Bioactive tubs?

Hey guys!

I’ve been thinking about making my ball pythons tubs bioactive for awhile now, but will it work in a tub?
I feel like it could be really enriching for them.



I was gung ho about bio active tubs and created one each for: 2 gecko, hognose, and a house snake. However, I did not do a lot of research beforehand and just threw everything together. I don’t know how many BPs you have but it was pretty expensive to start up the 4 tubs.

Then I realized that the cleanup crew has to be kept alive with frequent misting and food to eat. After awhile I decided it was not worth the effort, for me. I ended dumping everything out and starting over with aspen shavings for some and eco earth for others.

Due to my experience with bio active, I would not recommend it, However I am sure, if set up correctly, bio works for some people, just not for me……. I am sure you will hear success stories from others here about bio so don’t bank on my ineptitude regarding this subject. I have my BPs on shredded aspen………

Good luck! :lizard::frog::frog::wink:


Just a question
Is it even possible to do bioactive in a rack tub with a large snake like a ball python?
I would have thought they needed a much larger enclosure for it to ballance.
I dont know. I’m interested in bioactive so asking


That is a very good question! I can’t wait to hear others answers and observations.


IMHO I don’t think bio active would be ideal for for large snakes in general due to the amount of waste they can produce. I don’t think the cleanup crews could handle it. Also imho I think bio active is a trend that will not last. Even if it is set up to the last detail, there is still more maintenance keeping the conditions correct to ensure the cleanup crew survives……to ensure the waste is disposed of……

Anyway I am sure there are success stories with bio…… :lizard::frog::snake:


Since this wasn’t answered fully back in December, I decided at 5AM almost a year later would be a good time to put my opinion in lol. Also notice this is coming from somebody who primarily uses wooden vivariums or repurposed aquariums and totes although I do own racks which have been made bioactive already or a plan to and I’d love to help in what way I can even if the question was a good amount of time ago. Personally I think it’s a very very good idea! It’s not expensive unless you’re buying something that will be completely set up rather than letting cultures of bugs and bacteria and plants grow from babies which is what I do to generally get a nicer overall look and feel (the thrill of seeing a bioactive enclosure come to term and finally grow up to be a mini ecosystem honestly rivals all of the the times I’ve had the thrill of breeding animals in my care, it’s crazy but I always get a nice “I did this myself” and “so proud this grew from so little” feeling akin to seeing a new litter of baby mice in my setups, or finding a clutch of eggs from my fancy slugs, or my angelfish guarding eggs, sadly no snake eggs YET but I just love baby animals in general so I’m using the closest experience I’ve had)

The main basics of setting up a proper bioactive enclosures includes

  • substrate, I use peat moss as much as I hate to say it since it’s not good for the environment, although recently I’ve been putting in efforts to find alternatives. So here’s some other recommendations, Biodude has some AMAZING mixes, although a bit pricey for large scale, Home Depot is another option, mixing up some non sappy wood chips/ nuggets (NOT mulch, I’ve had so many situations where mulch ended up causing scale infections or even it’s and generally doesn’t fare well in enclosures, especially bioactive ones) and some rehydrated sphagnum moss with a bunch of organic fluffy topsoil, is an amazing mix. Final option is going to expos! My local reptile breeders and keepers have a wide variety of not only snakes (eyeing the Taiwanese beauty snake I almost got and diamondback water snakes I also almost bought) but substrates and supplies available! I’m very lucky to have good prices with good supplies locally but expos and shows are always a good option
    -proper humidity (80% does best which is easily achieved if your ventilation is good and you have enough plants)
    -proper heat (I keep everything at about BP hatching temps, 89F, with a cool spot of 76F if not a bit cooler and 93F on basking, my temps vary a lot more than a lot of other keepers and this is because A. the way my rooms I keep snakes in are insulated, it makes them insanely cold year round but there’s no other rooms so I’m constantly running ACs during the peak of summer in the one room where it does get hot and heaters otherwise basically year round which can fluctuate, but also there’s the fact my vivariums vary a lot in size too, my smaller tubs and racks are kept more uniform of a temp while my larger 6’ vivariums have the most variety)
    -proper light, anything with UVB will do, and you may be asking how you even get a heat lamp into a rack, I don’t really use them in my racks, the way this works for me is that I use lower light plants but also mine get plenty of sunlight so my snakes don’t sit in the dark all day the time I’m gone or just decide to not handle them, but you can also get stick on UVB light strips much like the “stardust LEDs” you see everywhere, it’s not very secure so I’d use a bit of hot glue to stick it up there but they’re pretty flush with the top and seem to work well, a much easier alternative which I really recommend is just regular LED light strips which are much more commercially available, as much as people in the hobby of tropical plants do not want to hear it and want to plug our ears, regular LED house lights do just as much to grow plants as our fancy plant bulbs and UVB lights do, the commercially sold LED lights just have to be bright
  • plants. For plants I’m not going to say much besides use what you like! On good ol Reddit back in the day when I used it, which was not long ago, the main BP subreddit was heavily anti-anything-besides-a-4’x2’x2’-is-abusive and was very specific about humidity and lighting, and even what plants to use but honestly almost any tropical plants work. Go to the tropical section of Campbell’s if you have one locally and I’m gonna tell everybody here a little secret, the entirety of Campbell’s tropical selection is by far some of the best stuff I’ve seen for BPs locally and if you wait until some sales or pick baby plants and find clearance plants, you’d can get out of there with a philo, a bromeliad, a pothos, and a dieffenbachia for 20 bucks
  • bugs! One of my favorite parts, personally I just get a colony of whatever isopods Strike my fancy (which you’ll do literally nothing to care for besides misting substrate and throwing in food scraps off your plate every now and then just in case they aren’t getting enough food) and some predatory mites, this is so any gnats, snake mites, or spider mites may affect your cages get dealt with swiftly, predatory mites are a great addition in my opinion if you can get your hands on them, if I remember correctly you can feed them flightless fruit flies that you buy from the pet store if you want to go with keeping them
    -wood, rocks, and other outdoor things. Rocks can be pretty heavy so in a lot of enclosures I actually don’t use em, but good to mention them. For wood I use a lot of root clusters, dragon wood, cork round, crab apple (crab apple is the best in my opinion, it can also get heavy fast though) and I use a lot of driftwood, you can use almost any wood you find as long as it came from a clean environment so you don’t have to wash and bleach it on your own since even though the residue wears off sometimes it prevents things in my enclosures like bugs from burrowing in it and moss to grow on it. Other fun things to add include bones! In my little man Tony Spark’s enclosure, I use a big cow skull for a hide and general decoration, bones make good isopod food for anything left on them if they’re fresh and for a bit of calcium, also they just look nice a lot of the time. Another thing is leaf litter! Literally just raking up a yard or picking up a handful off the side of the road, plop it in a baking sheet and basically bake em at 450F for 10-12 minutes, sanitizes them, dries em, and makes them ready for enclosures! I don’t have access to leaf litter currently so I don’t have any current examples but it’s very beneficial usually and aesthetically pleasing

Those are the basics of it! To start up minus the enclosure it should only cost about ~20-30 bucks although that’s starting with the bare minimum to work your way and let everything grow out, you’ll also want to add a plant in EVERY place you can, each corner of the cage, by each hide, by each log, add a couple out in a clearing, everywhere! I salute anybody who read through this but I hope I helped, bioactives seem like a lot at first but once you know all the steps to it it’s pretty simple in all honesty and only gets cheaper over time


Wow! :star_struck:

So much wonderful information here!

I’m still interested in doing this and plan on it in the next 6-8 months if I can.

I already collect oak leaves/twigs and outdoor botanicals for my black water fish tanks so I’m familiar with the sanitization process there.

Now, the largest tub size I use for my adult females right now is 70qt. While my grow out tubs are 32qt. Is bio active possible in the smaller tubs? Or only in the 70qt?

I’m very interested in doing this, as of now, I use a bunch of fake plants and pvc pipes as enrichment.

I do know of a few local nurseries and would love to go take a look at the plant selection, now isopods and springtails might be harder to get ahold of here, but I go to expos at least 2 times a year so could pick some up there.

And, thank you for all of this info!


No problem, I’m definitely a bioactive lover! I’d say for 32qt tubs you could still get away with it, I start everything off in about 64qt minimum size moving up to a minimum of 400qt/100g once full grown unless they’re an exceptionally small male to accommodate for the full length of the snake so I’m not quite sure, but for non-snake animals I have managed to do bioactive in jumping spider enclosures with spider plants, thin leaf sansevieria, and dwarf begonia. I’ve also managed to do 10g/40qt bioactives for KSBs so I’d say it’s possible. I always encourage bigger sizes of enclosures in general but especially for bioactive, but I’d say at about 32qt that’d be the starting line for it, and I honestly don’t recommend going with 6’x2’x1.5’ for a ball python like I did for my three stacker, I thought he would use all of his enclosure and clearly ended up not, no regrets but wish I would’ve known and also just proof for the pushback against giant enclosures for BPs, they don’t really need them. I have an almost four foot female in a 40 gallon who’s fine although I plan bumping up her enclosure size since she’s shown interest in climbing and I want her to be able to stretch out full length, like having a bed big enough to fully stretch your arms and legs out to comfortably sleep I try to provide that for my snakes but bioactive can make everything a -little- bit more cramped which is why bigger the better. My smallest for my ball pythons currently as afore mentioned is my 64qt sterilite bin racks ($10! Modified and fortified sterilite is my favorite, looking into buying some reticulated Python racks to use for BPs in the future though so the tubs are semi-clear and still provide plenty of room) for isopods honestly expos are my go-to, I have a local reptile shop that does have them but besides emergency feeders I try not to, they’ve proven themselves not worthy of my or other’s cash with the way they treat their animals, 20 gallon screen lid cracked aquariums with cedar mulch, a glass water dish, and no hide with 30% humidity and in the 90’s across the board is not acceptable in my book, they’ve improved a lot lately but I’m still waiting for next winter to see if they’ll step it up full scale since their sales are the only time I’d actually look at their prices anyways (300 for a male hatchling fire, it might be a good price for them but I’d rather stick with the local breeders I know and love who might just give me one for free lol, I don’t want to judge anybody’s prices but for almost any single gene that’s a bit steep for me, especially one as common as fire. I’ve seen fires go for 450 so who knows) as for springtails you can actually get them at any Petco or petsmart near you! Sometimes they have isopods too but they won’t carry the gun variants like orange Dalmatian, dairy cow, clown, rubber ducky, little sea, and tons of others but those are the most popular. As of this week I’m actually putting together my new 3’x2’x2’ male enclosures bioactive (if I can get my hands on my pay for some work I did, I told the person I was working with to hold onto the cash until a later time so I don’t spend it in a stupid way and so that they’re not going out of their way at an inconvenient time) and finally as for nurseries, I totally recommend them! They constantly have a 5 plants for 20 dollars deal in little combo pots they sell which is great for me! They also sell little pots of ferns and begonias and have wall hangers of air plants which I love to browse through! Best of luck, and no problem on giving info, the idea of me keeping the deets on bioactive away from somebody else is horrifying in my mind since bioactive can be so rewarding!


So never saw this thread but I will completely disagree here, sorry :joy:

Our red tail boa is in a bio viv, All amazing so far, also the borneo short tail has bio and the royal python, the hognose and the 2 tricolour hoggies also. So all snakes we own. And others we’ve had before were bio or semi bio. When we had tubs they were orchid back mixed with other stuff and worked well, woodlice will breed like mad regardless if you get the right type too!
I will add I do hate tubs and racks :smiling_face_with_tear: Yes I’ve owned before when first got into snakes, but the reason we cut down was we don’t like them and wanted the snakes to have the right set ups and space to make them happy. Because my gosh the royal, borneo and red tail LOVE to climb!!

ALL our reptiles are in bio, that be geckos, monitors, snakes etc, any amphians or reptiles we owned too.
I do not think it’s a trend at all. It’s a MUST for any reptile or amphibian owner, To give them the best life possible, they should be living in the best home they can that replicates where they’re from.

Maintenance also is a Lot easier in bio, the springtails and isopods are happy, and the animals too.


I am glad bioactive works well for all of your critters! Hopefully you have a plan if Heaven forbid you get mites…… But I am sure you do! :+1::blush:

Thank you for your reply!

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Touch wood, never got mites, all snakes I’ve ever had over the years have been clear :grin:
But Taurus mites I know work amazing in bio, know many who’ve used and sorted there issue and all clear since :blush:


@tande You might be interested in the above regarding mites in bio active enclosures


Just chiming in to clarify that there are multiple species of predatory mites that folks use to address mites in bioactive enclosures. I’m guessing that different species will have variable efficacy for a given kind of environment.