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AquaAurora 08-16-2018 11:43 PM

55 gallon Vivarium Build
Some back story..
SO a few years back I was going to do a 40g breeder vivarium. Had wood picked out and everything, [even had a thread here].. but after photobucket [censor]red everyone over with the huge yearly charge I stopped using them... But things came up and I had to set it aside.. ended up selling the wood (wish I hadn't now), and used the tank for goldfish aquaponics to grow mostly lettuce (but also kale). At the time I had a lot of aquariums.. too many (i stopped counting after 23 tanks with fish and plants.. >.>). But I've been cutting back as fish pass on from old age. Down to a more manageable 8 stocked aquariums now.

SO now I want to set one up again but decided to use my very old and very varied in uses 55g tetra tank. It's been through a lot from aquarium to aquaponics, to riparium, to aquarium again.. It had a bad blow out a few years back on bottom pane of glass. I got to juggle transferring fish to another tank with trying to keep flooding to a minimum.. and completely ignored the family I had over for dinner that evening (thankfully hubby took care of them).

Here's a photo from my favorite time: riparium mode.. completely over taken with house plants bought locally at home depot/lowes/grocery store.. the root system under water was ridiculous! Really wish I hadn't sold the plants off.. miss it..
I swear there's a 55g tank under there.. somewhere O.o

ANYWAYS. Finally decided to set up a viv after I watching some videos from this youtube channel (seriously go check them out). Will upload some (crappy) build photos over next several days/weeks as things are put together.

AquaAurora 08-17-2018 12:02 AM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build

SO I spent all of yesterday draining and scraping all the mineral deposits (we have hard water) and dried algae off the tank then cleaned up the silicone edges a bit (no photos).

Today I took the pvc pieces my husband pre-made for me way back for the 40g build and siliconed them into the 55g. They are 1 1/2" tubes about 2" tall with small holes drilled into the bottom to let water through.

Cut egg crate (light diffuser from home depot) to size then covered in weed block mesh and zip ties.. for some reason my local home depot only had this in grey, not black.. Also made a drain pipe for water changes and made a large opening with wider lid so I can put a heater in the water below.

That took about 2 1/2-3 hours to get done.
Now I get to wait 48+ hours to let silicone cure before I move on.
I fortunately bought substrate way back for the last vivarium prep so I'm covered there.. just have to get spring tails.. maybe isopods (its really sad that my spell check triers to change this to "ipod") and substrate, put micro fauna, plants, and driftwood into tank... oh and go by home improvement store again for some Lexan (i don't trust myself with glass >.> ) to make a new lid and get a humidity/temp display I can slap in the tank.

Will post more updates as things happen..

For now I leave you with a quick snap of a find I didn't expect to see locally in a crappy diy humidity chamber. Take a guess at which fern species it is!

AquaAurora 08-17-2018 12:28 AM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
next post will hopefully be about plants or driftwood..whichever I get photos of first

AquaAurora 08-17-2018 11:50 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
Moved fern to an empty 20g high with some water in the base and cling wrap on top. Guested what it is yet?

Just some quick picks from the 55g, nothing new happening for a few days

Also have a tiny terrarium with emersed aquatic plants in a 2g cookie jar.. may be transferring to a 6g bowfront. Don't plan to keep any frogs in it, just springtails and plants probably.

AquaAurora 08-19-2018 04:51 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
mini update
SO no photos this time, just a quick update... too sick right now to DO anything.
Driftwood is finally shipped (yay) but will take a week to get here as its coming from complete other end of the country (boo). But it gives me time to get parts for a lid and a humidity/temp gauge I can slap in there...
Yesterday I couldn't stop thinking of otehr set up ideas... I want to turn my 20g long into a vertical tank with a large piece of driftwood I've had for.. over 5 years now. Sadly no conversion ktis are out threre right now.. [I contacted NE HERP about theirs (currently on hold to be remade) This was their (rather fast!) reply if any of you are interested:

After our contractor closed up shop, we struggled to find a quote which kept the kits economically viable for us. They were always a really low markup item to begin with, but the loss of the contractor was pretty much the final nail in the coffin. There have been a lot of projects at the company over the past two years since vert kits have been on hold, and I'm glad to say we're slowly researching bringing them back. Early this month I started working with two engineering companies to help improve the product. I can't go into specific details, but if all goes well the new kits will be a lot nicer & easier to mass produce than the old ones. (The term "Mass Produce" might be generous, but you get the idea!) I'm glad to say that it has recently been brought back to life from an R&D standpoint.

There are a few projects ahead of the vert kits in the company project queue. First, there's a major website update coming which accounts for the majority of my efforts over the past 14 months. I'll spare you the details, but the kits are about to get a whole lot more awesome & customizable. After that, I'll be working on wrapping up the construction & automation in our grow rooms. With that completed, I'll be tweaking and automating the availability of some higher-end plants on the site. Then Isopods, then Springtails. With all of those projects completed, Vertical Conversion Kits and a few related projects will become more of an immediate priority. Sorry for the long response, but I'd rather be totally upfront. There's a lot in the pipeline, so depending how things go, it could be anywhere from 3 to 9 months before I've got a finalized prototype. When they are almost available again, we'll be sure to let people know through the newsletter first. We might consider a pre-order through the Insider Menu at that point too. For now, it's definitely going to be awhile.

If you are looking for something sooner, it might be worth contacting a local glass shop for the glass doors, and picking up a Custom Screen Door Kit from Lowes or Home Depot. The parts will cost a bunch more than the kit would have, but at least you wouldn't end up waiting nearly as long. There are a few DIY articles out there for the project, if you decided to try it yourself!

I certainly appreciate them taking the time to explain what's going on. But it means if I want that conversion this year I'll be doing it myself... I looked at a few youtube videos converting 10gs.. my biggest issue is the plastic to glass adhering.. I may try ripping the black frame off the 20g and just do glass on glass and drill for latches/etc... but i don't do well with glass. tend to break it sooo I dunno....
I've also been mulling over my aquatic plants-I plan to remove fissidens moss from one of y tanks so to make a dwarf water lily species set up and thought about selling the moss (currently attached to several pieces of driftwood), or maybe setting up another vivarium/terrarium for it and keeping the moss... I also have some ragged riccia fluentas I want to pull from my tank and put into its own pico (3g and under) set up on wood...gah once I have one going I want to set up a bunch of tanks >.<

AquaAurora 08-20-2018 09:02 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
Other Vivariums Builds... maybe>.>

So may ask an admin/mod to update my thread title to state its for multiple vivariumss.. or just make a serape thread for each.
Either way I pulled the screws off the old driftwood from the 55g (it is such dense wood it NEVER water logged in the 5+ years I've had it-had it screwed to a hug block of river rock. Anyways 5 yers in our water rusted ou the nails so was able to pry it off .. which is good because the screw heads weer just a rusted blood. After scrubbing the wood with a cheap dog brush (i use just for aquarium stuff) and inhaling a lot of wood dust and dried dead algae I had it cleaned up mostly.. need a tooth brush to scrub some nooks. Placed it on top of and along side my 20g long (currently full of water so can't put IN) and yup it'll fit [insert maniacally plotting laughter here]. Quick crapping photo of it, will get nicer photos of it later on.. someday.
Its red cedar but it was submerged in a man made lake for over 60 years and has no smell unless you drill a fresh hole. I think it will be fine. Fresh (still smelling) cedar can hard small animals and insects-messed up their respiratory system from its sap which gives off the smell.. but no stink, no problem!.
I may stick some of my poor melon swords (Echinodorus Osiris) in there-the goldfish need to like eating them.. maybe they're called 'melon' because they taste good? I dunno goldfish seem to leave everything else along in their tank. Finally pulled the swords today and stuck them with my anubias (seen in above photo) that will eventually go in the 55g.

I also tried to half-arse my way through setting up a 6g with a loose drain pip but the whole thing will just pup out of the gravel when I try to take off the cap so had to silicone it down.. I think its a 1/2" pvc.. maybe 3/4"? i dunno didn't measure-had the parts so just used them. So get to let that cure another day before moving plants from my cookie jar over and digging up one of my old lights to stick ontop.

AquaAurora 08-22-2018 12:37 AM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
[6g Bowfront Tank]
Not great shots (misted heavily right after set up) but quick photos of 6g bowfront with emersed aquatic plants from 2g cookie jar moved in. I'm not sure how they'll all do in there but its fun to find out..
I have dwarf hair grass (which grew better in just gravel and water with some ferts but I want to allow for spring tails..)
hydro japan (looks like tiny clovers. this was grown in a cup as a tissue culture so it takes off right away in a viv)
an impossible to spot anubias micro (smallest anubias species out there)
micro swords (which are slowly transitioning to begin emersed)
and some mystery stem plant I got with an order of jungle vals for an aquarium
The light is a finnex fugeray2 18" I pulled out of storage.. originally used with much lower light aquarium plants I stupidly put electrical tape over parts of the clear cover to reduce the light.. now the sticky black stuff won't come off. SO removed the clear cover and using cling wrap until I can scrap the cover with rubbing alcohol (husband's suggestion) hopefully will work as a solvent.
Forgot about hiding the cap with silicone and dirt but will do that another time-no fauna in there right now so not worried about something getting in the water when I remove the cap to camouflage it.

Will get better shots another day, you know where you can actually see the plants instead of just green blurs behind condensation.

AquaAurora 08-23-2018 08:26 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build

gah I had a big long rambling post I started this morning then walked away from, and I lost it apparently =.=

So wood came today YAY. Been messing with it for 1-2 hours already?
Get to manhandle it into place for scaping, will probably spend all weekend doing that.
Of corse the largest/heaviest piece is the most stubborn about staying the place where I want it UGH.
I'm tempted to use great-stuff to force it in place (foam around it and hold it there until hardened) but I really don't like doing something so permanent... or deal with the post foam hardening work to hide the foam look.

Also had some babbling on plant stock ideas but will type that out again another time.. back to work trying to get that [censor] big piece into place again.

SirGunther 08-23-2018 08:53 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
That red cedar driftwood piece is really beautiful. I am looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

AquaAurora 08-23-2018 09:11 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build

Originally Posted by SirGunther (Post 3043926)
That red cedar driftwood piece is really beautiful. I am looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

Thank you ^^ I've gotten a lot of use out of it in the aquarium. Will be setting up a 20g long diy vertical conversion with that wood after the 55g is finished. The 20g long currently is holding plants for the 55g.

AquaAurora 08-24-2018 12:16 AM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build

I'll post a thread with this question/info in the beginners form too tomorrow. Looked at josh'sfrogs dart info but want users input that own dart species

Tank dimensions: 48" long, 14-15" high (still have to add abg), 12" wide
Humidity: 70+ (probably higher like 80-90)
Temp: high 60sF to mid 70sF
Tank Placement: just outside home office moderate to high foot traffic area
Water Feature: currently none but can add stream/pond
Frog size wanted: ideally UNDER 2" to reduce damage to plants.
Frog temperament wanted: adults get along in group
Frog Noise level: well this is not in the bedroom so as long as they aren't as loud as birds I don't care, but I'd prefer medium to quiet calls-this is low on priority list.

Tank will have emersed aquatic plants so a lot of humidity. I a lot driftwood in there but its more for us (humans) to enjoy than the frogs to jump on-I'll have vertical tanks (20g long and maybe 20g high vertical conversions) later so don't mind the frogs not jumping on the wood.. even if it spans most of/the whole tank. Anyways I want something to utilize the 4 foot length that will get along well in a group as adults. I don't plan to breed for sales/increased #s (won't collect and grow out tadpoles-they're on their own).

Shown in order of preference.. may try more options tomorrow
zip ties are temp so I can back up from tank and view.. also the large rock won't be part of the final display (i hope)-wood slips on trash bag i sued to keep from ripping the weed guard stuff.

Ravage 08-24-2018 02:21 AM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
I like style #2, myself. They all look good though. For plastic to glass adhesion: FUZE IT- a liquid nails product that you can find at Home D---t. It is non-toxic and bonds glass to plastic and is water tight. Looks like grey silicone.

AquaAurora 08-24-2018 07:36 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
[55g Build-Battling the Driftwood]
So messed with some more layouts.. nothing's really catching me as "That's the one!" yet. # 7 and 8 are yesterdays, rest from today. Rock and zip ties are not gong to be a part of final layout


Originally Posted by Ravage (Post 3043948)
I like style #2, myself. They all look good though. For plastic to glass adhesion: FUZE IT- a liquid nails product that you can find at Home D---t. It is non-toxic and bonds glass to plastic and is water tight. Looks like grey silicone.

Thank you for the input and tip-will look into that product.

AquaAurora 08-27-2018 03:26 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
[Not much new with the 55g but.. there's a little and some future plans rambling]
Still mulling over driftwood layout but #7 is the most likely one I'll go with.

Played musical furniture yesterday with my husband toggling tables around to put the 55g back on the taller platform it use to be on.. the one that is 1/2" too short in length and caused it to leek years back. But it'll only hold 2-4 gallons instead of 55 plus my husband put some scrap plywood under the tank to give it support. Slapped a green rubber mat on that then black table cloth to hide it all and finally the tank.
Also re-oriented the 55 so the drain pipe/access port is at the front right instead of back left. Thinking about plant layout, the left side will have much more substantial roots and be more likely to make it very difficult to open the access hole up if needed in the future.
When moving the tank one of the pvc pieces for the false bottom moved-apparently I forgot to silicone one, so fixed that and giving it a few days to cure.

Side note: anyone that uses silicone that doesn't come with a cap to seal it to keep it from solidifying I found a great way to keep it from hardening in the tube! After use stuff a screw in the opening and put it in a 1 gallon zipping storage bag. Zip it most of the way close then put out as much air as you can with your hands before fully sealing the bag shut. I use GE II doors and windows 100% silicone (clear) and have had an opened bottle (term?) for a month with no issue storing this way. Before this I'd have to cut off a new tip 1-2" down to get past hardened blob in nozzle, or stab at it with something narrow and sharp to try to break up the solidified silicone in the nozzle (not fun).

I'm waiting on some hygrolon to ship that I plan to use on the back wall of the tank-I'll likely buy black silicone to stick it on since I'd read others had silicone come through it that was visible.
Plan to grow Brazilian pennywort on the back wall and want it to have something to climb up. I'll cut the hygrolon to go down into the water table below the false bottom and likely cut out a narrow 'water fall' reservoir open to frogs (use a lot of gravel to keep it from being deep).
I found some black flexible tubing I may use to do a waterfall drip and get a tiny pump to put under the false bottom for some slow flow just so its not stagnate water that builds up bio-film (that oily looking thin layer on surface of non moving water). Will post photos as I work on it.

Rabbits foot fern is doing well but now I am leaning heavily towards emersed aquatic plants only so I think I may sell it-I've had it 20+ days now and its doing great.

AquaAurora 08-29-2018 03:26 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
[55g More Waiting]

So hygrolon should be here today but I found a better piece of driftwood than my current middle piece so now i have to wait on that to get here >.>''
Its from the same seller as the pieces in the 55 now, bugger didn't put it up with last batch of wood for sale or I'd have gotten it before.
Of cores the more I mess with it, the large piece orientation I like most is the most unstable so I have to wedge a rock under it.. we'll see how the layout changes once I get the new wood in.

[6g bowfront]
kinda hard to notice much growth this early on but the hydro japan (clover in middle) is definitely growing. Micro sword in back is transitioning with new growth. Dwarf hair grass in front I think is doing well but hard to tell?

You can see some otehr plants outside the tank. Lucky bamboo in front (sticking out of a half full 10g tank with a betta), and pothos behind. Pothos in just in a shallow bowl (need to get a larger one). I have golden, neon, n'joy, and (very small) marble queen. I may offer clippings from the gold and neon since they're growing so well and crawled about 4" from the bowl.

There's also an orchid plant on the right out of view. I got it at Lowes near dead-stem rotted, leaves were so rubbery/flexible you'd think it was a fake plant. Its lived for 2 years but no new flower stem and I can't keep more than 4 leaves. Its just on a window sill and in a home probably too cold/dry for its needs.

AquaAurora 08-31-2018 11:59 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
Unrelated MTS troubles
UUUUUGH my MTS hit hard again >.<

What is MTS you ask?

Its a common disease contracted by many aquarium keepers where 1 tank turns into 3.. turns into many more. I stopped counting when i hit 23 tanks with fish and live plants >.>'

I'm sure its spread into this hobby as well but I don't know if it goes by another name for vivarium/terrarium/paludarium people?

ANYWAYS Got spam from drfostersmith site to get $30 off a $100 order. WEll one of teh dos is ready to move into new size meds and would be just $6 short of the discount.

SO i went into teh 'clearance' section for 'fish' (because they suck and don't have a reptile/amphibian section) and found an 11g frame-less. glass aquarium for $49.99 (clearance price) other tanks on 'clearance' were $80+ and less than 1/3 the volume!

Although I've been trying to cut back on my tanks and have several dry collecting dust I couldn't help but think. Hey I can get this and with the $30 discount I'm really only paying $20 for an 11g frame-less glass tank!

I mulled it over for several hours and decided I'd upgrade my 12" cube to this 15"x15"x17.5" tank

So I get order together and go to check out and notice.. $30 is not being deducted... turns out its a $30 gift card for a future order if you spend over $100 now. It doesn't give you info on when the gift card expires, or limitations like "must spend $__ to use this gift card" so I said [censor it] and canceled the order.

But with all that rambling done. If anyone is into aquariums (or wants to use 1 for a viv- just make a new top or turn on side and make doors) its $49.99 for an 11g volume this does not have the black trim you see on standard 10,20,40g tanks at pet stores.

AquaAurora 09-07-2018 09:20 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
[55g stuff Photo spam]

Lack of updates from busyness. But lots of stuff came int/was bought so moving forward over the weekend.
Wood finally came, battled it for a few days, like this lay out the best-currently in zip ties to keep it in place until properly secured

Got some thick acrylic sheets for lids-hopefully wont bow out-tried much thinner sheets on aquariums and they failed

Dowel for connecting the wood-instead of using metal screws or glue. Will drill back side and use to keep pieces in place

Had to order black silicone online because store only had the kind with "mold resistance"-which is not safe for fauna, going to use to stick up the hygrolon, speaking off here's a quick photo of the material-feels very soft and heavy-hopefully works out well.

Some other stuff from local store...Had to buy chain in a package because [censor] at home depot apparently like to be as [censor] as lowes now and not help.. have to have employee cut chain. Asked for help then stood around over 8 minutes. Other employees and the original one we asked passed, were asked, no help.... not happy.. Got hooks, also silicone for plastics (in acrylic section)

I'd also gotten 1 knob for the lids.. forgot to grab the otehr because some pushy woman came over trying to get us to sign up for a free kitchen remodel estimate.. made it clear no interest but forgot about second knob by the time she'd left >.<

Thought I still had these from when I have a 6g pond pot set up but apparently sold them so had to re-order-got 2. They're very low, the heater will need the water level higher than these pumps..

and some quick carppy shots of plants I'm slowly converting to ermsed for the 55g, anubias, fissidens, swords,

Encyclia 09-07-2018 09:43 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
Is that black GE Silicone I (can't tell from the picture)? I don't know that I have ever seen that in the flesh. Hopefully, it's not GE Silicone II.


AquaAurora 09-07-2018 11:51 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build

Originally Posted by Encyclia (Post 3044824)
Is that black GE Silicone I (can't tell from the picture)? I don't know that I have ever seen that in the flesh. Hopefully, it's not GE Silicone II.


Yes its GE I. local stores only have black as GE II.
I got mine from ebay, user/company zoro or something like that. one of the first hits when looking it up.

AquaAurora 09-12-2018 01:33 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
[6g bow front]
These are from last week but too busy to get a shot today to show prgoress-6g bowfront is taking off, dwarf hair grass is rooting deep and sending runners, hydro japan is also spreading nicely
My orchid I'd mentioned some posts ago. Thinking of offering it as a $1 add on when I sell plants (pothos and rabbit foot fern). I don't give it the most ideal conditions so it lives but doesn't thrive. No disease.. just too cold/dry where I have it. Not sure if its too big for anyone to be interested in? No clue bloom color-bought it as a half dead plant at Lowes a few years ago.

Have to cut and add egg crate for small water feature, put in hygrolon, then gravel (water area) and abg mix for the 55g. Hopefully will do that all next week-been busy the past few weeks with art commissions.

AquaAurora 01-11-2019 07:46 PM

Re: 55 gallon Vivarium Build
bad at updating! sorry. the 6g is nicely grown in now, kinda stalled on the 5g till it gets warm again. I couldn't finish it in time for a reptile expo nearby in the fall so I just sorta stopped till near spring.

[6g bowfront vivarium]
most of the time looks like this:

but with glass wiped down

Also recently setup the 2g cookie jar with african water fern-used same substrate as this time. Not work photos yet.

ps the rabbit's foot fern is gone-gave to my niece.

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