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 Substrate... and mites.

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MissAdema
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PostSubject: Substrate... and mites.   10/8/2009, 4:10 pm

I feel like such an idiot coming on here again asking for advice. It seems like this is NOT my year for my poor scorp. I've never had any problems with any thing in my tank until this summer.

I posted a topic a few weeks ago. I have a p. cavimanus (red claw). I've had him for about 3 years now and I'm not too sure of how old he was when I bought him. I had random gnats. Got rid of them. Now I have these little white mites. Try as I may, I have yet to find an answer as to what they are. I have also found mold/fungus in the tank several times. I can say I have changed the tank out 4 times in the past 2 weeks. I have found a few white mites on my scorp, but they weren't blood-filled and he didn't seem bothered. I think they are the fungus-eating mites... can someone clarify?

Anyway. Right now the substrate he has is the Eco-Earth blocks that you throw into a bucket of water and let absorb to expand. One Eco-Earth lasts me 3 tank changes. I don't really saturate the tank... I just spray lightly every day. I use water from my water cooler since I do not trust my tap water for ANY of my animals. Too many chemicals.

I have read a variation of opinions as to what to do. I was thinking of doing the false-bottom technique of putting gravel down first, then substrate. What can I use for the basic substrate? (Let me also include that I am hurting financially right now... working 60 hours a week to make sure that my family doesn't lose the roof over their heads so I can't spend a lot of money) I heard of cocoa fiber, sphagnum moss, cocoa peat, and "forest substrate", which I'm going to assume is a store-bought ready-to-go in a bag type of thing.

I really only have access to Petsmart, Petco, and Pet Valu. I don't have any specialty stores. I'm looking for something I can use NOW and then if possible, purchase online. Is Cocoa bark the same as cocoa peat or fiber? I just have no idea what I can find in a retail store that is going to help. Do you think adding the gravel bottom might help?

I would sure appreciate the advice. I just feel terrible of stressing him out with the mites, fungus, and frequent cleanings.
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H. laoticus
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   10/8/2009, 5:38 pm

I'd say it was a great idea coming here for advice...where else would you go but to a forum with experienced and even expert owners?

the bad mites will be attached to the joints of your scorpion, the predatory ones will move around the tank and eat the bad ones. Check out your scorp and see which ones they are.

Eco-earth blocks are perfectly fine as a substrate. You don't have to do a false bottom, you can just dump water onlto the substrate and make sure it's moist but not soaking wet to the touch. And yeah, filtered water is the way to go.

If you have rotting wood or any material of the like in the tank, it'd be a good idea to take it out. Take out any uneaten pieces of food as well or droppings. It's a good idea to get isopods and throw them in the tank...they will clean the leftovers and limit mold/fungus from developing.
Wow, 4 times in the past week is insane. If anything, just pick up the mold/fungus and throw it out and then mix the substrate. You really don't have to throw it all out. Invest in isopods as well (pill bugs or rolly pollies)

Don't use bark, just stick with your eco earth. Honestly, you don't need a false bottom like I said, just dump water and let it seep into the substrate.

So yeah, avoid the substrate changes, check to see if they are good vs bad mites, dump water onto the substrate, and get isopods.

hopefully other members will give you even better advice.
And don't stress too much about it, it'll be alright
Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   10/8/2009, 6:10 pm

I have a P.Cavimanus as well, and all i use is ecoearth as well with no false bottom but with about 4-6 inches in depth to allow some burrowing and less amountof water i have to dump in it(holds water longer). My psycho guy, i say that because he stung me for no reason, also had little white mites on him, i like to keep the slogan *if they're white, they're not right and if they're movin, you're groovin*, I at least think it's a good one, in essence if they are white and not moving on your scorpion they are bad, if they are moving around noticeably they are good and you can not worry and just leave them. What i did was I took him out, gently turned him upside down using a towel folded over, making sure not to hurt his limbs but made me able to comfortably keep him from moving, and took a Q-tip and gently scraped off the white mites into a cup then put him back in the enclosure.

Haven't had a problem since, might be a wrong way of doing it but it worked for me, made sure to do it during the day so he was a lil sluggish too.

Also all the mold that ever happens in the neclosure is either poop or cricket parts.

These the mites you see?
http://www.ntnu.no/ub/scorpion-files/o_alticola2.jpg
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MissAdema
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   10/8/2009, 8:02 pm

Thanks guys!

The mites... they kind of look like that only very very small on the top of his body. I don't see any on his sides or near his joints. Let me see if I can get a digital camera and take a better picture for you.

Also, I went out to the pet store tonight and bought some peat "jungle" mixture. The 2 stores I went to tonight were actually out of eco-earth (go figure). I also bought some moss for decoration and moisture. Not sure how this is going to work.
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   10/9/2009, 12:31 am

the exoterra, which is the jungle mixture im assuming you got or something similar, is a good moister keeper also. The scorpions can also sometimes drink from the wet moss itself so itsa double win Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   10/9/2009, 2:20 am

Do the mites move around? If so, they're predatory and good.

Do they hop around? If so, they're springtails, and also good.

Since you specified they're not around the joints in high numbers, I don't think they're the bad mites. (For a picture of the bad mites, click here.)

And the substrate should last you a long time -- I've kept coco fiber continuously in tanks for several years without a problem (eventually some mushrooms showed up). Remember, they encounter all sorts of mites / critters / fungus in the wild and deal with it just fine. Smile

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MissAdema
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   10/11/2009, 3:43 am

Cool, thanks everyone!

I would up putting some gravel on the bottom, this way the actual soil mixture doesn't cake onto it like last time. The jungle mixture I know had cocoa bark and vermiculite in it. Cocoa fiber is ridiculously hard to find around here. The few friends I know that did use it (they all had reptiles) said it easily grew mold. There is moss on the top and he LOVES it. I've never seen him so... ambulatory. He's been walking around searching through everything. I did catch him sipping off of some moss and he actually uses his water bath now, yay! The humidity is actually balancing out a lot more too. The only thing is I noticed the crickets can hide a lot easier. Perhaps I should break some legs and leave them in the open, hahah.

I was unable to get good pics of the mites. My digicam is not focusing well, especially with close-ups. I saw a few in clusters around his "head" area. I wound up just cleaning him off with wet cotton swabs and he tolerated it well. The mites I saw in the substrate PRIOR to me changing his tank were moving around... quickly I might add. No hopping seen.


So here's a question.
I feed him about 7 crickets every 2 weeks, depending on if he wants to eat that much. When would I know if he's well enough to eat a pinky? I've read of people feeding that. Just wondering if he's capable of doing so? He's never eaten anything other than live crickets. I've tried mealworms and those freeze-dried crickets and he didn't go for either. My old pink-toe would ONLY eat pinkies or fuzzies... never bothered with crickets or mealworms. I'm not familiar with how scorpions are in this case.
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Mr. Mordax
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   10/11/2009, 3:51 am

There's no benefit to feeding them vertebrates (and if you check out our rules, we don't allow the posting of pictures of this). In the wild it makes up only a very small fraction of their diet, and some research suggests that consuming that much calcium can be detrimental to the health of their exoskeleton.

As it stands, that's a lot you're feeding it already, and I wouldn't be surprised if your scorpion fasts in the near future. That would make for a pretty lousy time to try feeding it a mouse. Razz

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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   10/11/2009, 4:02 am

they'll eat fully grown superworms too if you want to give them a treat or want to mix up their diet, kinda funny watching them eat those they look like they are eating a sub or a hotdog.
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binksyboy3
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   10/11/2009, 6:43 am

Also, if you feed them mice, then you would have all the guts and stuff all over the tank
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MissAdema
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/1/2009, 2:50 pm

How am I feeding him too much? He's been eating this much for the past 3+ years and has never fasted.

Also... the mites are back. They are ON him. I changed the ENTIRE tank (as I posted previously) and nothing in that tank is the same as before. It took a few weeks, but they are back. They aren't in the moss, or on the tank, or in the soil. They are on him. Not even in the water dish or on his rock. I am ANNOYED. Last time I cleaned him off, I got 99% of them, at least what I could see. They were white speckles on his back and they don't appear to be moving.

Any suggestions now?
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/1/2009, 2:55 pm

Can we get a picture?

Also, try introducing predatory mites from other tanks if you can find any. These guys are small and run around the substrate.

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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/3/2009, 3:28 am

Try taking out the substrate and placing it in boiling water to sterilize it.
you also can put the substrate without waiting for it to cool your scorpion
shouldnt mind.
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/3/2009, 12:20 pm

Boiling only gets to 212 degrees Fahrenheit; an oven can get much hotter.

I still think predatory mites are a better (and easier) option.

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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/3/2009, 12:42 pm

Depends on if you can get your hands on some
i didnt even know you could get different types of mite to get rid of others
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/5/2009, 2:15 am

I don't know where to get these things. Like I said, my local pet stores are corporate and lame.

I have a jungle mix soil and moss on top. How do I go about boiling or heating that in an oven? lol

I feel stuck. Sad

I can't get a picture of these stupid mites or gnats because I can't get a good, clear enough zoom. My digital camera is poor at such things.
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/5/2009, 2:56 am

I find predatory mites in my other tanks. If you have other tanks, look in them; if not, get a bucket of soil and watch it carefully.

Predatory mites are tiny things that run around the soil surface (emphasis on "run" -- they don't jump). Using a fine paintbrush, you can gently pick them up and transfer them to the tank that may have a mite problem.

If you can't find any, leave a dead feeder (such as a cricket) on top of the soil. They'll usually make an appearance within a day or two.

If you want to heat substrate in an oven, just spread it out on a cookie sheet or something and put it in the oven at around 350 Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes.

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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/10/2009, 1:32 pm

So thankfully, I wound up getting an early xmas gift of a new digital camera. Here are 2 pictures to help identify these mites, which probably aren't good. Also, why is my moss already dead? I've been spraying every day and always keeping water available. I'm about to remove the moss and just keep the jungle soil stuff in there. Maybe he'll actually burrow.



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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/10/2009, 3:55 pm

Yep, they are the bad mites. Errm, what do you mean my moss is dead?
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/11/2009, 6:08 am

How do I get rid of the bad mites and where did they come from? Like I said, he never had them up until this summer.

And the moss is now brown and gross whereas a week ago it was green and life-like.
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/11/2009, 2:04 pm

Moss actually has roots, so if not planted properly and if not on correct soil, it'll die . . . in most tanks it works more for holding humidity than anything else.

As far as getting rid of the mites, I'd suggest getting a Q-tip with a little bit of vaseline on it and rubbing it over the mites. They'll asphyxiate and die in a couple days.

Check your other tanks for predatory mites -- they'll be running around on the substrate and appear slightly larger than those infesting your scorpion. If you can transfer some in (try using a small paintbrush), bumping the population in this scorpion's tank may shift things against the grain mites.

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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/11/2009, 4:41 pm

Mr. Mordax wrote:
Moss actually has roots, so if not planted properly and if not on correct soil, it'll die . . . in most tanks it works more for holding humidity than anything else.

As far as getting rid of the mites, I'd suggest getting a Q-tip with a little bit of vaseline on it and rubbing it over the mites. They'll asphyxiate and die in a couple days.

Check your other tanks for predatory mites -- they'll be running around on the substrate and appear slightly larger than those infesting your scorpion. If you can transfer some in (try using a small paintbrush), bumping the population in this scorpion's tank may shift things against the grain mites.
He will be able to breathe alright with the vaseline?

And I don't have other tanks..
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/11/2009, 10:21 pm

As long as you don't cover his booklungs in the stuff . . . I just meant dabbing a little bit over the spots that are really bad.

Also, those conditions seem a bit too humid for P. cavimanus, which may contribute to the mites' success.

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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/11/2009, 11:06 pm

Oh I wouldn't saturate him. I just wasn't sure if the Vaseline would absorb or disperse... or even inadvertently smear/drip elsewhere.

I am going to remove the moss tonight and just let him use the soil for a few days to see if that helps. Do these mites live in the tank at all, or are they strictly on him? Should I keep the soil saturated or just continue to spray the tank (after removing the moss)?
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PostSubject: Re: Substrate... and mites.   11/12/2009, 12:25 am

You don't need to keep the soil saturated at all -- P. cavimanus don't need it quite as humid as P. imperator does.

I think that, for the most part, these mites live on the scorp . . . they just disperse if conditions become unfavorable (such as too dry, which is why some people recommend dry hospital tanks to get rid of them).

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