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  1. #11
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    Yes, the enclosure is glass. Exo-Terra 36x18x18 (though 36x18x12 works just as well).

    The fans are not required in enclosures of this construction as they are designed with optimal airflow in mind. You would need them perhaps for wooden or standard aquarium style enclosures depending on size.

    The leaves and rocks are indeed from nearby woodland, as-long as you collect your material from pesticide free land, away from roadsides, there is effectively no danger to including such items without treatment of any kind. In face, in terms of bio-active enclosures, we would want to include any micro-organisms or native invertebrates which may hitchhike their way inside as this further improves the diversity of life within the enclosure and makes the system more effective as a result. There are exceptions to this of course, ants and spiders I tend to remove as they can prey on the insect life I wish to thrive within.

    The idea behind Bio-Activity is that you never fully clean the enclosure once it is up and running, spot cleaning urate is the most that is ever done in most cases. I have never cleaned or needed to clean any of my enclosures since making the swap over two years ago now. For normal purposes however, if you wish to clean enclosure walls, product purchases or water bowls etc a 50:50 mix of water and vinegar works excellently, just rinse well and allow time to air dry.

    The CHE is indeed controlled by the thermostat, since you will be using a UTH to provide your belly heat, the CHE thermostat should be set to around 80F in order to maintain that ambient air temp (this is a normal temp from their home range). The UTH on the other hand will have its thermostat set to about 90F and therefore both types of heat are covered. Ensure you verify the ambient air temp via digital thermometer and the surface temp via temp gun, thermostats are often inaccurate in terms of their readout and while they can be relied upon for control, it is best to verify how the temperatures within the enclosure are truly being affected.

    In my case, the slate on the ground between the hatchlings warm hides and the platform above are heated by the CHE above to various levels of between 88-94F, the Gecko moves around throughout the night and uses the entire range as he has need. The soil surrounding the slate piece is slightly cooler and throughout the enclosure becomes gradually cooler again as we move away from the CHE. This is important so that the Gecko can cool down whenever it should need to. Crucially, the ambient air remains between 77F (cool side) and 80-82 (warm side), this mimics the natural environment to which the Geckos are adapted and ensures they remain active throughout the entire night. Without this, as you may have noted, they just hug their UTH surface and never move.

    Coco-fibre is indeed a part of my substrate mix and one I highly recommend for the species. It is perfectly safe for you to use as the entire substrate if you wish, though as you know, will not be suitable in and of itself in supporting bio-activity. If you wish you could create a more suitable soil mix now and hold off on adding any custodians until you feel more ready. Organic Topsoil, (or ABG mix is superb if you wish to purchase some online) mixed with Coco-fibre and a little playsand is all you need to make a great loamy soil.

    AFT's are reportedly notorious for not taking well to worm type insect prey, I find they relish things like Dubia or Red-Runner roaches, locusts or pretty much anything else than runs around !

    Her not using the hides is not overly concerning, though if you could provide a picture of the enclosure I could perhaps offer more insight as it is a little strange.
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  2. #12
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    -Do AFT utilize custodians as a food source as well? Is there ever the chance of the enclosure becoming overrun by the custodians?
    -Is false bottom good for AFTs? I assume no, so they can dig?
    -Do you need to do more than just mist your 7" thick substrate in order to keep it moist?
    -Is there a list of plants that are/are not safe to have in an AFT's enclosure?
    -I also read somewhere when I first got her that water must be kept very shallow for AFTs, is this true?
    -My new back yard is basically the woods for a few acres, so I'm sure I can find plenty of interesting pieces. So, would moss from back there be okay to add too? Or should I just stick to leaves and rocks?
    I've spent every free moment of my day researching bioactive enclosures, because I find them quite amazing! Forgive me if my terminology is not correct, but once the setup is completed and the custodians are in place how long does the enclosure need to cure (for lack of a better word)? I am currently in the process of building out my home (doing the work ourselves, so forgive me if I am slow to reply), but I'm hoping to be moving in within 3 to 4 weeks, so if possible I'd like to have her bioactive enclosure ready by then. Of course, I hope to have her current set up sufficient by tomorrow once everything arrives.
    -My girl is almost always on the warm side but ambient temperature generally reads around 90. Is this too hot?
    -I'm ordering some dubia tonight as well then since the closest store to me only carries crickets. Should I feed a bit of both at each feeding? And still dust them?

    Once I am home from work I'll post some pictures of her enclosure. Again, I can't thank you enough for all of your time. I read like crazy and thought I had all the essentials down, but I just had a feeling everything wasn't quite right. I'm so glad I found you! (lol)

  3. #13
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    Oh, and I forgot to ask, but are geckos social? The ones I've seen at pet stores tend to be housed together and sleep on top of/next to each other. would she be better off alone or with a companion?

  4. #14
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    Hi again,

    I will answer your questions as I read them.


    1. Custodians - Yes the AFT will often prey on the larger species, this is perfectly safe and very enriching for the Gecko. As for population, they will only be able to build in number as much as their environment allows, as-long as you do not overfeed the custodians, you wont have any issues with numbers and if you do, their removal is very simple to accomplish.
    2. False Bottom / Drainage Layer - You can provide one if you wish, I have a glass enclosure and can monitor the soil closely so I choose not to. You are also correct in thinking that the AFT will dig a lot.
    3. Soil Moisture - Nothing more than bi-daily or daily misting is required to keep it moist, only the top 1/4 inch dries out at most before I mist again. The ambient humidity within the enclosures helps a great deal in retaining the moisture in the soil.
    4. Plant List - I am not aware of any for AFT, but if you search for safe plants for Bio-Active Ball Python enclosures, all of those will work very well I imagine.
    5. Water Depth - I would not provide any water more than an 3/4 - inch or so deep, I have never seen them try to swim but I imagine they are not adept.
    6. Wild Collection - As-long as the forest it free from any human action like chemical spraying or dumping etc, you can collect anything and everything you like the look of with the exception of Cedar or Pine as these produce harmful Phenols.
    7. Time before adding Gecko - With an animal as small as an AFT, you can add them as soon as the enclosure environment is ready in terms of temp / humidity.
    8. Ambient Temp - Yes, 90F is too hot for ambient air temp, that is suitable for the surface temp but the ambient air on the warm side should really be no higher than 83F or so.
    9. Dubia & Crickets - I tend to mix up each feeding to keep them interested, either will work fine though. You can dust lightly as normal, both species require some degree of rebalacing.



    I can tell you have been researching, your Gecko is lucky to have found you !

    Let me know if I can be of any further help.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The supplements I use and the thinking behind why !

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...mzky_qzQdxu-K2

    Modern Care Podcast Series - Learn everything you need to know about captive Reptile Nutrition and the ideas supporting Bio-Activity today !

    https://www.facebook.com/arcadiarept...366384280319:0

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  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zux View Post
    Hi again,

    I will answer your questions as I read them.


    1. Custodians - Yes the AFT will often prey on the larger species, this is perfectly safe and very enriching for the Gecko. As for population, they will only be able to build in number as much as their environment allows, as-long as you do not overfeed the custodians, you wont have any issues with numbers and if you do, their removal is very simple to accomplish.
    2. False Bottom / Drainage Layer - You can provide one if you wish, I have a glass enclosure and can monitor the soil closely so I choose not to. You are also correct in thinking that the AFT will dig a lot.
    3. Soil Moisture - Nothing more than bi-daily or daily misting is required to keep it moist, only the top 1/4 inch dries out at most before I mist again. The ambient humidity within the enclosures helps a great deal in retaining the moisture in the soil.
    4. Plant List - I am not aware of any for AFT, but if you search for safe plants for Bio-Active Ball Python enclosures, all of those will work very well I imagine.
    5. Water Depth - I would not provide any water more than an 3/4 - inch or so deep, I have never seen them try to swim but I imagine they are not adept.
    6. Wild Collection - As-long as the forest it free from any human action like chemical spraying or dumping etc, you can collect anything and everything you like the look of with the exception of Cedar or Pine as these produce harmful Phenols.
    7. Time before adding Gecko - With an animal as small as an AFT, you can add them as soon as the enclosure environment is ready in terms of temp / humidity.
    8. Ambient Temp - Yes, 90F is too hot for ambient air temp, that is suitable for the surface temp but the ambient air on the warm side should really be no higher than 83F or so.
    9. Dubia & Crickets - I tend to mix up each feeding to keep them interested, either will work fine though. You can dust lightly as normal, both species require some degree of rebalacing.



    I can tell you have been researching, your Gecko is lucky to have found you !

    Let me know if I can be of any further help.
    For the bioactive substrate mix, what would be your suggested ratios or measurements? An independent animal supply store I found not too far has plantation soil (is that safe to use?) and spagnum (sp?) moss, they probably have charcoal for all the fish they have and I have some play sand still bagged up.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mothaNacha View Post
    For the bioactive substrate mix, what would be your suggested ratios or measurements? An independent animal supply store I found not too far has plantation soil (is that safe to use?) and spagnum (sp?) moss, they probably have charcoal for all the fish they have and I have some play sand still bagged up.
    I need the brand name for the plantation soil to know for sure, sphagnum moss is perfect, yes and charcoal would need to be 100% natural (organic) lump charcoal, the charcoal briquettes are not suitable for use.


    As for mix I use the following:

    3 parts base soil choice (organic topsoil or similar)
    1 part Sphagnum Moss
    1 part Playsand
    1 part Charcoal
    1 part Orchid Bark
    1 part crushed rotting wood
    1 part crushed fallen leaves

    Please note the above is just what I tend to have on hand and you do not absolutely need every part to have a bio-active soil.

    If you are curious, the Orchid Bark allows for air pockets within the soil aswell as providing hiding places for springtails within, the crushed wood and leaves provides food for the isopods and springtails and further provides hiding spots.


    Finally, there are some excellent pre-mixed substrates available for sale now which would prove a cost effective option for a single enclosure and remove much of the experimentation or guesswork on your end, if that is something you would be interested in, let me know.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The supplements I use and the thinking behind why !

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...mzky_qzQdxu-K2

    Modern Care Podcast Series - Learn everything you need to know about captive Reptile Nutrition and the ideas supporting Bio-Activity today !

    https://www.facebook.com/arcadiarept...366384280319:0

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  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zux View Post
    I need the brand name for the plantation soil to know for sure, sphagnum moss is perfect, yes and charcoal would need to be 100% natural (organic) lump charcoal, the charcoal briquettes are not suitable for use.


    As for mix I use the following:

    3 parts base soil choice (organic topsoil or similar)
    1 part Sphagnum Moss
    1 part Playsand
    1 part Charcoal
    1 part Orchid Bark
    1 part crushed rotting wood
    1 part crushed fallen leaves

    Please note the above is just what I tend to have on hand and you do not absolutely need every part to have a bio-active soil.

    If you are curious, the Orchid Bark allows for air pockets within the soil aswell as providing hiding places for springtails within, the crushed wood and leaves provides food for the isopods and springtails and further provides hiding spots.


    Finally, there are some excellent pre-mixed substrates available for sale now which would prove a cost effective option for a single enclosure and remove much of the experimentation or guesswork on your end, if that is something you would be interested in, let me know.
    Okay, yeah maybe I should take a look at what you suggest that is premixed.
    So I learned quite a bit about springtails, and I'd definitely like to use them. What else could I add that would compliment their services and possibly provide a food source for my AFT without bothering her?

  8. #18
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    Hi again,

    OK so, if you were to mix a product like https://www.thebiodude.com/collectio...firma-6-qt-bag with some of their bio-degradable line https://www.thebiodude.com/collections/biodegradeables or your own self collected bio-degradables you would be off to an excellent start.

    In an enclosure such as those for AFT's I add Tropical Springtails, Dwarf White Isopods, any native Isopods I have on hand, Powder Blue Isopods to handle the more dry areas within the enclosure and Dwarf Purple Isopods. Those form the backbone of cleaning and none of which will ever bother your Gecko in the slightest.

    On top of that there are many options, for hatchlings I dont add anything else species wise, but for larger Geckos I often add some Dubia or Discoid Roaches which become active at night, help with cleaning and allow the Gecko to hunt prey naturally if they so desire.

    PS: You can also check out their you-tube channel here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSE...vWZvzwg/videos
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The supplements I use and the thinking behind why !

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...mzky_qzQdxu-K2

    Modern Care Podcast Series - Learn everything you need to know about captive Reptile Nutrition and the ideas supporting Bio-Activity today !

    https://www.facebook.com/arcadiarept...366384280319:0

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  9. #19
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    Zux, Zuuuuxx! So most of our new stuff came in today! I'm a little frustrated that the thermometer/hygrometer that she came with is sooo off. I couldn't understand why I was getting a reading of 90 degrees, but she wouldn't ever leave the warm side. According to the digital thermometer that came in today, the one she came with is about 10 degrees off. I changed her substrate over to cocofiber (which was awesome, because I could build up the ground in certain areas, so she could utilize more of the space vs paper towels), swapped out her old upside down butter container humid hide for one of those rock ones with a lid, changed out her heat source to the ceramic bulb (she's currently having her first completely dark night- I'm sorry girl!), and I have never seen her be so active, EVER!! She seems so pumped about it! She explored every bit of the new set up! I actually saw her use the hides too!

    Quote Originally Posted by Zux View Post
    • [o]Temperatures at a basking spot should be between 90-94 surface temp (measured with infra-red temp gun)
      [o]Ambient Temperatures at the warm side should be approximately 80F (measured via digital thermometer probe)
      [o]Ambient Humidity within the enclosure should range from 60-80% and should never be below 60% ideally (this may not be achievable until the swap to a soil based substrate is made however)
      [o]Fresh clean water should be provided at all times
      [x]Diet should be as varied as possible and itself well fed
      [x]Diet should be supplemented as discussed earlier
    According to your list, I am just waiting on the supplement to arrive, because I think it's coming from Europe, and I ordered some medium dubia roaches that came in today, but I didn't feed them to her because they seem big.. almost the size of her head. Are those okay to feed her (size wise)?

    I snapped a bunch of pictures right after her setup today! This isn't a permanent set up, because today I also bought one of those fancy cages you have on Craigslist for only $75! So I want to start building out that one as a bio active enclosure, but I know that's going to be a bit of a journey/learning experience, so I wanted to make her comfortable in the mean time. Please give me any input or tips!

    20170727_220003.jpg
    The lady herself! <3

    Attachment 42357
    The set up: left cool hide, middle humid warm hide, right warm hide (kind of hard to see), in front of the warm hide is that tree root I was telling you about that she loves so I don't want to remove it. Behind the warm hide is the temperature probe. Is that a good location for an accurate reading? The ceramic heat lamp is directly above on that side.

    20170727_221140.jpg

  10. #20
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    Yea, some of those gauges can be horribly inaccurate. I suppose that solves the mystery as to why she would hug the heat and never move inside hides etc. She was likely sitting on the hottest spot in order to maintain her PBT (preferred body temperature).

    The enclosure looks fantastic, I am delighted to hear how much happier she appears too !

    You have done a wonderful job making all of these changes, and the Gecko will live a great life as a result of your effort.

    The B. dubia sound like they may be a little large but if fed as part of a mixed feeding group. That is if you were to offer a mixture of both appropriately sized crickets and the dubia, it should not pose a problem, much larger than that and I would avoid offering them to be safe.

    The probe location sounds good, you can try moving it around for a few days to different locations and ensure there are no spots where temperatures are significantly raised and then keep it in one spot to ensure no major fluctuation takes place.

    Once you get a piece of slate or similar basking zone set-up in the new enclosure, it will be well worth grabbing a cheap infra-red temp gun to get accurate surface temperature readings also, which are equally, or arguably even more, important.
    Last edited by Zux; 07-28-2017 at 05:30 PM.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The supplements I use and the thinking behind why !

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...mzky_qzQdxu-K2

    Modern Care Podcast Series - Learn everything you need to know about captive Reptile Nutrition and the ideas supporting Bio-Activity today !

    https://www.facebook.com/arcadiarept...366384280319:0

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