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Substrate Query

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  • Substrate Query

    Having read the Tarantula Keepers Guide (2nd edition) and spoken to some dealers, there seems to be no definite solution to the 'best substrate' debate. Which substrate have any of you experienced to be the ideal? I am using medium grade vermiculite and previously have tried the false soil bricks now available. These are ok but I worry about possible mites/fungus.

    Mark E

  • #2
    There is always a big debate regarding what is the best substrate to use.

    I can only speak from personal experiance,when I started the pet shop I got my first T from told me gravel was ideal for it (having said that the shop sold me a Honduran Black Velvet as a beginners species which turned out to be a Haplopelma species ) after geting a beginners guide book.

    I then moved to the medium vermiculite as it was all I could get at the time,the T's liked this more.
    After reading as many books as I could on tarantulas I change to peat but found that it tends to dry out very quickly.

    Currently using a 50/50 mix of peat and the very fine vermiculite which helps retain a bit more moisture

    So I have tried quite a few different types of substrate and think I personally found the best for my T's


    • #3
      I have found the dried compressed coconut fibre to be the best, it holds its shape when the spiders burrow into it, is easy to use, and even feels a similar texture to the ground i have found spiders in in the wild.

      Its best feature is its ability to re-hydrate after it has dried out.


      • #4
        I use a 50/50 mix of vermiculate and peat for most of the depth but I add a layer sterilized potting soil on top so that they're not walking on wet ground.
        My Grammostola rosea is the only one that really burrows but it's burrows are sturdy and stay well formed.
        Someone mentioned in another thread (I'm very much a novice but I do fine until I read something and then I start worrying) that they have a B.Smithi that climbs it's walls a lot. It was suggested that it might not like its substrate. My Smithi rarely climbs the walls, infact it rarely moves at all, staying on the opposite side on the tank to the water dish. Is this OK or should I be worrying?
        However, my Grammostola pulchra tends to keep off the ground, though it has the choice of the substrate, bark and rock to stand on. It's currently sitting with it's abdomen and rear two legs resting on the bark with the rest of its body and legs up the side of the tank. Again, is this something I should be worrying about?


        • #5
          Try this

          I have tried just vermiculite. It has certain water holding and anti-mould properties, but have you tried walking bare foot on it? - then consider what a tarantula's receptors make of it!
          I started out with just peat, but found it difficult to rewet once dry and it attracted those tiny black flies (?).
          I also used john innes loam (no fert. version) - nearest to steralised loam, as it contains grit and and sand, but it can set like rock.
          I also tried forestbed fibre (made of what look's like coconut fibre?) - not bad (better than peat, as it rewets more easily), but it is pricey.

          None them ideal, and you never find a spider burrowing into a substrate made up of 100% of anyone of them (especially vermic. and peat), except maybe a loam-based substrate which mimics closest forect or desert soil horizons. Because pure loam is weighty, has a tendency to set hard and go sour, I use a combination of ALL 4 - 25% of each - has the benefits of all 4 and minimises the disadvantages of any one of them. Works for me; try it.