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  1. #1
    Registered User CrypticPickles's Avatar
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    Bioactive drainage set up questions // BCI

    In the research I've done I've seen a lot places state you need a drainage layer, however I've seen a lot of people also not include them. Should I include a drainage layer for when I make my boa's bio setup or no? Why or why not? I can't seem to find the reasoning for why some do and some don't online and thought I'd see what you guys think.

    I could see some reasoning being burrowing down to the drainage layer, but wouldn't a screen or something prevent something like that? Especially if you provide enough substrate for them to still adequately burrow themselves. As well as tubing down into the drainage layer so you can drain it if it becomes to much. I feel like I would have more control over the humidity this way.

    With enclosures without the drainage layer wouldn't there be more likely of scale rot or at least be a pain to try to take away humidity when it becomes too much? Or if it gets over watered that means it would need to be replaced and ruin the cycle of setup?

    It doesn't seem like very many people are doing bioactive setups for boas, unless it's a BRB or maybe I am just not looking in the right place. Is this something I should do for a BCI or no? I honestly don't see the harm in it at all and I think it would do him good humidity wise.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Registered User Alien's Avatar
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    I am in the starting phase of creating a bioactive set up for my newly built 8' X 2' X 2' PVC enclosure. I am going to use an inch of clay balls (drainage/moisture retention). Then landscape mean to prevent the substrate from mixing with the clay balls and 2-3" of locally sourced substrate. This is for my BCI that is only 9 months old so I have time to make it "work"

    I have never tried bioactive but I am going to give it a try?
    Last edited by Alien; 02-06-2020 at 08:53 PM.

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    CrypticPickles (02-07-2020)

  4. #3
    Registered User CrypticPickles's Avatar
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    Re: Bioactive drainage set up questions // BCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Alien View Post
    I am in the starting phase of creating a bioactive set up for my newly built 8' X 2' X 2' PVC enclosure. I am going to use an inch of clay balls (drainage/moisture retention). Then landscape mean to prevent the substrate from mixing with the clay balls and 2-3" of locally sourced substrate. This is for my BCI that is only 9 months old so I have time to make it "work"

    I have never tried bioactive but I am going to give it a try?

    I've never done so either and almost want to use the small feeding tank that came with my guy as a test run and see what kinda happens.

    I've been given the advice that because boa's sometimes burrow it's not a good if they burrow down into the drainage layer. Sealing could make it more secure but maybe they could still find a way?

    My little guy was burrowing at first but hasn't since I got the proper humidity and heat going for him. Was planning the same thing for my little dude! Was going to slowly build an bio enclosure from the start. Either way I'm building him a sick enclosure.

  5. #4
    BPnet Veteran MarkL1561's Avatar
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    Re: Bioactive drainage set up questions // BCI

    Sounds like a pain, fake plants are easier imo. If you spend a little more some look pretty real and you donít have to worry about keeping plants alive. Boas get large enough to potentially destroy plants so I think a bioactive setup would be better for something small like geckos and dart frogs.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #5
    Registered User CrypticPickles's Avatar
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    Re: Bioactive drainage set up questions // BCI

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkL1561 View Post
    Sounds like a pain, fake plants are easier imo. If you spend a little more some look pretty real and you donít have to worry about keeping plants alive. Boas get large enough to potentially destroy plants so I think a bioactive setup would be better for something small like geckos and dart frogs.

    I don't disagree that fake plants would be easier or that he wont destroy them. I personally don't mind the effort, love the way real ones look and the benefits of having a clean up crew and the cleaner air. I was thinking of doing a mixture of fake and real plants.

    My main concern is whether it's going to do more harm to him than good.

    Sent from my Pixel 4 using Tapatalk

  7. #6
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    Drainage layers are for supper wet tanks, like you see in dart frog enclosures. Standing water kills the bacteria and fungus you need to keep everything alive. The whole thing ends up smelling like a swamp if you canít drain some of the water and let things dry out. Again Iím talking wet. Like 80-90% humidity.


    bioactive just means it has living stuff in it. Isopods and springtails are all you really need. You can add hardy plants if you want and donít mind adding lights. If you are careful with your watering I donít see why you would need a drainage layer.

  8. #7
    Registered User Naginii's Avatar
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    I just barely started setting up a bioactive tank myself. It'll be for a carpet python I am thinking in the future. Right now I am housing a BP in it though. I added a drainage layer for a couple of reasons. First, I happened to have some clay hydro balls on hand. Petsmart was selling them for like a buck or two for a big bag so I bought all they had at the time lol. I knew they would be useful one day!

    Second, I want to keep moss growing in my tank. So I plan on spraying down real good daily. I even picked up a one gallon sprayer, the kind you use for yard treatments, so I can spray it much easier. The drainage layer for me is just a little insurance that if I happen to water too much it has a place to go instead of making my tank into a swamp. I planted a couple spider plants I had laying around and the bigger one I actually planted all the way into that drainage layer so if I get any water down there the plant will help to absorb it up. It does pretty well in standing water, I've tried before with it.

    The third reason is that by using about an inch of clay balls, if standing water ever does get to be an issue I can always scooch the substrate over and siphon out some water fairly easy.

    I used coconut fiber, husk, peat moss and vermiculite in my bioactive tank. All absorb water really well and it also gives me fast drainage too. I did about a one inch drainage with 3-4 inches, depending on the part in the tank, of soilless mix. I think it strongly depends on what you plan to keep in the tank and use as substrate that will determine if you need a drainage layer. Mine is more for peace of mind than anything honestly and because I happened to have the supplies I needed on hand.

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    Alien (02-07-2020)

  10. #8
    Registered User Alien's Avatar
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    Re: Bioactive drainage set up questions // BCI

    Quote Originally Posted by CrypticPickles View Post
    I've never done so either and almost want to use the small feeding tank that came with my guy as a test run and see what kinda happens.

    I've been given the advice that because boa's sometimes burrow it's not a good if they burrow down into the drainage layer. Sealing could make it more secure but maybe they could still find a way?

    My little guy was burrowing at first but hasn't since I got the proper humidity and heat going for him. Was planning the same thing for my little dude! Was going to slowly build an bio enclosure from the start. Either way I'm building him a sick enclosure.
    I would think the mesh would prevent burrowing into the drainage layer.

    I have sent emails to the bio dude, joshs frogs, and serpa design asking their opinions on a drainage layer for a boa enclosure in a bioactive set up. I will post their replies (if I get any and with their permission).

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