Hello there! I’ve been having trouble finding any answers in other places so mayhaps folks here may know or have some experience they’re willing to share.
I’m setting up my first bioactive for my corn snake in a 4x2x2, it’s essentially done I’m just letting it alone for a month or so to get used to how to care for the plants before I let my corn in. It’s got isos and springtails that (hopefully) haven’t died and the plants are still looking alright after about 2-3 weeks. I was worried about the moisture of the soil vs humidity since I’m going for a temperate forest and found my soil was drying out super quickly.
I got a soil meter and found it ends up leaning dry after only a day or two - the most shallow parts are about 4-5 inches deep and the deeper top of the slope is about 8-10 inches deep. I’ve watered the enclosure with a full liter and after a day or two it usually leans dry again and I don’t want to mist since that’s led to the humidity being too high.
So my question is, how often and how much water does one normally use, or do people find in their experiences? How do you maintain this without hurting the reptiles? I’m worried once my corn is in there about her getting scale rot or hurt if she’s burrowed and I have to water in huge amounts at once. Is there a better solution without using misting to maintain soil moisture without raising the humidity?
Did you use a layer of clay balls in the bottom? I have found that helps with the humidity, etc control.
I did not, I’m using terra firma substrate since it was highly recommended to me for corns that liked to burrow and is easy to use for a first-time setup for the environment I was going for. It listed that a drainage layer wasn’t needed due to the substrate make-up but now I’m wondering if that was a mistake and I might need to dig up the whole thing since the water is not retaining?
I was afraid I overwatered so I’m hoping maybe I just don’t water enough when I do water, or if the drainage layer is just that important to keeping the soil moist between watering. (But I just genuinely can’t find any sort of range of amount of water that folks do use outside of outdoor gardens.)
If you cover up some of the ventilation it won’t take as long to dry out. It’s a careful balance of having enough ventilation and not letting the moisture escape.
Hmmmm I’ll give that a try. I’ve been trying to air it out more to keep the humidity down so maybe just no misting period and an initial air-out to let all the humidity escape then see, I’ll give it a go and see what happens!
What are you using for heat? Overhead heat lamp? Under tank heat mat? I’m assuming you have the heat source on the shallow end if you are using uth?
If you are using a heat lamp overhead, that will dry your substrate very quickly. That and the screen lid are very drying. @spottedbull made a great point. Cover part of the top of the screen if you can. I would also recommend that you have a decent sized piece of cork bark in the tank for the isopods to congregate under along with some fish flakes for them to eat since there is no poop in there yet! Lol!
Here’s a slightly older pic, I have another plant and moved the cork around, it’s got a radiant heat panel and uvb/jungle dawn led though it stays warm enough with just the lights on the panel only kicks on at night. (Usually sticks around ambient temp of 79-80 during the day, then maintains 74.8 at night.) Oooo fish flakes, I hadn’t heard of that! I’ll give that a look and try covering some of the vents.
Thanks a ton guys! At least it seems less like a watering issue and something that can be managed.
I’ll see how the covering goes and worst case I’ll just bite the bullet and dig everything out and add a drainage layer, I’ll look up the clay spottedbull mentioned! (I assume the snake won’t burrow into it? Or can take care of herself and not mind LOL)
I’ll letcha know how it shakes out.
The setup looks great! And very well thought out! I wouldn’t dig everything out until you have tested it the way it is for at least a few weeks. As long as your snake eats well and has no problems shedding, to me that’s the most important part. You can keep the plants watered if need be and spritz under the cork for the isopods. Don’t panic if you see a bit of mold because with bioactive you probably will. The springtails will take care of the mold. That type of mold is not a bad thing.
Good luck and yes definitely keep us updated!