(1) Cost- I just bought a couple "bricks" of Bed-a-Beast from you local Pet Store Superchain. After adding the 4qts of hot water as directed, it expands enough to cover a 40 gal terrarium (why 40 gal?? Who has a 40 gal? Why not make it for 20 -2 tens- or 55??). The cost per brick was $5.50
(2) Use- Not only can you use it as a substrate by itself (or mix with orchid bark, spanish moss, ect) but you can use it to create a natural background when applied to a "Great Stuff" foam background with Silicon
(3) Durability- Coco fiber can be used wet or dry. It does not sour or smell when kept in humid conditions.
(4) Non-Toxic- You can be sure that this contains no toxic chemicals or fertilizers which could be carried in through potting soils and collecting from the wild. It also claims it's harmless if ingested, meaning if your frogs get some on it's tongue when catching FF's it should pass through safely.
(5) Plant Support- Plant will grow in it as is. And as I learned recently, the frog poop will supply the extra nutrients. Moss and or leaves can be placed directly on top.
(6) Aesthetics- Looks natural in a viv
(7) ?- Other people feel free to add...
(1) Installation- It's not a drop-and-go, you must expand it with hot water and let sit for 23-30min before use. If you want to use dry (place on Great Stuff background) you have to completly dry the cocofiber berfore installation which can take several days to dry.
(2) Messy- I'm grabbing for straws here but I found it messy to work with
(3) ?- other people feel free to add...
I also would recommend coco bedding as the best way to go. I heard though that its a good idea to buy certain types more than others because certain types contain some things that may hurt frogs. Is there any truth to this.
I use a mixture of stuff and what every I seem to grab first.
Most often I will use a mixture of peat and coco bricks. The coir brick you linked to looks like it is just a coco-brick, but I may be wrong.
I like to use peat, because springtails thrive on it! My springtail cultures that have peat mixed in out produce my others, but it could be the springtails to because I got them from a different source. ( I don't trace bloodlines of my feeders
I have even seen clay used as a substrate... looked sweet....
the clay made the plants send out these "mangrove like" root structures that added a nice effect. I will see if I have any pics.
The viv I am setting up right now will have a substrate of 70% coco fiber, 20% orchid bark, and 10% moss mixed together. Some people use a 1:1 ratio of coco fiber and orchid bark (depends on plants, moisture, top dressing, frogs preference, desired humidity, ect..)
I will either put oak leaves and / or moss to dress the top (I'm still trying to decide)
It seems the trend is shifting away from using substrates composed mainly of soil. I think it is due to the fact that people can now create vivariums which can substain themselves for many months or years, plant are able to mature, springtails and various other insects can colonize, microorganisms are balanced, and frogs are happy. Because these vivs are kept "running" for greater times, it's been noted that a lot of soils will eventualy sour and actually retard plant growth.
It is also a growing concern that fertilizers, salts, egg devouring insects and snails, molds, acidic/alkaline pH, and pesticides could be carried in with the soil. With the rare species are hobby embraces, I sure would not want to take these risks with my animals when such a cheap and easy alternative is available.
in all seriousness, you should consider the pH of your mix.
coco and orchid bark are great for drainage, just is soil with sand.
milled sphagnum peat added will lower the pH so that many of the trickier
plants will grow better.
also, with coco and coir which is coco but weaved - it's used mostly as a door mat...is, i believe nuetral. also, it's not going to maintain the nitrogen cycle which is needed to replenish the nutrients for plants, break down waste properly etc.
I have used various mixes depending on the plants and climate of the vivarium. it really depends on your animals needs; do they need lot's of hiding places under leaves?, do they need to climb or jump on sturdy plants?, or maybe they are private like the vitattus i just got, which in a tank with lot's of both short and tall ground cover, lot's of epiphytes and so on.
lets take selaginella for example. some need more light them others. rainbow moss or S. uncinata need well drained soil, so that plant will do good on both orchid bark based substrates or sandy peat based soil.
S. umbrosa on the other hand, needs more nutrients, and damp soil
so there for you'll need to add more peat or less orchid bark.
at the end of the day, i'd say stick with soil, add 50% sand by weight, then 50 by volume peat, and then a good handful of clean, really clean unsterile back yard soil. check for worms first...
Yes.. It just has other names like Aliflor and Terra-Lite, but its the same stuff. It is what I use as my drainage layer. I then layer window screen over it add a thin layer of sphagnum moss and then add a mix of 50/50 coco and peat. On the top, I add leaf litter, but most of my plants are epiphytes and don't need a rich soil. And with the amount of frog poop, and dead flies, I am not worried about the plants needing food.
I use the leca for my drainage layer as well. then I put a piece of coir mat on top to keep the "soil" from sifting down into the drainage area.
On top of that I use ABG mix, topped off with an inch or so of spagnum moss.
As was previously stated, the springtails love the peat/spagnum.
My vert ten imitator tank is set up like that, and there are so many springtails in there, I could probably get by with feeding them FF's twice a week.
What you want to do is keep the drainage water below the soil level. So if you have a water feature, determine how deep you want it, and build up the land level drainage (leca) higher than this height, to keep the soil draining well...if the water is up to the level of the soil layer, you're drainage layer will pretty much be useless.
If you do the math...a ten vert is 20 inches high, so figure a gallon is two inches.