Bioactive tarantula enclosures

Hello all. I’m thinking that I might like to try my hand at doing some bioactive enclosures for my tarantulas when they’re ready for adult-sized enclosures. I’ve never done bioactive before, so I’d love to hear from some folks who have, especially for inverts. My Ts are still a ways off from being large enough to be moved into adult-sized enclosures, so it seems like now is a good time to start researching and planning in earnest.

The two species at play (for now) will be T. albopilosus and G. pulchripes. I keep them relatively dry (just overflow the water bowl every so often so they have a moist corner, but I typically don’t mist them). As such, I’ll need a cleanup crew that isn’t overly moisture-dependent. I’m also a little iffy about adding live plants to the G. pulchripes enclosure, since she enjoys engaging in landscaping projects and would likely just dig up any live plants. :person_facepalming: But who knows, maybe I’ll try adding some pothos or something else super hardy just to see what happens. I’d definitely like to add a live plant to the T. albopilosus enclosure.

I guess my biggest question right now is about cleanup crews. What would be the best species of springtails and isopods to use? I’m looking for things that don’t need a ton of humidity, are hardy, and would pose no risk to a freshly-molted tarantula. Also…how many isopods should I put in to start with?

I’d also be interested in some plant recommendations. I know pothos is great in most bioactive applications. It’s hardy, looks nice, and grows fast. But are there any other plants that might work as well, if not better, in enclosures for animals with relatively low humidity requirements? I feel like some sort of little succulent would look awesome, but I know very little about plants.

What sort of substrate works best? I’ve mainly been using ReptiSoil, which I really like, but is there a better choice for bioactive? Is a drainage layer necessary, given the relatively small size and low humidity needs of the enclosures in question? (Also concerned about the possibility of one of the spiders digging into the drainage layer.)

I’d appreciate any information, experience, and recommendations you could offer! I’d also love to see any pictures you may have of past or current bioactive enclosures.

Eventually I’d love to do a larger bioactive enclosure for something like dart frogs or tree frogs, but it seemed like starting off with smaller enclosures for animals I already have would be a good way to get a feel for the whole bioactive thing before trying to take on a bigger project. Plus I adore my tarantulas and would love to have beautiful, natural display enclosures for them.


I would avoid any larger isopods, because they will pose a threat to it during molting. I don’t think you would have to worry about that with dwarf white isopods. Any species of springtail will be fine, you can find a few species readily available, but any of them would work.

I don’t think so, as long as you don’t add too much water to where there is water pooling at the bottom of the substrate, you won’t need it.


Great, thanks for the feedback. Do you think any dwarf isopods would work, or would the white ones specifically be best/safest?

And thanks for reading my super-long post. I don’t know why I always end up writing a novella anytime I start a topic. :person_facepalming:

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I don’t know anything about other dwarf isopods, but as long as they don’t require lots of protein or get too big, then they should be safe.

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