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Substrate confusion

Posted: Mon May 18, 2020 12:09 pm
by ThermalGlassBox
I have a 55 gallon crab tank and have only used Eco Earth coconut fiber as substrate. I've had my oldest crab for 7 years without any issues from the substrate (other than the occasional mold) and will sometimes plant small spider plants in the tank. I want to completely break down and redo the 'crabitat' and need suggestions.

My reason for only using the Eco Earth is due to some articles [research from years ago] claiming that sand is too abrasive and can hurt the soft bodies of molting crabs. I've started researching again for up-to-date knowledge and apparently a lot of 'crabbers' in the hobby use a 5:1 sand to coconut soil ratio.

I'm debating on purchasing Quikrete playground sand from Home Depot to mix in with some new soil to change things up, but I'm a little uneasy about it. Also, I read in a forum that some people suggest mixing dechlorinated *salt* water to combat future mold problems.

Does the salt water work? And will the sand and/or salt have any negative effects towards the plants? The crabs always eventually dig up and kill the plants anyway, but they usually last at least a few weeks.

Substrate confusion

Posted: Mon May 18, 2020 12:27 pm
by Overmountain1
Most people on here will use just the general ‘playsand’ offered at Lowe’s or Home Depot- sometimes one is a lighter color so watch for that if it’s important to you. (Not I, but some do.)
I also use the (approximate) 5:1, and the sand itself has not yet caused any issues for me, I do mix with the dechlorinated only slightly salted water. I use Instant Ocean, and I do not mix it to full strength; I guesstimate it at about 1/3-1/2 strength usually. It seems to knock back the mold, yes. I’m not sure how detrimental it may be to spider plants, but perhaps someone like [mention]aussieJJDude [/mention] can help there- he grows all sorts of stuff successfully so can likely respond more fully on that!
Hope that helps, happy cleaning!

Edit- I noticed that was a very ‘I’ post; I will say that I learned most of what I needed to know from the care sheets on this forum. Yes I do things this way, doesn’t mean it’s best or whatever, but it does seem to work for me, with all 5 breeds of crabby! Some are adjusted to suit them a bit more but otherwise they’re all mostly the same composition. That is all!

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Re: Substrate confusion

Posted: Mon May 18, 2020 12:31 pm
by GotButterflies
Hi there! I know we haven't met before, so welcome to the HCA!

Substrate really comes down to personal preference. The HCA recommends the 5:1 playsand to ecoearth ratio mixed with dechlorinated marine saltwater or dechlorinated freshwater to make it sandcastle consistency.

I personally have always mixed my substrate with the dechlorinated marine saltwater.

As far as sand...I don't like the quickrete playsand. I think it is too soft. I use the quickrete all purpose sand. HOWEVER - this sand can vary depending on where you are in the states. I live in Florida, and this sand is great where I am located. Some people have purchased it saying that it contains rocks. Mine never has. If you purchase this and your does, you can always return it.

As far as plants - most people that use plants in their crabitats keep them in pots. This way roots won't get out of control in the crabitat and or disturb molting crabs.

Please let us know if you have anymore questions! :)

Re: Substrate confusion

Posted: Mon May 18, 2020 12:50 pm
by ThermalGlassBox
GotButterflies wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 12:31 pm
Hi there! I know we haven't met before, so welcome to the HCA!

Substrate really comes down to personal preference. The HCA recommends the 5:1 playsand to ecoearth ratio mixed with dechlorinated marine saltwater or dechlorinated freshwater to make it sandcastle consistency.

I personally have always mixed my substrate with the dechlorinated marine saltwater.

As far as sand...I don't like the quickrete playsand. I think it is too soft. I use the quickrete all purpose sand. HOWEVER - this sand can vary depending on where you are in the states. I live in Florida, and this sand is great where I am located. Some people have purchased it saying that it contains rocks. Mine never has. If you purchase this and your does, you can always return it.

As far as plants - most people that use plants in their crabitats keep them in pots. This way roots won't get out of control in the crabitat and or disturb molting crabs.

Please let us know if you have anymore questions! :)
Thanks!! I've been lurking around HCA for a while and finally decided to make an account!

I'm located in Louisiana and know sand in general can be demanding during floods for sandbags. I imagine whatever is cheapest would be the greatest demand. Heading to Home Depot today, so I'll check out the all purpose sand.

And yes... the spider plants roots often grow deep in the soil, so I always plant them on only one side of the tank... I'll have to try pots next time.

Thanks!

Re: Substrate confusion

Posted: Mon May 18, 2020 1:02 pm
by GotButterflies
My pleasure!

When you plant your plants - you can use earthworm castings as the "soil" Your plants will love that, as well as the crabs!

Re: Substrate confusion

Posted: Tue May 19, 2020 7:27 am
by ThermalGlassBox
Overmountain1 wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 12:27 pm
Most people on here will use just the general ‘playsand’ offered at Lowe’s or Home Depot- sometimes one is a lighter color so watch for that if it’s important to you. (Not I, but some do.)
I also use the (approximate) 5:1, and the sand itself has not yet caused any issues for me, I do mix with the dechlorinated only slightly salted water. I use Instant Ocean, and I do not mix it to full strength; I guesstimate it at about 1/3-1/2 strength usually. It seems to knock back the mold, yes. I’m not sure how detrimental it may be to spider plants, but perhaps someone like [mention]aussieJJDude [/mention] can help there- he grows all sorts of stuff successfully so can likely respond more fully on that!
Hope that helps, happy cleaning! Image

Edit- I noticed that was a very ‘I’ post; I will say that I learned most of what I needed to know from the care sheets on this forum. Yes I do things this way, doesn’t mean it’s best or whatever, but it does seem to work for me, with all 5 breeds of crabby! Some are adjusted to suit them a bit more but otherwise they’re all mostly the same composition. That is all!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Awesome, thanks!
As GotButterflies suggested, I may start planting my spider plants in pots and see how that goes. Will definitely try the diluted salt water. Mold isn't as bad as it used to be since I introduced isopods/pill bugs, but I've had an over-population boom with the pill bugs; hence I've started removing large numbers of them. Still have the little buggers in an ice chest with some soil and don't know what to do with them. :/

Re: Substrate confusion

Posted: Tue May 19, 2020 8:43 pm
by aussieJJDude
Many terrestrial plants cant handle salt. If you want plants but used salt in the substrate, you'll need a small pot to contain the plant and keep it away from the salt.

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Re: Substrate confusion

Posted: Wed May 20, 2020 2:18 pm
by wodesorel
The HCA recommends whatever works best for the owner - be it cocofiber, sand, or a mix of a two. Any mix of the two tends to be the easiest to maintain, but 5:1 is not the end all be all of substrates and it does not need to be exact.

If you've been doing great with cocofiber there is no reason to change!