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Old 06-30-2016, 07:32 PM
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Default 4'x3'x5' Vivarium Build

Greetings all.

So I seem to have jumped right off the deep end. After acquiring a juvi Frilled Dragon I repurposed a 35g tall aquarium for him. Although it came out pretty decent for a first time builder I really started to feel like he needed his permanent and much larger home sooner rather then later. After weeks of losing sleep over if I should try to build the enclosure myself I finally decided I didn't trust myself enough and after more sleep loss on research I finally settled on a custom Hybrid cage, my materials are different then the standard with aluminum core floor and back wall.
Custom Cages
The estimated delivery is July 11th so the actual build won't start until then.

Goals for this project
As a large arboreal reptile the frilled needs his climbing trees so vertical climbing space is a must.
With such a high humidity requirement for the occupant (70%) I figure this would be a perfect chance to do a rain forest like setup plant wise.
Also with this much space a water feature is a must.

Have to go for now but hopefully this wets your whistle, the next post will cover the actual planning and materials.

Last edited by pswetz; 06-30-2016 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 07-01-2016, 05:04 AM
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Default Re: 4'x3'x5' Vivarium Build

Frillies aren't rainforest lizards. They occur about 1/2hr drive from where I live (which is rainforest, boyds are the big dragons) in the dry sclerophyll. I often see them at one of the mtb tracks there, typical open eucalypt woodland with little to no groundcover or understory except grasses and grasstrees. Lots of termite mounds though.


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Old 07-01-2016, 12:21 PM
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Default Re: 4'x3'x5' Vivarium Build

I know what you are saying, obviously not true rainforest but with the high RH and vertical emphasis the accent planting should support it (orchids etc..). When I go to winter him/her I will go from 70% RH to around 55-60% and support the plantings by hand. It is a New Guinea type for reference. I do plan on keeping the floor relatively open other then the water feature if for no other reason then they are fun to watch run around on the ground.

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Originally Posted by deepnorth View Post
Frillies aren't rainforest lizards. They occur about 1/2hr drive from where I live (which is rainforest, boyds are the big dragons) in the dry sclerophyll. I often see them at one of the mtb tracks there, typical open eucalypt woodland with little to no groundcover or understory except grasses and grasstrees. Lots of termite mounds though.


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Old 07-01-2016, 12:23 PM
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Default 4'x3'x5' Vivarium Build

No worries, just remember big agamids are not gentle on plants, my boyds used to dislodge and generally destroy plant climbing up and down his perches


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Old 07-01-2016, 12:32 PM
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Default Re: 4'x3'x5' Vivarium Build

Absolutely, he already tears up his current tank pretty good just stumbling around and glass-dancing. It will be more of a 'how cute.... he wreaked the flowers' then a 'omg my wonderful plants, you bastard'. he can rearrange his house however he wants.


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No worries, just remember big agamids are not gentle on plants, my boyds used to dislodge and generally destroy plant climbing up and down his perches


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Old 07-01-2016, 12:53 PM
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Default Planning and Materials pt1 (subfloor)

Planning and Materials pt1 (subfloor)

To build a house you need a foundation so we are going to start with subflooring.

For the water feature I was torn between 'installing' a pool or integrating one into the subflooring using some of the false bottom techniques. I ended up settling on getting a custom rimless Acrylic tank build from glasscages.com. The size I picked was 30lx12.5wx6h, the reason behind the 6"h was because I planned out the total subfloor and substrate height to come out right about there and wanted the top of the tank more or less level to the substrate. I will post picks of the tank early next week, it should be arriving this afternoon actually. (Add picture)

So now we have the pool fleshed out its time to worry about the rest of the sub floor space. Because of the size of this project and the higher then normal weights involved I was not comfortable using an empty subfloor so I decided to hybrid my approach using a filled in false bottom.

Lightweight Drainage Layer Substrate
I've work with various hydro-ball brands and types doing everything from hydro culture through aquaculture but felt that non of what I had used before would really suit this project due to the weight they will add. I decided to try out the LDLS materials because in this design they weight saved was going to far outweigh any minor annoyance of them floating, given the design that wont even be an issue. I order a few gallons of the LDLS from several suppliers (adding the instruction for coarse sizes preferred to them) just to see if there would be any differences. Most of what came in was very small and honestly terribly suited for this project but what I got from black jungle terrariumsupply was absolutely perfect. It was really large rocks (up to 2") as opposed to the pebbles everyone else sent. Will post pic to show the difference next week. I ordered a total of 15 gallons of the large stuff and am currently half way through washing the lime out of it, this is extremely important as the stuff is made with lime and glass and lime will screw up your ph terribly, it can even dissolve shelled animals on contact. My numbers tell me I need a bit more but I'm not seeing it visually, if I need to get more its been shipped at my door in 3 days on both orders so I'm going to wait and see if I actually need more or not.

(Add picture)

Back to plan....
So we have our subfloor fill material I also decided that I would be placing in 4" PVC collars to help give the rocks some structure and to aid in supporting the upper layers, I'm also putting in three larger pipes to be left unfilled, capped, hidden and used to sump out the subfloor. All the PVC has been notched on the bottom to avoid trapping any water. The height of the PVC and drainage rocks should take us right about to 4" (3.78 to be exact) (Add Picture)

Now the next big decision I am looking at is the separation between subfloor and substrate. I have two paths I'm investigating.
1) typical meshing to allow the substrate to drain to the subfloor and then drain from there as needed.
2) using pond liner under the substrate and building up a gradient that forces the majority of the water to flow on the liner into the pond itself. Give the pond an overfloor to the subfloor.

Both these ideas have their ups and downs and I am not 100% committed yet. My general concerns are all around longevity of the project. Growing mildew/mold in the substrate and discoloring the rocks would be bad so I do NOT want to let a lot of water sit in the subfloor for very long. I also feel like having the pond catch all the run off is going to present unknown issues down the road and I'd rather deal with a well known process then 'experiment' with new ideas here. Could definitely use some opinions on this part from more experienced builders.

Last edited by pswetz; 07-01-2016 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 07-01-2016, 04:31 PM
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Default Re: 4'x3'x5' Vivarium Build

Occupant


PVC


The drainage material, notice how much larger the rocks are in the one, mind you these are same price and roughly same weight.
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Old 07-05-2016, 01:04 PM
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Default Re: 4'x3'x5' Vivarium Build

Water feature tank from glasscages.com

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Old 07-27-2016, 06:39 PM
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Default Re: 4'x3'x5' Vivarium Build

The cage came in, unfortunately there was damage to the top panel (cracked) but the CS from customcages is next day air sending me a new one which should come in tomorrow I hope. Otherwise assembly was fairly easy aside from the size of everything. Attachments are of some stages of the assembly process.
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File Type: jpg IMG_0736[1].jpg (92.3 KB, 23 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_0737[1].jpg (75.6 KB, 23 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_0738[1].jpg (94.5 KB, 25 views)
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build, false bottom, frilled dragon, vivarium build

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