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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 09-01-2010, 02:11 AM
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Default 'EuroMadagascar' viv

For the past 6 months or so, I've been working on a vivarium to house 1.1 Phelsuma klemmeri, 0.0.6 Heterixalis madagascariensis, and some species of cb mantella.

I started with a 24x18x36 'Marty Made' glass terrarium. I siliconed in a slanted piece of glass, in order to create a front water feature.


I then positioned the peat bricks in place, cutting them to fit, using a wood saw.


I then siliconed peat bricks to disguise the glass.


And pressed peat into the crevices, to make it seem as if the 'bank' was a solid slope:


Followed by a quick vacuum to clean up any extras:


Success!
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Old 09-01-2010, 02:12 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

I decided to go with a tree fern background, as I had local access to plenty of the material, and I had not used it in this scale before. I attached it to the glass with gorilla glue, letting one side dry before turning the tank and doing another side:


I then squirted gorilla glue in between the panels, to make them more secure, and to fill in the gaps:


Followed by a layer of peat pressed into the cracks, followed by a quick vacuum:


I then allowed everything to dry, before turning the tank upright:


For the hardscape, I decided to work with tambora, a solid, durable branchy wood sometimes used in aquariums. It will mold initially, but quickly clears up and should last a long time. I positioned the pieces in several different formations before selecting a final layout, then gorilla glued them in place:

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Old 09-01-2010, 02:12 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

I ended up using pool filter sand as a substrate for the water feature, and your typical (hydroton, weed block, ABG mix, sphagnum, leaf litter) substrate layers for the back, land portion. After these were in place, I added some plants:



And the inhabitants:
1.1 Phelsuma klemmeri - currently breeding

0.0.6 Heterixalis madagascariensis

I have not yet added the mantellas - I am waiting to see what the temperatures will do seasonally before introducing any.

After several months of growth, and some new plants added:






So far, everything seems to be doing very well. I have a very nice temperature gradient (95F in a spot at the top, 80F top to 70F during the day, with the temperature dropping about 10 degrees over the night. UVB is provided for the geckos, and the reed frogs seem to enjoy basking under both the heat and UVB bulbs.
Frog pirate likes this.
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Old 09-01-2010, 02:18 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Oh wow. That looks absolutely amazing. What tillandsia species do you have dominating the tank?
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Old 09-01-2010, 03:14 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Amazing viv! I do have to ask though, how did all those bromeliads make their way to Madagascar?
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Old 09-01-2010, 03:47 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

I'm curious how people secure broms to tree fern panels. Looks great zach!
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Old 09-01-2010, 03:56 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Honestly, one of the most well designed enclosures I've seen, bravo! Def. inspiration to finally get the ball rolling on the big office tank. As for CB mantella, after seeing the tank, I would add a small group of goldens and a small group of laevigata. Likelihood of breeding is slim and both would use the full tank.
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Old 09-01-2010, 04:08 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Very nice job, interesting technique...Don't think I've seen the peat brick/tree fern combo, at least not like that. One question though, wont the peat bricks on the glass dam for the pond expand and with large portions basically flaking off into the water?
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Old 09-01-2010, 04:15 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Hey Zach, when are you coming to NEW JERSEY to teach me a thing or two?

I don't know what I like best: the glass/boulder-wall waterscape, the wood skeleton-plant phenomenon, or the inhabitants!!! The level of detail and care really is telling here, thanks for sharing! (seeing an enclosure featuring some P. klemmeri without bamboo sticks is a treat as well!)


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Old 09-01-2010, 05:09 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

A very very nice tank, one of the best I've seen ... simply stunning!
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Old 09-01-2010, 05:17 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dendro Dave View Post
Very nice job, interesting technique...Don't think I've seen the peat brick/tree fern combo, at least not like that. One question though, wont the peat bricks on the glass dam for the pond expand and with large portions basically flaking off into the water?
I think the peat brinks he used are similar to the peat some use in Europe/Japan. Here when someone says "peat brick" we think the coco-fiber expanding brick. This is the real peat brick, probably cut from a peat bog.
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Old 09-01-2010, 06:09 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

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Originally Posted by stevenhman View Post
I think the peat brinks he used are similar to the peat some use in Europe/Japan. Here when someone says "peat brick" we think the coco-fiber expanding brick. This is the real peat brick, probably cut from a peat bog.
Thats kinda what I'm wondering. I've used actual compressed peat, not coco-fiber but I honestly don't remember if it came like that in the bag or became compressed from sitting on my porch for the last 2+ years. That it came in a bag suggest that it may have mostly been loose peat when I got it. Though I think it was fairly hard..it was like a big hay bale wrapped in plastic if I remember right rather then a bag of loose dirt. The plastic has just become bag like I think.

LOL all I know is that it was very hard, like the consistency/hardness/compression of a coco-fiber brick. I'm just unclear if that is basically the form he was working with or if it differs in some way. Maybe its just under such a high degree of compression its is substantially more solid and not prone to expanding and/or breaking apart like the peat and coco bricks or highly compressed chunks I had.
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Old 09-01-2010, 06:43 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

The viv looks stunning! Thanks for posting.
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Old 09-01-2010, 07:48 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Whow, looks great. Lovely choice of animals. I guess you will have a lowland Mantella species in there?
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Old 09-01-2010, 11:15 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

That is definitley something! Where can I get wood like that? Its great for attaching things it appears
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Old 09-01-2010, 11:19 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Mmm, very nice. Not quite a true biotope I guess but who cares when it looks that beautiful!
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Old 09-01-2010, 11:59 AM
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When can I move in?
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Old 09-01-2010, 12:17 PM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Wow wow wow! Would love something like that for my Boophis Rappiodes

Any chance for some close up pics of the water section?
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Old 09-01-2010, 04:30 PM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dendro Dave View Post
Thats kinda what I'm wondering. I've used actual compressed peat, not coco-fiber but I honestly don't remember if it came like that in the bag or became compressed from sitting on my porch for the last 2+ years. That it came in a bag suggest that it may have mostly been loose peat when I got it. Though I think it was fairly hard..it was like a big hay bale wrapped in plastic if I remember right rather then a bag of loose dirt. The plastic has just become bag like I think.
If it came in a bag it might have been "peat moss"


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dendro Dave View Post
LOL all I know is that it was very hard, like the consistency/hardness/compression of a coco-fiber brick. I'm just unclear if that is basically the form he was working with or if it differs in some way. Maybe its just under such a high degree of compression its is substantially more solid and not prone to expanding and/or breaking apart like the peat and coco bricks or highly compressed chunks I had.

I have been scouring the internet looking for the "real" peat bricks. A lot of what is offered for sale is the compressed peat bricks used for burning.

Vivaria Projects - gettting started - Has a picture of the peat bricks I have seen used.

Glendoick - Glendoick policy on peat use - UK site that sells bulk peat bricks, scroll to bottom of the page but, sold out

Zach, mind sharing your source for peat with the masses?


**edit**
http://www.rainforeststationpets.com...roducts_id=356 - Peat bricks!
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Old 09-01-2010, 04:38 PM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

great looking viv!
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Old 09-01-2010, 09:04 PM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Hey All,

Thanks for the compliments! I love this tank - it seems to look better every time I walk by.

I decided to plant it to my tastes, and not limit it to Madagascar native flora, after looking what I had available to work with. I really wanted that 'European' feel to the planting, and I didn't think I could pull it off.

@Caden:
I really don't tend to keep track of plant names, but I chose tillies that were 'greener', rather than 'silverish' - these tend to hold up better in more humid conditions. I also mounted them upside down initially, so that any water misted on them would drip away from them, and not cause rot. I lost a few, but most seem to be doing well.

@ Tony:
Being that Madagascar is an island, the bromeliads either flew or swam there, or possibly floated on a vegetation raft, thus colonizing the island.

@Fleshfrombone:
I just stuck the bromeliads stolon-first into the treefern, either directly into the panel, or wedged into the gap between them. I tend to lightly wrap a bit of LFS around the stolon before pushing it into the treefern - they seem to root faster this way.

@Stemcellular:
Do you think introducing both species would be alright? I was thinking of sticking to a terrestrial species, such as goldens, but have heard the laevigata do tend to climb. Being a mixed tank, the focus was not to have animals breeding, but I have been told that the reed frogs have a good chance of it, and the female klemmeri already seems to be carrying eggs.

@Dendro Dave:
I used peat bricks, as in the very dense, heavy ones, left as they are harvested - not peat that was later compacted. They are a challenge to find, but well worth it. I do not believe they can be brought into the US anymore without a big hassle.
They do expand a small amount when they absorb water, but not much.

@stevehman:
The last website you listed is where I got them from. Luckily for me, Jim is only an hour away, and I see him a few times a month at reptile shows.

@spottedcircus:
I got the wood (called forest branch) from Josh at JoshsFrogs.com, as well as the subtrate, leaf litter, LFS, and tree fern panel. I don't see the forest branch on his website (being a natural product, it's really variable, and a pain to ship), but if you shoot me a pm, I'll see about shipping some to you.

@Morgan Freeman:
I'll try to get a close-up of the water feature next time I have the camera down in the frog room. The water plants are not growing quite as well as I'd like (I'm thinking about upgrading the lighting), and I still have a dwarf variety of parrot feather and water lettuce to try.
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Old 09-01-2010, 09:38 PM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Zach, do the breeding differences in laevigata (small single or few egg clutches deposited in phyllum) vs. aurantiaca (big clutches under leaf litter, moss, cork, etc) I can't really see successful cross breeding. However, with all the other species, it may warrant sticking to one mantella sp. Laevigata would use the whole tank and breed EVERYWHERE. Goldens will climb but will mostly use the bottom part, however, they will pop in the color scheme. Your call. Temps should be fine.
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Old 09-02-2010, 02:45 PM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

hi Zach, very nice tank !
plants seem to be doing very well..how long has it been going and what sort of lighting are you using? thanks Nick
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Old 09-05-2010, 10:54 PM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Amazing tank. You spent 6 months planning this piece of jungle and it shows!
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Old 09-18-2010, 12:47 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Just thought I'd post an update. I've upgraded the tank to a 4 x 24'' T5HO system, as well as put the vivarium on it's own 5 nozzle Mistking system. I think I'll probably end up plumbing an ultrasonic humidifier into the tank, but so far, I'm very happy with it.



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Old 09-18-2010, 12:53 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

amazing! interesting how that plants under the canopy wiht low light are doing well.
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Old 09-18-2010, 01:05 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

awsome zack, awsome.

Is that a cattleya orchid in the center top up in the light that looks like it sticks out like a sore thumb. prob. from joshs as well.

It looks like the one I got at the feb tinley park show.
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Old 09-18-2010, 01:06 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Julio, it's actually a lot brighter 'under the canopy' than the the photo looks. I limited the plant selection to more low-light tolerant plants - even then, some of them are making a beeline for the upper portions of the tank. Gives it a cool appearance, though.
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Old 09-18-2010, 02:14 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

zBrinks this is one of the most luscious vivs I've ever seen! Is your lighting a Sunleaves Pioneer IV? If it is, does the fixture get hot?
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Old 09-18-2010, 02:27 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

That is a mini Catt.

Yah, that's the fixture I'm using - it really runs pretty cool for the light it produces. I do have it suspended a few inches above the tank, but that's more to insure the vivarium gets airflow - it has a full screen top.
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Old 09-18-2010, 04:48 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Did you decide on a mantella(or two) species you're going to be putting in there Zach? Any more pictures of the water feature?



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Old 09-18-2010, 06:24 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

HOLY AMAZING ! Very Nice , Love it
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Old 09-18-2010, 10:02 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

wow man you obviously did your homework on that one, you even have the water plants beneath that are only native to the african region anubias. For that size tank you did a great job on it. im sure your animals thankyou for it
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Old 09-21-2010, 10:58 PM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Quote:
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it has a full screen top.
Interesting. I'm working on the big work tank and would love to be able to avoid a glass top. How frequently is the misting system running to keep up the humidity?
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Old 09-21-2010, 11:18 PM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Right now, the mister is going off every 3 hours for 15 seconds. The plants in the upper part of the tank seem to dry out in about half an hour, and the humidity at the bottom is always around 80-90% with the new misting regimen.
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Old 09-21-2010, 11:22 PM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Thanks, Zack. I might try this approach.
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Old 09-21-2010, 11:29 PM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

I think the humidity gradient is probably due to the relatively small top surface area to volume ratio. If your viv is more rectangular, I'm not sure how well this would work, at least without more frequent misting.
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Old 10-16-2010, 09:34 PM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Time for an update, as I just introduced a 2.1.3 group of golden mantellas and some more H. madagascarensis (I'm pretty sure the initial group was all females).


For some reason, the tank looks a lot darker in the picture than it really is.


The water section, that runs along the entire front of the tank.


An adult pair out of the group.




2 of the 3 subadults are very red.

I also replaced the 2 sliding doors of the MartyMade with one large panel, that I remove with a suction cup handle (the kind used in bathrooms for people with mobility problems). It looks much better.
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Last edited by zBrinks; 10-18-2010 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 10-18-2010, 01:03 AM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

I stil get a kick out of your tank, I've never had mantellas before but seeing your makes me want to try them. I love your layout
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Old 10-18-2010, 03:47 PM
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Default Re: 'EuroMadagascar' viv

Quote:
Originally Posted by dendrothusiast View Post
I stil get a kick out of your tank, I've never had mantellas before but seeing your makes me want to try them. I love your layout
Thanks, I really appreciate it. So far, I'm very happy with how the vivarium is turning out. I am going to add an ultrasonic humidifier soon, to help keep the humidity at the bottom up, and be better able to create dry/wet seasons in the tank. I think I'll be adding an LED moonlight, as well.
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