Bioactive Terrarium

This is where you discuss the conditions of your crabitat -- temperature, humidity, substrate, decorating, etc.

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sammiewunchkins
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Bioactive Terrarium

Post by sammiewunchkins » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:58 pm

Hello All,

My name is Samantha. I was a member here years ago and have since lost my old account, but I am back with some questions and a new project! Over the last 10 years I have had many crabs of almost all species. My Es, straws, and ruggie were the most fragile and were also adopted in poor shape, so I lost the few that I had. However, I still have about 8 PPs and 1 viola that were all adopted as well. They reside separately- 3 PPs in a 40g breeder and the others in a 55g L tank.
Recently, I have had an issue with slime mold in my eco earth mixture. It has been a pain to replace substrate repetitively, and I can only assume that the slime mold is somewhat endemic to my area because I see it outside as well (thanks...southern LA). Because of these things, I am planning on getting a bigger enclosure and combining my tanks/ moving to another room in the house that does not have windows open all the time (for my cat patio/catio).
In my ambitiousness, I want to create a bioactive terrarium for the crabs that I will set up and allow to establish for a few months. Keeping in mind that hermit crabs spend most of their time in surrounding tropical costal forests, I am aiming to mimic their ecosystem and create live substrate. I wanted to project my ideas and have some criticism/input on what I am planning.
My guess is it will be easier to just buy a large tank 90+ gallons. Here are my details:
Substrate: Mix of 15% worm casting, 50% EE, 35% baked playsand. I would like to add a cup or two of bioactive soil from a permaculture garden of mine for the microbes. Has anyone had any experience with this?
Top Layer- Leaf litter of maple and oak leaves; some wood litter-maple or oak. White springtails + isopods. Some spaghnum moss in areas
Does anyone have advice on how deep to use leaf litter?
Plants: Here is where I need most input. I realize crabs will decimate most of what I include, but I want to try and use quick growing, heat/humidity tolerant plants. I will keep all "in ground" plants in pots set into the substrate level.
Water Dishes- I've never been a fan of building in water bowls because with my luck, it would break and I would have a mess on my hands. Will probably settle a 5 gal tank into substrate for salt with filter and airstone. Has anyone has success with wired filters in tanks? Do you protect cords with anything in particular to prevent the crabs from tearing into it?
Humidity: To DIY fogger or to buy a fogger-that is my question! I want easy maintenance.
Heating: Stick heating pads (forgot what they are called lol) or lights or combination of both? Are there new heating innovations in the last few years?

I'm sure I will think of more things, but this is it for now! All input is appreciated, and happy crabbing :)

PS: I WILL post pictures as this project comes along :clap:

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AwesomeHermit
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by AwesomeHermit » Tue Mar 20, 2018 4:35 pm

Nice! Can you send a pic of the "slime mold?" Never heard of it. The mold I usually come across is the disgusting, fluffy mold, which I left a piece of broccoli in the tank for too long, and when the mold sprouted I needed to stick something in it to tell it was the broccoli
Three Clypeatus
Goodbye my little E. See you soon.
Bye Fred. You lasted almost 4 years with me. Hope you're with my E now!
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GotButterflies
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by GotButterflies » Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:39 pm

Well...if you really want my input...be careful. With that kind of set up you might have a hard time controlling your isopods. They love leaf litter...I'm still battling catching isopods out of all of my crabitats. It's been a battle! An uphill one...

I wouldn't use a fogger, or real soil...but that is me.
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jclee
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by jclee » Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:36 am

GotButterflies wrote:Well...if you really want my input...be careful. With that kind of set up you might have a hard time controlling your isopods. They love leaf litter...I'm still battling catching isopods out of all of my crabitats. It's been a battle! An uphill one...

I wouldn't use a fogger, or real soil...but that is me.
I wouldn't worry about too many isopods. They don't bother the crabs, and the population will eventually stabilize in relationship to available food. If they're just hiding in and munching leaf litter, they'll not be a problem.
120G with 12 hermit crabs, varied ages/sizes, most quite large
2.0 guinea pigs that own my living room
1.0 crested gecko
0.2 leopard geckos
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0.1 lemur leaf frog
0.1 tiger legged monkey tree frog
10G planted tank with feeder guppies

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GotButterflies
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by GotButterflies » Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:42 am

I’m on my phone, so I can’t use the emoji where the smiley face is slapping his arm up and down. That is NOT TRUE @jclee!! My isopods bred OUT OF CONTROL in all of my tanks. They were eating all of the crabs food, and at night when I would go in to look at the tanks it was all isopods. The crabs looked irritated. They would throw their legs up at them. I had to take a shop vac to all of my tanks for three days in a row to get those isopods in check! I already had a 55 gallon tote filled with them!!!! My crabs are finally happy again.


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wodesorel
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by wodesorel » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:10 am

I think you have a good sense of what they and you need after all this time. :)

Still, slime mold. In a tank. That has to be weirdest luck ever!! However, they do fruit and if you had cocofiber it is a good food source so I could see that happening in a weird rare set of circumstances.

The only thing that concerns me with going true bioactive is that it is always done in shallow substrate tanks, and the sub is left loose, drier, and fluffy so that oxygen permeates. For hermits it needs to be obviously deep, but it also needs to be rather compact so that caves hold shape and so it blocks off molting odors, and a bit more moist. You don't end up getting much oxygenation at lower levels.
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by sarcasticLynx » Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:32 am

Instead of isopods you could use springtails! I have had them in my Orchid mantis tank and they did a great job keeping mold at a minimum. I took them and put them in my new crabitat after the inhabitant passed and so far they're reproducing at a steady rate! I would suggest to have leaf litter and or live plants with them, though
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soilentgringa
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by soilentgringa » Fri Mar 23, 2018 1:18 pm

wodesorel wrote:I think you have a good sense of what they and you need after all this time. :)

Still, slime mold. In a tank. That has to be weirdest luck ever!! However, they do fruit and if you had cocofiber it is a good food source so I could see that happening in a weird rare set of circumstances.

The only thing that concerns me with going true bioactive is that it is always done in shallow substrate tanks, and the sub is left loose, drier, and fluffy so that oxygen permeates. For hermits it needs to be obviously deep, but it also needs to be rather compact so that caves hold shape and so it blocks off molting odors, and a bit more moist. You don't end up getting much oxygenation at lower levels.
This is something I was pondering as well and hadn't had time to research this week.

I've seen a lot of bioactive vivs done for reptiles but they included introducing isopods or springtails as mentioned, have that shallow coco fiber/peat substrate like you said Wode, and also have live plants.

I would be concerned about root systems in live plants depending on what you chose to use.

I have a friend with a background in biology and epidemiology and they are going to send me some supplies and walk me through testing the substrate in my crabitat to see what flora is in it.

This particular setup is under a year old though it does have a mix of old and new substrate IIRC.

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wodesorel
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by wodesorel » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:25 pm

Plants are the one thing I would not worry about. It's something natural to them, they have no trouble ripping through live plants, and roots will both stabilize soil and aerate at the same time.

BUT rotting roots could cause serious issues, especially towards the bottom of a lot of substrate. That would happen given that crabs tear apart live plants and kill them, and also tunnel beneath the surface, slicing roots in half. You'd be looking at the perfect situation for bacterial blooms to start - rotting organics and a ton of sub above.

Removing pots with plants will also affect molts. Crabs really like to molt with something solid above them, so they are likely to be tucked nearby.
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jclee
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by jclee » Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:17 pm

GotButterflies wrote:I’m on my phone, so I can’t use the emoji where the smiley face is slapping his arm up and down. That is NOT TRUE @jclee!! My isopods bred OUT OF CONTROL in all of my tanks. They were eating all of the crabs food, and at night when I would go in to look at the tanks it was all isopods. The crabs looked irritated. They would throw their legs up at them. I had to take a shop vac to all of my tanks for three days in a row to get those isopods in check! I already had a 55 gallon tote filled with them!!!! My crabs are finally happy again.


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Wow! I've never had that experience. Sorry to hear it.
120G with 12 hermit crabs, varied ages/sizes, most quite large
2.0 guinea pigs that own my living room
1.0 crested gecko
0.2 leopard geckos
1.0 bearded dragon
0.1 lemur leaf frog
0.1 tiger legged monkey tree frog
10G planted tank with feeder guppies


Sweet Pea
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by Sweet Pea » Wed Apr 04, 2018 5:21 am

I have a large tank for my crabs, 225 gallons, and only four hermits in the tank. They range in size from large to jumbo. The two larger ones need a minimum of 12" of sub for molting. Because it would add too much weight to the tank, rather than go with the entire bottom of the tank in substrate at a 12-15", I've chosen to have some potted plants in pots that are smaller than would be convenient for my hermits to dig into, some small sections that are potting soil that I can drop seeds onto for sprouting, and two large sections with the sand/eco earth substrate at a suitable depth for molting. I have found that while the hermits will dig up the plants to some extent the don't really go tunneling through the potting soil sections. Most of the damage that I see is from climbing on and ripping up the leaves of the plants. I keep the sections of potting soil small, narrow, and shallow, and for the most part there isn't enough room for them to fit. There's only one pot sunk into their molting substrate. It's holding a spider plant which has proven to be pretty capable of handing wear and tear from the hermits so I don't anticipate having to replace it often, if ever.

I had been keeping the tank as a bioactive setting for a couple of years, and I've had the same issue with isopods getting completely out of control. I've just recently torn the tank apart and reassembled it, and as much as I like them, I'm not thinking that I'm going to be adding the isopods back into the tank when I put the crabs back in. I couldn't keep moss in a moss pit, because the isopods would devour it within days, and that gets to be expensive. The isopods were literally eating the roots off of some of the plants. I'm thinking of just going with springtails and perhaps some darkling beetles.

Here's a picture of the tank. I don't have the heaters hooked up or the humidifier on it, and I still need to cycle the pond and get that going. It looks great right now, because there are no crabs in it. :wink: I moved them all to a tub while I was tearing the tank apart and I have to wait for one to come up from molting before they move back in. I fully expect that the baby tears in the left hand corner of the tank will be completely decimated when the crabs arrive. For these hermit crabs baby tears = hermit crab crack. @sammiewunchkins I'm guessing this is something like what you are looking to do.

Image7vr34jXwSlaDBP08PaPviA by Eljay, on Flickr

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AwesomeHermit
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by AwesomeHermit » Wed Apr 04, 2018 2:44 pm

If I was a crab, I would honestly really like that setup
Three Clypeatus
Goodbye my little E. See you soon.
Bye Fred. You lasted almost 4 years with me. Hope you're with my E now!
Crabbing for 4 years!


Topic author
sammiewunchkins
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by sammiewunchkins » Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:35 pm

Sorry for disappearing! Finally bought a used tank that needed a lot of TLC. It's 135 gallons with an extra base panel of acrylic glass as a patch over the original base so this thing is HEAVY. I have the bottom layer setup with hydroponic clay balls and then a layer of plastic canvas to keep anyone from burrowing down into it. I will be running air stones under the clay balls with tubing to create some air flow under the substrate. The air pump I have is labeled for 160 gallons so hopefully it will push enough air to prevent any types of molds/bacterial blooms. Thinking of doing two 5g tanks or maybe just one for salt.. Going buy sand and eco earth right now and start filling this puppy... :banana:
Also....to do a topper with another tank or just to get some plexiglass and screen and call it a day?


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sammiewunchkins
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by sammiewunchkins » Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:36 pm

Also how to post pictures? It's been a while :lol:


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sammiewunchkins
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Re: Bioactive Terrarium

Post by sammiewunchkins » Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:40 pm

Here we go.... Also pics of slime mold in my tank vs outside ImageImageImage

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