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Reptile substrates for biotope beds?

illumnae

Member
5 Year Member
Messages
68
I know many of us simulate biotope style tanks just using leaves and wood decoration, but for a more realistic look and feel, the substrate in such areas typically contain much more than just leaves - seed pods, tree bark, etc. Tannin Aquatics offers a curated selection, but they are always out of stock these days plus I'm located far away from the US so shipping from them large quantities is cost prohibitive.

I was looking at what's available locally and have found a bunch of similar products marketed for use in reptile tanks. Some examples include Exo Terra Forest Bark, Exo Terra Jungle Earth and Exo Terra Coco Husk. Since these products are made for use with animals in damp environments, would ut be safe to assume that they can be used in aquariums as well? A mix of those 3 products with some seed pods, twigs and leaves would look heavenly as a realistic biotope setup.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,984
Location
Germany
It would be easier and cheaper collecting leaves and things like alder cones in your local forests combined with fine sand. The result is just as good.
If you have no choice but buy: Also take a look on Amazon and Ebay, there are stores like Tannin Aquatics that sell the same stuff a lot less pricey. Just use the keywords "aquarium botanicals" and you should find a wide array.
The stuff for Terrariums stores moisture but will float up in water. And once it's waterlogged it will quickly rot. All of it not suitable.
 

Yvonne G

Administrator
5 Year Member
Messages
196
Location
Clovis, CA
I know many of us simulate biotope style tanks just using leaves and wood decoration, but for a more realistic look and feel, the substrate in such areas typically contain much more than just leaves - seed pods, tree bark, etc. Tannin Aquatics offers a curated selection, but they are always out of stock these days plus I'm located far away from the US so shipping from them large quantities is cost prohibitive.

I was looking at what's available locally and have found a bunch of similar products marketed for use in reptile tanks. Some examples include Exo Terra Forest Bark, Exo Terra Jungle Earth and Exo Terra Coco Husk. Since these products are made for use with animals in damp environments, would ut be safe to assume that they can be used in aquariums as well? A mix of those 3 products with some seed pods, twigs and leaves would look heavenly as a realistic biotope setup.
I keep tortoises and have used those products. I THINK they may float?????
 

martin_c

New Member
5 Year Member
Messages
23
When i was keeping wild bettas, i used peat fibre mixture (availbe e.g. at drak.de if you happen to live in europe) to resemble a submerged forest ground, plus some crumbled (while still dry) leaves and delicate peaces / splinters of moorkien wood.
 

illumnae

Member
5 Year Member
Messages
68
Thank you all very much for your responses! I will avoid these reptile substrates and find ones that are specifically for aquarium use. I'm setting up a 600 gallon tank so I'm just trying to find ways to lower costs if possible
 

illumnae

Member
5 Year Member
Messages
68
I'm from Singapore, so not many uncontaminated leaf litter around - I buy my cattapa leaves from an Indonesian source, but I'm looking for more diverse types of botanicals than just leaves
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,984
Location
Germany
but I'm looking for more diverse types of botanicals than just leaves
Frankly, except for the looks - which I can absolutely understand - the leaf litter is completely sufficient. It doesn't do any harm to stick to the leaves, it also doesn't matter if you add other stuff.
 

illumnae

Member
5 Year Member
Messages
68
Frankly, except for the looks - which I can absolutely understand - the leaf litter is completely sufficient. It doesn't do any harm to stick to the leaves, it also doesn't matter if you add other stuff.
I understand, I was wanting them for the looks. The 600 gallon tank is the showpiece of my house so i wanted it to look authentic as a flooded river biotope for discus and other south American cichlids. I've used just leaves (and experimented with Rooibos tea) for over a decade with good results.

Good news is that I've managed to find a European product locally that fits what I am looking for. It's a product called Wio Mulch Riverbed. I ordered 15 bags of this and together with a bunch of seed pods I'm going to order and the Cattapa leaves I already have, I think it's going to look awesome!
 

martin_c

New Member
5 Year Member
Messages
23
Good news is that I've managed to find a European product locally that fits what I am looking for. It's a product called Wio Mulch Riverbed. I ordered 15 bags of this and together with a bunch of seed pods I'm going to order and the Cattapa leaves I already have, I think it's going to look awesome!
Interesting product. I was looking for something like this a while ago. Would love some pictures when you'll have it all set up.
 

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