I bought a used Large Wide Exo Terra Terrarium - 90 x 45 x 45 cm / 36Ē x 18Ē x 18Ē (WxDxH), but all the sillicon was messed up, the glass was all stained with minerals, and a door was broken... so I decided to rebuild this baby from scratch.
This is the Terrarium, and even it looks fine, it wasn't.
I've been looking around for a thread about how to fix broken glass or how to dismantle an Exo Terra vivarium, but I only could find one thread about replacing the glass on the doors.
So, I dismantled every bit and piece of the terrarium and I want to share the process with you, in case anyone need to know this, especially to those who crack the bottom glass... which, by the way, is very easy to take it off without cutting or damaging any other glass.
Is it easier to buy a new vivarium? Yes.
Is it cheaper? Maybe.
The problem is that the guys at Exo Terra decided to discontinue the Large and Medium terrariums here in Mexico. So, if you want a large tank you have to buid it.
WARNING: Even though it's not a difficult task, I strongly recomend to do this with caution because you are working with glass, knives and razors; and if you get distracted, it can turn ugly in seconds.
The whole process took me like 6 hours.
First, you'll need tools, but not many.
After trial and error, this are the tools that were most helpful to me.
From Left to Right: 30cm Tweezers, a sharp kitchen knife, a razor and its handle, a set of mini screwdrivers (you'll only need the flat ones), and a mini broom to clean constantly.
First you need to remove top mesh and then the front doors.
To take the doors off, you'll have to ve very careful. With one hand grab the door and be ready to hold its complete weight (if someone can helps you, better), and with the other one apply pressure to the plastic frame pushing upward very close to the upper door hinge.
As soon as you free the top hinge, gravity will do the rest. Just be prepared to catch the door.
The plastic frame is fragile, but it will hold the pressure perfectly if you do it gently.
Next, you'll have to use your razor to separate the plastic frames from the glass.
Once you feel that the razor has no opposition, means it can't reach any more silicone, so its time to use the knife the exact same way.
Do it until de knife slides like butter.
Make shure you cut all silicone between the glass corners.
Now, if you cut the silicone correctly, you'll be able to take the bottom glass off.
Place the tank Having the back glass laying on its back. Now push gently, but very firm, the bottom glass away from the base frame.
Do not push on the center of the glass 'cause you'll break it, cut your hands and die. Push on the corners and around the frame.
If it doesn't move, try using the razor again and again.
(SORRY, THAT STEP WAS SO FAST THAT I FORGOT TO TAKE PICTURES)
The next steps depend on how many silicone the guys at the factory used, so you have to use your criteria on which pice goes next.
Try to move all the glass to see if thereís one especially weak.
In my case one of the side glasses was the weakest so I used the razor to cut all silicone that I could reach, then used the knife like before.
Do it this way so that your cuts make the gap gradually bigger. If you skip the razor, you risk pushing to hard with the knife and breaking the glass, the plastic frame or cutting yourself and bleeding to death.
Now, try to pull the corners of the frame away from the glass until you can separate them. This is the hardest and most delicate part of the process, so take your time.
Once a tiny corner gives up, insert one of the little screen drivers into the gap, and push! This will cut some of the silicone on the inside. Then, as you go deeper into the gap, I used the tweezers, but you can use anything that fits.
Do the same on all the sides.
At first it will be difficult, but as you start taking pics apart, youíll be able to get used to the procedure. BUT DONíT GET COCKY!!!! Thatís when accidents happen.
I used a pice of wood to help me to hold the top frame, because its fragile and the steadier it is, the easier to take it of.
Once you take the top frame off. Itís time to take the rest of the glass one by one.
BE AWARE: The frame at the base its deeper that the one on the top, so taking that one off its more difficult. However, the same method works.
Now, to finish this, we have to remove the door frames. This glass itís thiner, so take your precautions.
First, use the razor and the knife to cut all the silicone on the insides of the frames.
Then insert the little screw driver on the side. Right between the glass and the frame gap.
Then try to separate the frame with strength (remember to be gente) or with the tweezer method.
Remember that if at some point it is way to hard for you to separate the pieces, give the knife another shot. Better to take ages, than to break the glass or the frame.
HERE you can see how the tweezer fits perfectly into the gap inside the plastic frames.
Once youíve dismantled successfully all the tank, itís time to crean the frames from the rests of silicone and bits of glass that separated from the big glass sheets.
And thatís it.
As soon as I get the new glass Iíll show you how the refurbished tank looks.
PS: Sorry for all the typos.