Clay root base vivarium - Dendroboard
Dendroboard

Go Back   Dendroboard > Dart Frogs > Member's Frogs & Vivariums
Register Blogs FAQ Calendar Mark Forums Read Advertise

Support Our Sponsors
No Threads to Display.

facebook

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1 (permalink)  
Old 05-04-2020, 02:39 PM
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 3
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default Clay root base vivarium

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!
Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 05-04-2020, 04:02 PM
Socratic Monologue's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Central WI
Posts: 1,927
Thanks: 88
Thanked 249 Times in 229 Posts
Default Re: Clay root base vivarium

Welcome back.

Most keepers here would agree that a 10g fishtank is too small for any of the species of darts you have listed, especially if much of the footprint is taken up by visual elements (i.e. a root structure).
__________________
I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd.

- Whitman
Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 05-04-2020, 04:40 PM
fishingguy12345's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 925
Blog Entries: 1
Thanks: 79
Thanked 62 Times in 61 Posts
Default Re: Clay root base vivarium

Quote:
Originally Posted by Socratic Monologue View Post
Welcome back.

Most keepers here would agree that a 10g fishtank is too small for any of the species of darts you have listed, especially if much of the footprint is taken up by visual elements (i.e. a root structure).
Agreed:-)
Welcome back
Reply With Quote
 
  #4 (permalink)  
Old 05-04-2020, 07:49 PM
dysphoria's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Oregon
Posts: 101
Thanks: 7
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Default Re: Clay root base vivarium

Pics?

I have used clay backgrounds in 7 vivariums so far, and never had any issues with it cracking or collapsing. I don't do water features though, so that could be it. As long as you are more gentle on the misting at first and sort of let it skin over(I think I read something by Ed or Pumilo stating that it forms a biofilm) it usually doesn't have any issues at dart frog humidity.
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Old 05-05-2020, 12:20 AM
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 3
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default Re: Clay root base vivarium

Quote:
Originally Posted by dysphoria View Post
Pics?

I have used clay backgrounds in 7 vivariums so far, and never had any issues with it cracking or collapsing. I don't do water features though, so that could be it. As long as you are more gentle on the misting at first and sort of let it skin over(I think I read something by Ed or Pumilo stating that it forms a biofilm) it usually doesn't have any issues at dart frog humidity.
I guess it won't let me post images as attachements...I used to be able too
Reply With Quote
  #6 (permalink)  
Old 05-05-2020, 05:19 AM
Pumilo's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 10,388
Thanks: 841
Thanked 1,846 Times in 1,345 Posts
Default Re: Clay root base vivarium

Kitty litter is sodium bentonite, or 325 mesh bentonite. Sodium bentonite absorbs more water than any other known clay. It absorbs so much water, that bentonite in the soil causes millions of dollars of damages in basement damages in Colorado, every year. Basically, it absorbs so much water that it swells. With nowhere to go, it literally crushes basement concrete walls like a soda can.
Sodium bentonite's qualities, as far as clay go, are not very clay-like. In fact, clay and pottery shops don't even sell sodium bentonite as a clay. They sell it as a glaze ingredient.
A clay that is not so incredibly unstable would make a much easier to work with clay.

I'm not saying it is impossible to make a successful sodium bentonite clay wall, just that it is the hardest clay to have long term success with. As a substrate, it turns to the texture of loose oatmeal very quickly. As background walls, there are a few success stories. There are also, however, a plethora of dendroboard clay wall fails. Do a quick search for "clay wall fails". The bentonite walls can absorb water a little at a time, until the entire wall simple slumps off the wall like a mudslide. If that happens, you'd better hope your frogs were not near it.
Bentonite will also crack more than any other clay material as it dries. Because it holds so much water, and swells, the opposite is also true. As it dries out, it shrinks more than other clays will, leaving bigger cracks.
There are sooo many threads on Dendroboard over the years discussing kitty litter wall fails.

I do love my clay, but much like any reputable pottery shop, I don't consider sodium bentonite to be a true, workable, clay. It's a glaze, or a side ingredient at best. I do use a very small proportion of sodium bentonite in my clay recipes. In small amounts, it helps the wall hold a bit more moisture and helps with texture and work-ability.
I have pretty much retired my work with clay walls, but I love it as a calcium bearing clay substrate and for bug culturing.
__________________
Doug aka Pumilo
The second "i" is silent. It's so silent it's not even there!
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT. The time now is 01:19 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.