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Old 02-27-2017, 12:39 AM
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Default Trying Something New

Hey guys,

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):

Neoregelia fireball
Ficus pumila
Ficus pumila 'Panama'
Begonia thelmae
Begonia solimutata
Pilea involucrata
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!
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Old 02-27-2017, 12:44 AM
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Default Re: Trying Something New

Still working out how to post images so I apologize if its a mess.
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Old 02-27-2017, 12:52 AM
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Default Re: Trying Something New

Just to make sure I get this right, the fan blows air in to the false bottom which then comes up through the substrate?
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Old 02-27-2017, 12:56 AM
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Default Re: Trying Something New

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Originally Posted by Sammie View Post
Just to make sure I get this right, the fan blows air in to the false bottom which then comes up through the substrate?
You are correct. With the substrate mixture the soil doesn't compact a ton and this allows the airflow to pass through.
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Old 02-27-2017, 01:12 AM
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Default Re: Trying Something New

Interesting idea, I haven't seen that before either.
I wonder how it will effect the plants, I would think the aerated substrate is quite beneficial.
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Old 02-27-2017, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Sammie View Post
Interesting idea, I haven't seen that before either.
I wonder how it will effect the plants, I would think the aerated substrate is quite beneficial.
That's what I was hoping it would do. So far the plants have taken the acclimation far better than I have previously seen, but it could be coincidence.... fingers crossed its the latter.
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Old 02-27-2017, 01:43 AM
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Default Re: Trying Something New

I've done this as well. Personally, I think it looses efficiency over time. I prefer to use Sherman Vents in a viv if possible, and then pull air up out of the top of the viv.

But this will work. I've got a tank set up for five years that it still works with.

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Just to make sure I get this right, the fan blows air in to the false bottom which then comes up through the substrate?
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Last edited by Scott; 02-28-2017 at 11:48 PM.
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Old 02-27-2017, 01:46 AM
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Default Re: Trying Something New

I like the use of corrugated plastic for a corner vent system. I wonder what other uses that stuff might have in vivaria. A template for building backgrounds outside the tank, perhaps? Or do you think the GS would warp it?
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Old 02-27-2017, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Woodswalker View Post
I like the use of corrugated plastic for a corner vent system. I wonder what other uses that stuff might have in vivaria. A template for building backgrounds outside the tank, perhaps? Or do you think the GS would warp it?
I've seen an entire vivarium built out of corrugate plastic excluding the front door and bottom layer. It looked to have worked well and seemed to hold well with some support
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Old 02-27-2017, 03:35 PM
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Default Re: Trying Something New

I'd be interested in seeing the build log for that tank. What are they using for additional support?
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Old 02-27-2017, 10:40 PM
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Default Re: Trying Something New

Im not sure where I saw it, it may have been rfuk. Ill have a look and try find it for you
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Old 03-04-2017, 01:56 AM
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I made a few minor changes: added a piece of driftwood in the center and relocated a few plants to make room for my new plant shipment... a few of the species that I ordered are from Peru and are quite rare, but I won't be receiving them until April when the weather warms up. The wait is going to kill me.

A pic of the new layout:


And some of my other viv's and inhabitants while I wait.

My male 'Santa Isabel'


A. bassleri 'Chrome Blue' from UE


D. truncatus Viv
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Old 03-12-2017, 09:39 AM
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Default Re: Trying Something New

Good job. I like especially your truncatus viv.
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Old 03-17-2017, 04:06 AM
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Default Re: Trying Something New

Very cool setup! Ive been researching here and there about this hobby for the past 6-8 months as Im still very new and havent come across anything like this but seems like it would definitely curb the potential for development of anerobic bacteria from building up. Being new im probably just overly paranoid about my substrate getting too saturated.
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Old 03-17-2017, 04:52 AM
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Good job. I like especially your truncatus viv.
Thanks, the truncs are definitely quite happy with it too as they are rather prolific breeders
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Old 03-17-2017, 05:27 AM
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Very cool setup! Ive been researching here and there about this hobby for the past 6-8 months as Im still very new and havent come across anything like this but seems like it would definitely curb the potential for development of anerobic bacteria from building up. Being new im probably just overly paranoid about my substrate getting too saturated.
It definitely has helped in regards to aerating the substrate and the plants are doing quite well. The soil still remains moist, but not fully saturated which was the intent of the design. However, not enough time has passed to get any conclusive long-term results.

I wouldn't fret too much about it. There are many different substrate mixes members have successfully used to minimize the chance of creating anaerobic conditions without aerating the substrate like I have. Those that use the ABG mix or a similar rendition have had the greatest success, especially long term. So as long as you have something similar to that with a proper drainage layer, you're on the right track.
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Old 03-17-2017, 05:57 AM
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Default Re: Trying Something New

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It definitely has helped in regards to aerating the substrate and the plants are doing quite well. The soil still remains moist, but not fully saturated which was the intent of the design. However, not enough time has passed to get any conclusive long-term results.

I wouldn't fret too much about it. There are many different substrate mixes members have successfully used to minimize the chance of creating anaerobic conditions without aerating the substrate like I have. Those that use the ABG mix or a similar rendition have had the greatest success, especially long term. So as long as you have something similar to that with a proper drainage layer, you're on the right track.
Ok good to know. I have about a 1 1/2" false bottom, with substrate barrier and about 2" of ABG mix from glass box tropicals which seems to be the same ingredients in my findings to the original mixture. Never done a terrarium so I'm used to everything being sunk. Lghtened up on misting to just misting plants and my dusk moss mix thats growing in. Glass is constantly wet aside from the top but I'm assuming that's going to be normal with T5s. Temp has been stable at 75-80 degrees for the last week
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Old 04-30-2017, 09:21 PM
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Default Re: Trying Something New

Nice build! Never seen foam used as a false bottom before!
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Old 05-01-2017, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by chulainnledsom View Post
Nice build! Never seen foam used as a false bottom before!
The false bottom is actually a black Matala sheet. They are typically used for pond filtration but many have began using them as a false bottom because they are lightweight and rigid.
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