Bio-active Crested Gecko Storage Tub.

JessJohnson87

New Member
Messages
290
Location
Portsmouth VA
I had decided long before I got a crested gecko that I wanted to do a planted vivarium. I bought a gecko after Thanksgiving and brought him home, I had made my mind up that I wanted to house him in a plastic storage tub. After I spend a week trying to find the perfect tub, I did. So began the conversion to a permanent crested gecko "home." Once it was all done, I added my coco-fiber and fake plants to start off with. I then began researching which plants I wanted, something low maintenance that does not require regular fertilization and a bunch of light. Found 3 that were perfect: Pothos (of course), bird's nest fern and bromeliad. Placed the pothos and bird's nest fern into terra cotta pots and put them in there, but had no where else to put the bomeliad. I had picked out which janitors I wanted long before I started beginning the bio-active vivarium as well, thanks to inspiration from indyana(Rachel Gratis) and her threads plus an article on bio-active vivariums.
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Before I did the over-haul yesterday.

I decided to get rid of the terra cotta pots and put my plants into the soil. I added an extra bit of organic seedling starter mix (50-60% peat moss, perlite, lime and yucca extract) to help keep the soil (coco-fiber) from staying soggy and for my janitors to easily burrow in.

On to my janitors, I've been asked about the mealworm beetles and earthworms so I'm going to ramble a bit. I got my inspiration on adding something other than springtails and isopods from this article: Creating a Bioactive Leopard Gecko Setup - Gecko Time - Gecko Time
(I know it's on leopard geckos but it's still a great read)

-Mealworm beetles are apparently really good at eating poop and other things in the tank, like springtails and isopods. Since my crestie is not interested in bugs what so ever, I do not foresee a problem with having the occasional mealworm in my tub, if they get out of hand I have a leopard gecko that would not mind eating them.
-On to the earthworms. I am an avid gardener and love when I find earthworms in my flower beds! 1. Their poop is an amazing fertilizer for your plants and they help breakdown organic matter in the soil. 2. They help aerate the soil for better oxygen flow to the roots of the plants and I'm hoping to decrease the amount of mold I do find in the soil itself. Now as far as the poo, not sure if they eat and break that down but only time will tell. Also and article in earthworms in the soil: Worm Composting ? Taking Advantage Of Earthworm Benefits In The Garden


I decided on a warm day here in Virginia a few weeks ago, that I would scavenge in my yard for earthworms and found about 10 isopods along with about 10 or so earthworms. Out of the 10 isopods, I 3 today that are still alive and kicking, not sure what happened to the others...oh well. The earthworms are doing fantastic! I did not see any springtails hopping around so not sure what happened to the culture I added around the time I added everything else, I did find some fungus gnats and possibly phorid flies so I added my small venus fly trap to the tub (under a leaf to the bird's nest fern) to hopefully take care of those nasty things. I added a thin layer of sphagnum moss to the top layer for the janitors to hide under until I get some leaf litter and I also added a bromeliad into the tree stump decoration I had a fake plant in. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this and now on to the photo dump
:D
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Last edited:

indyana

Well-Known Member
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2,338
Location
Massachusetts, United States
Congrats on your new project! Glad to know my own projects helped inspire it a bit.

Please continue to post updates with how it goes. I'd be interested to hear whether the mealworms work out in a more humid setting.
 

JessJohnson87

New Member
Messages
290
Location
Portsmouth VA
I am to, it was a very fun project and I read your article in the bio-active leopard gecko enclosure dozens of times along with other articles for the general research and plant choices. I was going to just put one beetle in and see how it goes. I've noticed all the other types of cleaner beetles are more desert so if it doesn't work out, I'll just stick with what I have in there already. I did find Axel snuggled up in the bird's nest fern yesterday, he never paid it a bit of attention when it was in the pot so that makes me happy to know that he enjoys his "house."

I'm expecting some leaf litter to arrive on Thursday from Pangea :)

I would like to get an exo-terra tank,or something similar, later on and try my hand at the custom background. My husband is really interested in doing something like that and was looking at the tub that Axel is in to see how we could go about it.
 

JessJohnson87

New Member
Messages
290
Location
Portsmouth VA
Ok I got the leaf litter, sea grape leaves are huge! I also discovered my mystery with the disappearing isopods, apparently Axel eats them when they crawl onto his cork bark, I caught him in the act tonight. I added his chill bar after gassing off in the garage for about 2 weeks and he could care less about it right now. Other than that he seems happy with his house only for me to move him to an 18x18x24 that I'm picking up tomorrow for $55, I plan to make a custom background so it will be a while before he moves in. I will continue that project on this thread so I don't have a double post.

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He loves the bromeliad. I added more isopods today that I found under some wood in the yard, had about 30 so hopefully they will breed for me.
 

JessJohnson87

New Member
Messages
290
Location
Portsmouth VA
Hoping that once I get him into the bigger tank he will eat some roaches for me, if not I have Pangea with insects. Anyways I picked up the 18x18x24 today and it was in great shape, I think a snake was housed in it previously, I could tell by the shed skin and some stuck on poop that was in there. Currently in the process of getting it cleaned and disinfected before I start to work on any custom background.
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Everything seen in the picture is what it came with. Some of the things I may not use and I'm not sure how well the grapewood will hold up in a crested tank with the humidity.
 

JessJohnson87

New Member
Messages
290
Location
Portsmouth VA
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Finished product. I moved everything from the tub to this, I added another pothos, snake plant and parlour palm. Going to add 2 more plants and wait for the roots to get established before I put it's future occupant in.
 

JessJohnson87

New Member
Messages
290
Location
Portsmouth VA
A little update.

I picked out 3 more plants to plant into the enclosure. A Dracanea, Pilea and Lucky Bamboo(just another species of Dracanea). I was able to finally get them washed and planted into the enclosure today, no more rain..yay! I'm worried the pilea may be too fragile but once I give them time to establish, only time will tell. I found the springtails I thought I had lost in the bucket with the old drainage layer from the storage tub, filled it with water and fished them out so I'll be adding those very soon. The tank seems to hold humidity fairly well and takes a while to dry out, I'll keep monitoring over the next month.


The picture does not do this justice. It is so much more beautiful in person with the natural sunlight from my bay window, this just gives me an excuse to keep the blinds open every day :)
 

JessJohnson87

New Member
Messages
290
Location
Portsmouth VA
Another update. The Pilea did not fare well at all, I believe it was just too delicate for the wash so I removed it and replaced it with a wandering jew. I also added Baby's Tears for ground cover once it starts growing. So far my iso's and springtails love the baby's tears, great place for them to hide out in. I have also realized I need a watering can for the pots in the background, trying to water them with a cup is really difficult :main_laugh:

As always, pictures. These were just taken today.
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Springtails under the baby's tears.
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The viv in natural sunlight.
 

JessJohnson87

New Member
Messages
290
Location
Portsmouth VA
I made a few changes to the viv. I took the fake flowers out and added moss to the background, looks much better and more natural. I also added a few millipedes to the clean up crew, everything else is doing very well and I decided to move Axel into his new home tonight.



With the moss on the background.



Everything is ready for Axel to move in.






Big guy exploring his new home.

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