A Recent History
Over the last 4 years, we have seen a huge change in the Reptile keeping sector, with more and more members of the community moving toward naturalistic and bioactive enclosures.
With this change, we have also seen a change in product availability. Shops have jumped onto the sales of Live Plants, with a greater than ever range available in local stores and online. Clean Up Crews have become a staple on shop shelves too, even leading to the generation of new sectors, namely the care and breeding of a huge swathe of stunning woodlouse (Isopod) species.
But through all of this, the actual basic method of Bioactive Keeping has remained relatively unchanged. The belief of bunging a few cleaners in, adding a plant or two and using a deep substrate, has permeated the hobby leading to a very simplistic view.
But is Bioactive Keeping really that simple? Personally, I don’t think it is.
When creating a Bioactive Setup, we are effectively trying to create a miniaturised self-managing ecosystem. This means replicating, as far as possible, all the natural processes, such as lighting, watering, substrate, foliage etc. One area though, has always gone unnoticed, barely touched upon in conversations or generally just assumed to be there.
We are, of course, talking about the Microbial load of a system.
In the ‘Good Old Days’, Bioactive setups were the domain of Amphibian Keepers and some Day Gecko keepers. In fact, going even further back, the first Reptile Keepers in general would have used this method somewhat. They didn’t particularly have a name for it, it was just how their system worked. Keepers would feed small springtails and woodlice to their Herps, and many would escape into the enclosure generating populations that were noted to clear up waste. Back then, they didn’t really have the access to décor and substrates that we do today, so most things came from their local woodland.
When bringing in their soils and woods, they invariably brought along with them microbes of all sorts, most good or benign, some not so great. These microbes were pivotal in helping to convert broken down waste in to plant nutrients and gases. Of course, this was just a happy coincidence and it wasn’t really paid much attention.
The Present Day
These days, however, Pathogens are spreading across the globe like wildfire. Chytrid is devastating Amphibian populations to an almost extinction level event, whilst Snake Fungal Disease is being discovered in more and more locations. So the topic of Bio Security is now more important than ever. Do we take it on risk and go collecting in our local woodlands, risking disease, parasites and fox pee? Or do we play it safe and get our sterilised products from Reptile stores, but avoid the benefits that used to come in on wild collected décor.
This is a topic that fascinated me for the past 3 years. I had discussions with ‘big players’ in the industry and was told it isn’t even possible! But I wasn’t deterred. I’m sure fish keepers never thought it possible to culture bacteria for seeding their aquariums, but as is often the case with the aquatics community, they were light years ahead of us. Years down the line, after a hell of a lot of research, speaking to the right people and a smidgen of luck, we are pleased to have released the Bioactive Herps Bio Boost.
Bio Boost is an incredible new product that has exceeded all expectations during its testing. Containing tens of thousands of microbes across a whole range of species, Bio Boost has everything needed to create the ideal ecosystem in the soil.
Just like in an aquarium, soil chemistry changes as microbial loads change. In a ‘sterile’ Bioactive system, with no additional microbes, ammonia from waste builds up in the substrate, eventually creating foul odours and risking ammonia burns among other issues. With Bio Boost, we introduce a host of Bacteria, Protozoa and more, that work alongside our Clean up Crews to remove waste and convert it, through the Nitrogen cycle, into plant nutrition and inert gases.
Where the Clean up Crew performs the mechanical breakdown of waste into smaller pellets, the microbes in Bio Boost perform the chemical break down of the waste into its constituent parts.
Bioactive Herps Bio Boost is an innovative and unique product to the Reptile Market that is part of the Bioactive Herps master plan of improving knowledge and product availability of naturalistic and bioactive enclosures, so we can help improve the lives and standards of Reptiles in captivity, in a safe and measured way. Not only does Bio Boost improve the function of a Bioactive enclosure, but it has been shown to be Anti-Fungal/Anti-Mould, even going as far as curing tanks of Flower Pot Fungus. Some of the microbes inside Bio Boost cling to plant root systems, improving nutrient uptake, increasing absorption rates and upping disease resistance. One of the most unexpected effects of Bio Boost also appears to be its effect on Clean up Crews, in particular springtails. When sprayed with Bio Boost, their populations explode.
The Future of Bioactivity
Keeping in this manner will not only improve the lives of your Reptiles, but it will also remove some of the daily chores, giving you more time to enjoy your animals. In Reptile keeping, we must always be looking fo that next step, the next innovation to improve how we care for our animals.
Bioactive Herps are determined to lead the field in this sector, bringing out new products that not just look flashy or provide some gimmick, but that well and truly work. We may never meet that perfect natural ecosystem in the enclosure, but we can get close.
Bio Boost is available now from Bioactive Herps for just £7.99. Each bottle can cover up to 160 square feet, or 10x 4x2ft enclosures for their initial dose and repeat dose at week 2. That’s only 80p per enclosure!
Keep an eye out for other products in the Boost Range, that aims to round off the whole system, from Clean up Crew Care, to Microbial loads and Plant growth and disease resistance.