDoesTheThings , I started this thread to help with substrate choice. It certainly needs input from more members but it might help.
    I tried to list all the substrate choices I could think of good or bad.
  13. MassExodus

    MassExodus Well-Known Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I use potting soil(organic) and coco peat, vermiculite, sand mixed with excavator clay, jungle mix( fir peat and sphagnum moss)...sphagnum moss..wtf would you name it that for, thats ridiculous..scientists are assholes..sphagnum...pffff. but yeah I clicked on most of your choices Dave.
    As far as usage..sand or dirt mixed with excavator clay for dry species, or straight coco peat..Its boring though..
    Jungle mix, potting soil, vermiculite and gravel for moist spp. And everyone gets rocks. Spiders like rocks. And cork bark. For moist species Ive been mixing the things I listed but using false bottoms( the gravel)..to be honest though, I dont like it. I like wetting the area around the water dish better. I'm not sure why..
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  14. Tortoise Tom

    Tortoise Tom Well-Known Member

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    I don't like any kind of store bought soil-in-a-bag, and here is why: There is no way to know what type of composted yard waste is it made of. Don't know how it works elsewhere in the world, be here they collect all of our yard trimmings, compost it, and then re-sell it back to us as "top soil", "potting soil", "soil amendment", soil for growing vegetables, soil for growing cacti, soil for growing trees and shrubs, soil for growing flowers, etc…

    When I bought my ranch, I made a giant pile of oleander bushes that I removed. All of it went into the yard waste bin for collection. You can't go into any hardware store in this country with out smelling the awful toxic chemicals that people spray all over their yards, patios, houses, etc… Weed n' feed. Fungicides. Pesticides. All of these chemicals are all over the grass clippings that go into the yard waste bins that get collected and turned in to soil for sale. I once bought a bag of soil and the composting process hadn't quite been completed and somebody's jacaranda leaves were obviously part of the mix. Jacaranda is toxic.

    I've been using nothing but coco coir under my tarantulas (Not sure what coco peat, or coco coir peat is, but this is plain, finely ground coconut husk.) since I heard about it 15-20 years ago. It used to be hard to find, and I'd get it in bulk from this hippy guy that went to all the reptile shows. Now its easy to find anywhere. I get the big bulk blocks from local nurseries for about $12.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
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  15. MassExodus

    MassExodus Well-Known Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    I hope to GOD that a company like zilla that caters to pets has good quality control. I recently lost a bunch of spiders due to my own mistake with flea killer for my dogs..I can't let that kind of disaster happen again.
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  16. Tortoise Tom

    Tortoise Tom Well-Known Member

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    What mistake did you make? Let us learn from it, so we don't do it?

    Why mention Zilla here? Is that your source of coco coir, or some other substrate?
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  17. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Well-Known Member

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    Zilla is a brand name as far as I'm aware Tom.
    Great info about the composted garden waste, it's composted here at the local Rubbish Dumps, some is sold as mulch, the finer stuff as compost. The public can buy it and I know the council uses it but whether it's sold to companies as a component of their products I don't know. The fact remains that you can't have compost or organic based soil without plant material and it has to come from somewhere.

    Finely ground coconut husk is known by many different names as I've found out, but that is what people are referring to, usually the words coco or coir are in the name and it usually comes as a compressed brick that you expand with water. It is sold loose too but the price is greatly inflated.

    Other coconut husk products are a roughly chopped product, sold loose and as bricks that is used as mulch, and another that is long fibres. I've seen the long fibre version in both pet shops and garden shops.

    For the finely ground product the term peat is often used because it is used as a sustainable replacement for mined peat in many industries.

    More often than not in animal husbandry if peat is referred to it is the finely ground coconut husk product they are referring to not the mined peat.
  18. MassExodus

    MassExodus Well-Known Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    The mistake I made was putting flea killer, the stripe down the back kind, on my dogs, petting them a few days later before I did cage maintanence on about twenty of mine, including rinsing out water dishes with my hand in a sink. Apparently thats a good way to poison them. Almost all of them showed symptoms of DKS, and died over the next month.
    I've always been careful about washing my hands, but all it takes is once. I switched to flea pills for the dogs.
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  19. Tortoise Tom

    Tortoise Tom Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for explaining. Sorry to hear about your spiders.

    I've always had a strong aversion to toxic pesticides. I use traps for the rats, mice, gophers and ground squirrels. I use hawks to control the rabbit population. I use borax and sugar water baits for the ants. I use lacewings, mantids and ladybugs to keep the bugs off my tortoise food plants. I use roach motels (sticky traps) for escapee or wild roaches. I use oral Ivermectin to fight ecto-parasites on the pigeons and chickens. I don't use any chemicals on the lawn because it is all tortoise food. If a good weed pops up, its fed to the tortoises. If a bad weed pops up, its pulled out by the root and tossed in the trash. I fertilize the lawn and plants with fish tank water after water changes.

    As a culture, I wish we didn't all use so many toxic chemicals on a daily basis. So many of them are used ineffectively anyway.

    Rant over. Back to which substrate to use...
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  20. MassExodus

    MassExodus Well-Known Member 3 Year Member 1,000+ Post Club

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    Agreed. Unfortunately the natural remedy for fleas doesnt do the job. When I come home at night there's usually around 15 rabbits scattering everywhere. They will infest a yard with fleas. I intend to thin them out with a shotgun this weekend.
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