Loose substrate VS non

Vexor1717

Hatchling Member
Beardie name(s)
Shenron
Hello, I think
20231206_085422.jpg
after all the trials and tribulations of owning a beardie that I am comfortable with my husbandry being correct. I'm seeing that loose substrate seems to be better for them especially joints, enrichment etc. What I've read over and over is 70% organic topsoil and 30% play sand. Can anyone tell me the pros and cons? Here is my current setup. Thanks in advance!
 

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xp29

BD.org Addict
Photo Comp Winner
Beardie name(s)
Zen , Ruby ,Snicker Doodles, Sweet Pea, Sinatra
Tile can be hard on them I've read. Loose makes a lot of dust, it coats their nostrils with dirt also. And the worst is it coats the uvb and reduces the amount reaching your dragon.
For 45 bucks you can get a mat from Zen habitats. It is sealed so no soak through, it is cushioned so easy on the hips, and in nearly 10 years of keeping beardies I've never found anything that is so easy to clean. Poop comes right up with no elbow grease.
45 dollars is for the 4x2, they have other sizes but i don't know the price. It could also he cut to fit.
 

Hazel_Basil10

Sub-Adult Member
Beardie name(s)
Hazel my female two year old beardie
Agreeing with xp29, it can get in their nostrils. It's also not very Sanitary. Like what xp29 said, you can get a mat. It's very clean and it's very easy to wash it.
 

Vexor1717

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Shenron
Tile can be hard on them I've read. Loose makes a lot of dust, it coats their nostrils with dirt also. And the worst is it coats the uvb and reduces the amount reaching your dragon.
For 45 bucks you can get a mat from Zen habitats. It is sealed so no soak through, it is cushioned so easy on the hips, and in nearly 10 years of keeping beardies I've never found anything that is so easy to clean. Poop comes right up with no elbow grease.
45 dollars is for the 4x2, they have other sizes but i don't know the price. It could also he cut to fit.
Ok thank you. I've been told by a lot of people that it's best to replicate thier environment but if it can do all that then I'm not going to. Thank you.
 

Chris.

Juvie Member
Beardie name(s)
Luis and Lilith
Loose substrate on the other hand looks nicer (in my opinion) and replicates their natural habitat a lot better. Also it allows for digging, which mine likes a lot and is a very natural behavior.
Yes it can and will get in the nostrils probably but mine doesn't seem to be affected by it in any way.
Their are a lot of good sanitizers at the market so I don't see too much problem with cleaning.
 

Claudiusx

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
I'm seeing that loose substrate seems to be better for them especially joints,
Common myth. Tile and solid substrates don't cause joint issues.

That being said, loose substrate does have some benefits that a solid substrate doesn't, and the same can be said for solid.

Either choice isn't going to make or break your dragons health. I've had dragons that prefer solid substrate, and I have dragons who absolutely love sand in their tank. It comes down to what works best for you and your dragon.

I never was a big fan of the soil and sand mixes, although I've never really tried them. I've always just used playsand that you can pickup at any home improvement store.

-Brandon
 

Vexor1717

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Shenron
Tile can be hard on them I've read. Loose makes a lot of dust, it coats their nostrils with dirt also. And the worst is it coats the uvb and reduces the amount reaching your dragon.
For 45 bucks you can get a mat from Zen habitats. It is sealed so no soak through, it is cushioned so easy on the hips, and in nearly 10 years of keeping beardies I've never found anything that is so easy to clean. Poop comes right up with no elbow grease.
45 dollars is for the 4x2, they have other sizes but i don't know the price. It could also he cut to fit.
What's different with this
Common myth. Tile and solid substrates don't cause joint issues.

That being said, loose substrate does have some benefits that a solid substrate doesn't, and the same can be said for solid.

Either choice isn't going to make or break your dragons health. I've had dragons that prefer solid substrate, and I have dragons who absolutely love sand in their tank. It comes down to what works best for you and your dragon.

I never was a big fan of the soil and sand mixes, although I've never really tried them. I've always just used playsand that you can pickup at any home improvement store.

-Brandon
Thank you. This is good to know!
 

xp29

BD.org Addict
Photo Comp Winner
Beardie name(s)
Zen , Ruby ,Snicker Doodles, Sweet Pea, Sinatra
What's different with this

Thank you. This is good to know!
Personally here in vegas i can't find top soil without manure in it so if i mix anything with the play sand its reptisoil. Another disadvantage of that is that it has pieces of wood in it that could be ingested. Hornworms in particular hold onto everything so if one escapes the food dish and is pounced by your dragon it could gobble up pieces of wood also.
I'm like Brandon i use multiple substrates depending on the dragon. 2 are on self liner, 1 is on tile, 1 is on the zen mat, and 1 is on loose.
All of mine will be on the Zen mat eventually, i was going to go ahead and order them, but I'm planning to move all into Zen habitats so I'll wait till then.
 

magicmagni

Hatchling Member
Beardie name(s)
Jackson
Loose substrate is great. It really provides great enrichment for your dragon, allowing him to dig and make burrows. If done right it helps maintain a healthy humidity. Most "sterile" setups can get too dry, causing dehydration unless you are constantly bathing your dragon or otherwise providing water. A deep substrate that is damp in the lower layers and dry on the top has really worked great for the arid dessert species I'm keeping.. better shedding less dehydration issues etc.

If you decide to go bioactive you mainly just spot clean the poop and critters clean up/eat up the bad stuff.. if you don't do bioactive you can go naturalistic which could mean changing out the substrate with new as it gets overloaded with waste, food so on.

Here are some good videos I've found on it you may like..



Here's a nice deep dive on a similar forum.. this person really knows what they are talking about. I'm in process of trying this..


If you don't want DIY.. too intimidating complicated etc.. try this..

Been using this product for many years and its great! Gets expensive though on larger enclosures.
 

Vexor1717

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Shenron
Loose substrate is great. It really provides great enrichment for your dragon, allowing him to dig and make burrows. If done right it helps maintain a healthy humidity. Most "sterile" setups can get too dry, causing dehydration unless you are constantly bathing your dragon or otherwise providing water. A deep substrate that is damp in the lower layers and dry on the top has really worked great for the arid dessert species I'm keeping.. better shedding less dehydration issues etc.

If you decide to go bioactive you mainly just spot clean the poop and critters clean up/eat up the bad stuff.. if you don't do bioactive you can go naturalistic which could mean changing out the substrate with new as it gets overloaded with waste, food so on.

Here are some good videos I've found on it you may like..



Here's a nice deep dive on a similar forum.. this person really knows what they are talking about. I'm in process of trying this..


If you don't want DIY.. too intimidating complicated etc.. try this..

Been using this product for many years and its great! Gets expensive though on larger enclosures.
Thank you for the response. For now im sticking with ceramic tile and bricks. I do have the occasional issue with low humidity but I've remedied that with a humidifier outside of the tank and closely monitored.
 

Chris.

Juvie Member
Beardie name(s)
Luis and Lilith
Thank you for the response. For now im sticking with ceramic tile and bricks. I do have the occasional issue with low humidity but I've remedied that with a humidifier outside of the tank and closely monitored.
Low humidity isn't even an issue in my opinion. In Australia there are times when humidity is dead zero so I wouldn't even bother with the humidifier ;)
 

xp29

BD.org Addict
Photo Comp Winner
Beardie name(s)
Zen , Ruby ,Snicker Doodles, Sweet Pea, Sinatra
Low humidity isn't even an issue in my opinion. In Australia there are times when humidity is dead zero so I wouldn't even bother with the humidifier ;)
I agree completely. Here in vegas it gets in the single digits, when I was in Florida it was always 80% plus. I never had issues in either place.
 

magicmagni

Hatchling Member
Beardie name(s)
Jackson
I agree completely. Here in vegas it gets in the single digits, when I was in Florida it was always 80% plus. I never had issues in either place.
Yes but keep in mind that they can retreat to humid hides in the ground at night which have high humidity. I think they miss out on that in captivity often.
 

xp29

BD.org Addict
Photo Comp Winner
Beardie name(s)
Zen , Ruby ,Snicker Doodles, Sweet Pea, Sinatra
Yes but keep in mind that they can retreat to humid hides in the ground at night which have high humidity. I think they miss out on that in captivity often.
It's tough to mimic all they have in nature, but we try. My main point though was unless your beardie has underlying issues, humidity on it's own isn't usually an issue. They are very adaptable.
 

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