: I'm starting my 2nd build here. My first tank
was a big display tank that I ended up building from scratch because I couldn't find any big enough that could be shipped here. I liked the outcome, but ended up spending waaay more money and a lot more time than I anticipated, so looking to go quick(er) and easy(er) this time around and do a conversion instead. Petco is doing their $1/gallon sale (Thank you Judy for posting that), so I picked up a 40 gallon breeder.
Right now I've got a side table thing
in my kitchen that's covered in extra plants.
Looks like this right here:
The 40 Breeder will fit just about perfect if I flip it up so the opening is facing forwards. All the other standard tank sizes didn't fit as well, even if I bought two smaller ones or whatever. This should pretty much fill the table top and be 17" high.
The intention for this was to just put all my extra plants in one tank so it would look a little nicer and give them more humidity than they're getting now. But shopping for lights and trying to figure out how to put doors and vents in, I think I'm going to spend more than I expected again, and be highly tempted to put frogs in later, so am building with that in mind.
: Be as simple as possible, while still coming up with a good quality, frog-worthy result. Hopefully don't go too crazy with the spending this time.
: No! Last build I did a pond in the corner, to have access to the drainage layer and so the frogs could soak if they wanted, but the frogs don't use it, and it just gets filled up with dead springtails and fruit flies, so this time I think I'm going to just do plain substrate, maximizing floor space, and running a PVC pipe down to the drainage layer so I can siphon out when needed.
: Will use expanded glass aggregate (AKA Growstone). I've got half a bag left over from the last build, and seems to work fine. I got a 3/4 inch PVC pipe and a T-shaped fitting. Will cover the ends of the T-fitting in screen so gunk doesn't get in, have the pipe run up through the substrate, and got a plastic cap to put on the top of it so no frogs can get in. I've got a hand siphon I can use to get the water out. Didn't want to attempt drilling a bulkhead, and wouldn't look good on that table anyways. I realize bulkheads are the easiest solution, but I like everything to be "self-contained" and don't mind draining my current tank periodically.
: I've got about 5 gallons NE Herp and ABG mix. Will mix a little calcinated clay (AKA turface) in too. Thick layer of leaf litter on top of that.
: I just have a plain CFL bulb on my higher light plants now, but doesn't look nice and doesn't have enough spread. I got 2 Current Satellite LED+ bars for my tank now, but I don't use the effects much and can't afford to buy 2 36-inch of those. I tried to find the best combination of cheap, bright, and good for plants. I hurt my brain reading ratings, reviews, planted tank forums, and manufacturer specs. Ended up purchasing one of these here:
Was between this and 2 of the cheaper
bars, but the one I chose seemed to be about twice as bright, supposedly more geared towards plant growth (planted tanks in particular), and slightly cheaper than buying 2 of the Stingray.
: Considered going with no background, but want to have something to stick epiphytes in. Will plan to do a cork mosaic background. Last time I used great big slabs of cork in an attempt to make one uniform-looking piece, but ended up being too difficult trying to fit them together, and the larger pieces led to more warping, so I effectively just did the cork mosaic background with bigger pieces, spending a lot more time and money trying to get them flat. This time I'll just get some gallon bags of pieces instead. For a centerpiece I ordered a great big piece of ghostwood from NE Herp. I really liked the smaller piece they sent me last time. Just going to lay it sideways like a big fallen down tree.
: My intention for this was to just do a plain terrarium for plants and not stick any frogs in it. However I might end up spending too much time and money to just put plants in, and be tempted to stick some frogs in later. Would like to get something fairly "low maintenance," by which I mean it would do well in groups, not eat a ton, not require a water feature, and not be too loud. I'm thinking maybe mantellas? This build will be a little more overgrown than my last (tincs) so maybe can get a little smaller, shyer frog. I have been scoping out the ranitomeya a lot, but because of the door design I'm thinking about (just one big door, see below) I wouldn't want something fast enough it could jump out while I'm misting or feeding, and ranitomeya seem more vertically-oriented anyways. I'll try doing a tank for them another day... Terriblis seem like an obvious choice, but worried they'd eat so much I'd have to make 2X as many fruit fly cultures, or start raising crickets too. Firebelly toads would be another idea, however I don't want to sacrifice floor space for a great big pond. The Vietnamese mossy frogs look really cool and seem low maintenance, but from what little I could find, they need a big water feature, like firebelly toads. I really like looking at mantellas at the zoo, and seem to be pretty low maintenance, so might go with those. I am not in any rush to put frogs in there though. Plan A is just to use this thing for extra plants, but I'm going to try and build it solid and fruit-fly proof in case I decide to stick frogs in there later. I'd like to take it slower than last time though. Last time I had paid a deposit on my frogs and had a delivery date scheduled months in advance, so I was really stressed out and blew up my credit card in order to meet the deadline. Would like to take a little more time building this one and be patient before ordering frogs.
Doors: This is where I am really stuck.
This was the worst part of building the last one, and struggling again here. I wish I could just buy a conversion kit, but doesn't exist for a 40G. The only horizontal, front-opening conversion I could find was this one
. I'm basing my idea of what he did there. Thinking I'll just have a single door on a hinge, but have the hinge at the top rather than the bottom. My thinking there is when I open it, the door would be resting on top of the tank, rather than hanging down, putting stress on the hinge. Having 2 side-opening doors seems like it would put a lot of stress on the hinges too, since the tank is so wide. I like my sliding doors on my current tank, however getting the tracking for that was really difficult, and I don't know what I'd have them resting on this time. Last time I did a Sherman Vent, but the glass cutter I use really hated cutting the 1"X24" strips, and I don't think he'd do it if I asked for 1"X35". Even if I can get some more tracking material, I don't think I'd be able to rest it squarely on the edge of some 1/4 inch glass, and I can't figure out how to build a nice ledge for it.
: Just as confused as I am with the doors. If I can't do the Sherman Vent this time (I'll ask my glass cutter, but I think he'll say no), I think I've got two options. 1. Drill a bunch of holes in it and put in grommets/bushings, as I've seen people do. These look decent, but to get the amount of ventilation I want I think I'd have to do a whole lot of drilling, and worried I'd screw it up. 2. Make some window screen inserts. I'm going to have to figure out how to make these, but this seems like the easiest way to go. The only downside I see from these, is if I wanted to make a big wide screen to go above or below the doors, I don't think it will be sturdy enough to support the weight of the door.
So here's the solution I came up with (this is to-scale):
I think these should be big enough vents, allowing for some air circulation, while allowing the door to attach to the top of the tank with a piano hinge, giving the door maximum support. My main concerns are it might look stupid, and maybe I'm overly-worried about putting stress on the hinges. Maybe just doing it the way the other guy did, vent on top, hinge below the door, is the way to go? Maybe there's some way to make a screen that's a little more rigid, so I could hang the door off it? I'd really appreciate some advice on the doors and vents in particular
. I'd ask Travis, who did the other 40G conversion, directly but he hasn't been active on dendroboard for a while.
If you read this whole thing, I will give you a gold star.
Sorry if I got a little wordy, but really having trouble wrapping my head around how to do one of these conversions, and I want everything to turn out nice. I also try to be really thorogh documenting my plans and build so others can hopefully learn from my mistakes. I really appreciate the support of the dendroboard community and all the other questions I've had along the way.
Thanks for reading, and for any feedback/advice you can provide,