What is a Bioactive enclosure?
A Bioactive enclosure in simple terms is an enclosure that replicates your animals’ habitat in the wild. Live plants in an enclosure have been a popular choice for a long time; however just adding live plants to your enclosure doesn’t make it Bioactive. To make it Bioactive you also add in live detrivores, these are invertebrates that eat decaying matter. Detrivores are extremely important to eco-systems as they basically clean everything up, they eat everything from rotting wood all the way to faeces.
Why go Bioactive?
Going Bioactive has many benefits the main being the fact that it offers a completely natural environment for your chosen pet. Another positive is the low maintenance that comes with these enclosures, though the initial set up is slightly more complicated than a normal enclosure with fake plants, once all set up your clean up bugs will do all of the work for you! They will clear up your pets faeces, meaning you don’t have to as well as keeping the soil fertile to keep your plants healthy, meaning you don’t need to feed these either. If set up correctly your enclosure will not need changing for the lifetime of your pet, meaning it saves money in the long run.
Does it matter what plants I use?
No, there are no Bioactive specific plants, as long as they are live, they fit the bill! However what you do need to ensure is that the plants you chose are safe for your pet, as some are poisonous to certain animals. A quick Google search will help you find this information.
Will my plants need light?
Yes, all plants will have different UV requirements, some need very low levels with high humidity and others need high levels with low humidity. It’s best to find plants that have needs similar to your reptile of choice. Many people add LED lights across the top of their enclosures for their plants, or if your reptile requires a UVB tube, this should provide adequate light for your plant (Provided it is placed at the correct height for your chosen plants needs).
Does it matter what Inverts (Clean up bugs) I use?
There are a wide range of choices available at many pet stores as Bioactive set ups are growing in popularity, however popular choices are Springtails and Isopods. Many people choose to house both Springtails and Woodlice in their enclosure together as they work well together, differing slightly in size. The great thing is that these are rather cheap to buy and will breed in your enclosure, creating large colonies that will not need replacing; making your clean up bugs a one off payment.
Will my pet eat the bugs?
Most clean up bugs, such as Springtails and Woodlice are much too small for larger reptiles to be interested in eating them. If you’re going to be placing a smaller animal in your Bioactive set up such as toads/frogs or young reptiles, give your inverts a sufficient amount of time to colonise so that their numbers are too high to decrease to nothing.
How do I set one up?
The most important part of these set-ups is the drainage layer; this will need to be done correctly in order to ensure that your set-up is long lasting. Water logged soil will create mould, and will need replacing very quickly. There are many drainage substrates available to choose from, a popular being “Hydro balls” these should fill the bottom of your enclosure and have a mesh cover over them to avoid anything getting through to the layer. Your next layer is your soil; you must pick a plantation soil that is safe for reptiles but also one that your plants will be able to grow well in. Next step is to plant all of your chosen plants and to add in any other equipment you’ve chosen for your reptile. Once set up add in your clean up bugs, leave your enclosure to establish properly for a minimum of 2 weeks, this will give your bugs a chance to settle in and to start to breed before you place in your new pet.
To conclude, if set up correctly, Bioactive enclosures are fantastic, they provide a natural environment which is fun to create as well as being a beautiful feature in your home and on top of that are extremely low maintenance.