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Old 09-30-2010, 09:15 AM
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Smile My first vivarium -- an online-journal!

Hey everyone! I decided to take the opportunity of taking photos along the way in building my very first (proper) vivarium. I haven't really seen any other journals here on DB, but I'm sure there are some out there. This will be my process and take on building my vivarium (I'm pretty much winging it, hahahaha). Perhaps this will give inspiration (or even a laugh) for someone else who hasn't made one yet, or at the very least provide information/critiques from the many members here on DB.

Before we start, I want to thank Tobias (NobodysHero) and the many of you for all the help and advice these past two weeks. You've all been able to clear up lots of questions and concerns about both my vivarium in the making and my precious little froglets.

My vivarium will be a 20 gallon (long) tank measuring 30"x12"x12". I like the shape of the long tank more than a high, and it suits the design I'm trying to achieve better. This vivarium will hold my three froglets (all developed within the past 2.5 weeks) as they grow up, and hopefully (if they are 1.2) I won't need to separate them in the future. My vivarium will be a simple sphagnum/green moss bottom with plants that thrive off of that sort of thing. I won't have a water feature, but a simple dish I can clean with ease. I will be adding fake roots (made from PVC and rope) and simple accents.

So today was the first day of constructing my vivarium, and here are the items I have used thus far (an update will be included with other items as I continue):

1 Can of Great Stuff - $4.48 (Home Depot)
Mesh screen - Free (found it laying around the house)
Metal aquarium fencing - Free (found it laying around the house)
Cardboard - Free
Trash bag - Free
Hot glue gun - Free
Current total - $4.48

I've decided to make a mock up of the tank out of cardboard (without the front wall) instead of constructing in the tank itself. The reason I chose to do this is for mobility of moving items around without a front piece of glass blocking the way. That being said, I made a close replica of the tank (30"x11"x11") and taped/wired down a trash bag lining the cardboard. The trash bag is to prevent the Great Stuff from sticking to the cardboard. For those of you who may be thinking -- if you make the background out of Great Stuff in there, it may not fit in the tank -- it can move around/bend/squish so that shouldn't be an issue.


The next thing I did was figure out what I will be using for the bottom of my tank. I was torn between using a false bottom or Hydroton balls. Because I don't want unnecessary weight caused by the balls, I decided to go with a fake bottom. Unfortunately, I didn't know anywhere I could buy egg crates from, so I had to improvise. Fortunately though, I had wire fencing my dad uses to cover his fish ponds, and leftover fine mesh screens he used for his many engineering projects. With a little hot glue gunning, I was able to make a suitable improvised 30"x11.5" false bottom for my tank. (I will be using either PVC pipes or something else (about an inch or so tall) to hold up the center of this screen to prevent it from sagging. I thought about how troublesome this would be if my false bottom was too big for the tank as I squeeze it in. But not to worry, as this stuff is very flexible, and I intend to let it sink toward the front, allowing it to fit snug against the glass.






Now, here comes the fun stuff! Here's where any first timer will gain a lot of experience. Now is the time I am glad I didn't use the actual tank, but the cardboard instead -- I could be messy and get away with it. Here are a few things I think are necessary for beginners to know ahead of time:

1. Wear a mask -- it smells!
2. It can be VERY messy!
3. You can't shape it right away!
4. There's not that much in the can!
5. It expands more than you may have realized or had hoped!


The things you read on the can are to wear protective gloves and goggles -- check. What they don't tell you is to wear a mask, hold your breath, or take breaks. I was working outside where it's quite windy, yet the fumes gave me a headache from standing by it for too long. So tomorrow, I will be using my brother's painter mask and hope that does the trick. So my advice here would be to take breaks even if you are in a ventilated area. (Just thinking about the smell as I type this is making me nauseous).

Here I thought using Great Stuff would be pretty clean and easy -- boy was I wrong on both counts. I could never get a consistent stream flow coming out (of small amounts) and wound up with stuff all over the place. Foam also builds up around the nozzle which then clings onto the new foam you're putting down. Perhaps I'm holding the nozzle too close to my cardboard -- I'll try holding it farther away tomorrow.

I really wanted to mold the foam into a shape that I desired. Unfortunately, a plastic knife and bamboo skewer could not spread the foam like the butter I thought it was. Haha. It turned into a big, sticky, mess. Perhaps I should wait a few minutes and then spread it the way I want; or spray more than enough and just carve away at it later -- comments?

I didn't know how much was actually in the can, and so I was surprised to find out it had run empty in what seemed to be minutes after I began. I thought I hadn't shaken the can long/hard enough, but it was shooting blanks no matter what I did. So here I stood, looking at a 1/2" thick unfinished wall, knowing I'll need to buy more Great Stuff the next time I hit up Home Depot (which I just came home from doing).

To my surprise, (5 hours later) the foam had expanded much more than I had anticipated! I may have bought one or two cans too many this trip to Home Depot -- but that's okay -- they have a great return policy. ^^ The only real downside I saw to the huge expansion is, knowing I will use another can tomorrow, I will have to really anticipate where I should put the foam, and how much I am willing to let it expand. I'm going to try to leave enough natural spaces/cracks for air plants/bromeliads/moss/ferns so that's something I really need to think about before I progress.

Okay, enough talking -- and more pictures, right?

In this first picture, I laid down the "foundation" of where my great stuff will be relative to the tank. This gave me an idea of how much floor space I'll have after the walls are completely finished.


Next, I drew where the top of my background will begin, and will fill it in just afterward.


My gloves were pretty sticky by this point, so I missed taking picture of a step and continued until I ran out of the Great Stuff. Here I have placed my false bottom screen on top of the foundation, and held it elevated by some rolls of tape I found (these will be something else in the actual tank). Just after I let that sit for a few minutes, I began filling in the walls with a single coating expecting to add more as I continue. As you can see in the image, the 30"x11.5" false bottom is protruding out the front by 1", which is what I had planned. This will give me ease of flexibility when I toss it into the actual tank.


To my surprise, 5 hours later (after dinner and a Home Depot trip) I came home to find the Great Stuff had expanded more than I had hoped! I will definitely be cautious with how much I use tomorrow, seeing as I will need to account for the final size. The foam also pushed up my false bottom screen just a bit, but that's okay. I suppose it doesn't hurt to have more space for excess water in the long run.


I will be working on this again tomorrow and hopefully finish the background by the end of this weekend. I have PVC pipes/rope I plan to start making fake roots out of in a day or two, coco coir and silicone for the background, sphagnum moss, green moss, and some plants ready to go. I think the only thing I'm missing right now are some springtails -- are Josh's cultures good?

Okay everyone -- that was day one! What do you think? Please lend a hand, an ear, a word, a limb -- whatever! If you have any suggestions or comments, please speak your mind. I will be replying with additional photos/commentary as the days go on, so be sure to check back now and then!
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Old 09-30-2010, 03:55 PM
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Default Re: My first vivarium -- an online-journal!

from this point forward avoid going to homedepot.... Walmart sells the same can for 2.28 were I live and i bet its around the same in your area.... same with gorilla glue if you end up needing it.
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Old 09-30-2010, 05:05 PM
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from this point forward avoid going to homedepot.... Walmart sells the same can for 2.28 were I live and i bet its around the same in your area.... same with gorilla glue if you end up needing it.
I'll be sure to check it out, thanks! Also, is gorilla glue all-purpose or specifically for what type of material?
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Old 09-30-2010, 05:20 PM
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This is funny i am doing the exact same thing, i have the same tank and also created a mock up tank using cardboard to make the design out side the tank. The only difference is i used parchment paper for the backing so the GS doesnt stick to the cardboad.

In mine i will have false bottom made from egg create and i will have a water feature in mine. I look forward to seeing your progress as we are creating something very simular.

One thing i messed up on mine was i did not take into account the height of the false bottom when i did my mock up and sprayed the GS on the cardboard, no biggie as i just cut off 3inchs from the bottom.


I am on week 2 of my build, I only have time to work on it when my kid goes to sleep at night so i think i might have it done in a month if i can stop changing my plans every other day.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:42 PM
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That's awesome! You should definitely post pictures of how you're constructing yours -- I'm sure I can learn a thing or two, or at least compare how we're going about making ours. ^^

This morning when i woke up to check the GS, I've noticed it hardened, narrowing in closer to the center of the tank, separating from the trash bag I covered it with. At first I thought nothing of it, but a minor fix I'll need to make. But now, I think this was rather fortunate. The fact that my foam is now leaning inward a little gives me the opportunity to slide it in the tank less-restricted, and fill up the gaps behind the foam creating a perfect seal.

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Originally Posted by bsr8129 View Post
This is funny i am doing the exact same thing, i have the same tank and also created a mock up tank using cardboard to make the design out side the tank. The only difference is i used parchment paper for the backing so the GS doesnt stick to the cardboad.

In mine i will have false bottom made from egg create and i will have a water feature in mine. I look forward to seeing your progress as we are creating something very simular.

One thing i messed up on mine was i did not take into account the height of the false bottom when i did my mock up and sprayed the GS on the cardboard, no biggie as i just cut off 3inchs from the bottom.

I am on week 2 of my build, I only have time to work on it when my kid goes to sleep at night so i think i might have it done in a month if i can stop changing my plans every other day.
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:59 PM
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I will post up some pics, i didnt take pics from when i first started, but they follow the same as yours, i have pulled mine off the cardbord and its in the tanks waiting further finishing touches/completion.

what are you doing for the top of your tank?
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:08 PM
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Gorilla glue is all purpose... I use it for everything that doesnt require silicone lol... I use it for glueing the egg crate to the pvc and the pvc to the glass... I use it to glue plants to my wood and so forth... it expands like GS but it is more or less for small things =P... I have a 55gal and without my gg i would be in pain cause my plants were hard to get onto the manzanite
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Old 10-01-2010, 07:53 PM
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This is where i am at, i still have to add some wood pieces in the middle didnt hold up the first time with the GS.
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:31 AM
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Gorilla glue is all purpose... I use it for everything that doesnt require silicone lol... I use it for glueing the egg crate to the pvc and the pvc to the glass... I use it to glue plants to my wood and so forth... it expands like GS but it is more or less for small things =P... I have a 55gal and without my gg i would be in pain cause my plants were hard to get onto the manzanite
I will definitely look into Gorilla Glue when I'm deciding how to plant my tank. If not that, I may stick to the simple push-wire method. Hopefully the roots won't need glue and will be strong enough to keep the weight of the plant upright.

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Originally Posted by bsr8129 View Post
I will post up some pics, i didnt take pics from when i first started, but they follow the same as yours, i have pulled mine off the cardbord and its in the tanks waiting further finishing touches/completion.

what are you doing for the top of your tank?
For the top of the tank, do you mean the screen/lid? If so, I purchased a middle-hinged metal mesh screen top that I'll be using. I wanted a no-fuss thing, and the holes in the mesh are large enough for me to toss in flies without ever lifting it. But when it comes to building/buying a light fixture to go along with it.. we'll see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bsr8129 View Post


This is where i am at, i still have to add some wood pieces in the middle didnt hold up the first time with the GS.
That looks pretty good so far. Keep me updated with your progress!
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:42 AM
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Day 2 (last week)

Basically I went out and bought more supplies to continue building my tank, including a nice sake vase/cups I'll use for decor in the tank. They are by no means typical for a vivarium, but I like them. ^^

Sake vase: $4.99 (Local Japanese supermarket)
Great Stuff: $4.48 (Home Depot)
6 assorted PVC elbow pipes: $7.00-ish
Current total: $20.95

Here's the vase I bought; the cups will be added toward the end of this project.


I applied hot glue to the PVC pipes, creating a nice tree-root shape I wanted. I originally planned on using wood found in the woods, but thought this was a cleaner, more creative alternative.


After I glued the PVC together, I used some foam to attach them to the background.


With the PVC in place, I used the rest of the can to create the design I wanted. I also added foam and smeared it around the PVC to create a more natural wood/bark-look.


A few hours later, I realized I used too much foam in certain areas -- I will need to cut it after it cures.
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:51 AM
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Day 3 (This past weekend)

Great Stuff: $4.48 (Home Depot) - My third and last can
Current total: $25.43

If there's one thing I've learned from this experience, it's not to create a mock-up out of cardboard again. The concept idea behind it was novel (I thought), because when the foam expands past the norm of the cardboard, it will create a nice and tight fit inside of the tank. Although very nice in theory, that wasn't the case with me.

The foam does all sorts of wacky things, not only inflating within the first several hours, but deflating a bit within the total 24 hours of curing. Basically, this push and pull effect left the foam very warped, and by no means fit in the tank.

Not only that, but because I didn't own the tank at the time, I didn't account for the space within the tank itself. I created a 30"x12"x12" box frame, when in reality it should have been more like 29"x11.5"x11.5". It's one of those lesson through experience, so at least I learned quite a bit from this. Unfortunately, even after shaving down excess foam from all sides, it still wouldn't wiggle into the tank; that's pretty fair to say.

Here's where my brother gave his two cents, and suggested cutting the background into two pieces, that way they could easily slide in. It was a fantastic idea! I cut away at about 1" of foam from one side, to allow enough of the foam on the opposite to overlap comfortably. This may not make sense, but you can probably tell what I mean by the following pictures.




Afterward, we lined the tank with plastic wrap, and used about a third or less of a can of GS to add additional foam to the top and sides to create a seal to the glass.
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Old 10-05-2010, 08:05 AM
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Day 4 (Yesterday)

GE Silicone: $5.47
3'x2' Black foamboard: Free (leftover from long ago)
Rope & string: Free (found around the house)
Current total: $30.90

Now some of you can imagine, using plastic wrap and spraying foam may not have been the best idea. Again, in theory (as well as trial and error) we found out this doesn't work too well. The foam separated from the plastic wrap overnight and shrank inward, leaving an inevitable gap behind the background.

Although a simple fix would be and would have been to simply spray the foam directly on the glass. While this is true, the reason my brother and I are going through the trouble is the uncertainty of it all. Whether the frogs will remain healthy enough for us to utilize the tank at all times; if we made a mistake on the design, how easily we could remove/change something on a moments notice; among all other things -- we wanted the process to be easily reverse-able.

Another quick-fix idea was to take a piece of foamboard I had laying around, and use silicone to stick the background to it. With a little help from random heavy objects and canned food to weigh the board to the background, this worked out well.




I was so amazed by this thread here and his vivarium that I wanted to take a drastically small spin on the idea. I gathered rope and string and began hot gluing them to the background and PVC.


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Old 10-05-2010, 08:33 AM
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Day 5

GE Silicone: $5.47 (Home Depot)
Coco Coir: $4.99 (Local garden shop)
Bromeliads: $18.97 (Home Depot)
4in Spath: $3.97 (Home Depot)
Cryptanthus Starlight 'Roseus': $3.50 (Local garden shop)
Pothos: $3.95 (Wal-mart)
Current Total: $71.75

Now I'm not sure how other people add coco coir/fiber to their backgrounds, but I found this pretty difficult. For starters, I bought a brick of coco coir, to which no end I was scraping it against the side of a stone to break it up into a workable dust. I'm not sure how long this took, but it wasn't any fun.

As I was working with the silicone and the foam, at some point I realized the silicone dries up within the first few minutes, so for part of the foam the coco coir wouldn't stick well. For that portion (on the right portion of my background) I will need to re-apply silicone, along with the bald spots throughout the tank.

It was a bit tricky at first, but once I got into a rhythm applying the silicone and dirt wasn't much of a hassle. One thing I must mention though is that silicone (at least this one) STINKS! It was like getting a wasabi/horseradish rush up my nose every few seconds that I took a breathe through my nostrils. Seriously, this is something you should wear a mask doing -- for beginners like me who haven't used this stuff before. Standing directly over it for too long can definitely cause some headaches! Be warned.

It is coming along now, and I should be done with the coco coir after tomorrow's silicone coat. It looks rather plain right now, but once I get some greenery and moss going it should look pretty decent.




I picked up these four plants as my "main" plants that will go into my tank. Along with that will be random moss/ferns found around the house that I intend to put with it. (Everything cleaned with a 10% bleach wash of course.)



For those who may have read my questions on other posts, I am simply repeating here, hoping for some valid answers. I've read now that moss milkshakes (homemade) with beer or buttermilk works well, and I'm willing to give it a try. But, could there be ingredients that prove harmful effects, even after a grace period of say 1~2 weeks before introducing the frogs into the vivarium?

If I intend to toss in (Josh's) springtails into the mix, should they go in before or after I add the moss milkshake? If after the milkshake, should I wait until the moss sprouts green?
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Old 10-05-2010, 12:08 PM
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Lookin good!

I have concerns about that vase. I'm worried that with that narrow neck, frogs might have difficulty getting out of it.
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Old 10-05-2010, 01:26 PM
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I thought that same thing about that vase. Moss milkshakes are pretty safe as far as ingredients, the only thing is don\'t expect it to grow quickly. It usually takes several weeks for the moss to establish itself before you start seeing sprouts.
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Old 10-05-2010, 02:24 PM
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Default Re: My first vivarium -- an online-journal!

i agree that the vase might become a frog trap. maybe fill it with coco chunks and put a small plant in the top of it to seal it off from frogs.

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Old 10-05-2010, 03:27 PM
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What ivy is that? I'm pretty certain it isn't safe.
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Old 10-05-2010, 03:39 PM
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Ooh you could bust a hole in the bottom of that vase so they can get in and out. Would make a cool hidey spot for them.
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Old 10-05-2010, 03:50 PM
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Since i am doing the same thing as you, i think where you went wrong is adding the false bottom to the gs back ground out side the tank. I know with mine if i did it that way there is no way to get it into the tank. Since mine are two seperate pieces i can insert the false bottom, takes some wiggiling to get it in there and then the GS back ground into the tank. it is true that there is some gaps between the GS and the glass but for me i will be attaching the GS to the glass using silicon.

I still have alot of work to do on mine, i just finished the GS and adding the rest of the wood background, i like what you did with the rope and was going to do the same to mine.

for the coco coir, i am using eco earth(something like that) it comes in a brick you jsut add water and it will expan, then let it dry. Of course after being in the 100's last week its only 60's this week so it going to take all week or longer to dry out. i always wondering how easy its going to be to add silicon to the GS as there are crevis and all kinds of shapes going on.
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Old 10-05-2010, 04:04 PM
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I ws gonna say that... just add the brick to water... bake once fully expanded and then bam lol will stick
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Old 10-05-2010, 05:38 PM
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Lookin good!

I have concerns about that vase. I'm worried that with that narrow neck, frogs might have difficulty getting out of it.
I actually filled the top of the vase with foam -- I probably forgot to mention that.

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Ooh you could bust a hole in the bottom of that vase so they can get in and out. Would make a cool hidey spot for them.
That's what I initially intended to do, but I wouldn't know how to only crack a portion of it without damaging the entire vase itself. So instead, I just made a cave out of foam right next to it. Haha.

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Moss milkshakes are pretty safe as far as ingredients, the only thing is don\'t expect it to grow quickly. It usually takes several weeks for the moss to establish itself before you start seeing sprouts.
Hmm.. if that's the case, maybe I'll have better luck transplanting large pieces of green that's growing on top of the cement outside inside the tank, or pinning pieces to the background. I was hoping for a 1~2 week turnover.

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What ivy is that? I'm pretty certain it isn't safe.
I'm not sure if it goes by a different name, but the label says it's a Hedera Ivy -- are those not recommended? I thought it was a "pothos" so I bought it from the store. If someone can shed some light on that before I plant, that'd be great!

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Since i am doing the same thing as you, i think where you went wrong is adding the false bottom to the gs back ground out side the tank. I know with mine if i did it that way there is no way to get it into the tank. Since mine are two seperate pieces i can insert the false bottom, takes some wiggiling to get it in there and then the GS back ground into the tank. it is true that there is some gaps between the GS and the glass but for me i will be attaching the GS to the glass using silicon.

for the coco coir, i am using eco earth(something like that) it comes in a brick you jsut add water and it will expan, then let it dry. Of course after being in the 100's last week its only 60's this week so it going to take all week or longer to dry out. i always wondering how easy its going to be to add silicon to the GS as there are crevis and all kinds of shapes going on.
Right, it was pretty difficult the way I've been doing things. But you live and learn, right? Basically the idea of attaching the false bottom directly into the foam was to get a good idea of how much space I'll have, and where things should be when I built the background. The fact that my measurements were off didn't help any, but oh well -- the job is fixed.

Again, my brother wanted to make this tank reverse-able, so we didn't use anything that will actually stick to the glass (GS, silicone, etc.).

As for the coco coir, I thought about letting it expand and dry out, but I didn't want to wait for it to dry. I didn't think about baking it, so maybe that's something I can do in the future. Also, I wanted to start adding it to the background as soon as possible, so I didn't really mind the hassle of breaking it up. On the bright side, breaking up just that quarter of the brick was more than enough to cover the entire surface area of the background. And, I still have plenty left over to do the second coating today.
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:25 PM
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cant wait to see more pics, as it goes along, you are much further along then me. If i am lucky i will start to add the coco coir to the background this weekend. But thats if i get my two water features put in.

For the rope vines did you just coat the rope in silicon then add the coco coir? i really like that look and want to do it in mine.

I also like the little cave on the left hand side, i might have to steal that idea from you.

what are you going to use for your bottom substrate?
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Old 10-05-2010, 10:37 PM
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For the rope vines did you just coat the rope in silicon then add the coco coir? i really like that look and want to do it in mine.

I also like the little cave on the left hand side, i might have to steal that idea from you.

what are you going to use for your bottom substrate?
I did exactly that for the rope vines. It was pretty messy, and rather troublesome but I think it turned out well. I'll be adding another coat today to completely cover the yellow/black rope that's still visible.

The cave was a simple alternative to breaking the bottom of the vase for my frogs to have a hide-away. In the earlier pictures the cave was smaller, so I sprayed more foam and increased the cavity, which you may be able to see in the coco coir images. I hope it will still be big enough for when the froglets grow larger.

For the substrate, I plan on using sphagnum moss, layered on top with a blanket of live green moss and a little leaf litter. If successful, there will be moss covering the roots/vines as well as portions of the background, to give it a bit more depth.
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Old 10-05-2010, 11:02 PM
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That Hedera Ivy is just English Ivy... I don't see why he couldn't use it...
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Old 10-05-2010, 11:29 PM
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I actually filled the top of the vase with foam -- I probably forgot to mention that.



That's what I initially intended to do, but I wouldn't know how to only crack a portion of it without damaging the entire vase itself. So instead, I just made a cave out of foam right next to it. Haha.
Sounds like you've got it covered, then.

Quote:
I'm not sure if it goes by a different name, but the label says it's a Hedera Ivy -- are those not recommended? I thought it was a "pothos" so I bought it from the store. If someone can shed some light on that before I plant, that'd be great!
Do a search in the plant section on 'English'. I came up with a few posts about English Ivy. Here is just one. http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/pla...ous-frogs.html

eta: ooh look at this one. http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/pla...glish-ivy.html and this one http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/pla...glish-ivy.html

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Old 10-05-2010, 11:48 PM
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Thanks for the info frogface! I guess I'll just plant it in my yard or something, and let it take over my fences, haha. I would hate to have something that grows so rapidly I'll need to prune in the tank often. I'm sure my family and I make them frantic enough!

Side question, how do I move my frogs from their current home to the new vivarium when it's completed? I have a small beta fish hexagon with a simple lid I can use, as well as various cups/containers. Do I let them climb in with fly-bait, or scoop them up? I want to do something that creates the minimal amount of risk to the frogs (for both stress and physically).
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:35 AM
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Day 6/7

I finished up filling the bald spots and crevices on my background with more silicone/coco coir. It looks a lot thicker now with this additional coat, but it will be much less noticeable when I add the moss/plants.


Does anyone know how long it's recommended to wait before planting? The silicone cures in 24 hours, so should it be alright soon after that? The sooner I can get my plants growing in, the sooner my froglets can move into their new home. Also, how long does the smell usually last? It's still very strong when I walk by..

I stopped by Petco today after class and picked up two 10-gallons (a third for my dad) and two 20-gallons for $1/gallon. I want to try this "kitty litter clay method" I'm reading about -- it sounds like it's much easier to get the shape desired in the tank for backgrounds. My friend said he'll come with me wood/branch-hunting this Saturday so hopefully I can pick up some nice pieces for these future tanks.
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Old 10-07-2010, 11:36 AM
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Let it cure until the smell is gone.
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Old 10-07-2010, 03:41 PM
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Thanks for the info frogface! I guess I'll just plant it in my yard or something, and let it take over my fences, haha. I would hate to have something that grows so rapidly I'll need to prune in the tank often. I'm sure my family and I make them frantic enough!
My bad, I know it's not advised for reptiles. I guess it was best to check though.

It really will take over your fences and it's pretty hard to pull off once it's attached! Spent a good few hours removing some at home!
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Old 10-07-2010, 10:12 PM
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My bad, I know it's not advised for reptiles. I guess it was best to check though.

It really will take over your fences and it's pretty hard to pull off once it's attached! Spent a good few hours removing some at home!
I use Hedera Helix in my Vivarium and havent had any problems at all, it does not grow all that well in a Viv though, i believe it does not like the humidity that much. (Outside it grows like a plague even during freezing cold winters).
Regarding possibly toxicity to the frogs, i would imagine they would have to actually ingest the plant to get in trouble? In that case i cant see it happening

Your Viv is looking slamming so far by the way, good job!
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Old 10-07-2010, 10:53 PM
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Let it cure until the smell is gone.
Will do. The smell has already started to fade, and will hopefully be ready to plant this weekend.

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My bad, I know it's not advised for reptiles. I guess it was best to check though.

It really will take over your fences and it's pretty hard to pull off once it's attached! Spent a good few hours removing some at home!
Haha, perhaps I'll just let it grow in the 4" pot I bought it in. I think my parents might get upset at there being another weed taking over our fence.

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I use Hedera Helix in my Vivarium and havent had any problems at all, it does not grow all that well in a Viv though, i believe it does not like the humidity that much. (Outside it grows like a plague even during freezing cold winters).
Regarding possibly toxicity to the frogs, i would imagine they would have to actually ingest the plant to get in trouble? In that case i cant see it happening

Your Viv is looking slamming so far by the way, good job!
Thank you! It's taking quite a while, but I'm learning so much in the process. I can't wait to see how it looks once it's fully planted.

As for the ivy, is there any way to control where the plant will take roots and grow? I would love for it to sprout in certain areas, and only stay there. I guess I'll need to see how much space I have left to cover after I put in the bromes, moss, etc.
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Old 10-09-2010, 03:03 AM
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Day 8

The smell has almost completely gone away from the silicone now, and I have started preparing my plants.

So far I've used a 5% bleach wash, and rinsed my plants immediately after for several minutes. They are currently sitting in a container of wet sphagnum moss until I cut and mount the plants.



Not only am I a beginner to frogs, but I am also a beginner to plants. I only know how to kill them -- really. Haha. Anyway, I've been looking around the forums and everyone seems to give a "general" idea of how to trim/prepare their plants before putting them in the tank.

I've drawn on a couple of the photos I took of the plants with dash marks where I will potentially cut. If you could help me out by telling me which of the numbers (or somewhere else) to cut that would be of such a great help. I don't want to start hacking at the plants and kill them just because I don't know where to cut them properly.

Bromeliads ($18-something from Home Depot)



These started getting some nice reddish color after I bought them.

For the plant on the left, can I cut it at the base of the plant, or anywhere on the stem? Do I need to include roots -- and if so, how much? All of the smaller bromeliads (pups?) will be pinned to the background.

The middle bromeliad is connected to both the main one and another small one. Where should I cut for that one? And the bromeliad in the right image is the main, where others connect to -- does that need a lot of roots to maintain its health? This along with the larger bromeliads will be planted in the sphagnum moss/live moss substrate.


There was a lot of white rocks in the soil that was tangled in the roots of each of the plants. I'm not sure what they were, but I made sure to remove them all. They really littered the ground where I was working. This picture only captured a portion of the rocks, haha.

-Forgot the name- (~$4 from Home Depot)



This plant is really cool, and I picked it up because (from above the dirt) I could see little sprouts coming out, and I thought I can plant those around my vivarium.

I didn't realize how they were attached inside the soil, stemming from the main plant. Would it be safe to cut right into the white portion of the plants? Does the area where I cut need to have roots on them? If so, a lot or a little amount of roots? In the second image, I was trying to separate the smaller sprouts from the larger middle/main one. Also, all of these will be planted in the substrate.

Thanks for any/all the help guys!
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Old 10-09-2010, 03:19 AM
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For the broms, cut them close to the mother plant. Then you use that stem (stolon) to secure the pup in the tank. I cut the roots off of mine before I put them in the tank. They'll make new roots.

I don't know what that other plant is but I'd probably cut those close to the mother too.

Nice score on the broms
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Old 10-09-2010, 03:31 AM
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For the broms, cut them close to the mother plant. Then you use that stem (stolon) to secure the pup in the tank. I cut the roots off of mine before I put them in the tank. They'll make new roots.

I don't know what that other plant is but I'd probably cut those close to the mother too.

Nice score on the broms
Thanks frogface.

For the big bromes (#1 and #2) directly attached to the mother plant, do those need to keep their stolons too? They each seem to have a well developed root system, and they are going to be planted in the substrate. If I can avoid allowing their stolon to poke out of the substrate by cutting it off, I'd rather do that.

_________[Main]
_____[Big #1] [Big #2]
[Pup #1] [Pup #2] [Pup #3]

For the pups, you mention cutting off the roots. Now by this do you mean cut the stolon at the base of the mothering plant, along with all of the attached roots? Or do you mean to cut off its own portion of the stolon, and then trim the roots down (maybe within 1~2mm in length)? I'm a bit confused. ^^;
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Old 10-09-2010, 03:36 AM
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I cut off all the roots so the base is bare. This is because with all the moisture in the tank, the roots hold additional moisture and the base of the brom rots. This might not be the case for everyone. I dunno. The broms in my tanks seem to do better if I trim off all the roots and mount them. They they grow a new set of roots, better adapted to the tank.

I leave the stolon long, because I use it to secure the brom to the background. I don't plant mine in the substrate. You do not have to leave the stolon on. You can cut it completely off. Just be careful not to cut into the base.
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Old 10-09-2010, 05:45 AM
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I cut off all the roots so the base is bare. This is because with all the moisture in the tank, the roots hold additional moisture and the base of the brom rots. This might not be the case for everyone. I dunno. The broms in my tanks seem to do better if I trim off all the roots and mount them. They they grow a new set of roots, better adapted to the tank.

I leave the stolon long, because I use it to secure the brom to the background. I don't plant mine in the substrate. You do not have to leave the stolon on. You can cut it completely off. Just be careful not to cut into the base.
Very helpful as always Frogface!

I think I won't go bare with the roots, but leave them very short (few millimeters) instead. This is my first time and I'm not sure how well they'll do if I just cut the roots off entirely. Haha, especially the main bromeliad which roots I will need just to help support it in the substrate.

Would you happen to know how long it takes for the pups begin to grow new roots, and attach themselves to the background? I plan on pinning them, and removing the pins when they've rooted.

Moss questions:
I'm wondering if I were to just tear a sheet of moss apart (the kind that grows on cement that stays moist) into tiny pieces to sprinkle around the tank, will it begin to grow again? Or, will it die when I tear it into tiny pieces?

Also, the sheets of moss I've been growing in containers I accidentally moved into an open area, and today pretty much baked in the sun. Everything is a very dark green if not brown -- would it come back to life with some time?
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Old 10-09-2010, 11:54 PM
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Day 9 -- I'm done!!

Forgotten tallies
(2) Sake glasses - $1.99/ea (Local Japanese supermarket)
(1) GE Silicone - $5.47 (Home Depot)
(1) Floral wire - $1.99 (Walmart)
(1) Brick of sphagnum moss - $6.99
Grand total: $90.18 (without 20 gallon or lid screen)

Woohoo, I'm finally done, and ready to begin on whole new projects. Now that everything's in, I'll wait a week or two to monitor the plants/moss' growth before introducing my froglets to their new (and much more spacious!) home.

The first thing I did this morning was tape the outside of the foam board. Because it's made from paper, long exposure to moisture could have it end up sticking right on the glass. Now because my brother and I didn't want that to happen, I taped it.


After I put the background/floor into the tank, I put on a nice thick layer of sphagnum moss for substrate.


I began pinning plants to the walls, and covering the metal with more damp sphagnum moss.


That little "roseus" plant was a real pain to pin down -- literally! Although difficult, I couldn't have found a better spot to put it.


I continued to pin/plant the others. At this point I also put down the not-so-live-anymore moss around the ground and walls. I've seen this stuff bounce back to life before, and even from a sun-dried crisp when there wasn't any rain for a week here. In perhaps a week or two I expect the vivarium to be live and lush with green moss everywhere!


Here it is finished with the larger plants.


Here it is with a ton of ferns and stuff I found around the house. I gave these a thorough bleach wash too.


I almost forgot my last two pieces of decor -- the sake glasses! Now it's a true set you might find laying in a ditch somewhere, hahaha. I've also included two short vines of English Ivy, but I may remove those within these next two weeks depending on how rapidly it grows. (Not in picture)


I'll be updating with images every so often, and again when my frogs make themselves at home.

Thanks for all the help everybody with the comments/advice over the past few weeks! I couldn't have done this without everyone's help!
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Old 10-13-2010, 12:29 AM
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Hey guys, it seems I need some more help. The assorted ferns and plants I found around the house aren't doing well in my vivarium.

I have been misting the tank when the substrate (sphagnum moss & live moss) feels dry to the touch or only a bit moist, and currently use a 4100k bulb lamp (will need to get a new lamp later for my 6500k bulbs) for lighting. A glass/mesh screen is in the works, so right now it's open on top. It sits under shade but gets small exposure to sunlight in the late afternoon.

These plants were taking off the cement blocks outside, that grew with no soil and were watered only when it rained. Some of the ferns/plants I implemented are doing well either pinned or planted in the substrate, but the majority look dry or are drooping over. (I don't see why there would be a difference when I treat them all the same)

I'm not sure what types of plants these are, but I pulled them (including all attached roots) for the vivarium because I know they thrive well on stone blocks and in gravel. I read that some plants may first wilt/lose their leaves before springing back to life, but I don't know if that is the case. I'm not a plant person, so I really don't know what's going on.

Does anyone have any ideas? Could there be excess water, or possibly not enough? I'll take some pictures when I get home but I was curious if anyone had some basic advise for me.

Here's a picture of all of them (it's probably much too small to identify):

They are all of the small plants scattered in the vivarium.
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Old 10-13-2010, 02:27 AM
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looks good man. I think you definately learned a lot from this considering how you did everything lol. But i cant wait to see how it looks when its grown in some.
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Old 10-13-2010, 02:54 AM
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Alot of plants wither and there leaves start dying off as they start to adapt to the new surrounding... but the fact that humidty is low might be an issue I would mist daily rather then just when it feels try until you get a glass top to keep it covered... my viv is at 99% humidity atm until I start putting frogs in then I am gonna drop it down to about 85% once I plan on placing them into it ^^... Hope this helped

PS I would Gorilla Glue rather then use metal wires to plant broms and stuff... metal rusts and can kill plants and make the toxins that most man made metals have released... just my opinion
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