Bioactive help

I want to make a 20 gallon Bioactive tank for my ball python. I have the tank and plan on using lava rocks on bottom in an inch of water, but I’m wanting to know what to put on top of that, I’ve heard a mixture of play sand and coconut coir but want to find some way to use coco chips instead, maybe put them on top of the mixture of playsand and coco fiber. I bought some frog moss I want to add to it but don’t know if it needs to be planted in soil or coco fiber or what and if plants require a certain kind of light in the tank.

Questions: do plants in Bioactive tanks need a light, or is sun from the window and fan enough?
What substrate for Bioactive tank?
Which isopods are best?
Anyone have pics of their Bioactive tanks?

In order of questions asked: low light plants will do fine with ambient room light near a window, however glass does block most UV light, so if it needs moerate to high light, you will need extra light. (If you plan to use a UV light for your snake, that is more than enough for any plant.)

As for substrate, i use a mix of snake shed, crushed oak leaves, reptisoil, activated carbon, sphagnum moss, cypress mulch, and calcisand (yes, there is huge drama about using calcisand as a substrate, but that is using it alone as a substrate. Calcisand is calcium carbonate, an important dietary element for isopods. You can use other objects instead if you prefer, but when properly mixed, it becomes part of the soil and will not be ingested in sizeable quantities, especially not by a snake.) I mix it by eye, so it is hard to give an exact percentage, but after adding moisture it should start to turn into a mat like texture that bugs can burrow, but your snake cant ingest.

I personally like armadilidium ghestroi for isopod as it breeds slowly, so you dont need to worry about overpopulating as much, and they are very efficient, as well as look really nice!

For pic of bioactive ill have to edit this post after. I only have mostly bioactive tubs in my rack systems, but i do have a couple tanks. Here is 2 for example. Also a pic of the isos. Personally i would also add springtails and predator mites preemptively. While nobody likes dealing with snake mites, a bioactive enclosure is a place they would flourish, have a healthy springtail and predator mite colony already establish should prevent most pests from making their way into your enclosure.

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Thanks. Those look really nice. What goes on the very bottom? Or is it just a mixture of the leaves and sand and everything else listed and it needs to be sprayed down often? Will look into those isopods, I plan on doing a lot of research on them later. I got some moss that looks just like that in the gecko pic but it’s only 2 pieces so am probably going to get more.

So, it depends. Alot of people like using gravel or small rocks to create a drainage layer on the bottom to help prevent flooding, and to help keep soil moist for the plants. I personally dont just because of the weight i would be adding accross all of my enclosures, but if you dont have a drainage layer, you will likely need to water the enclosures more often.

Its hard to explain exactly what i do water wise because i literally have hoses hooked up to my rooms, so i spray them down to give them water once a week, and i have a certain wetness i like when i do this that works very well… but… like… how to explain how “wet” that is is hard haha.

You do want a decent amount of moss, as its going to soak up and hold the moisture and slowly release it so the tank doesnt dry out right away