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Old 12-13-2019, 06:21 PM
Fahad Fahad is offline
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Default Large / X-Tall Exo Terra

I got back into this hobby after about a decade, give or take. This is the first of a couple of larger vivs I have planned, WIP.

1. I never really got into what I knew then as the Dutch-style, built-in background tanks. My personal aesthetic tends towards minimalism and my tanks usually reflect this.

I may yet give it a shot by doing a cliff-side or embankment style vivarium, but this first one is basically picking up where I left off years ago.

There are parallels to what I enjoy doing with Takashi Amano’s more open Aquascaping work.

2. Tank is for terrestrial frogs, probably terribilis. With a 36” x 18” footprint it’s about as small as I like to go; I usually prefer larger tanks.

3. This isn’t a strict biotope, but all plants are South American or in some cases a close version thereof.

I’m picturing a flat stretch in a shallow gully, where debris has been left behind by torrential rainfall, with an uprooted stump, fallen or partially buried branches; maybe even the former path of a stream or creek that has since re-directed due to erosion.

I’m aware that by that description I could maybe do more with topography, but I’m focusing on the debris field for a tank this size, and will leave more dramatic sculptural elements for a bigger one.

Tank: 36” x 18” x 36”

Lid: custom glass cut to size and drilled to accept Mist King plumbing.

Lighting: Spectral Designs 34” x 6” LED Spot (50w) & Strip Light Panel 2X on 12-hour setting with Controller / Driver Combo

False bottom: low-density Matala, open-cell filter foam, fibreglass window mesh with standpipe-style drain.

Substrate: calcined clay “pond soil”, leaf litter.


Neo-tropical moss sp.
Neo-tropical liverwort sp.
Philodendron sp. ‘Mini Condor’
Philodendron aff. chinchamayense
Philodendron scandens
Anthurium sp.
Pleopeltis polypodioides
Microgamma aff. heterophylla
Microgamma vaccinafolia
Marcgravia sp. ‘White Fringe’
Staurogyne repens
Neoregelia ‘Chiquita Linda’

The standpipe is the same simple plumbing I used in my 90-gallon viv several years ago now. Basically a storm sewer with a gasket-lined, threaded seal I hide beneath leaf litter. Easy to siphon if need be, no worries about drilling or leaky plumbing.

The open-cell filter foam on top provides some tension against the sides of the tank, making a more effective substrate barrier, with the mesh over top making it easier (if need be) to simply lift out most of the substrate if the tank needs moving, stripping or major maintenance in the future.

There was a version of this with a lift-out tray I built from plastic mesh and window screen, but the lack of an absolutely flush fit against the sides left me suspicious about inquisitive terribilis harming themselves between the tray and the glass, so I abandoned that and went with the open cell filter media as an elastic barrier that seals tight.

The stump was sold for aquariums and had a number of very sharp protrusions — almost like thorns or spikes, and a couple of splits that looked like frog traps, so I took some time with a flush-cut saw and Foredom to smooth it out and cut things off where necessary.

...there’s more to show with fallen branches and plants to see (the tank has been up for a month now) but I’ll have to update when I have some spare time.

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