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Old 02-14-2018, 03:27 AM
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Default First build. 20 Gallon High

I've decided to bite the bullet and go ahead and start my build. I was tossing around the idea of using my 40 gallon breeder tank but I ended up going with my 20 high to keep it small starting off.

I just placed an order over at josh's frogs and got the following:

- ABG Mix
- Josh's Frogs False Bottom
- Substrate Barrier
- Magnolia Leaf Litter
- 20 Gal Tropical Viv Plant kit
- Exo Terra small Compact Top
- Exo Terra Natural Light Full Spectrum Daylight Bulb
- Blueprint Digital Hygro-Thermometer
- Temperate Spribngtail Culture (32 ounce)
- MistKing Drain Bulkhead Kit
- 6' of MistKing Tubing
- Mopani & Malaysian Driftwood
- Cork Bark panels for the background

I already have a MistKing starter system with two spray heads, and a glass top for my 20. I also wanted to order Isopods but Josh'sfrogs is currently out of stock so I'll have to check back later.

I plan on hitting Lowe's tomorrow to grab a 1.5" Diamondtip drillbit to drillout a hole for my bulkhead. I believe it should be an inch above the bottom of the viv? Also, I just need the tubbing to run into a container, correct? I don't believe I need a suction unit or anything.

I appreciate all the advice so far, it's been a ton of help. Feel free to keep it coming! I plan on adding a bunch of pictures of the build once everything arrives.

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Old 02-14-2018, 05:17 AM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

One tip which I learned the hard way. The JF substrate barrier is some kind of weed block, meaning it's not the best at draining water. A good thing to is to poke it a bunch with a pin or something. This will help water drain down but you shouldn't have any problems with soil falling down.

Also, JF has been out of isopods for quite a while. There are a bunch of other places to buy them though online.
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Last edited by connorp; 02-14-2018 at 05:19 AM.
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Old 02-14-2018, 01:00 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

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One tip which I learned the hard way. The JF substrate barrier is some kind of weed block, meaning it's not the best at draining water. A good thing to is to poke it a bunch with a pin or something. This will help water drain down but you shouldn't have any problems with soil falling down.

Also, JF has been out of isopods for quite a while. There are a bunch of other places to buy them though online.
Thanks for the heads up with the substrate barrier. Do you have any recommendations for the isopods? I checked them out on Amazon but it seemed kinda pricy.

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Old 02-14-2018, 03:53 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

This is the bulkhead drain I ordered. Can anyone confirm if a 1.5" hole is actually needed? I haven't gotten it yet, but that seems pretty big.

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Old 02-14-2018, 10:47 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

Okay so I threw away the idea of drilling a 1.5" hole for the bulk head. That seemed excessive for the size of my tank. I placed an order on Josh's for a 5/8" bulkhead and I'll put a piece of screen over it when I install it.

I also drilled a 5/8" hole in my glass top and installed my dual nozzles. As well as fit my cork tile background.

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Old 02-16-2018, 11:36 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

Okay a lot of fun my stuff came in today. If I need to change anything or if y'all have any tips please let me know.

I'm still waiting for my wood pieces, and my bulkhead so I can hook up my mistking.

My springtails came not moving at all, didn't see one moving. I dumped them in anyway hoping that there are a few in there still okay. It's not very cold outside so I feel like that shouldn't have been an issue.

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Old 02-17-2018, 01:33 AM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

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Okay a lot of fun my stuff came in today. If I need to change anything or if y'all have any tips please let me know.

I'm still waiting for my wood pieces, and my bulkhead so I can hook up my mistking.

My springtails came not moving at all, didn't see one moving. I dumped them in anyway hoping that there are a few in there still okay. It's not very cold outside so I feel like that shouldn't have been an issue.

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It looks great look into some nano orchids because a tank looks so much more natural with some blooms in the viv. And bromeliads don’t do too hot in the soul so that one in the middle you may want to put on your wood once it comes in. For the isopods, if you have an Instagram check out “isopodpagoda” great prices and even some rarer of the giant species. If that doesn’t work I’m sure you can find some on a Facebook page. Now lastly the springtails, the only thing I could think of is put some charcoal in a container and fill it with water. They’re hydrophobic and should float they’ll move around if they’re still alive and if you can’t find any that are alive, then you’re best bet is to just order more or find a dart frog club near you.


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Old 02-17-2018, 01:37 AM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

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Originally Posted by cameronfarris627 View Post
It looks great look into some nano orchids because a tank looks so much more natural with some blooms in the viv. And bromeliads don’t do too hot in the soul so that one in the middle you may want to put on your wood once it comes in. For the isopods, if you have an Instagram check out “isopodpagoda” great prices and even some rarer of the giant species. If that doesn’t work I’m sure you can find some on a Facebook page. Now lastly the springtails, the only thing I could think of is put some charcoal in a container and fill it with water. They’re hydrophobic and should float they’ll move around if they’re still alive and if you can’t find any that are alive, then you’re best bet is to just order more or find a dart frog club near you.


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Thanks for the reply dude, I'll definitely look into that stuff. I'm looking to grab some isopods soon.

I'll be sure to move that bromeliad up to the cork. There won't be any frogs in there for about 2 months so everything will have time to root.

I also might have messed up but I'm not sure.. I didn't shake the dirt from the plants off before I planted. Just a light wash of the plant itself. Anything I can do at this point? They came from Josh's frogs if that makes a difference with possible pests being in them.

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Old 02-17-2018, 01:41 AM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

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Originally Posted by swanny06 View Post
Thanks for the reply dude, I'll definitely look into that stuff. I'm looking to grab some isopods soon.

I'll be sure to move that bromeliad up to the cork. There won't be any frogs in there for about 2 months so everything will have time to root.

I also might have messed up but I'm not sure.. I didn't shake the dirt from the plants off before I planted. Just a light wash of the plant itself. Anything I can do at this point? They came from Josh's frogs if that makes a difference with possible pests being in them.

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When getting plants you have to worry about pesticides and the strong chemical fertilizers I am on the side that Josh’s doesn’t use either but I wash the leaves just to be safe. The soil doesn’t seem to be chemically dosed and far as I know.


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Old 02-17-2018, 01:43 AM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

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When getting plants you have to worry about pesticides and the strong chemical fertilizers I am on the side that Josh’s doesn’t use either but I wash the leaves just to be safe. The soil doesn’t seem to be chemically dosed and far as I know.


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And I would recommend getting one or two coconut huts especially if you’re going with tinctorious.


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Old 02-17-2018, 01:49 AM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

Awesome that sounds great, I'll check out the huts. I'm guessing those are mainly just hides?

I'd like to grab some moss as well and try to get that growing down my background.

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Old 02-18-2018, 12:50 AM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

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Awesome that sounds great, I'll check out the huts. I'm guessing those are mainly just hides?

I'd like to grab some moss as well and try to get that growing down my background.

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Go to the supplies classifieds and check out bullfrog supply they have most that we talked about


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Old 02-18-2018, 05:49 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

I'm not sure if this is a malfunction of the hygrometer or not. It's reading 46% humidity but the inside of the vivarium is obviously humid.

It was also sprayed about 5 hours ago and I'm using a glass top that should hold the humidity in.

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Last edited by swanny06; 02-18-2018 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 02-18-2018, 06:57 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

Just hooked up the mistking and let it spray for 20 seconds. The humidity actually went down 1%.

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Old 02-19-2018, 06:17 AM
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Your humidity gauge can malfunction if the probe gets wet (this will obviously happen at some point if you leave the probe in constantly). I usually just look at the viv to gauge how humid it is.
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Old 02-20-2018, 03:43 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

The for the advice, I'm going to pull it out then sense it's not too effective.

I went ahead and ordered 6 1" circular vents for my glass top in hopes that'll be enough ventilation to keep the glass clear.

I don't believe the springtails made it. I turned over the leaf I sprinkled fish food on with no signs of the spring tails. In fact the fish food was mush now and I've noticed white mold starting to form under the leaves.

What's the best way I can combat this? I have puddles of water constantly sitting on my leaves so I believe my mistking schedule was too frequent. I took it down to 15 seconds at 830AM and 645PM. It was misting 4 times a day.

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Old 02-25-2018, 09:49 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

*update*

Alright so I'm excited to say that vivs coming along great! The plants seem to be thriving. I'm waiting in my moss to arrive and I plan on covering the wood, coco hut, and part of the background.

The springtails are growing like crazy, picked up a leaf and there were a few adults with a ton of babies crawling all over it! As for the isopods, I haven't seem much of them since I interduced them into my viv. I'm feeding them with uncooked white rice.

Got my vents installed. They're 6 1" vents. Still feeling it out to see if I need to install a fan or not (really trying not to). My glass seems to still get a little foggy even after the vents though.

The temperature varies from 75 during the day to 66ish at night. And the humidity floats around 90%. I'm going to scale my misting back a little bit and see if that can get me to around 80%.

As always, and suggestions are much appreciated.

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Old 03-06-2018, 03:52 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

Okay here a few more pictures of the vivarium. Not much has changed except for some plant growth and I added a fan. I'm waiting for a more accurate hygrometer to be delivered as well so I can better monitor things.

Also, the springtails are EVERYWHERE! They're crawling all over the glass and just about every leaf I've picked up they're on there. I haven't seen any isos yet however, so I'll give it a little time for them.

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Old 03-22-2018, 07:42 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

Springtails and isos are well established. Frogs will be added soon.
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Old 03-22-2018, 08:29 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

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Springtails and isos are well established. Frogs will be added soon.


When you opened your springtails from Joshs Frogs were you able to see any? I ordered the 43 oz ones and I did not see one single springtail. I left a 3 star review and basically said "no springtails in container". They sent me a replacement and again I could not find 1 springtail.

Luckily a show was coming up so i bought 4 starter cultures from Alpha Geckos and what a difference. Hundreds of springtails just on the top layer of the charcoal of each culture....not to mention all the other springtails down below the top layer.
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Old 03-22-2018, 08:38 PM
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When you opened your springtails from Joshs Frogs were you able to see any? I ordered the 43 oz ones and I did not see one single springtail. I left a 3 star review and basically said "no springtails in container". They sent me a replacement and again I could not find 1 springtail.

Luckily a show was coming up so i bought 4 starter cultures from Alpha Geckos and what a difference. Hundreds of springtails just on the top layer of the charcoal of each culture....not to mention all the other springtails down below the top layer.
Nah I didn't, I dumped the container in anyway. I waited a week and a half while adding fish food into the tank and still saw no signs of life. I ended up buying a culture off a member on this forum and that really made my tank boom with springs.

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Old 03-22-2018, 08:39 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

Never see many isos, but springs are literally everywhere.

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Old 03-23-2018, 01:25 AM
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Hate to hear you guys had bad experiences with Josh’s Frogs. I bought Isos and springs from them and got plentiful cultures. I did recently have a shipment of crickets arrival all dead, but they took care of it with no hassle. I know they’ve had a pretty rough winter. Out of the three years I’ve been buying live products from them, I’ve only had that one issue with the crickets.
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Old 03-23-2018, 05:47 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

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Never see many isos, but springs are literally everywhere.
I'm guessing dwarf whites? They seem to like to stay buried in the substrate most of the time. I generally only see them between the substrate and glass. I'm sure yours are still in there doing their jobs.

Springtails tend to boom and bust in a new tank, so don't be surprised if you see big swings at first. Ditto for the nematodes and other hitchhiking microfauna. Things will level out though in the long run.

Nice viv. Welcome to the hobby.
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Old 03-23-2018, 08:07 PM
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Default Re: First build. 20 Gallon High

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Hate to hear you guys had bad experiences with Josh’s Frogs. I bought Isos and springs from them and got plentiful cultures. I did recently have a shipment of crickets arrival all dead, but they took care of it with no hassle. I know they’ve had a pretty rough winter. Out of the three years I’ve been buying live products from them, I’ve only had that one issue with the crickets.
Yeah I've heard tons of great stuff about them. I ordered everything but my wood from josh's and it all came great. It was just the springs I wasn't happy with. I definitely won't let that stop me from making a future order with them though.

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I'm guessing dwarf whites? They seem to like to stay buried in the substrate most of the time. I generally only see them between the substrate and glass. I'm sure yours are still in there doing their jobs.

Springtails tend to boom and bust in a new tank, so don't be surprised if you see big swings at first. Ditto for the nematodes and other hitchhiking microfauna. Things will level out though in the long run.

Nice viv. Welcome to the hobby.
Yeah thats right. I got a lot of them in the culture I bought so I'm sure they're in there somewhere lol. Id find a slug in there the other day so I've been keeping an eye out for them sense.

I appreciate it dude, I might pull the moss out later on. I was going for a different look than what I got with it.

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