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Educational Blogs

Thank you so much for visiting Finn's Frog Farm!  We are so excited you are here.  Whether you have been keeping frogs for years or you are just beginning to research frogs as pets we hope you learn something new.


What does bioactive habitat mean and is it right for me?

When researching and deciding to get a new pet, specifically frogs, the term bioactive will come up.  Creating a bioactive habitat will be something that will need to be decided.  This article will focus on what is a bioactive habitat and whether it is a good fit for your frog(s)?

Bioactive habitats can be used with many different animals.  This article will focus on frog habitats.  There is always more than one way to do something and many of which are successful.  This article is meant to be a resource to help make the best decision for your frog.

What is a bioactive habitat?

Bioactive is a word that will be heard when setting up a habitat for frogs, snakes, lizards, and other small animals.  

       Bioactive habitat is a term that is used when describing a habitat that is a mini ecosystem.  The ecosystem is designed to provide the inhabitants with the most realistic environment possible.  The ecosystem consists of a false bottom, substrate barrier, substrate most often ABG Mix, clean-up crew, plants, animals, light, temperature, water, and maintain a high humidity level. 

In the long run, once a bioactive habitat is set up and thriving it should require less maintenance than a habitat using paper towels and fake plants.

Clean-Up Crew

Clean-up crew refers to the microorganisms in the habitat.  These tiny animals usually live in the soil or near the top of the soil.  The most common that are added to habitats are springtails and isopods.  These little bugs are great at cleaning up animal waste and aid in the breakdown of dying and decaying matter.

Once the microorganisms break down material, that material then becomes food and nutrients in the substrate which helps the plants grow.  Using a clean-up crew can reduce the need for frequent habitat cleaning.

False Bottom

False bottom is an important part of the bioactive habitat.  This layer may also be called the drainage layer.  This layer is the very bottom of the habitat.  It allows space for excess water to drain into.  There are a few ways to pump the water out depending on how the habitat was built. 

Substrate Barrier

Substrate barrier is a layer to keep the false bottom and the substrate layer from mixing.  This allows the false bottom to be drained without losing all of the substrate or plugging up the siphon.


ABG (Atlanta  Botanical Gardens) mix is the best for frog habitats.  It is a lightweight substrate that retains moisture and also allows excess water to drain through.  This substrate provides the perfect environment for the clean-up crew to thrive.  ABG mix is an excellent substrate to grow tropical plants.  ABG is composed of peat moss, sphagnum moss, charcoal, tree fern, and orchid bark.


A bioactive habitat has a variety of real plants instead of fake plants.  There are a wide range of plants that can be in the habitat.  Plants that like high humidity, moisture, and bright light are perfect for habitats.  Some plants that are easy to grow are Pilea involucrata ‘Moon Valley’, bromeliads, Tradescantia Zebrina, Rhizomatous Begonia ‘soli-mutata, Marcgravia, and Solanum sp. ‘Ecuador’.  Plants play an integral role in the habitat.  They help hold temperature and humidity, provide shelter, places to hide and climb, and a great source of oxygen.


The temperature in the habitat is designed to mimic the real temperatures in the rainforest when dart frogs and tree frogs are found.  The correct temperature is achieved through a few different methodologies depending on the circumstance one may use lighting, a room heater/cooler, heat pad or a combination of each.  Research the recommended temperature for the inhabitants of that specific habitat.


Dart frogs and tree frogs are most often found in rainforests surrounding the equator.  These locations often have a high humidity.  This can be accomplished by spraying in a habitat one to multiple times a day depending where the region is.  Covering the screen with a piece of glass will help the habitat retain a high moisture level.  Having multiple plants will help hold humidity levels.


A light source is needed for the plants and animals to feel like they have a sun/daylight hours.  Protip is to use a timer.  Timers allow for the schedule of the frogs to be the same.  One does not have to worry if they forgot to turn the lights on or off and can accommodate unplanned schedule changes.  Lighting can also be used as a way to heat the habitat.

Habitat Examples:

This is a bioactive habitat.  There is a false bottom, substrate barrier, ABG mix and real plants and leaves, there is also lighting, and a clean-up crew.

This is a frog habitat enclosure.  There is a cork background with plants planted in it.  There is live oak and magnolia leaves that are on the bottom of the habitat.  There is also a monkey pod on the ground.
Bioactive Dart Frog Habitat

This is an example of a non-bioactive habitat.  This is a grow-out bin for red eye tree frogs.  The substrate is wet paper towels that are changed often.  There is still a light to help with temperature.

This is a plastic tote with red eye tree frogs in it.  There are wet paper towels on the bottom.  This is showing what a bioactive habitat is NOT.
Red Eye Tree Frogs Habitat

Products Available through


This is a picture of ABG Mix that Finn's Frog Farm sells.  It is in a clear plastic bag with a white label on it.


This picture shows what zebra isopods (Armadillidium maculatum) look like.  They are black and white striped.  You can see their antennae and jointed legs.
Zebra Isopods Armadillidium maculatum


This is an 8 ounce container of springtails.  The springtail culture is on clay substrate.
Springtails Culture on clay substrate


This is a frog habitat with multiple species of plants.  The plants include Tradescantia Zebrina (Inch plant).
Frog habitat with plants

False Bottom/Drainage layer 

False Bottom in a clear plastic bag with a white label.  The expanding clay pebbles are a dark chocolate brown color.
False Bottom

Leaf Litter

This is a bag of Live Oak Leaf Litter.  The leaves come in a clear plastic bag with a white label.  The live oak leaves are similar in size.  The leaves are different shades of brown.
Live Oak Leaf Litter

Substrate Barrier

This is a substrate barrier used in frog and reptile habitats.  It is black in color.  The size is 36"x18".  It comes in a clear plastic bag with a white label.
Substrate Barrier

Keywords:  bioactive, plants, isopods, springtails, ABG mix, substrate

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