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Old 02-08-2018, 02:07 AM
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Default Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

Hey all,

Haven't posted progress report since the initial "greetings, this is me, this is what I'm doin' " post, so I figured it might be nice to show the tanks thus far. Progress, unfortunately, has been halting and slow due to wait times for various parts. Aaaaalmost ready for planting now, though! Last holdup is lighting. Long tank is awaiting a four-tube fixture of T5HO to replace the T12s currently above it (if for some reason they're still not bright enough, I'll move them to another shelf and go with LEDs); the tall tank is awaiting something to supplement the LED spots. The way the branches are situated, the spots are best suited to two corners so the base is adequately lit, leaving the topmost trunk and branches inadequately lit. I'm thinking a smallish LED flat fixture will be all it needs, but am unsure of which one. Does anyone have any suggestions?

For anyone curious, the hygrometers have been reading a steady 80-ish percent humidity in each since the rinsed substrate and drainage layers were put in. I have NEHerps' glass top inserts in each that leaves a gap for passive ventilation.

Also for anyone curious, my six-tube T5HO fixture that's residing in the top shelf of a mostly-enclosed plant stand has only raised the ambient temp. a few degrees during the day (same at night), which I'm happy to see. Since the four-tube fixture will generate less heat, and will be on a completely open plant stand, I'm not worried about the tank's temp. being too warm. (Each will be plants only, no animals.)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg tank Exo Terra Medium Xtall 3.jpg (103.1 KB, 175 views)
File Type: jpg LED spotlight.jpg (95.9 KB, 116 views)
File Type: jpg tank Exo Terra Large Tall 7d.jpg (104.2 KB, 149 views)
File Type: jpg tank Exo Terra Large Tall 7h.jpg (100.0 KB, 154 views)
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Old 02-08-2018, 02:19 AM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

Oh - also, in case anyone wants to know - just your basic setup with Josh's Frogs lightweight drainage layer (in the tall tank's tree-trunk base, which you can't see from here, it's Black Jungle's coarse-grade Feather-Lite), screen separator, and NEHerp's orig. substrate mix w/ calcined clay additive. Woods are ghostwood, cypress (I think) and whatever else I've picked up at Josh's Frogs booth at Repticon and other vivarium places. I do also have an access tube tucked in there from which to siphon water out of the drainage layer if need be, though since I'll be hand-misting I don't think it'll be an issue.

Last edited by Chlorophile; 02-08-2018 at 02:23 AM.
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Old 02-08-2018, 02:47 PM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

I am really enjoying your hardscapes. Filling the cork with ABG is a cool idea, and I'm looking forward to your updates. What plants do you have in mind?
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Old 02-08-2018, 03:35 PM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

Big fan of the build. One question I have is about the background of the larger exo terra. Did you incorporate egg crate in the background or is that just behind the tank i cant tell haha
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Old 02-12-2018, 02:52 AM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

Thank you both!

Plants are a challenge, in that I like a little bit of everything that *might* work. And I realize that the plant mix will probably be a bit different between the two given the greater area of "dry" cork in the tree tank. The pockets of substrate would hopefully be suitable for some dwarf begonias, aroids, ferns (though I do have a few epiphytic ones I plan on trying on the background itself in either tank), gesneriads, Peperomias and who knows what else. I am going to try as many epiphytic things (orchids, moss, bromeliads, ferns, trailing Peperomias...) as I can on the cork itself, but for those things needing a bit more consistent root moisture I think the pockets are best. I'll just have to start experimenting to see what likes it and what doesn't. At least the humidity is still holding high without the addition of moisture since the substrate went in almost a week ago. That said, I probably need to get a fan in there to circulate things before it gets planted too heavily. Still trying to figure out the lighting augmentation first.

Yeah, the egg crate does look like it's part of the tank and I thought it might confuse some people. It's not - it's just an uncut piece being stored against the wall behind the plant stand that the tank is on. I have smaller a black piece of egg crate back there too (great find, that - black egg crate). The background is just foam with silicone and bedding topdress. In hindsight I probably should have siliconed the back glass first, but I didn't and we'll see how it holds up because I can't do anything about it now. So far, so good. I also like the idea people have had to use foam on the egg crate, so maybe in a future build I'll experiment with that.
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Old 02-21-2018, 02:39 AM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

Anyone have any thoughts on the lighting question?
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Old 02-21-2018, 01:06 PM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

Could you post a better picture of the positions of the spotlights on the tall tank? I think I can see where they are, but I just want to be sure. Also, I probably missed this, but what's the height of the tall tank.

The Finnex 24/7 has a very slim design. It's a little pricier, ranging from about $70 to $110 for small/medium sized tanks (in terms of width), but it has the added bonus of a day/night cycle timer built in. The Satellite Pro might be that slim as well, but I don't have much experience with it.

Those are the only two lights I know of that might fit between the spotlights diagonally across the tank. More experienced members might know more.
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Old 02-21-2018, 05:14 PM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

What about a Green Element Evo fixture? One of the cheap ones from ebay. The 18" one runs about 36 bucks shipped, and they're surprisingly powerful for the price.
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Old 02-22-2018, 02:43 AM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

I'll try to get a pic of the whole setup in the next day or two. Basically they're situated over the front right corner and rear left corner where they penetrate the furthest. Tank is 24" wide x 18" deep x 36" tall. On the advice of NEHerp's lighting articles, I chose the LED spots, which do indeed to light up the tank nicely all the way down to the bottom. Trouble is, though, that since I don't have a way to mount them higher above the tank (and therefore distribute the light a bit better), they're too bright (I think) over the highest cork areas when positioned above them and too dim over the highest cork areas when positioned in the corners, which is where they do the most good lower-down. So I'm thinking a small, less-powerful LED unit for the higher elevations would be useful and sufficient. If it's a linear unit, I think anything in the 12-18" long range is plenty large enough.
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Old 02-22-2018, 04:03 AM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

That's what I figured was going on. The slimmer fixtures with 0.5W individual lights, such as the finnex, satellite, and it looks like even beamswork now (link below) tend to have less penetration, but do a very good job evenly covering an area down to about 18 to 24 inches. Therefore, I think a slim fixture like one of these would be perfect for supplementing the two spotlights and filling in the lighting for the upper portions of the tank.

https://www.amazon.com/Beamswork-FSP...d%2Blight&th=1

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00U0HN1DG...ing=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/Current-USA-S...led+freshwater

Personally, I have only used the finnex 24/7, but it does a fantastic job. I have used the 3W version of the beamswork, which does a really good job, and can penetrate quite far, but it would likely be too wide of a fixture. I don't have any experience with their newer slim 0.5W lights.

I hope this helps
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Old 03-02-2018, 01:58 AM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

Sorry for the delay...here's a shot of the tank with the lights overhead.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg tank Exo Terra Medium Xtall 3c.jpg (102.1 KB, 47 views)
File Type: jpg tank Exo Terra Medium Xtall 3d.jpg (103.4 KB, 46 views)
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Old 03-02-2018, 05:28 AM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

That's actually a wider gap than I thought. You could even fit a 3W LED like a beamswork there if you want some bright lighting.
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Old 06-29-2020, 02:06 AM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

Better-late-than-never updates on both tanks -

Been planted for about six or seven months. Still working through a few issues, but in general am satisfied as a first experience experiment. Always thinking of things I could have done differently (on everything from construction to plant placement), but...oh well. I know - we learn by doing, and the grass is always greener....

Anyway, just a few pics for now. Both are still works-in-progress as I get held up by troubleshooting, plant availability, and waiting for design inspiration to strike. As a reminder, neither are intended for animals - just terraria. Pardon the messy floor of the tall tank...I am less motivated to clean it up just to make a mess again when I go to add plants. I was originally thinking I could use a nice image of a view down into a tropical forest canopy (like a fish tank background picture, but in this case, looking down, as the setup was meant to mimic being up in the canopy by an epiphyte-laden tree) but haven't found an image to use yet and am not sure that'll look the way I imagine it would. Eh, that's a minor issue for now.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg tank Exo Terra Medium Xtall 11.jpg (100.7 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg tank Exo Terra Large Tall 16.jpg (95.4 KB, 15 views)
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Old 06-29-2020, 02:11 AM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

Close-ups from tall tank -

- Neoregelia 'Domino' (dark red w/ green spots)
- Neoregelia 'Little Faith' (light green w/ pink-red tips)
- Neoregelia 'Red Bird' x pauciflora (bright green w/ fine red spots)
- orchid Leptotes bohnkiana
- fern Nephrolepis 'Fluffy Ruffles' with Pilea glauca and a NOID Begonia (the pups are on the 'Little Faith' Neo)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg tank Exo Terra Medium Xtall 11c.jpg (100.4 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg Neoregelia Domino.jpg (93.4 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg Neoregelia Little Faith.jpg (76.3 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg Neoregelia Red Bird x pauciflora.jpg (98.9 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg tank Exo Terra Medium Xtall 11e.jpg (88.9 KB, 12 views)
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Last edited by Chlorophile; 06-29-2020 at 02:16 AM.
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Old 06-29-2020, 02:16 AM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

Closeups from long tank -

- Begonia elaeagnifolia with Bulbophyllum thiurum
- Begonia vankerckhovenii
- Sinningia 'Lil' Georgie' and Asplenium "thin leaf"
- Gloxinella lindeniana
- orchid Haraella odorata
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Begonia elaeagnifolia & Bulbophyllum thiurum.jpg (82.0 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg Begonia vankerckhovenii 2.jpg (81.6 KB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg Sinningia & Asplenium.jpg (86.2 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg Gloxinella lindeniana.jpg (60.9 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg Haraella odorata 7b.jpg (62.2 KB, 15 views)
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Old 06-29-2020, 02:32 AM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

Whoa!
I love, absolutely love, the way the medium extra tall looks. Fantastic. Love the levels
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Old 06-29-2020, 02:56 AM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

wow that medium tall looks awesome. Love how you did the initial cork bark, and then you followed it up equally well with the plants.
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:59 PM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

Absolutely fantastic & inspirational!
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Old 06-30-2020, 12:26 AM
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Default Re: Exo Terra(s) progress report & lighting query

Thank you all!

Regarding the tall tank (all comments here):
I am severely critiquing it as it matures, but I suppose that's normal and it's always easier to envision a "better way" in hindsight. These two tanks are my first forays into serious terraria (after one years ago that was done poorly). I did a lot of reading, video watching, more reading, and then just go-big-or-go-home dive in. There's been lots of pauses for waiting for inspiration to strike, waiting for supplies, waiting for plants...throw moving in the middle of that and waiting to make sure your landlady isn't going to freak out and think you're going to mess up the place...and you get the idea. What could be a two-week process of setup turned into something like two years, but hey...we're here now, right? LOL

Other than changing some construction techniques and minor layout adjustments, the main thing I'd change is giving more thought to plant placement. A bit of it was "hey, this cutting can go in here" mentality and a few things don't have the look I'd prefer now that they've grown in a bit. Eh. <shrug>

Anyway, early-on in this endeavor I loved the idea of the in-the-canopy look, so I borrowed inspiration from other tanks and just kinda made it up as I went along using my existing cork tube stash. The branch placement isn't ideal - if anyone tries this, try to find a way to light it from above as you will when it's done but before you set the hardscape in place, 'cuz I have some spots that aren't well-lit due to shading of one branch over another, and it's aggravating as I wanted lots of surface covered in epiphytes. (I think it's too shady for shade-lovers, but we'll see and I'll find something to stick in there to experiment with. Maybe I'll get lucky.)

Some of the sphagnum used in "topdressing" some of the stumps/open spaces is slowly coming back to life though. I'm amused and going to let it for now until it gets to the point of engulfing something. I need more small- and fine-leaved plants for texture; might add bits of one of my trailing orchids (Trichosalpinx chamaelepanthes) and maybe Peperomia emerginella or something similar if I can get my hands on some. I do have a bit of Peperomia perciliata and Pep. prostrata still growing in and meandering. I have Peperomia 'Coin' (probably serpens if memory serves) that's nice and doing great but a bit coarser in texture than I envisioned. A mix of orchids, ferns, bromeliads (probably just Neos), gesneriads, and a few other assorted mini Begonias or the odd small Philodendron and the like were what I was going for. I stuck a small cutting of my Philo. Wend Imbe (the parent plant of which is ridiculously underpotted by now and is getting pretty stunted because of it) in there and it seems to be doing well mid-level.

I can easily come up with a plant list if anyone's interested.

The lights are mixed 'cuz I was having a hell of a time trying to figure out how to light it well enough (and bright enough). Two corners are 40W Jungle Dawn (one of which crapped out on me for no apparent reason not long after I set the tank up; I had to replace the bulb); the other two are standard Exo hoods (mini or small size...I forget at the moment) with 13W Jungle Dawn LED bars in them. Maybe overkill, I don't know, but the Dischidia ovata under one seems to like it, though it's further from that light than the other things that might be getting a bit blasted. Since I was going for mid-canopy or higher look in my head (anywhere you'd see the bromeliads popping up), I wanted bright. I have an old light meter, but it's not good for LEDs (as far as I know) so it's hard to objectively figure out how much light I'm putting out there.

The hygrometer in there reads around 50-75% most of the time, and as expected, it's often higher at night. I haven't stocked springtails (yet) but should; this tank has produced several notable mushrooms, which I find interesting as it has less substrate overall than the long tank and seems to dry out faster.
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