Drainage Layer for Millipede Tank?
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Old 03-21-2011, 10:42 PM   #1
Cavedweller
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Drainage Layer for Millipede Tank?


Newbie here! Finally getting back into the terrarium hobby after a 5-year hiatus.

I'd like to set up a 10-15 gal planted tank for semi-arboreal millipedes (Dendrostreptus macracanthus). I'll also be putting pillbugs in there and possibly some of the tiny local millipedes I find in the fall.

I've never kept 'pedes in a planted tank before and I'm not sure how a drainage layer will work out for burrowing inverts. I could do the usual rocks-charcoal-moss drainage layer, but I have no idea if this will make problems for critters who try to burrow down there.

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I'm fairly inexperienced with planted tanks and would love some suggestions as well. I'm hoping to go with a low-light setup. The climate will be about 75-80F with 75-80% humidity.

I'm thinking a ficus as the centerpiece, some pilea (no idea what kind), and maybe some pothos. I'm also going to try cultivating some of the local mosses and lichen too.
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Old 03-25-2011, 02:26 AM   #2
legomaniac89
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The normal drainage layer you mentioned should work just fine. D. macracanthus is mostly arboreal and really only burrow when they are getting ready to molt. I've noticed inverts that burrow will dig to their desired moisture level and stop there. For example, some Emperor Scorpion keepers will create a very deep substrate with a layer of hydroton at the bottom, and keep the hydroton submersed by using a small pipe that goes to the surface. This way, the bottom layer of the soil is always wet and the top is dry, and the scorpions can pick what moisture level they prefer. I don't see why this wouldn't work with millipedes as well.

As far as plants, Spathiphyllum, Pilea, Epipremnum, Bacopa, and mosses should all work just fine. Contact Hydrophyte here on the forums about some of those plants, he usually has them in stock if you can't find them locally.
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Old 03-25-2011, 02:50 AM   #3
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Welcome to TPT!

I'm personally using landscaping weed fabric as a topper for my drainage layer, and I think a millipede would have a hard time burrowing through that unless it chewed through.

Your plant choices sound good to me. Creeping fig is another option that happens to be one of my personal favs.
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Old 03-27-2011, 09:47 PM   #4
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Thank you both very much. Here's the update: I've set up a quarantine terrarium with some pillbugs, baby millipedes, moss, and lichen. Everyone seems to be doing okay so far, even the moss, which I wasn't sure would take.

Legomaniac, that pipe trick sounds really cool. I've never heard of that before. I'm not sure where to look for the plants in town, but if I can't get them I'll try Hydrophyte.

Lauraleelbp, weed fabric sounds like a good idea, but I have no idea if the pillbugs and little burrowing millipedes will eat it though. Have you had any problems with that? I did consider creeping fig, but I wasn't sure if the tank would be too wet for it. I think you're supposed to let the soil dry out between waterings for that, right?
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