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Old 08-19-2013, 06:58 AM
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Default Getting back into things... Planning a new vivarium with scorpions then frogs?

Hello everyone, I'm kind of new around here and I haven't done anything with vivariums for 8 years or so.

The last one I built was a very successful auratus habitat that was killed off a long time ago by someone being a bit nuts with pesticides in my old home. Given that it was a successful habitat without human intervention I am now out to take a new unused exo terra 12x12x12 and turn it into a natural vivarium.

However, when I did this 8 years ago everyone was using gravel and full bottom systems with Styrofoam so this safe silicone and "good stuff" business is all new to me. As a result I've been doing some research on how you folks make false bottoms with the lighting diffusers from florescent bulbs and have decided to make a false bottom terrarium using that standard method. I have a colony of 4 baby emperor scorpions that have outgrown their current habitat that I will transfer to the new container. The way I've planned this they should have in theory 3 inches of substrate to burrow into and hide. Plenty for little scorpions.

I intend to make a stream out of sculpted good stuff sprayed onto the egg crate and carved out with egg crate as a "Step" on the sides to guide me in terms of height. I also intend to glue some gravel to the "stream bed" using black silicone if I can manage it. I want the stream to be very gentle and will be partially assisted by gravity. it's possible that
Amazon.com: Tom Aquatics Aqua-Lifter Dosing Pump: Pet Supplies Amazon.com: Tom Aquatics Aqua-Lifter Dosing Pump: Pet Supplies
that dosing pump will work for what I need. I also have designed in an aquatic section with a ramp. As the emperor scorpions are juveniles it will be filled with gravel and shallow. I made a terrible diagram here:



that I've rambled about my crackpot plans I have questions, so many questions.

1)I've seen a lot of mention of you guys gluing cocofiber to things but no one seems to mention what they're using to do that? I'm curious if it's just a matter of laying down a layer of say good stuff and then letting it cure and smearing a layer of silicone and powdering it with it. Or are you folks actually using a glue in these tanks?

2)What's with the lack of external pumps? Are the external solutions really that bad? Is an external filtration system with activated carbon going to hurt any potential future frogs?

3)Is a water heater in the tank a viable way to keep temperatures up? Or do most folks rely on a heat bulb/heat mat on the side of the tank?

4) Back in my day I ordered a nice set of plants from Black Jungle. Now I see a lot of you guys ordering from Josh's and I also noticed the addition of magnolia leaves to most terrariums now? Black Jungle still seems to exclude it from their start kits.

5)My scorpions are only going to be in the environment for a molt or two and by then I expect that the habitat should be fairly well established. Now I've got that itch to try and start another tank with auratus after my catastrophic accident years ago but I don't know how many could actually fit in that much floor space. Also I am concerned about temperature drops in my apartment in the winter due to a not so great heating system and me not being able to feed them if I am called out for work for an extended period. Would a single Ceratophrys be more at home in the cramped space and possible variable temperatures and thus a better option?

Thank you so much for reading this long rambling plan I hatched out at 2am.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:14 PM
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Default Re: Getting back into things... Planning a new vivarium with scorpions then frogs?

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1)I've seen a lot of mention of you guys gluing cocofiber to things but no one seems to mention what they're using to do that? I'm curious if it's just a matter of laying down a layer of say good stuff and then letting it cure and smearing a layer of silicone and powdering it with it. Or are you folks actually using a glue in these tanks?
There are a variety of methods but it seems that the most popular is to use GE I silicone for that purpose. My own personal preference is to use the black pond foam version of great stuff and simply press cork flats into that. Then I use tinted Drylok to cover the areas where the foam expands. It's faster, easier, and IMO looks better as well.

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2)What's with the lack of external pumps? Are the external solutions really that bad? Is an external filtration system with activated carbon going to hurt any potential future frogs?
There's a lack? I wasn't aware.

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Originally Posted by specialmias View Post
3)Is a water heater in the tank a viable way to keep temperatures up? Or do most folks rely on a heat bulb/heat mat on the side of the tank?
Most tanks are kept in human-comfortable temperature zones so there's little need to add heat. It's more common that they are too hot, in fact! If the tank is kept in a 70 degree heated room by the time you add a glass top and some lights you've got an easy 75-79 degrees inside.

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4) Back in my day I ordered a nice set of plants from Black Jungle. Now I see a lot of you guys ordering from Josh's and I also noticed the addition of magnolia leaves to most terrariums now? Black Jungle still seems to exclude it from their start kits.
Leaf litter is important, yes. It provides excellent hiding spots for frogs as well as nutritional material for bugs.

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5)Now I've got that itch to try and start another tank with auratus after my catastrophic accident years ago but I don't know how many could actually fit in that much floor space.
One, maybe. 12x12 isn't very large, especially if you're going to eat away some of the space with a stream. (I would highly recommend against it, in fact.)

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Also I am concerned about temperature drops in my apartment in the winter due to a not so great heating system and me not being able to feed them if I am called out for work for an extended period.
More information is needed. How low of temperature drops? How extended of a time could you be called out? Most dart owners don't feed daily so unless you're speaking of multi-day absence it probably wouldn't be an issue.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:35 PM
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Default Re: Getting back into things... Planning a new vivarium with scorpions then frogs?

Thanks for the reply. Also yes a lot of the builds I've seen seem to exclude external pumps, it was hard for me to find build journals that used external ones.
I'll axe the water heater concept then. As far as temps go it would likely be drops of 60F ambient for 24 hours usually. That's how long it takes maintenance to get things going again when they break here.

Typically when I'm called out I go 3-4 days without being here. Honestly after doing some more reading and reading you reply I may scrap any dart frogs for this enclosure and save it for the next one. I still may try a baby Ceratophrys male in there and get myself a 36” x 18” x 24” to do things right later. All else fails it'll become a permanent invert tank. Maybe I'll try a tiny water feature in this one as practice.

Last edited by specialmias; 08-19-2013 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 08-19-2013, 02:57 PM
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Default Re: Getting back into things... Planning a new vivarium with scorpions then frogs?

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Thanks for the reply. Also yes a lot of the builds I've seen seem to exclude external pumps, it was hard for me to find build journals that used external ones.
I may be wrong but I would take a stab and say that's because many people are concerned about drilling holes in their tanks. At this stage (I think I'm about 8 tank builds in at this point?) I would never have a tank that wasn't drilled. Once the drilling is done using an external pump is the only way to go for a water feature.

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As far as temps go it would likely be drops of 60F ambient for 24 hours usually. That's how long it takes maintenance to get things going again when they break here.
I don't think that would be an issue if it were resolved in that short of time.

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Typically when I'm called out I go 3-4 days without being here.
In a well established tank with lots of microfauna, well fed adult frogs probably wouldn't have a problem going with FF for that duration. You'd just want to feed heavily right before leaving and right when you get home. The key is to have a tank that's got well established bugs so that the frogs can forage when their fast food (the abbreviation FF still works!) isn't readily available.

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Honestly after doing some more reading and reading you reply I may scrap any dart frogs for this enclosure and save it for the next one.
Probably a wise decision.
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Old 08-19-2013, 03:54 PM
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Default Re: Getting back into things... Planning a new vivarium with scorpions then frogs?

I'm sorry, I think I misunderstood you -- are you planning on keeping the frogs and the scorpions together in the same viv?
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Old 08-19-2013, 05:58 PM
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Default Re: Getting back into things... Planning a new vivarium with scorpions then frogs?

Ah I apologize if it wasn't clear, the post was a result of a long Saturday of reading. I plan on keeping the small colony of communal emperor scorpions that are around 3 inches long in it until they reach their next molt which should occur within a month or two. By then the terrarium should be established at which point I would move in with frogs and the scorpions would be in a bigger nicer home.

I imagine they would find the typical dart a nice snack. A Ceratophrys would probably clear out my colony of scorpions and turn them into expensive frog food.
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