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  1. #1
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    Conflicting information, thermostats, substrates, potted live plants and more....

    Hello all I’ve been lurking for awhile on lockdown from posting while waiting on admin new account approval (probably for the best over the holidays, you would all be sick of me by now with all the questions I’ve got!). There is soooo much conflicting information out there so I just want to be sure to clear things up.

    My current setup: ZooMed ReptiHabitat 20 gallon tank, Zoo Med UTH, Exo Terra Thermostat, Ceramic Infrared Heat Emitter (100 watt), 2 hides, branches for climbing, large water dish, Reptibark/Eco Earth mix substrate, several digital temp/humidity gauges, and incredibly fancy IR temp gun, oh and an adorable banana ball python

    Thermostats - I can’t afford a crazy expensive one for my UTH and I currently have an Exo Terra but I hate it. I don’t like the clunky cheap plastic box, I don’t like the dial on the back, etc. I’m trying to decide between a few, the VE 300 being the higher end but wondering if anyone uses the Inkbird C206T on Amazon? It’s definitely more affordable (especially being right after Christmas).

    Another note, after seeing quite a bit of maybe bad information before I found this site, I have already attached my UTH under the tank and the thermostats probe inside the tank (against the glass, under the substrate and under a hide)...so, question is can I affix the thermostat probe on the underside of the UTH (outside the tank) with foil tape OR can I hot glue the probe to the glass inside the tank (I read one thread here that said that is what the designer of Herpstat Tstats recommends so I’m assuming that’s pretty reliable?). I will preface this question with my substrate setup - I have a mix of Reptibark and Eco Earth (for humidity, aesthetics AND because I plan on going bioactive eventually) and a fairly thick layer - maybe 2”.

    The tank I have is glass so I was having issues keeping the ambient in the 80’s - I live far north and we are frigid these days. Changing tanks is absolutely not an option at the moment or maybe ever - shipping would be extreme. My house stays around the 70’s but with a ceramic bulb and tin foil over the screen tops (classy, I know (I’ll be changing to plexiglass on top as soon as I can afford it) I think I’ve finally got the temps where I like them. With my ceramic bulb, the hot spot is high 88-90ish. I put the UTH over on the cool side though because it wasn’t staying above 73 no matter what I did, even with the tin foil so the cool side (under the hide, surface temp) is now about 75-76. I’ve checked everything with an infrared temp gun, oh, about a million times or approximately every 5 minutes. (Don’t worry, I didn’t bring my little noodle home until I worked out the temps). As a side note, humidity has been pretty good - right around 60ish.

    Now, regarding my previous comment....I know a lot of people are going to say to stay away from bio-active. I’m not planning it immediately but I do eventually want to do that. I have an extremely adept green thumb, experience with bio-active (but always with plants & CuC only, no large inhabitants), and I feel pretty confident with the idea. For now, I think I’ll just add potted plants. I have a few picked out from my own collection (don’t worry, I already go organic with all my soils etc and I’ll be flushing them out just in case anyways) - thoughts on plant choice though? I have a gorgeous ponytail palm thats still small (another reason to keep that one potted, it’ll get too big eventually), a snake plant, prayer plant and several different varieties of pothos. I know Balls can be bulldozers so I have some plans to keep the more fragile ones up high and even built into the background to hopefully keep them somewhat protected.

    Tied into the idea of bio-active, I’m working on a plan to create the custom background. I’ve looked at quite a few tutorials from some good sources (Josh’s Frogs for example). SO - my question is about using 1” thick styrofoam sheets (or blue board maybe?) to “build” the background with spray foam, aquarium silicone, etc. I’m hoping that the styrofoam will add quite a bit of insulation for the glass tank. Does that seem like it would be okay to use if it’s all sealed up with the aquarium silicone?

    Gosh, I think that’s all of my questions so far. I’m sure I’ll have a hundred more as soon as I post this and DEFINITELY after a few replies, lol.
    Last edited by FerruleFern; 12-29-2020 at 10:26 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered User Hugsplox's Avatar
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    Re: Conflicting information, thermostats, substrates, potted live plants and more....

    Welcome to the site!

    I wanted to touch on a couple of your questions that I have experience with, so I won't cover your whole post, just some of it and I hope this helps.

    As far as the thermostats go, I had a lot of luck with Zoomed and Jumpstart. Jumpstart is a very affordable option and is what I started with; however, when these fail they fail in the on position, meaning whatever heating element they're hooked up to will just stay on and possibly burn your animal. I don't want to scare you into buying a more expensive thermostat, but this is something you should keep in mind, and be sure to use that IR temp gun to check everything daily. (I typically check everything twice a day just for my peace of mind)

    With the UTH, you really want to sandwich that temp probe between the UTH and the bottom of the tank. You can always remove the pad, put the probe in there, and reattach it. I see you have a zoomed UTH, and those typically are good for 2-3 "re-sticks." If it doesn't stick you can always use duct table to reattach it, but having that probe between the UTH and the tank is going to be your safest option. Leaving it inside leaves you open to your snake moving it, or peeing on it and causing it to give you bad readings.

    Lastly your humidity and ambient questions. I'm in the same boat as you, with duct table and tin foil on the top of my glass enclosure. I have a PVC enclosure on order so this is a temporary issue for me, but I can tell you that spraying twice a day, and making a humid hide saved me a ton of stress. If you have a few dollars to spend, Pangea has a great humid hide that works perfect for a BP, or you can always make your own. I'll let you Google how to do that, as there are a ton of options and they all work about the same. I've also had a lot of luck spraying the top of the substrate until it's wet, and then stirring it up so that wet layer gets pushed down to the bottom. This keeps my snake off wet substrate and as that water evaporates it keeps my humidity right around 60-65% on the cool end. The temps I just had to dial in over time, this is why I set everything up a few weeks before my snake got here. I have a really nice gradient now and a hot spot in the warm hide created with a UTH. So essentially you just try a few different things and see what works for you and your animal.
    Last edited by Hugsplox; 12-29-2020 at 10:44 AM.

  3. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Hugsplox For This Useful Post:

    ballpythonluvr (12-29-2020),Bogertophis (12-29-2020),FerruleFern (12-29-2020),Luvyna (12-29-2020)

  4. #3
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    Re: Conflicting information, thermostats, substrates, potted live plants and more....

    Ive gotten ahold of Reptile Basics (Rich?) and I think Iím going to return the thermostat I got a PetCo (ExoTerra) and get a VE 100. I paid $65 here locally (yikes!) so itís really not much more than that plus it has a digital readout and safety shutoff at least. I should be able to return the ExoTerra easily enough. Iíve readjusted the probe successfully so thats done, just giving it a few hours to adjust so I can fine tune until I get the new thermostat in, then ANOTHER fine tuning. Sigh.

    I have my husband picking up a sheet of styrofoam tonight, Iíll need to cut it to size to slide right into the tank and while Iím at it, I might as well go crazy with expanding foam and make it a cool background (covering the sides also). That should help insulation significantly and hopefully keep ambient temperatures up without me worrying about it constantly plus give me a few spots to put in some of my live plants.

  5. #4
    BPnet Veteran KevinK's Avatar
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    Re: Conflicting information, thermostats, substrates, potted live plants and more....

    I canít speak from experience with the bio questions but the VE-300 is top notch. Iíve had one that has run over 12 years nonstop only blowing a fuse once in that timeframe.


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  6. #5
    Registered User Kingdomall's Avatar
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    Re: Conflicting information, thermostats, substrates, potted live plants and more....

    a lot of info out there (including here) is subjectable. from my experience the biggest flaw is the enclosure size.
    Give your snake some space to stretch! my 1.5 year old normal is in a 200 qt (50 gallon) bin and he's just barely reaching 3 feet. I'll need to upgrade him soon when he gets bigger.

  7. #6
    BPnet Veteran KevinK's Avatar
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    Re: Conflicting information, thermostats, substrates, potted live plants and more....

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingdomall View Post
    a lot of info out there (including here) is subjectable. from my experience the biggest flaw is the enclosure size.
    Give your snake some space to stretch! my 1.5 year old normal is in a 200 qt (50 gallon) bin and he's just barely reaching 3 feet. I'll need to upgrade him soon when he gets bigger.
    You have a juvenile in a 50 gallon tote and your saying other peopleís info is subjective? ...thereís a reason why breeders keep BPís in somewhat small tubs


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  9. #7
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    Re: Conflicting information, thermostats, substrates, potted live plants and more....

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinK View Post
    I canít speak from experience with the bio questions but the VE-300 is top notch. Iíve had one that has run over 12 years nonstop only blowing a fuse once in that timeframe.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    Yeah, Iíve heard VE is good? I canít quite afford the 300 at the moment but he (Rich @ Reptile Basics) said that the 100 would still be a huge upgrade from what Iíve got.

    Also, 50 gallon is too small?! I was under the assumption that 40 gallons would be just fine for a full grown BP so its actually TOO big for my juvenile. Iíve attempted to fix this by cluttering it with hides, branches, plants, etc.

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