The Basics of the BioShot
Hello all! We here at The BioDude are excited to introduce the latest addition to our line of bioactive products, the BioShot. Here we will go over what is is, what it does, and the longstanding problems that we hope to solve.
Bioactive vivaria are a new and constantly improving way of keeping captive reptiles and amphibians. Over the years keepers have, through trial and error, developed suitable soils and selected the best, most effective microfauna to act as a clean-up crew in our vivariums. We at The BioDude have been at the forefront of innovations in bioactive products, but throughout the years that keepers have been using bioactive setups, there has always been a small, but crucial, gap in the cycle of nutrients that is carried out in our animal’s homes.
While the microfaunal arthropods further process the waste produced by our pets, at the end of the day it is still waste, simply smaller and more finely processed. In nature, microbial life such as bacteria and fungus takes this microscopic waste and breaks it down into its base chemical compounds and elements, which are easily taken up and used by plants for growth. In captivity thus far, there has been no alternative to just setting everything up and letting bacteria colonize our vivariums on their own. There are several problems with this, however. First, the bacteria found in our homes will likely be very different from those found in nature, and while they may perform similar functions, they are neither as efficient nor as diverse as the forms found in the wild. Secondly, this empty niche can open the door for potentially harmful microbes to establish themselves before anything else, leading to higher concentrations of these organisms than what would be found in nature. Molds, bacteriums with harmful waste substances, and potentially pathogenic organisms come to mind. Lastly, since this means your plants would have trouble absorbing nutrients in your vivarium, they often would grow slower and remain less healthy. Many vivarium plants were pale, unable to support as much weight, and otherwise struggling to thrive.
Up until now, there has been no readily available way of seeding your vivarium with better strains of microbes besides going outside to collect unsterilized soil and leaves. This is obviously not ideal, as it runs the risk of bringing in parasites or diseases such as snake mites or chytrid fungus. You could also inadvertently introduce predator mites, which would promptly eat your microfauna and break the cycle of bioactivity in your vivarium. It was also difficult to fertilize your plants at all since care had to be taken not to accidentally poison your pets in the process, as many commercially available fertilizers are quite toxic.
This is where we come in. Here at The BioDude, we have been working tirelessly to come up with a solution that was practical, safe, and easily produced and distributed to our customers. With the BioShot, this has finally become a reality.
First, we use several strains of decomposing bacteria that break down a wide range of waste substances and can survive in widely varying conditions. Their tolerance of various soil conditions means the bioshot will work just as well in a Terra Flora setup as they will in a Terra Sahara setup. These bacteria have also been selected because they are fast-acting and extremely efficient, and produce no waste products that may harm your animals.
Next, we use a number of species of mycorrizal fungi. These do not act as decomposers at all like traditional fungi, so many would question why they would help in this context. But in reality, these fungi are invaluable to the health of the plants in your terrarium. They form symbiotic relationships with the roots of your plants, increasing their surface area by hundreds or thousands of times. This wider network of absorption lets your plants take in much more nutrition than they would otherwise. These fungi have also been shown to increase a plant’s resistance to drought, disease, and parasites. Most plants form these relationships with the fungus, and some are entirely dependent on them.
Lastly, we use a widespread species of archaea capable of surviving under almost any conditions, which is even faster acting than the various bacteria species. It will take up nearly any waste it finds, converting it into compounds easily absorbed by the plants in your vivarium. The archaea may also survive in waterlogged environments where anaerobic bacteria would otherwise start to take hold. Anaerobic sulfate-reducing bacteria use sulfate instead of oxygen to carry out respiration, and produce hydrogen sulfide gas as a waste product. This is exceedingly dangerous to your pets, and is why a drainage layer must always be used in wet environments, especially where there is minimal ventilation such as in dart frog terrariums. Our hope is that, in the event that water builds up past the drainage layer, the archaea established in the soil will outcompete any anaerobic bacteria that try to take hold, reducing the risk of hydrogen sulfide being produced in your tank until the excess water is drained. We would like to stress that this product is not a long-term solution to this problem, and does not replace the need for a proper HydroGrow drainage layer in any humid vivarium.
Together, these microbes work tirelessly alongside your microfauna to keep your vivarium cleaner, healthier, and more beautiful than ever before. To further aid in the growth of your vivarium plants, we have also included a number of safe, organic fertilizers to keep your plants looking their best without compromising the health of your animals, since animal waste alone may not fulfill all the nutritional requirements of your plants. These natural fertilizers have been blended to provide a perfect 4-4-4 percentage balance of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, as well as the other macronutrients vital to healthy plant growth.
We have seen incredible improvements in our own bioactive vivariums since the addition of the BioShot, and we are excited to finally make those improvements available to our customers. Add the BioShot to your next bioactive kit, and see the difference for yourself!
- Josh Halter