Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium. - Dendroboard
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Old 06-25-2019, 06:53 PM
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Default Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

I'm trying to disinfect my 330 gallon terrarium, which is crawling with at least fruit flies, if not other flies.

It would not be a problem to kill them all with a pesticide spray if they were all above ground, but having tried that several times, and having seen the population return to the same size after each try, I have had to conclude that they have eggs within the substrate that aren't affected by pesticides.

So I got this:



I know that there is a quality care sheet for doing this, but I am working with a terrarium that has much different proportions than normal frog vivariums, plus holes in the ceiling for lights and thick LFS padding along three of the four walls. I'll include a thumbnail you can blow up if you want a better idea of what I'm dealing with:



So, I'm going through kimcmich's instructions for doing this:

https://www.dendroboard.com/forum/ge...ml#post3063272

And I think I more or less understand. I'm going to:

1) Turn off misting system for a while before the operation, and checking before I do it to make sure there is hardly any water on leaves.

2) Fit the tank with a pressure valve and an appropriate tubing.

3) Wrap the tank up in masking tape or plastic wrap. Not 100% sure what this is for, maybe the temperature of the tank itself?

4) Find an appropriate place to get the line of tubing in, while keeping the tank outside of the terrarium. Can this be done from the top of the terrarium --- letting the CO2 drop from the ceiling --- or does it need to be done at the base, or somewhere else?

5) Perhaps sealing up any openings in the terrarium in which CO2 could flow out? Not 100% sure about whether or not this is needed. I don't know much about the properties of CO2, so I don't know if having (almost) nowhere to flow out of the terrarium will be dangerous.

6) Turn on the CO2 (what pressure?), note the time, leave it on for 4 hours, turn the CO2 off, let it escape the terrarium naturally. I assume it would be best if I wear a gas mask going into the same room as the terrarium is in.

7) Repeat the operation weekly 3 to 4 times.

If that is all correct, I should have everything I need to do it, but I have some questions:

- Is 5lbs of CO2 enough to fill what amounts to about 240 gallons of open space + enough of the substrate to kill everything, for 4 hours? for three or four such operations?

- Will the CO2, which is heavier than air, be able to penetrate the substrate and kill any eggs or other pests? This is perhaps the most important consideration of all. If it can't kill things in the ground, it may not be any better than pesticide sprays.

I don't think I have any slugs, and those would be the thing that CO2 bombs don't really take care of, right? So I assume CO2 will cover everything else.

Whoo, long post. Sorry, I tend to be long-winded. Any advice, confirmation, or changes to my plan that need to be made, would be very much appreciated.

Thank you!
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Old 06-25-2019, 07:45 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

You've been on this forum for a while now, so I'm kinda disappointed to see this post. Sorry to be blunt but you want opinions and help right? And honesty and experience too, I hope.

A vivarium means 'living enclosure'. The term 'Bio-active' is fairly new and that also enclompasses where the hobby is 'going' / trending these days.

A Vivarium is going to have a rich and varied microfauna population and that's a GOOD thing. You want a ton of critters to be in there.

There are only a few 'bugs' that concern me, and they all go through boom and bust phases. The new hobbyist often has no patience or is terrified of this new 'threat' and freaks out. Don't freak out.

Some people are squeamish about certain worms, and larvae ect and want to eradicate the viv and substrate and 'clean things up'. Horrible. It just won't work, nor should it. Eggs will survive. New critters will roll in with plants ect ect ect. Let it be. Don't freak out. The viv will balance itself out after many months.

I should take a picture of my basement tiled floor / frog room. There are easily 6-10 tiny curled up dried worms -annelids of some species or another that I hope the roomba gets. They wiggled outa da tank. heh. Point is, there should be a bunch of stuff in there and in 90% of the cases, ya gotta learn to live with it. There is no right mindset with 'eradication' or 'clean viv'.

just some thoughts. You'll probably proceed with your C02 thing anyway, seems you are just about sold on it.
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Old 06-25-2019, 08:10 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

Preach it, brother. Right on.

Kinstrome, sometimes I wonder if maybe you're wound up too tight for this hobby? You gotta relax, man. Taking time takes time. Just try stopping, and observing, for a while. If you need to be busy, shit man, take some notes, do some journaling or something. Just keep your hands off the viv for a couple weeks. Seriously, with a fresh new viv, most things resolve on their own. Improve, even.

I think a lot of the problem comes when people try to have vivs out in the public spaces of their homes. If you have a dedicated hobby room, you can much more easily tolerate the little life forms coming and going from the glass boxes. I know you're not presently in a living situation that would permit that, but some day before too long, you will be. If at that point you've burned in some twitchy-tweaky bad habits, I fear your viv keeping - and your charges, plant, animal, whatever - will suffer.

Good luck!
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Old 06-25-2019, 08:27 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

I actually expected people would think I was far TOO relaxed. It seems like every day I find out a new precaution people are taking that I should have considered before even getting plants / building a terrarium structure. Hell, a week ago I wasn't doing anything to disinfect plants.
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Old 06-25-2019, 09:33 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

I cannot top what has been said so far.

I will say, though, that the only thing I've killed by CO2 bombing vivs is plants.

If you're gonna do this, though, I'd use a flow meter so you use the correct amount of CO2. I use this one for rodent euthanasia, and it works great:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

There's about 9 cubic feet of CO2 in a pound, and 7.5 gallons in a cubic foot. So, 67.5 gallons of CO2 in a pound. So, 337.5 gallons of CO2 gas in that tank. So, I guess, math says you could just unload that tank into your viv. Wild.

Oh, and a 'gas mask' doesn't filter out CO2, unless you're talking about a rebreather or something. (Kidding!! Please don't search for sellers of rebreathers!)
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Old 06-25-2019, 10:05 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philsuma View Post
You'll probably proceed with your C02 thing anyway, seems you are just about sold on it.
Actually, I'm not, and I thought this conclusion was rather unnecessary.

The reason I had been trying to get the flies out is that they are everywhere, and it is really making the terrarium look nasty. I had read in several places about CO2 as a useful disinfectant, and I never saw any controversy over it, except as used in animal euthanasia. I saw about as much information on CO2 usage as I saw about using a diluted bleach solution to disinfect plants. I really did not expect this kind of reaction to this post. At most, I thought someone would say more or less what Socratic Monologue said, i.e. "that's not a good idea, won't work."

As far as being "wound up," I don't really see what is abnormal about asking a lot of questions and wanting to get experience and precise answers. I come from a lot of other hobbies, and it is the people who are most actively asking questions and raising concerns who tend to get things done (and tend to learn from mistakes more easily).

Also, this is a field fraught with things I don't know. There are about half a dozen times that I found out one thing or another wouldn't work, or some important feature was noticeably absent from the plan, which would have rendered a huge amount of work wasted had I not run the problem across users of this forum.

I will probably return the tank within the next few days.
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Old 06-25-2019, 10:22 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

Come on, Guys. He is just asking questions. That response is not going to help with other people who want to do the same. I might agree with your conclusions, but maybe work on the delivery a little... Also, don't forget that he doesn't have frogs in his tank, so there are no animal welfare issues to worry about in this case.

I view CO2 as more of a nuclear option. I have used it when I knew for fact I had a problem that other solutions had not fixed. It was only partially successful (got rid of the slugs, the snails must have hid in their shells :-) Flies in a tank is more likely to work itself out because I am guessing that you don't have the right conditions to keep breeding them generation after generation. That might not be true. They might be permanent residents, but maybe give it some time before you decide that. If you had some known critters that are going to hurt your plants/frogs, then maybe pull the trigger on the CO2. If it's just an annoyance, though, try waiting it out. Slugs and snails in my tanks have killed plants so I know that if I care about putting sensitive stuff in there, I need to eradicate them. If it's sort of just annoying stuff, you can afford to take a more leisurely approach to deciding what to do.

I would say that a 5lb CO2 tank is too small to take care of a tank that size. If I remember correctly, a 10 pounder has enough CO2 in it to roughly fill half of an old school phone booth (at least that was what I learned about SCUBA tanks). That assumes that you have sealed your tank completely, which is doubtful. The plastic wrap and tape are for the sealing. The better seal you have, the better the CO2 bomb will work. The last time I tried it, I used just blue painters tape because I didn't want to have to clean the adhesive from duct tape or something more serious. It didn't work all that well and I bet it was because I didn't seal the tank well enough. I hadn't thought of plastic wrap. Will do that if I ever do another bomb.

Truth be told, I have several tanks with slugs and snails in them. I just don't put sensitive plants in there and I don't sell plants out of there. I give them away and let people know to do the bare root protocol if they use any of them in their tanks. It's annoying to see holes in leaves sometimes, but in general, the slugs and snails don't do a whole lot to the hearty plants I put in there.

Mark
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Old 06-25-2019, 11:29 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

I can see from the responses that CO2 is probably not a good idea. I think I can get most of my money back; I haven't done anything besides unwrapping the plastic for the 5 lb. tank.

If the flies are just a phase, that is a good thing. They are unpleasant to look at, but they aren't especially destructive, so I'll just chill and let them have their time. Nobody but me ever sees this terrarium in person, anyway. And it'll be good not to have to kill my springtails with the flies, although springtails are pretty easy to replenish when you only have like 2 viv-sized terrariums

@Encyclia: I sort of did think that the terrarium was at the point where nothing else but CO2 would work, but I also didn't know that CO2 was that dangerous to plants (I thought it was only a little dangerous) or that flies could kind of phase out (I was told that springtails pretty much sustain themselves forever, and I carried that thinking over to flies).

Last edited by Kinstrome; 06-25-2019 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 06-26-2019, 12:05 AM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinstrome View Post
So I got this:



[...]

I'm going to: [...]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinstrome View Post
Actually, I'm not, and I thought this conclusion was rather unnecessary.
Well, you had the gun in your hand and said you were going to shoot. Philsuma's conclusion was the only reasonable one.

BTW, I didn't -- neither less nor more -- mean that it wouldn't work. I meant that I've failed at CO2 bombing. Many (most?) people here are better at this than I am, and I try to be careful about predicting how someone else's project is going to go, since they'll likely prove me wrong.

I can feel a bit of a tide change in the conversations regarding eliminating all unintended viv inhabitants, changing from total control to letting bioactive be bioactive, warts and all. I think that's the wave Philsuma is riding, and I see the value in what he says, and I think that's the way froggers generally are going to shift, consciously or not.

I think jgragg salts his comments with so much living wisdom that it is easy to misinterpret him as being snarky or angry or off in left field or something. I myself really like the little opportunities to learn something about myself and the universe when all I set out to do was watch some frogs jump around.

I also see Encyclia's point about delivery, and we should all take it to heart, but I think Mark doesn't fully realize he has a special talent for diplomatic argument.

Kinstrome, as far as I can tell everyone here values your opinions and all your questions and your presence here in general (your questions get many, many more responses than mine do...). Please don't feel offended. I think we're all lucky that posts here often come with a lot of passion behind them, even if it seems like too much passion sometimes.
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Old 06-26-2019, 05:28 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

Quote:
I can feel a bit of a tide change in the conversations regarding eliminating all unintended viv inhabitants, changing from total control to letting bioactive be bioactive, warts and all.
That is a wise and attentive observation. The phenomenon is definitely acting within me. It's like a whole-body reaction against sterile lab-keeping. Which was the "right way to keep stuff" when I was getting started back in the Stone Age.

Quote:
I come from a lot of other hobbies, and it is the people who are most actively asking questions and raising concerns who tend to get things done (and tend to learn from mistakes more easily).
That's all good. Sometimes though I think those other hobbies must not involve biology, ecology etc. When working with a "bunch of involuntary and at times unwanted roommates" (plants, soil biota, animals, etc), sometimes "getting things done" is up to them, not you. Liberate yourself from the delusion of total control, and be satisfied with partial influence. It's way more realistic, and honestly costs a lot less time, money, and aggravation. A lot of the art and science of this hobby is learning how to get your thumb on the scale, as lightly as possible, to tip things to go the way you want. Hey, hammer-squashing things is fun for a while, but...after a while, God what a waste.

Quote:
I can see from the responses that CO2 is probably not a good idea.
It's totally situational.
  • In this situation, honestly, it's just silly. A total hammer-squash, and one that's unlikely to give you a lasting result (what, you think those little bastards won't be back next week?).
  • In other situations, it would probably be the absolutely best alternative anyone could come up with. Short of tearing down the viv, burning all the organic matter, and sterilizing what's left. That also works, and in certain situations, that would be the absolute best alternative. An even bigger hammer, if you will...
  • If you just can't take the flies outside, how about taping a little no see um mesh over your vents? Just until this hatch runs its course? You got a fabric store nearby?

Quote:
I think jgragg salts his comments with so much living wisdom that it is easy to misinterpret him as being snarky or angry or off in left field or something. I myself really like the little opportunities to learn something about myself and the universe when all I set out to do was watch some frogs jump around.
About me - well said, no I'm not angry or snarky. I've got a sort of morbid, bleak sense of humor, and I'm a little old, and sooooo not the most patient guy. Never had the best delivery either. But, I think I have been generous with my knowledge and experiences, as much as with my "saltiness".

Anyway - Kinstrome, to some extent every viv is an unreplicated, longitudinal experiment. It is damned hard to learn anything when you dick around with too many variables at once. In this case, I think you'd be risking a great deal of your ongoing learning about establishing mosses and vascular plants, by taking the "big hammer" option with the CO2 bombing. I often counsel people to determine what's most important; in this case, is it getting the huge new viv established and grown-in, or is it having no fruitflies by dinnertime? Part of establishment is "cycling", and part of cycling is a procession of blooms of different organisms (gnats, fruit flies, mushrooms, etc). Sometimes it's easier to read about it, than it is to endure it, but...hey, a whole lot of life is like that. It's better to learn how to endure and even embrace it, than to suffer the self-destructive effects of trying to avoid the pain.

cheers
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Old 06-26-2019, 08:18 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Socratic Monologue View Post
Well, you had the gun in your hand and said you were going to shoot. Philsuma's conclusion was the only reasonable one.
[Let me preface this by saying that I do not want to start up some kind of animosity or cold war between me and users here. I don't harbor ill will towards users on this board. I simply want to understand.]

It's not as much the message --- of course, though I was prepared to use the CO2 tank, I was making this thread with the twin purposes of affirming my methods and actually getting the go-ahead to do it. I was awaiting a message along the lines of "It's not practical, etc." if I didn't get a full go-ahead.

It's the way the message was delivered. It was not a friendly sentence. There are many, many other ways to phrase that sentence that would have been ... diplomatic, as you put it. "I see that you've already put a big investment in that, but I think that this is something you should reconsider." Or, "It seems you are going to proceed with this, anyway, but I wish you wouldn't. I think you will ultimately find it better not to go with this option." Combine the actual sentence with hearing that someone is disappointed in me, and you can understand why I feel the way I do.

I also was a bit confused before some of the later responses as to why I got the reaction I did. I am still a little confused. Until this thread, I had not the slightest inkling, from what I had read on the forum, that there was anything like differing beliefs on how to handle infestations. I had seen a care sheet about it and seen threads, involving well-established users like kimcmich and Pumilo, advocating the use of CO2 with no dissent. One of those threads was from only a month or two ago, I believe.

I want to know what I need to avoid doing, so that I don't make a thread again that elicits a negative response. I don't want to be thinking, "This seems like a harmless topic, but I may get some backlash from it, so I'll just not ask the question," every time I prepare to make a thread. If the problem is that I make too many threads (which I could easily believe) and push down other people's threads, I'd like to know now so that I don't flood the board with threads.
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:24 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

The recent thread as I recall was specifically about slugs & snails, which are pretty much up there with Satan for undesirable tank-mates. Heck, anyone who's ever had a garden understands how fast gastropods can obliterate plants. Like, down to a tattered stump. And that's outside, with other things to eat! Trapped in a little box, with only what the viv keeper planted as a food source? OMG ugh. Gastropods are definitely heinous in a viv. Plus don't forget, a lot of guys here started in aquaria - or still keep them. Once again, snails are held in very, very low regard among such folk.

Whereas, I suspect folks read "fruit flies" and thought "Uh, those are slightly pesky, but not like, uh, The Devil Himself. WTF is this guy's problem?!?!?"

So I think the strong adverse reaction was mostly to the over-enthusiastic, ready-fire-aim approach you seemed to be taking. More gun metaphors, sorry. Anyway, such approaches & such enthusiasm are more easily forgiven, I think, in folks who are fresh here, rather than those with whom we have more familiarity & comfort. We'll all cut a complete stranger quite a bit of slack, but give a buddy a ration of shit for being goofy, am I right?

Quote:
I don't want to be thinking, "This seems like a harmless topic, but I may get some backlash from it, so I'll just not ask the question," every time I prepare to make a thread. If the problem is that I make too many threads (which I could easily believe) and push down other people's threads, I'd like to know now so that I don't flood the board with threads.
I'm not sure, but you may be on to something here. Two aspects: 1) ready-aim-fire works better than any other arrangement, and 2) short controlled bursts work way better than spraying lead. Still more gun metaphors...hmm. Crap. Ha ha.

Don't sweat it man. Just remember, ready - aim - fire. Short, controlled bursts.

cheers
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:36 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinstrome View Post
[Let me preface this by saying that I do not want to start up some kind of animosity or cold war between me and users here. I don't harbor ill will towards users on this board. I simply want to understand.]
Like I said above: I think we all appreciate you here. I do, anyway, for what that's worth.

And no one is "disappointed in you"; some (uh, only three counting me, who wasn't very critical at all) folks are gonna get bent by things you do with your hobbies, but none of this is about you personally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinstrome View Post
differing beliefs
Get used to this. Please. It is a big part what makes the hobby interesting. There is a 'recipe' for a lot of what we do here, but it was written by a lot of, uh, spirited argumentation, and gets improved for the future in much the same way.

Anyway, I like your questions, so please do keep them coming!
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:37 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgragg View Post
Anyway, such approaches & such enthusiasm are more easily forgiven, I think, in folks who are fresh here, rather than those with whom we have more familiarity & comfort. We'll all cut a complete stranger quite a bit of slack, but give a buddy a ration of shit for being goofy, am I right?
I wanted to say this earlier, but I wouldn't really consider myself a long-time veteran of this board. Join Dates and post counts are both deceptive; most of my posts are either in one of my two big terrarium threads or are in topics in which I'm just asking questions. Even when I'm answering other people's questions, I often defer to others' opinions or flat-out tell other other to wait for a better response, because I only responded because no one else had yet.

Also, I wasn't discounting the possibility of slugs, because I have had slugs in a terrarium from which I drew other plants without disinfecting them (again, the inexperience thing). I may foolishly have said something like "It's only fruit flies" in the OP, but I definitely wasn't thinking that it was only fruit flies. I'm seeing several kinds of things crawling on leaves, things that I'm not experienced enough to discern as essentially just flies or something more.

Anyway, I'm glad that this blew over, and things can be normal again.

EDIT: Got ninja'd by Socratic Monologue:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Socratic Monologue View Post
(uh, only three counting me, who wasn't very critical at all)
I don't think I referenced you as being critical? If I did, my bad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Socratic Monologue View Post
Get used to this. Please. It is a big part what makes the hobby interesting.
My point wasn't at all that differing opinions are bad.

My point was that I had done a reasonable amount of reading without seeing any evidence that there was controversy on this subject, and then I got such a reaction as would be reserved for someone who should clearly have known better than to ask that question.

I don't care about controversy. Frankly, I didn't have any strong opinions going into this discussion about disinfecting. I did, sort of, think that Dendroboard would be disappointed in me if I hypothetically said in my build thread, "Hey, I have an infestation. But whatever, I'm just going to let them do whatever." But I didn't strongly feel that "EVERYTHING MUST DIE."

Last edited by Kinstrome; 06-26-2019 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 07-10-2019, 06:39 PM
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So I am late to this thread but my response to all of the fungus gnats and various other flying insects was ... I can justify buying carnivorous plants now!

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Old 07-11-2019, 01:23 AM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

As a matter of fact, I did buy a couple of carnivorous plants a couple of days ago from Black Jungle. I was going to post about it next time I updated my 330g thread. (They haven't arrived yet.)

One was a sundew, the other a small nepenthes.
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Old 07-14-2019, 03:01 AM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

Welp, just found a snail / slug on a leaf. No picture of it, though.

Maybe it's just a one-and-done thing? I had a slug appear once in another terrarium, and I just took it out to the woods. I never have seen another slug since then.
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Old 07-14-2019, 12:42 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

Hopefully there was just that one. It might pay to be extra vigilant in monitoring that terrarium, though.

I wouldn't release a live pest of unknown/non-native origin. Pretty high invasive potential, I would think.

Off-topic: everything good in New Orleans? I heard you're getting a little rain. I hope you stay safe!
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I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd.

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Old 07-14-2019, 01:09 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

I ought to have killed the first one I found, in the other terrarium, but where I put it outside, it probably baked on the concrete in the morning.

I did kill the one in this terrarium, and I haven't spotted any others (and certainly will be taking a very, very close look at everything). The fact that I hadn't introduced any new plants for a while when I spotted it suggests to me that it had been there a while, which suggests to me it grew up in there from an egg ... but I also know nothing about snail / slug reproduction or growth rates.

Where I live in New Orleans stayed pretty safe, although some other parts flooded. I have heard Baton Rouge was going to get it pretty bad.
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Old 07-14-2019, 07:59 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

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Where I live in New Orleans stayed pretty safe
Glad to hear it, I was wondering. Lights on still? Hot time of year to be without power!

cheers
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Old 07-14-2019, 08:59 PM
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Default Re: Trying to use a CO2 tank to disinfect a large terrarium.

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Originally Posted by jgragg View Post
Glad to hear it, I was wondering. Lights on still? Hot time of year to be without power!

cheers
Christ, I wouldn't be here if the power were out. I like things cold, like 66 F cold, in my house.

I like the people here, but I hate the climate of Lousiana, although by building terrariums I have more or less condemned myself to live in this state, with the perpetually-breaking air conditioners that are meant to ameliorate its horrors.

Would much rather be living in the cold mountains midwest, but by buying snakes first and then building a massive terrarium, I don't really see a move happening anytime soon.
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