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I'm in the process of setting up several(6 2'x2'x2', 3 2'x2'x4', and 2 2'x2'x3') terrariums. I'm doing coco fiber, peat moss, sphagnum moss, and cork bark backgrounds using Great Stuff, Gorilla Glue, and Silicone. These will all be planted tanks used to house lizards(mainly geckos) and possibly a few small snakes.

I was not planning on setting up a false bottom, but a friend highly recommended it. I have a misting system similar to Mist King, and I was just planning to adjust the duration and amount of nozzles per tank to prevent the creation of a swamp. The substrate layer will be from 4"-10" deep depending on the cage. Would this be an ongoing battle that would be much easier to maintain by installing a false bottom?
 

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In 3/5 tanks i've had a false bottom, would I recommend it? Well, I haven't had any things done right until now, and i'm happy. It has a small false bottom of hydroton (lecca). I don't mist too much, and that's a fact. I just do a few mist squirts of my squirt bottle, 1-2 times a day. I will squirt my bromeliads a little more, but the whole tank isn't misted too much.

All my tanks have/had a full glass hood, but for my first one with a full screen hood and no false bottom. I have a fogger on 12 hours a day no fun to refill it!) and a rainbar for 24 hours a day. After I realized what happened with water in the substrate after only a week, I was disgusted. An inch of water in pure coco fibre.

Depending on how my current tank does in the long term (1+ years) i'll decide whether I'll use FBs again, but my current recommendation is if your using misting systems, go for it. If your hand misting, you don't need to mist too much and i wouldn't use it.

I also think what substrate you use contributes to the fact if you need one or not. I know a lot of salamander keepers and most tropical reptile keepers haven't used false bottoms, but use clay substrates or things like ABG.

Really, a false bottom is definitely a chunk in your budget, I would recommend it to a beginner.
 

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I also forgot to mention that these are all Protean Cages with a Eurovent and 1/3 screen tops. I will have dual HO T5 lighting on all of them, so the ventilation should be pretty good. My current misting schedule is 40 seconds in the morning and 2 20 second periods throughout the day.
 

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My first reaction to your post was "turn around and let me see".


do you plan to use hydroballs or something else for a drainage layer instead?
 

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I wasn't planning to use anything. Just substrate coco fiber, peat, possibly some top soil.
Another possible problem right there. peat moss/coco fibre/etc do not drain, and do not make a good substrate, and really a false bottom wouldn't help because the substrate would get so water logged that it wouldn't serve much of a purpose. Search up ABG or clay substrate. I've never tried clay, but have heard great things about it, and as of now i'm taking my first swing at ABG.
 

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A properly set up false bottom allows the substrate to drain and prevents the substrate from water logging. If the substrate is allowed to water log then it will go anaerobic which will result in a stinky mess...

Ed
 

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Wow, I really should've done more homework on substrates. Now I'm completely lost. Every post I find has something to contradict every other one.
 

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i've been thinking the same thing. i'm doing a paludarium tho so i guess it makes more sense for me to get a false bottom and then all those other substrates on top...
 

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i've been thinking the same thing. i'm doing a paludarium tho so i guess it makes more sense for me to get a false bottom and then all those other substrates on top...
You only need 1 subtrate....ABG mix then some leaf litter...
 

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Mr SEWERFest (I really wanted to type that)

The gecko people often use organic soil mix from the store in their vivariums. After spending lots of time here reading (I'm also a gecko person and not a frog person) the froggers have convinced me that ABG is the way to go.

A false bottom is cheap, cheap, cheap. Its a 10$ light cover and some wire ties. Worth taking the time to do.
 

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Ed is right...it's best to have a false bottom to keep the drained water from the substrate or you're gonna have a mess.
I don't mist my viv much yet the substrate stays pretty moist.
If you didn't have a FB I would imagine the soil won't have time to dry out enough and the water will only keep accumulating until you have a swamp.
You definently want some sort of drainage and keep what drains away from the substrate.
 
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Mr SEWERFest (I really wanted to type that)

The gecko people often use organic soil mix from the store in their vivariums. After spending lots of time here reading (I'm also a gecko person and not a frog person) the froggers have convinced me that ABG is the way to go.

A false bottom is cheap, cheap, cheap. Its a 10$ light cover and some wire ties. Worth taking the time to do.
Make sure you pay attention to the ingredients cause some organic soils have manure in them...you don't want that
 

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Wow, I really should've done more homework on substrates. Now I'm completely lost. Every post I find has something to contradict every other one.
I'm not sure what you are finding contradictory..

False bottoms are functionally the same as a drainage layer... different terms same meaning. False bottoms take a little longer to put into place but are lighter and if plumbed to automatically drain, easier to use (the drainage layers can fill with materials that sift through the screening or weedblock). False bottoms can be siliconed to the sides of the tanks to prevent the frogs from accessing the area under the false bottom and becomming trapped. This is a little harder to do with a drainage layer. Drainage layers can also shift or subside allowing for wetter pockets to form potentially in spots that are a problem.

Many on the forum favor ABG as it is simple and light but it does settle and compact over time and does not have the benefits of a clay substrate but clay substrates are more work to assemble and have to be worked for them to work the best (an air gap under the false bottom). As another alternative, is a semifired clay product used on infields which goes by the brand name of Turface. this works fine as a substate all by itself and does provide some of the benefits of clay and does not pack down nor does it degrade readilys (small amounts are known to break down over a 20 year period of time).

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I'm not sure what you are finding contradictory..

False bottoms are functionally the same as a drainage layer... different terms same meaning. False bottoms take a little longer to put into place but are lighter and if plumbed to automatically drain, easier to use (the drainage layers can fill with materials that sift through the screening or weedblock). False bottoms can be siliconed to the sides of the tanks to prevent the frogs from accessing the area under the false bottom and becomming trapped. This is a little harder to do with a drainage layer. Drainage layers can also shift or subside allowing for wetter pockets to form potentially in spots that are a problem.

Many on the forum favor ABG as it is simple and light but it does settle and compact over time and does not have the benefits of a clay substrate but clay substrates are more work to assemble and have to be worked for them to work the best (an air gap under the false bottom). As another alternative, is a semifired clay product used on infields which goes by the brand name of Turface. this works fine as a substate all by itself and does provide some of the benefits of clay and does not pack down nor does it degrade readilys (small amounts are known to break down over a 20 year period of time).

Ed
Here are a few of the contradictory points that I've found as they pertain to ABG:
1. use carbon
-after the carbon is full, it will start leaching toxins back into the soil
--my opinion: anything leached would be no worse than what was absorbed, right?

2. peat
-in warmer tanks, peat will break down faster and cause issues
--my opinion...what should i replace it with

There were more, but several hours have passed and alas, I have forgotten :(
 

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Here are a few of the contradictory points that I've found as they pertain to ABG:
1. use carbon
-after the carbon is full, it will start leaching toxins back into the soil
--my opinion: anything leached would be no worse than what was absorbed, right?
Actually with carbon, it will uptake some materials (depending on a number of factors) until it is either saturated or in the case of an aerobic enviroment covered with an active biofilm. Carbon can leach materials (One of the most common is phosphate) as some absorbed materials can also be displaced by other materials that are more aggressively absorbed. This thread actively discusses the issue http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/pa...ng-clay-substrate-materials-4.html#post487803

2. peat
-in warmer tanks, peat will break down faster and cause issues
--my opinion...what should i replace it with

There were more, but several hours have passed and alas, I have forgotten :(
When peat is referred to as breaking down, they are typically referring to how it packs down over time and becomes a poor substrate. This is going to occur regardless and the rate is dependent on a lot of factors including if there are earthworms in the substrate, temperature, and amount of water logging, and/or other materials mixed with it. This is why enclosures with a peat (or even ground coconut) based substrate are going to require a breakdown at some point.



Ed
 
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