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  • Opinions on drainage

    I'm probably going to redo a terrarium and I need opinions on drainage layers. My 12x12x18 currently has volcanic rock topped with sphagnum moss under the soil. Right now it's a toss up between Hydroballs and Featherlite. Does anyone have any experience or tips on either? I've used Hydroballs before, but I can't remember how they worked out. I seem to remember them making the tank sort of heavy.
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/svalnahel?feature=mhee

  • #2
    Hydoballs are the way to go. But unfortunately Hydroton by favorite company is no longer around. But there are different companies out there. They are no where as heavy as rocks and really don't add that much weight. The soils on top when wet will weigh way more. I have never used featherlite because hydroton has always worked for me. I just add a separator add coco coir on top and call it a day.
    Anthony

    Crested Geckos - Gargoyle Geckos - Leachieanus Geckos - Leopard Geckos - Bearded Dragon - Frilled Dragons - Blue Tongue Skink Chinese Water Dragon - Red Argentine Tegu - Colombian Red Tail Boas - Brazilian Rainbow Boas

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    • #3
      Every time I decide for sure to go with Hydroballs, I get another militant supporter of Feather-lite. Anyone?
      In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
      http://www.youtube.com/user/svalnahel?feature=mhee

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      • #4
        (I'll probably go with Hydroballs, but I sort of wanted to see a West Side Story-style confrontation.)
        In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
        http://www.youtube.com/user/svalnahel?feature=mhee

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        • #5
          I'm snapping my fingers and whistling the jets' song.
          Go for hydroballs. All my research tends to point towards using a separator material...netting, mesh, weed blocker fabric...etc.

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          • #6
            Hydroballs with weed blocker it is! Thanks, guys.
            In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
            http://www.youtube.com/user/svalnahel?feature=mhee

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            • #7
              Any Sharks are still welcome to contest this
              In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
              http://www.youtube.com/user/svalnahel?feature=mhee

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              • #8
                Are you waiting for some PRs to hop on this thread?

                I didn't even know what Feather-Lite was until i researched it this second, and now I'm rethinking my first answer - shame on me for answering blindly!

                Look, the point is having good drainage and airflow. The substrate is the first area of importance - its mixture dictates how much water will be retained, how much airflow is possible, etc. That is a huge topic that has been discussed ad-nauseum, but it basically sums up by having components of different grain size and those which retain moisture and those which do not. Once that is taken care of you need to provide it with an "aquifer" of sorts, something that will allow the water out of the substrate through the bottom and allow air movement - the opposite of soil in a container without drainage holes which would get water logged and result in saturated soil conditions.

                To be honest, I can't see why volcanic rock wouldn't work. Anything large-grained, i.e. not smaller than those hydro balls (they're about 3/8" in diameter) would work well. The clay seems to play a role by absorbing moisture and then slowly releasing it as the substrate dries, but the fact that it does so would not make or break an aquifer. Really all we're talking is moisture absorption. I can see this being beneficial keeping the substrate moist for a longer period of time without intervention, also if too much water enters the substrate technically the "area" under the substrate for water to drain to would be greater. But if you're not careless this shouldn't be an issue. Featherlite appears to be randomly sized smooth shaped bits of recycled glass and is boasted to be very light weight and have excellent water absorption properties. Seems like a good product to me.

                Hyrdroballs are heavy, so if you're moving your tank around a lot, maybe Feather-Lite is the way to go. I would go with coarse though! I can't see this debate really having one answer.

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                • #9
                  I know the differences will be negligible with the way I'll have it set up. Aesthetic-wise I would have just stuck with volcanic rock, because it looks really nice. I won't be moving my tank around too much, but knowing that I could easily do so if I wanted to makes me feel better. I've always wanted to try Feather-Lite, but I know I can get clay at a low price at a hydroponics shop. I guess I just feel like being indecisive about something stupid so I'll feel as though I accomplished something by making an informed decision.
                  In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
                  http://www.youtube.com/user/svalnahel?feature=mhee

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                  • #10
                    (Without having made a real decision at all.)
                    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
                    http://www.youtube.com/user/svalnahel?feature=mhee

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                    • #11
                      Yea...I mean the tank is moved so little, you can always get help moving when you need to. Also the drier the tank the less the weight. Moving a dry clay-bed tank would probably close to the same weight as a saturated Feather-Lite tank. Aesthetic is always a good factor to consider. Mind snapping a pic of your volcanic rocks?

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                      • #12
                        Click image for larger version

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                        And Mo'o looking offended that I turned on the light for a picture of rocks.
                        Click image for larger version

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                        In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
                        http://www.youtube.com/user/svalnahel?feature=mhee

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                        • #13
                          Rocks look great.
                          Is that an umbrella tree? Oh man can't wait till mine grows up!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Cancon View Post
                            Rocks look great.
                            Is that an umbrella tree? Oh man can't wait till mine grows up!
                            Yes, that is an umbrella tree (arboricola.) He absolutely adores it and I hate to replace it, but I need another change. I may still stick with it, but I'm really just thinking of doing a pothos and a snake plant this time around. The umbrella looks awesome and he loves climbing through it and draping himself all over it.
                            In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
                            http://www.youtube.com/user/svalnahel?feature=mhee

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