Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: Toronto Newbie - ISO help with all the things!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Toronto Newbie - ISO help with all the things!

    Hey everyone!

    I've been humming and hawing about getting a crestie for about 2 years, and I finally bit the bullet with boxing day sales this year and bought a 12x12x18 Exo Terra. I've been stocking up on other goodies since, with the intent of setting up a live vivarium and introducing a juvie once it's established.

    My current struggle is getting everything the internet has told me I need to get my live vivarium up and running smoothly. Isopods and springtails, leaf litter, and live plants all seem to be in the US with no international shipping.

    I'd also really love to find a local shop that I can go to for consultation down the line - I had aquariums for years and know how far down the rabbit hole I usually end up, so would like to have a friendly yokel I can swap strategies with.

    I'd really appreciate any suggestions for Toronto, Ontario, or Canada suppliers - excited to get started and have more than just a tank with substrate layers!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Thanked 4 Times in 3 Posts



    But yes, the pain of trying to get springtails in Canada....
    (triple pain when my colony crashes)

    Here's what I did: call every private aquatics/reptile petstore. Persistently. They usually have small-time suppliers who might have them, and after a month one of the stores got some in.

    Your second best bet is your local reptile expo. It's probably your best bet for your lizard, too - but here, you're in luck - there's one just a week away. They will probably have isopods and spring tails there. They cost about $10 each per small deli cup colony.

    I recently gutted my bioactive tank and put my lizard on styrofoam and paper towel. I can give you some pretty good tips about what not to do with the bugs ( ), but the rest the tips are kinda solid, sorry..!

    Tips for isopods:
    #1: you want white dwarf isopods, the tiny variety, because you really don't want your gecko to eat them considering how hard they are to come by.
    #2: someone will try to sell you a deli cup of maybe 4-6 large meaty isopods. 1. This is not a colony - you need to give them a few months to grow into a colony. 2. It will take your gecko less than a night to eat all 4.

    Tip for spring tails:
    #1: you will think they are dead.
    #2: on day 2 after you (me ) gut your tank because it turned into a swamp, you will see mold on your wood for the first time. That's when you realize they weren't actually dead and did their job pretty well.
    #3: now that you (me ) left them outside to freeze, they're dead for sure.

    1. Do not use eco earth. Your plants cannot survive in muddy sand.
    2. Use organic potting soil. You can add up to 1/2 part eco earth to that if you want.
    3. You don't have to use the expensive petstore clay balls as drainage layer. Just get them from Ikea. Alternatives are lava rock, but you don't want the rocks to be bigger than 1/2 inch.
    4. Don't buy the mesh drainage-to-substrate barrier for $12. That's insane. Just pick up some netting from the dollar store or the fabric store.
    5. Don't get coconut fiber, or coconut bark, or fine moss. Leaf litter is great, but if you can't find any... Spanish moss (litter). Very underrated. Very hard for your gecko to accidentally eat.


    GENERAL TIP FOR PLANTS: you want a few plants, and their purpose is to keep the bioactive train rolling. Ideally, the plants should double as something your geck would enjoy. Once you fulfill those criteria, it's easy to forget that everything else is purely decorate. Moss? Decorative. Planted ledge? Decorative. So... just use plastic! Trying to keep a difficult plant alive - a plant that has no reason being there other than aesthetics - is a nightmare, trust me.

    1. Jade tree will 100% absolutely rot in humid climate.
    2. Ikea is your best friend for plants. Make sure you clean them well before you plant them, though.

    You want DRACAENA. IT'S THE BEST AND EASIEST. It has like a hundred species, and you should ofc briefly check that it's not toxic to your gecko, but all of the ones available at Ikea are toxin-free. Seriously, go to Ikea. Here's a picture guide:

    This ( is great. They're supposed to grow very fast. Don't worry, unless you use weed lights and your gecko is a manure machine, it won't outgrow your terrarium.

    The himalayan mix has 2 very good dracaenas - - you want this one. It can take the wight of a very fat gecko. - you want this one because this is the dracaena they call "gecko plant." Your gecko will love hiding behind it, so put it next to a wall. It can NOT take the weight of a gecko over like... 30 grams. You still want this, though.

    You don't want any type of live grass. Your gecko will trample it, and the conditions in a terrarium aren't good for any grass.
    You don't want any type live moss. It's honestly not worth the trouble trying to keep it alive.
    You probably want some sort of vine. I don't have any advise to offer on live vine, except that if you sneak in some plastic plants, no one would judge you lol.

    Another thing - it doesn't seem like a lot, but the cost adds up. So much. Excluding the terrarium, be prepared to shell out $150 at minimum. It would be more like $250 tho.

    Tl;dr go to Ikea (and craigslist) for supplies, prepare for A LOT of trial and error (mostly error) and don't feel bad if it fails.

    I should probably meekly mention that my hobby is indoor gardening and I've been doing it on and off. So I figured bioactive setup would be a way to go for my first gecko since I have a good idea about what I'm doing. I had the terrarium cycling empty for close to 2 months, and it seemed to be functioning okay until I introduced the gecko and winter hit and crops failed and bridges burned. Bioactive setup is hard - and time consuming, which is the opposite of the whole point since I originally wanted bioactive just so I wouldn't have to clean the cage.

    I'm much happier with 2 potted dracaneas and some foam sticks. The gecko likes 3 inches of vertical height he gained after I removed the swampy substrate. All is well.

    Good luck!

  3. The Following User Says Thank You to loliejulie For This Useful Post:

    abidingwalnut (01-05-2017)

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Thanked 450 Times in 346 Posts


    Hi there,

    Are you on gtaaquaria? If so, you may know me by a different name.

    I have isopods I can share with you. Lots and lots of isopods!

    Your tank is a little small for an adult crestie. You will need to upgrade within a year if your gecko grows quickly. Luckily, a 15 gallon or 20 gallon tank sitting vertically makes a good enclosure for an adult.

    As for the plants, there are tons you could use. Phalaenopsis orchids are usually $5 each if they're not flowering. They do well in pots, and are relatively gecko-proof. Philodendrons, including pothos, are easy to obtain at Home Depot, and at corner stores, usually for around $5 each as well. You can get many different species of Sansevieria at Home Depot, corner stores, etc. -- their prices vary depending on how big they are.

    PM me if you'd like to get in touch.
    3.3.0 Correlophus ciliatus (crested geckos)

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts


    Northern Gecko

    Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts


    Thank you so much for your clear and indepth response @loliejulie!

    Sorry to hear about your ride on the struggle bus, I'm sure in a few months I'll have (hopefully minimal) stories of my own.

    Taking all your advice to heart - was heading to Ikea anyways to grab a sturdy stand to house the tank, so I'll make sure to look at their plants while I'm there!

    @Treebiscuit, I will definitely follow up. Also rest assured, I know the tank will be too small very quickly - it was always the plan to get a youngin' that's better suited for a small tank, and spend the 8 months - year saving up so I can get a 18x18x24 or bigger. The smaller one I have now will be used for any new additions I may onboard in the future, as a backup quarantine zone, etc.

    @Bailrs - That's where I've been stocking up on most stuff so far, so I'll have to keep doin' what I'm doin'.

    Thanks everyone for the assistance!


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts