Coco fiber is a long lasting soil component that can substitute soil as your base mixture, or combined with organic soil. Coco coir helps to retain moisture and nutrients, prevents bacterial growth, while also providing aeration to plant roots. Coco coir can come in a bag, or pressed into bricks that expand with water.
Organic potting soil is the base of most soil mixtures. Additional ingredients can be added, such as coco fiber or moss, to adjust drainage and water retention. Pesticide free is recommended, we do not want added chemicals killing our microfauna (and it is safe if your chameleon decides to sample a few isopods).
Sphagnum moss is great for moisture retention and drainage. Commonly used in bioactive substrates as it helps to add food and proper soil texture for isopods and other clean up crew members.
Orchid Bark is a multipurpose soil amendment and substrate that helps create ideal growing conditions for aroids, orchids, epiphytes and other plants that prefer quick draining yet moisture retentive soil. It is commonly added to bioactive substrate mixes.
Horticultural Charcoal increases the soil's ability to hold onto plant nutrients and beneficial soil microbes by slowing or reducing the leaching of nutrients by rain or watering. The low density of charcoal lightens heavy soils, which allows better root growth, increasing drainage and allowing air into the soil. It’s commonly added to bioactive substrate mixtures and is great for springtail cultures.
Coarse, sharp, or builder sand, often used in construction, is a primary ingredient in potting media. Like peat moss, sand improves drainage and aeration, but does not improve water-holding capacity. Too much sand will make containers heavy and difficult to move. Sand should not be mixed with a clay-based soil
Pumice is a soil additive that helps with drainage and plant hydration by absorbing and releasing water over time. It is also good for growth of mycorrhizae, which aid in nutrient absorption of plant roots.
Perlite is a soil additive that is very lightweight and helps with soil drainage and aeration, commonly found in many soil premixes.
Vermiculite is a long lasting soil additive that helps soil release nutrients, maintains moisture, and aids in drainage. This has higher water retention qualities than that of perlite so keep that in mind when mixing your soil.
Expanded clay pebbles, sometimes called false bottoms/hydro-balls/hydraton, are recommended for the bottom layer of bioactive substrates. They provide an area for excess water to drain away from your substrate to prevent drowning your soil. May also be used on the bottom of pots and planters. Wash before use.
Fertilizers, or plant food, will become more essential as your soil ages and loses nutrients. Balanced NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) values are recommended. Dilute to half strength to avoid over-fertilizing, which could “burn” your plants.
Worm castings work as a soil amendment and fertilizer. It contains beneficial bacteria and provides nutrients for your plants. It also suppresses harmful pathogens and aids in aeration. Though not a complete fertilizer, this will provide an all natural boost to your soils microbes.
Mycorrhizae are beneficial fungi that help your plant roots absorb nutrients from the soil. This naturally boosts your plants health and will help feed your microfauna. It will also help provide moisture to the plant roots, reducing your watering frequency as well, keep this in mind to prevent overwatering your plant.
Planters and pots can come in many shapes, sizes, and materials. Choose one that has adequate drainage for best results.
Wall-mounted planters and hanging pots will help you fill out the upper parts of your enclosure. Keep in mind how you plan to mount these while you are shopping.
Large stones are used to cover the soil of potted plants to prevent your chameleon from ingesting soil items that may cause impaction (used as a precautionary measure by many keepers).
Springtail cultures can be harvested from the ground, but may be less time consuming to purchase online. These microfauna are very tiny and are added to most bioactive setups.
Isopods come in a variety of species with varying colors and sizes. These “Rollie Pollies” can also be harvested from the ground. Quarantine is recommended for for wild insects.
Leaf liter is used to cover the substrate of bioactive enclosures. This will help to feed your microfauna and also aid in blocking your chameleon from getting a mouthful of soil as they pick off the occasional isopod.
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