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Old 01-09-2006, 03:38 AM
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Default planning my new viv

Hey everyone,

I am in the planning stages of my first viv, an exo-terra (the largest size, i think its 18x18x24?) I decided on one for the dimensions and the opening front doors. I have read the posts here for a couple months now, and I think its time for me to post something Well anyways, here are some initial questions.

1) Water features

I know I want to put some type of water feature into the tank, at least a waterfall/stream. Anyone have any good tips about setting this up? I'm thinking of having a small 5 gallon tank underneath as a place for excess water to drain into. I extensively read about the Paludarium the guy is constructing in the Vivariums section, and think that some type of pond area like that would be neat. Any thoughts?

2) Inhabitants

I have to say that I like the azureus and the auratus the best, so one of those is going to go in the viv. How many of each do you think would do well?

3) Soil

I have read about people using just gravel as the substrate and putting moss on that. If you want to plant plants in the soil, do you just stick them in the gravel, or do you submerge little pots into the gravel? Also, what other good soils do people employ? I just want something that will work well and be maintence free (I don't really want to have to clean out the substrate is I can help it)

4) Keeping the viv FF proof

I have heard that some exo-terras are not FF proof. Anyone have any stories? I know there was a topic about a conversion someone was dong on their exo-terra, just looking for advice.

5) Lighting

What lighting will work well? I want something that will make a bright, natural looking light, that will be good for the plant growth.

6) Maintenence free

I want to try and make this as care free as possible. Basically, i want to think before I leap, and make sure it is fairly easy to care for.

7) Heating

Whats a good way to keep the tank the right temp. If I have water moving through the tank, can I stick an inline heater to one of the pipes, or place one in the sump?

8 ) Ventilation

Whats the best way to keep air moving through the exo-terra type vivarium? I have read that airflow is good for the plants, I just need a good way to employ the method.

9) Background

After looking at hundreds of pics here and other places, I have to say that I like the cork bark / foam background. I say one where one person put some foam on the cork bark, and covered the foam with coco fiber, and it looked really cool. Anybody else do that?

Okay, I have a notepad laying around here that is full of notes and questions, as soon as I find it I will post again. Thanks in advance.

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Old 01-09-2006, 07:48 AM
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Default thats alot

man your asking for alot of info thats already been asked. There are tons of post just use the search tab. trust me you will find alot. This is what everyone will tell you. The rule for keeping frogs is 1 per 5gals. now the heating part, i never really read alot on that. i dont have troble with that. i live in texas and its been 70-80 so far. The back ground foam from what i read is kind of tricky. you can brake you tank using that stuff. Im new and wouldnt try that by myself. i would find someone who can help me with that, whos done it before. just search around good luck
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Old 01-09-2006, 02:59 PM
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I don't heat mine, either, room temp is enough. I'm sure you run your heater in the winter, right? You probably don't need another heat source. You really don't need to worry about air flow, either, I don't think. The frogs don't need it. Most people keep their dart tanks completely enclosed. If you want a group, I think the auratus do better without fighting. the azureus females are known to be really aggressive with each other and most just keep them in male/female pairs, I think. I use a compact fourescent light, it is better for the plants and does not heat the tank too much. I tried one of those Exo-Terra day glo bulbs but it wasn't good for the plants and heated the tank way too much.
1.2.0 d. guineti
1.2.0 leucomelas
1.1.0 azureus
1.1.4 Imitators
1.1.0 Powder Blue Tincs
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Old 01-09-2006, 11:24 PM
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thanks for the info so far. I understand that some things I ask about have probably been talked about before, but it is impossible to prevent all repeats now an then. I do use the search option all the time, and it seems that every time I word something a little differently, I get all new results, so I am slowly answering all of my questions. I just thought this would speed it up a bit.
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Old 01-10-2006, 01:21 PM
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1) the simplest water feature is just a compression dug out of the leca, or a cut in the false bottom (make sure to screen off the sides so frogs/tads can't get under). If you want running water, I think you are right to use a sump/drain system. Finding the right piece of driftwood or rock has been the only way I could do it without soaking the substrate from splashing and capillary action. In a viv your size, I'd recommend keeping any water feature small... maybe just a piece of small driftwood with water running down a side of it onto a gravel area. You'll want to keep all of the substrate away from this with gravel/rocks/wood, etc. Personally, I prefer either no water feature (water collects for the frogs on some leaves and in bromeliads), or just a dug out area that gives access to the water in the false bottom.

2) Azureus or auratus make great first frogs. You could get a pair of adult azureus in your tank, or start with about 4 juveniles and wait for a pair to form and then try to unload the extras (or get a second tank) Getting a young pair or 4 juvies costs about the same ime, so I'd opt for the pair to begin with. Auratus are a bit more shy, but also a great frog. They can be kept in groups... I'd say 4 would do well permanently in your tank. The more common morphs will have a much nicer price tag than the azureus. They also have a nicer call, if you wanted that (almost impossible to hear an azureus call).

3) Some plants will do fine with juss moss/gravel. Many others prefer substrate. Still others would rather attach to a piece of bark or wood. You'll need to research what you need based on the plants you want. I prefer a mix of orchid bark, charcoal, sphagnum moss, and peat and/or coco-fiber. I also add tree fern fiber to the mix if I have it, and sometimes shredded leaves. This is a soil that drains quickly but yet holds a bit of moisture... perfect for most plants. With live plants and substrate, you should never need to do maintenace (as in washing the substrate). You will only need to prune plants every now and then.

4) your best bet really is to search out another thread on this. The gap between the doors, and the vent at the top are both suspect areas that may need modification.

5) The cheapest option here is a normal flourescent light... best to get the "daylight" bulbs imho. Home depot sells one that comes in an orange sleeve that I'm happy with. The next cheapest is to go for screw in compact fluorescents... One or two 13 watt bulbs will light your tank well. The most expensive, but nicest option (in my opinion), would be compact flourescents from I have them on all of my tanks. Simply pick the bulb length that fits your tank. The difference in plant growth can be phenomenal.

6) Dart frog tanks require very little care. You'll need to feed the frogs, probably fruit flies as a staple. Most of the work is in culturing food. You'll also need to mist the tank, though this can be automated with a misting system. The frogs will produce waste, which is a not so nice term for fertilizer that the plants will process and use. I also have to wipe down my front glass every now and then, as algae is prone to grow on it... but if you have vents to keep the front glass fogged up less, this will be less of a problem. Lots of us have had tanks for years without tearing them down.

7) If you keep your house room temp (mid 60s to low 70's), you should not need to modify the temperature. The lights will heat the tank up some during the day, and you'll need to make sure they don't heat it up too much (especially with the compact fluorescents). Adjust the temp by moving the lights a few inches off the glass with some sort of riser. I keep my frogs in a room that stays constantly in the low 70's because I have several hundred gallons of heated fish tanks in the same room. I keep my CF's about two inches off the glass to put the tanks in the mid-upper 70's durnig the day.

8) No experience here... I keep my tanks totally sealed. I need to mist much less often (unless I'm trying to stimulate breeding). The frogs and the plants get enough ventilation when I open the lid every other day to feed. You can ask anyone who attends MAD meetings in my area... I always have lots of plants available (so clearly they aren't doing too bad with my "insufficient" ventilation). If I were going to vent a tank, I would use no-see-um mesh with window screen frames (and pre-mitred corners) and just get my glass top cut about 1.5 inches short. I would use this screen frame on the very front of the top, so that the front would be less fogged up. Natural thermal currents should move enough air in and out without any fans in most circumstances. I would have another piece of glass or acrylic that I could partially cover this screen with to fine tune the humidity... but like I said, totally sealed has worked well for me.

9) tons of us have done this. It's done exactly like you say. I personally recommend using silicone, not weldbond or other glues. Make sure you have COMPLETELY dried your coco fiber or it wont stick.

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