Hello, I used to be on here more but I took a break from vivariums for a couple of years. I have had many vivariums before my hiatus, but I mainly kept local species to my area as well as anoles and a leopard gecko. Now that I have a better paying job I thought I would recreate one of my favorite "niches".
I have always been in love with the buttress roots that people make and I decided to try my own attempt at making some. I took a different approach and used clay instead of foam. I am aware that the clay needs to be kept moist, most of the threads I read had people using clay backgrounds with a water feature, and that caused many to crumble. Once the plants grow over them I feel as the clay will be more stable as well. Egg crate was used as a "backbone" and built around that, sort of like rebar with concrete.
Here is the structure after it was halfway completed, this whole thing used about 15lbs of the clay cat litter so if you wanted to do a similar thing I would assume you would need the 40lb for a 20 gallon and more for larger tanks, I would say 10-15lbs per 10 gallons. If you wanted to do a 60 gallon you would then need 60-75 lbs for that size tank. I hydrated the clay with water and then added in coco fiber to add some color, texture, and possibly support. The most difficult part of the whole build of the roots would have been getting in all the nooks and crannies filled with clay or re-making batches of the clay.
Overall the structure took around 30 minutes to set up all the egg crate and zip tied, which was a fairly easy process and inexpensive too. This way you can create any structure imaginable and the only limit is your imagination. The longest part o the whole build is adding the clay to the egg crate, you also need to make sure that you mist the background every once and a while so it does not start to dry out and crack. Once the background is in your vivarium it will need occasional misting, but the humidity of a dart frog or tropical vivarium should keep the clay wet enough. Adding the background to the back is very easy too, I just pressed a layer of clay to the back glass and pressed the egg-crate onto the back. I filled and added more clay to lock the egg-crate between two layers of clay and added extra clay "supports" on the edges and bottom of the background.
I ordered a bioactive kit from the BioDude, but I ordered the wrong soil as I got the fauna (meant for geckos and humidity spikes) and not the flora which is meant for dart frogs and constant humidity. I also got a horizontal conversion kit that allows the tank to have more floor space. Besides that, I will be getting a few species of springtails and isopods to add some biodiversity as well as some greenhouse millipedes. Other livestock would be the frogs of course!
I am torn on what frogs I want, with it being a 10 gallon with a footprint of 20" x 12" and have a few on my shortlist of species:
- Powder blue tincs
- Azureus tincs
- 1996 import lucs
- Bronze Mantellas
I have a feeling it is going to come down to personal preference, maybe a quieter call would be nice too, so the tincs could be the best choice.
Lastly, I have little clue as to plants, I do not want to take up a lot of space as the frogs are larger and like to roam around. I will have moss on the roots for sure and maybe some ficus vines (Blueberry ficus and Oakleaf) and possibly a Korean rock fern or two.
That just about does it, I still need to get a better light, plants, the isopods/springtails, and obviously the frogs.
Thanks for reading and I will update as I get more supplies!