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Old 10-27-2016, 12:40 AM
roxrgneiss roxrgneiss is offline
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Default Re: Vivarium Design vol 1: Plant Selection

Thanks guys! I can tell you two also have an interest in the subject.

Originally Posted by JPP View Post
Plant texture is a seldom addressed topic in regards to planting vivs, its good that you mentioned/discussed this. Comments on color, growth habit, placement, and leaf shape are sometimes brought up, but texture is rare.
Hey man, thanks for the comment. There is probably a lot that could be said about texture.

Originally Posted by WZDesigns View Post
Excellent thread Mike, Thank you for taking your time to contribute such an in-depth perspective on an important aspect of vivarium design. I will definitely be referencing this thread a lot for all my future builds. From your username I had guessed you might be a geologist but now I have to guess you’re a botanist of some sort
I would nominate this thread for a sticky unless you plan to edit it all into a care sheet or something like that.
Thanks for the good words! I think it was worth the time spent, and I figure when you have something to say that might be of any help, best to go ahead and speak. I studied rocks in school and still love them, but I've always been an admirer of biology. I've been drawn to plants for a good while, but my isn't as academic. I did take a horticulture course once, it was neat and gave me a little more insight into plants/propagation.

Originally Posted by WZDesigns View Post
A few additional thoughts related to plants/ plant selection that you may want to include either here or in separate species specific posts:
1. Strength/durability of the plant, Ability to handle frogs (laying eggs, pooping, hopping around, etc.) Also avoiding any plants that may harm frogs, I’ve seen some bromeliads that have mean looking spikes on the leaf edges.
I kind of mentioned that aspect of plant selection in the intro, but allowed that this is more basic information that most frog enthusiasts learn about before worrying about more technical design matters. I know there are many hobbyists who do a lot of reading before getting a vivarium started; and as this kind of information is sprinkled around with other frog care information, I consider it to be common knowledge.

On another note, I don't know this as a fact, but I think some frogs may actually select bromeliads that have spiky leaves for tadpole deposition. The spines may offer the frogs and their young some protection from predation, but again I'm not sure whether this is a scientific fact. I can imagine a larger dart frog having some trouble with spiky bromeliads, but I have seen obligates move through them without any issues.

Originally Posted by WZDesigns View Post
2. Scale/shape of leaves. Even plants with different growth patterns/ needs can have similar looking leaves that when used together can add subtle variation without the tank becoming a busy patchwork
This is a great point. I think using plants with similar leaf shapes is a great idea. It is tough to use enough restraint and avoid the patchwork affect. I have trouble with it because there are so many great plants and so few vivariums to spread them out. If a lot of different plants are used, then I guess you have to summon up some creativity to produce a scene that makes sense.

Scale in general is something I thought would be best dealt with in another volume about general design, even though there is some overlap with the plant side of design. It is a more complicated thought process when you get into the nuts and bolts - I'd appreciate any help when I get vol 2 rolling, if there is something you'd like to say about the subject.

Originally Posted by WZDesigns View Post
The following thoughts may be better in a layout/design thread but still pertain to plants:
3. Avoid over-planting/overcrowding! Keep in mind the final size of the plant
Those are certainly valid concerns. Over-planting is something that can be avoided for sure. I think I went into this in some of the first posts about researching the eventual growth habit of the plants, which includes not only the eventual size and shape of a plant, but the rate of its growth. And when that fails, removing, replacing, or trimming can resolve any undesired over-growth. It's tough to get a grasp of this concept early on, and even with experience it can still present challenges.

Originally Posted by WZDesigns View Post
4. Using an odd number of plants to have a more natural feel. I.e. single plant or groups of 3, 5. (EDIT: realized you already mentioned this in the post regarding multiples and using natural groupings of plants)
Absolutely, this is getting to the heart of the matter, with respect to making a more naturalistic display that isn't polka-dotted. If a solid thread (wide use of a specific plant) is running throughout the variation of other plants, they can all fit in to the overall scene a little better. I haven't experimented with using specific numbers of a type of plant with a purpose, but I can see it being effective.

Originally Posted by WZDesigns View Post
5. Limit variety of drastically different plants/morphs. Rather than a grab-bag of every type of plant and 5 different colors of broms, simplify the variations so that the tank has more of a balance. Too many different plants creates a busy/ distracting tank.

Thanks again, and I’m really looking forward to volume 2
I completely see what you mean and I have seen vivariums with fewer species that were some of the best I've seen. But I have seen others with a higher degree of variation (different species) used that were also very successful, too. I have seen a few displays that were very densely planted, and I enjoyed them too, but I don't think the objective was a successful dart frog vivarium. I think it is all about placement and what you want to see in the end. There are some techniques that should work very well to get on the right track towards making a vivarium that is enjoyable and doesn't turn into a mess in six months, but at some point creativity and plant availability/preference come into play. And then plants have a mind of their own, and will do unexpected things that we hadn't envisioned in the original conception - at that point, some intervention may be needed. I have certainly done plenty of alteration in order to achieve a look that is closer to what I'd like to see.

But in general, I look at color as an accent that is easier to over-do than different plants/textures. Like you mentioned, five different bromeliads don't really fit together, especially when they are different colorful Neoregelia hybrids. And a vivarium with a lot of silver and red plants may end up being too busy and is not something I'd expect to see growing naturally together in one place. But I haven't been everywhere, so maybe there are places where lots of colorful plants exist in the same setting. Most photos I see of the tropics show a lot of green plants, so I try to make sure most of the plants I use are green. There are so many interesting red plants that it's hard to avoid having a few around.

And I'd like to say that, while this thread has been all about looking at plants and vivariums is specific and refined ways, I don't really expect my own displays or any others to be perfect replicas of natural scenery. I think striving for something more natural is a fine goal, but I understand that the limitations of tank size, plant availability, artistic ability, finances, etc. play a role in what we are able to produce. Just wanted to mention that, since I think that plenty of great vivariums have been shared here and look forward to seeing what others turn out in the future.


Last edited by roxrgneiss; 10-27-2016 at 12:48 AM.
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