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Looking to try a Bioactive Terrarium. Beginner Advice?


laritheloud
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So while my 20 long is being super stubborn, I want to get busy with designing and planting up something new! I've been eyeing amphibians and reptiles for awhile now, and I'd like to try my hand as terrestrial plants and creating a self-contained terrestrial ecosystem. The issue is, all I know about plants right now is aquatic. 🤪 So I'm getting overwhelmed with all the info out there and I don't know where to start!

To all reptile and amphibian keepers out there, if you were just starting out, what would you do:

What size enclosure would you go for? Is bigger always better like it is in aquaria, or should I start with a modest size? I was looking at exo terra 18 x 18 x 24 for dumpy tree frogs, potentially, but I'm also considering a leopard gecko, crested gecko, or a small and active skink (emerald tree, schneider's, fire). I also heard White's Dumpy Tree Frogs tend to need more space than the minimum described online, so that makes me nervous. 

Should I choose a species before an enclosure size? Because I'm having a really hard time with that one. For amphibians, I think Pacman Frogs, Tomato Frogs, and Chubby Frogs are adorable along with White's Dumpies, but I'm having a hard time gauging whether I'll love them (I mean, I probably will, I love all creatures). I know maintenance is pretty low with these species, so that's appealing as a first time vivarium keeper. For Lizards, I'm eyeing leopard geckos, crested geckos, or skinks. What species would be the best 'starter' animal for a person with two young kids (one who is about to turn 7 and really loves creepy crawly bugs and weird animals) and lots of aquariums? I'm still attempting to learn lighting requirements and temp requirements.

I'm planning on setting up the vivarium for about a month before keeping animals. I know that vivariums need to 'cycle' just like aquariums, but there's no testing I can do for it. How do you clean a bioactive vivarium? Do you just spot clean?

Thanks, everyone. Total newbie here and it's overwhelming to look at all the information out there.

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Choose your pet FIRST. I can help with types and tips for most to get your ecosystem set but the conditions required for the health of the reptiles and amphibians are so crazy different nothing else that survives in one will survive in the other. Example my bearded dragon max 40 percent humidity ambient temp 80 to basking 105.( live plants failed consistently for me in his setup so I pulled the substrate and fed critters from separate colonies I set up.  High light  My tree frog ambient temp 70-72 no basking mild light ambient humidity 50-60 daily peak humidity 80%. After you decide on a pet then you decide what set up you want as that will determine the length of the tank if the plants need something slightly different. You critter will determine tank size and height are they ground dwellers or tree climbing or cave dwellers etc. hope that helps as to where to start. 

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Crested gecko you will be able to do more plants and it will need a smaller floor footprint tank wise. Second leopard gecko. For activity and enjoyment start here. Frogs though I love them are not very active and most active at night. 

I love her but she mostly sits still and 50 % of the time is buried in the substrate. Crested geckos are not much more work and you can avoid the hassle of crickets. Crickets are dirty smelly and will bite your frog during brumation if you don’t get them out. I helped my niece pick out a pet and she went with the crested. If I ever get another it will be a crested. 

I’ve never had a skink so can’t help with that

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Be sure to research about the plants you put in there, whatever they may be. All too often people plant fast/large growing plants that will quickly overwhelm most terrarium. Also, don't put any sensitive or expensive plants in there, at least at first. Animals, even little ones, really beat on plants....

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On 1/14/2022 at 8:49 PM, Expectorating_Aubergine said:

Be sure to research about the plants you put in there, whatever they may be. All too often people plant fast/large growing plants that will quickly overwhelm most terrarium. Also, don't put any sensitive or expensive plants in there, at least at first. Animals, even little ones, really beat on plants....

Oh, I'm not planning on getting anything super expensive or fancy in terms of plants. 🤪 I just want to get a few things appropriate to the habitat. Currently leaning toward a crested gecko/leopard gecko (one of those, if a lizard) or less active but cute and grumpy tomato frogs. If I put a pothos in there I'll expect I'll need to hack it back constantly. Thanks for the tips!

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