Crested Geckos, Geckos, Habitat and Enclosures

How To Make a Bioactive Terrarium For a Crested Gecko 2022

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by The Pet Engineers


If you have the required space and resources for it, then a bioactive terrarium is an excellent choice for crested geckos.

A bioactive terrarium will mimic the natural wild environment of a crested gecko, and thus, keep its natural instincts active and promote natural behavior.

This, with added safety from all predators, will ensure that your pet crested gecko leads a comfortable and healthy life. Here’s how to make a bioactive terrarium for a crested gecko.

What Is A Bioactive Terrarium?

A bioactive terrarium is essentially an enclosure that mimics the natural wild environment of a crested gecko.

Creating an enclosure that closely matches the native habitat of its residents and relies on living plants, insects, and fungi to help control waste is known as a “bioactive” enclosure.

This kind of animal care has also been referred to as maintaining a naturalistic terrarium or vivarium in the past.

Fortunately for you and your crested geckos, there is now more information available than ever before due to the current spike in interest in building a bioactive enclosure.

How to set-up a bioactive enclosure

What Do You Need For A Bioactive Terrarium?

When you want to set up your bioactive terrarium for your pet crested gecko, there are certain fundamental things that you must have for a balanced bioactive environment that mimics the natural habitat of your pet.

1 – Microfauna

The first and foremost pillar of a successful bioactive terrarium is the microfauna.

The microfauna or isopods that you add to the bioactive terrarium will act as the clean-up crew that eases your job of cleaning the crested gecko’s feces.

Moreover, these microfaunae are detritivores, that is, they decompose organic matter. This will provide nutrients to the plants in your bioactive ecosystem.

Every bioactive terrarium needs isopods

2 – Fungi

Fungi, like microfauna, will break down waste matter and release nutrients that will nourish the flora of your bioactive ecosystem.

Just ensure that you keep in check the growth of fungi and don’t let the fungi outgrow the primary flora.

3 – Natural Decoration

When it comes to natural decoration, you need to look for the kinds of flora that do not rot easily.

This is very important because your crested gecko requires a humid and warm environment – this could make a lot of plants and woods develop fungi quickly.

4 – Leaf Litter

This is important because the leaf litter will be the food for your microfauna, whose decomposition of organic matter will further provide nourishment to the primary flora of your bioactive terrarium.

Steps on Making a Bioactive Terrarium

It may seem a little overwhelming at first, but making your own bioactive terrarium is not that complicated or difficult. The following set of steps breaks the entire process down into easy parts:

Step 1 – Start by making a drainage layer.

The drainage layer of the bioactive terrarium’s substrate is the space at the bottom of the tank that allows drainage for water.

It is not a mandatory layer, but it is highly advisable that you add a drainage layer to your bioactive terrarium.

This will ensure that your pet’s bioactive tank does not get waterlogged. The drainage layer is made up of a variety of materials such as river rocks, gravel, or clay pellets.

Step 2 – Add the bulk substrate.

Once the drainage layer is ready, move on to the next layer: the bulk substrate. There is a range of options available to make the thick layer of a bulk substrate such as coconut husk, wood shavings, etc.

Your goal is to choose a material that not only provides a firm layer of bulk substrate but also a material that is not too fine and so cannot be consumed by the crested gecko easily.

Coconut fibres are good substrates

Step 3 – Add leaf litter.

Leaf litter will be the layer of food for the microfauna that you will be adding to the bioactive terrarium in the next step. It is again not a mandatory layer, but a highly recommended one.

Step 4 – Add the microfauna.

Now, this is the “bioactive” part of your bioactive terrarium. The microfauna will include bugs and critters like:

  • Several species of earthworms
  • Isopods or pill bugs
  • Millipedes
  • Springtails
  • Beetles

This microfauna is essentially what will make the terrarium bioactive by carrying out the decomposition of organic matter into base nutrients for the primary flora of the tank.

Tips For Maintenance

Crested geckos are one of the species of geckos that are really well suited for bioactive terrariums. The following are some best tips for the maintenance of a bioactive terrarium of a crested gecko:

  • Make a thick drainage layer that ensures that the tank does not get waterlogged.
  • It is highly recommended that you provide a layer of leaf litter for the microfauna or else they may try and consume the food meant for your pet crested gecko.
  • Go for a bulk substrate layer made up of coconut husk or orchid bark mix.
  • Monitor the terrarium regularly to ensure that the microfauna is not biting your pet. Also, ensure that the fungi do not outgrow the primary flora.

Benefits Of Bioactive Terrarium

The fact that bioactive enclosures require little maintenance once they are fully set up is one of their key advantages. Only about once every five years does the enclosure need to be thoroughly cleaned!

Cleaning droppings from the glass, spraying the tank, and monitoring the temperature are the only daily maintenance tasks.

The tank’s live components need a little more upkeep, such as cutting plants that get too big and aerating the substrate with a fork once or twice a month to give the microfauna more space to move around.

By offering a more realistic and lifelike environment to keep comfortable in, bioactive enclosures also help the animals that live in them. They can be tailored to match the animal by selecting native plants and fungi.

Things To Keep In Mind

A bioactive terrarium mimics a gecko’s natural habitat

Building a bioactive enclosure has many benefits, but if the tank is put up incorrectly, your crested that lives within could suffer consequences.

Making ensuring there is sufficient ventilation and the appropriate kind of illumination is equally as vital as selecting non-toxic plants and fungi.

Although creating the enclosure can take a while, the long-term advantages more than offset the effort.

So, the following are some things you need to keep in mind when making a bioactive terrarium for your crested gecko:

  • Select plants that are not toxic to your crested gecko.
  • Ensure there is enough ventilation and illumination.
  • Ensure there is a provision to prevent waterlogging.
  • Ensure the microfauna is fed and is upkeep with a layer of leaf litter.
  • Ensure that the humidity and temperature of the environment are in the ambient range.


Can Crested Geckos Live In A Bioactive Terrarium?

Yes, crested geckos can live in a bioactive terrarium. In fact, crested geckos are one of the best pet animals for a bioactive terrarium for reptiles.


Bioactive terrariums are basically environments that mimic the wild habitat of crested geckos as closely as they can.

They have “active” members in the substrate, in the form of microfauna, that act as the clean-up crew of the tank and decompose organic matter, which in turn nourishes the primary flora of the tank.

When done correctly, a bioactive terrarium is the best way to keep a pet crested gecko. When done incorrectly, however, it can negatively impact the health of the crested gecko.

The Pet Engineers

A team of pet lovers. We have owned various pets over their years. From dogs to reptiles, etc. Our love of pets, strive to us to create up-to-date and accurate helpful guides on pets.

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