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Different Grass to Use As a Substrate

Discussion in 'Substrates/Bedding/Flooring' started by beefcakemighty, May 4, 2008.

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  1. beefcakemighty

    beefcakemighty Elite Member

    I was wondering if you could use grass like bent grass, bermuda, poa anna, blue grass, bahia grass or zoysia as a live substrate for your reptile??? its well adapted to the sandy, acidic soils of low fertility and requires low maintenance. It spreads by stolons and has a coarse texture with short upright stems that grow to about 3-5 inches and requiring less mowing, survives in mild cold temperatures as long as there aren’t several hard freezes since it doesn’t go into a true dormancy and with light freezes will turn brown but as soon as the temperature rises it will recover and re-greens, Withstands close grazing and traffic wear, most of the grasses also love high humidity and far i think Centipede grass would work best cause its native to China and Parts of Southeast Asia soo it would do well with tropical reptiles i would think????

    Heres a link to a site i found with info on the different grasses
    Centipede Grass - Lawn, turfgrass seed and care of Centipedegrass -
  2. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Are you talking about for use outside or in an inside enclosure or a tank? And for what animal?
  3. beefcakemighty

    beefcakemighty Elite Member

    Inside the enclosure.... use it to make a vivarium kinda I guess, not sure what animal I was just wondering if there was a way it may work... I would think it would be best if smaller reptiles like skinks and geckos or something like that were placed in the enclosure???
  4. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    It is an interesting idea but probably not very practical.
    The main problems I see with the grass is
    1. You would have to have a thick layer of soil to enable the roots to grow and establish. This is going to make the enclosure extremely heavy!
    2. It will be impossible to keep clean! Any feces and urine will disappear into the grass but it will still be there. Soon you will have a very smelly and unhealthy situation.
    3.You will have to have high light levels to enable it to survive.
    4. And heaven forbid you have any sort of a parasite problem you will have to remove everything and start over from scratch.
  5. darkrapture

    darkrapture Member

    in my opinion, grass is not bad if kept in control. as for waste, there are different types of natural things you could add to help with this issue: isopods (pill bugs) are known to be great to clean up mess and a small colony could thrive in this kind of environment. i have a tiny bit of "grass" in one of my vivariums and i have to "maintain" the root system to control overgrowth. i use rocks (pond pebbles) around the area and a couple inches beneath also so that it doesn't get crazy in there. if you get an established piece of turf with a sandy/pebbly base below, it is easy to take the whole thing out and wash it in water :)

  6. beefcakemighty

    beefcakemighty Elite Member

    well the root system in the grass i was thinking about doesnt got deep at all maybe a in or two and it can survive in sandy soil... its the same grass they use for golf courses heh...the waste would be a problem but then again the use of bill bugs or some other creature that feeds off waste could help...hmmm... i guess the next time i get a empty tank ill have to try it.... i was just hoping i could find someone that may have tried the same thing or hear of anything like that... i know people use moss all the time and other live plants soo i figured it may work with the types of grass i find.....hmmmm....
  7. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Maybe, as Jenni used it, as a clump here and there as an accent it would work but covering the entire tank it would be more trouble than it was worth.
    People have kicked around the idea of a self cleaning self maintaining habitat for quite awhile. The consensus was that it would only function in a HUGE enclosure but sparsely populated.
    It isn't going to happen in a ten or twenty gallon tank.
  8. beefcakemighty

    beefcakemighty Elite Member

    hmmm thats what i was afaird you were going to say heh... yea i can understand why though.. well thanks for the help
  9. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    You could potentially plant it in pots or square containers. Placed level with the substrate it would appear semi-natural.
    I had tried planting some grass in one of my enclosures. I ordered some desert grasses since the temps were quite high. Unfortunately it didn't work out that well.
    Other than water my substrate is pretty much maintenance free. I maybe have scooped out feces a few times a month.
    Having the monitors digging around and the water I add to the substrate dilutes the fecal matter. Also I have the pill bugs and springtails that make quick work off the rest.
    The enclosures are 4 ft x 3 ft.
  10. beefcakemighty

    beefcakemighty Elite Member

    cool....maybe i can do something like that with the new tank im working hoping to get some croc skinks in august for the tank
  11. The JD

    The JD Elite Member

    I'm still determined to be as close to a self-cleaning tank as possible! Only problem is water dragons destroy any plant I put in there, and plants are important for cleaning up dragon doo-doo. I'm still experimenting with what plants I can get away with. So far a jewel orchid is doing well and the tropical moss is still alive, although the lizard keeps digging it up.
  12. zaroba

    zaroba Elite Member

    only problem with grass is its height. you can't exactly mow a viv :p
    without constantly keeping the roots in check or constant clipping, most grasses will easily grow to several feet.
    might be better off with a low growing ground cover plant then with grass. clover for example.

    People have been doing it with dart frog setups for years. in tanks as small as 10 gallons. fecal matter gets washed to the ground when misting/spraying/watering, bacteria in the soil breaks down ammonia and nitrates, isopods like pillbugs or springtails eat whats left over. the plants absorb the natural fertilizer and grow.

    There are some people who have had vivs running for 5+ YEARS without needing to have them disassembled and cleaned. the vivs establish microclimates and healthy balances between micro flora and fauna so the only thing you need to do is add crickets/whatever for the animals that the viv is for and occasionally water it. Isopod production can even be well enough to help support the animals living in the tank. Won't be able to stop feeding, but if you leave for a few days, they wont go hungry due to having the isopods in the soil to forage for.
  13. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Yes but considering the size of a dart frog relative to the tank, a 10 gallon IS a large enclosure!
    Its not going to be practical with larger animals.
  14. zaroba

    zaroba Elite Member

    Depends on how you think of it. If you consider animal vs tank size, yea, its big. But in terms of space need, a 10 gallon is actually pretty small for a dart frog unless they are thumbnail species. Not really enough height or floor space to accommodate the larger dart frog species once decorations are added (which isn't too many in a small tank).
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