My name is Braeden and I figured its about time that I came out of the shadows. I've been lurking around gathering ideas and obtaining knowledge from the forums for a while and I've been in the DF hobby for 8 years now. During that 8 years I have built dozens of viv's for crested geckos, RETF's and of course, dart frogs. I am also currently in university studying biology so the hobby has gone hand in hand with my studies. It's been pretty great!
For this build I wanted to try something different that I haven't seen or tried before. So I figured the best way to try something new would be start small and keep things simple. (I apologize in advance if this is lengthy, I will be using this to document all results and observations.)
I started with a 10 gallon tank and was toying around ideas for better ventilation that would also increase air circulation within the enclosure. I ended up designing and constructing something that works far better than anything else that I have tried (so far), but time will tell.
In the corner of the tank I created a shaft out of corrugated plastic that goes all the way to the bottom. This was designed as the ventilation shaft and has a 60mm fan on top to blow outside air in, as well as doubling as a place to siphon out excess water. I cut four approx. 3" triangles in the bottom. This kept the structural integrity of the shaft and also allows more airflow if there is water present in the drainage layer. The drainage layer is a pond filter that is similar to a matala sheet, keeping the viv lightweight and providing a sturdy support for the substrate. The filter sheet also allowed for great air circulation from under the substrate allowing constant oxygenation in the soil throughout the entire base of the viv.
I then began planning the hardscape and ended up with something that I was happy with. After that I just used Great Stuff Pond expanding foam to secure everything in place and make things look a little more natural. After the foam had cured I carved it until I had the desired look.
I used my own background mix that looks natural and rich, consisting of peat moss, shredded sphagnum and coconut fiber. I used Titebond III glue to apply it to the background.
After the background cured I began my initial planting. So far its nothing special but I plan on adding as I go. Its difficult to get some of the plants I really want in Canada, and harder to find room for them because of the limited space within the tank
I'm sure as the tank matures I will be changing a few things. And the light I am using is the 18 inch Current USA Satellite Freshwater Planted Plus. It seems to have the perfect specs for this tank, but again, time will tell.
Substrate consists of charcoal chunks, fir bark pieces, sphagnum, coconut fiber, and peat moss. I have used this mixture in the past and have had great success with it.
Plant List (so far):
Ficus pumila 'Panama'
2 Taxiphylum species
I'm letting this grow in for a while to let the springtail population and plants establish. I also want to be sure that the ventilation system works flawlessly before I add frogs. I'm thinking about adding a pair of R. ukarii or some type of O. pumilio.
After a week the system is still running flawlessly, when the fan turns on for 20 minutes the glass clears and the RH hardly fluctuates. I will try to keep updating this as it progresses and if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas please don't hesitate to ask!