How wet should the substrate be?

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ZenMonkey
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How wet should the substrate be?

Postby ZenMonkey » Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:29 am

Besides covering the currently open-mesh top, I'm curious how far down I should want to see moisture. I have a false bottom viv with several layers of hydroballs covered with mesh, then several inches of what I think is dirt (the light is off just at the moment and I don't want to stress the little buggers at the moment by taking a picture), and then rocks and mulch-like material and mosses, etc. Currently most of the soil and all of the hydroballs are dry, but I saw someone mention in another thread that it's better to keep an inch or so of standing water at the bottom of the viv. To do that I'd either have to give the thing a really good soaking, or just mist a whole lot more each time than I currently am. There's always water in the bromeliads so it's never bone dry, but I imagine the frogs want things more humid.
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Philsuma
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Re: How wet should the substrate be?

Postby Philsuma » Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:35 am

Hydroballs, or leca is good to use for a false bottom for a variety of reasons. You do indeed, want to see about an inch of water in the bottom. That, as well as wetness of the plants ect, will give you some quick visual indicators of your tank's humidity.

Too much water in your false bottom will allow the Leca to 'wick' water upwards and into the substrate - so you need to be careful and not have too much water. Hard to answer without some visuals, I know.

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Re: How wet should the substrate be?

Postby ZenMonkey » Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:21 pm

No, that was very helpful. Here's a photo of what I've got. As you can see the substrate is only variably moist. How best to get it to the proper moisture level without drowning the viv all at once?
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1376508098.494111.jpg
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1376508098.494111.jpg (80.48 KiB) Viewed 1693 times
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Re: How wet should the substrate be?

Postby Philsuma » Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:35 pm

That does look a little...dry

Normally, I like to use the largest size leca - almost the size of a small marble (not the 'shooter' marble, heh) and about 3 inches of balls. It looks like you may only @ half that.

You want a thin 'layer' of water in the false bottom so you can visually 'see' it / help gauge the tank's humidity.

You don't want the water too close your substrate or it will wick up thru the leca and you will have a mush pond.

My advice on starting out is to err on the side of humidity / wetness. If things are too wet....eh....you can always back it down, re-plant or replace plants that died due to being too waterlogged. ect. Too DRY and you are likely to see frog jerky or they won't eat and start drying up.

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Re: How wet should the substrate be?

Postby ZenMonkey » Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:48 pm

This will also be easier once I mostly cover the top with acrylic to improve the humidity, which should happen tonight. Even just throwing a towel over the mesh has made a big improvement, of course leaving a strip for ventilation.

I'm just curious physically how to get the water to the bottom without simply soaking the heck out of the substrate every time I mist. Would it be worth it to try running a small tube down to the leca and dripping in water until there's that thin layer you mention? Or should I just, well, soak the viv floor for a little while when I mist, until I get that water layer at the bottom?
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Re: How wet should the substrate be?

Postby Philsuma » Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:16 pm

yep...just pour a bit into a corner or use a tube to get the water directly into the false bottom.

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Re: How wet should the substrate be?

Postby ZenMonkey » Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:38 am

So my husband the engineer and I were discussing how best to accomplish this. We're going to try pulling the substrate away from the side with a small spatula, then running a tube down to the leca. We're thinking we'll need to do this at least once on all sides since if we just run water in one place for a while, the leca in that area will absorb it all and then wick upwards as you say.

We think it would be safest to remove the frogs while we work on this, since it's likely to be a fairly long time with the door open. What's your thoughts? Obviously I'd rather not if I don't have to. I have a very small aquarium that used to house triops, which I plan to sterilize and use for this kind of thing. (It's not quarantine-sized, but I do have a much bigger tank I'll be able to use for that.)
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Re: How wet should the substrate be?

Postby Philsuma » Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:46 am

I think you only need to pour a quarter to a half gallon or even less. You can use a clean kitchen vessel or plant watering pot and just quickly pour.

I would not move the frogs. Just try to do it quickly and have someone help you / stand by in case of an escape.

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Re: How wet should the substrate be?

Postby ZenMonkey » Fri Aug 16, 2013 12:14 am

So far that seems to have worked really well. Husband used a small plastic spatula to pull back the substrate (wearing gloves in case of escapees) and I poured from the watering can. About 3/4 of a gallon made about a 1/3-inch reservoir along the front and right side of the viv. Going to wait a while to let the water move around and then possibly add a little more on the left side. Thanks, that was really helpful advice!
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