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Old 12-07-2018, 02:25 AM
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Default 180 Gallon Terrarium

Hello everyone! -WARNING- This initial post may contain long, boring, unnessecary descriptions of my tanks journey to becoming the terrarium you currently will see. Please bear with me as I explain in some detail, all the incarnations of this system. It deserves it!

First


So… I know that has been a while since I posted any updates on the 180gallon paludarium build. And again thank you to everyone that had followed the original thread on here. While it was short lived, and not updated very regularly, I hope that some people were able to pull some inspiration. Over the past four years, the system has seen many changes. Most notably, it became and additional support tank for my 350gal reef aquarium as pictured below. Reef enthusiasts that follow Reef Central may have seen this.



As you can see, this system was used as more of a coral holding tank for customers and new additions to the larger system. Many of the organism that made up this portion of the tanks life were some seagrasses, macro algae, soft corals in genus zoanthidae, large polyp stony corals and tridacna clams. For a while it also held a prized red mangrove specimen around the eight-year-old mark. Unfortunately, one of the support roots split killing the tree. As I was utilizing this tank for saltwater, I had to get my dendrobatid fix in other ways. Thankfully down in Arizona I was close with the owner of a LFS that wanted to display some of his freshwater plants in their immersed state. I helped him along with the scaping of a pretty spectacular tinctorius sp. paludarium.



My time in Arizona ended and I moved up to Colorado where I am currently living. During my move, I knew that I wanted to turn the 180gal into something a little more unique than what I had currently had it set up as. Once I decided to remove it from the 350 reef, I figured it was time to set it up as a freshwater paludarium with an extremely majestic water feature. I began designing out a plateau that would double as a “top” pond, draining successively down “smaller” ponds until ultimately reaching the lowest level “stream”.



Sorry for the poor quality, I’m not sure why I didn’t take any early pictures of the early build, but this screen shot should work. I used blue foam as the main structure of the elevated ponds, and covered it with a special cement that has been used for not only vertical projects like bridges, and tunnels, but also zoo enclosures for its close to neutral Ph thanks to a plastic polymer that is added to the mix. I will try to find the name of the brand if anybody is interested. As I added hard scape into the system it quickly became apparent that the 30x30x48 dimensions, were still a little too small for the vision that I had, allowing larger pieces of wood to protrude out into space while still leaving enough light space for the ponds to grow aquatic stem plants like bacopa, hygrophila, and bucephalandra submerged and immersed like the paludarium in Az. The wood, was just too much however.



Another issue I ran into was the realization that even though I was going to have plenty of space for epiphytic plants to grow on the wood, I really didn’t have much terrestrial space, and whilst the water was a cool feature, it was probably too dangerous for dendrobatids. NOW WHAT DO I PUT IN HERE! As I was searching potential candidates for the system, I began to parse through the pros and cons. Pro- I had enough water space for some really cool micro fish like celestial pearl danios, whiteclouds, butterfly loaches, badis, or even a small school of green neons. Con- I wasn’t ready to have a small space for fish and then add in an amphibian that was nocturnal that would only be active at well…night. So I thought I made a compromise with getting some guppies and then a few geosesarma crabs. They would occupy both land and water, and while they may eat some guppies, oh well. As time went by, schedules filled up, and the tank was left on autopilot. Plants filled in nicely, and the whole thing just became a fixture. But it was lacking any mobile creatures. I hadn’t gotten any crabs or fish yet.



It was about 7mo after the reincarnation of the paludarium that I noticed a friend staring at my tank when I was throwing a party. Others had looked in and moved to the other tanks because, “fish are more interesting than plants”. But he was just starring… starring as if he had seen something. He then asked my what was in there. “Nothing” I answered, well that is except for plants. And just as I was about to show how impressively blooming my pleurothallis picta “gigi” was, I noticed his face drop. “Why do you have a box of plants in your house?” And that’s when another realization hit me. People like action. Movement. Something other than cool orchids to look at! And then it me. It was time to go back to my roots. What had started my passion nearly twenty years prior. I needed some frogs. But how could I tear down something I thought was turning into a true piece of art.



When the day came I knew that I had to get some more material to make it more compatible with a terrarium. False bottoms were always how I easy maintained a healthy substrate in my other systems, but because this one was setup for multiple closed loop pumps, I had the luxury of turning the bulk heads into drains for waste water. The soil that makes up the bulk of the system is a coco fiber, aqua soil mix. Hopefully with time, the floor of the terrarium will get covered with a lush layer of moss. Of course, that will take time. To make sure that any frogs could find their way into the drains, I elevated the substrate enough to allow water to pass through to the gravel layer, and through a platform made from light diffusers. Basically, a light false bottom. As I was tearing out the plants, I noticed that many of the air roots from orchids and bromeliads were woven tightly into the woodwork requiring careful extraction to minimize damage. I believe I will lose some plants just due to stress. Here is the number of different plant species I had in this tank organized by either ferns and moss, or epiphytes.



All in all, the process took two days to complete. After all is said and done, I think that the new layout will open the possibilities for new micro orchids and other rare plants along with the addition of one of my favorite frogs. So here is my new/old/redesigned Dendrobates tinctorius “New River” setup. Hopefully I will remember to update regularly on plant additions and general frog happiness. If anybody has any questions, feel free to send em!

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Old 12-07-2018, 02:01 PM
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Default Re: 180 Gallon Terrarium

Ah, the possibilities! I have learned the same thing over time about having something in the tanks. My tank are almost all in my living room right inside the front door. I almost always end up giving people the tour when they come to the house for the first time. There was a time when most of my tanks had pretty cryptic species in them. I would be showing people around the room and I kept having to say "Well, what you WOULD see in there is..." I came to the conclusion that I need to have some frogs just because they are visible and I have something in the tanks for visitors to see.

That tank just cries out for a large group of...something :-) First thing I thought of was Terribilis. My Mints are out all the time. I always see all three of them. They won't shy away from playing on that huge lawn you have. They also won't pine away that you don't have a ton of vertical hardscape to hang out on. This, of course, assumes that frogs play, pine, and/or hang out :-) They will get up to everyplace in your tank periodically, but they will spend a lot of their time on the spacious floor of that tank. Of course, there are tons of other options, too, but Terribs would be great!

Best of luck in finding just the right inhabitants!

Mark
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Old 12-08-2018, 04:20 PM
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Default Re: 180 Gallon Terrarium

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That tank just cries out for a large group of...something :-) First thing I thought of was Terribilis.
I do love terribs, but I already have a group of tincs coming for this setup. I am thinking of finding someone who wants to build like a 250gal long tank for gold or mint terribillis. If I did that setup it would be all understory growth and larger plants like monstera and ferns. huge open areas of mossy ground space and dark gloomy wood. I great contrast to the yellow or mint green frogs.
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Old 12-09-2018, 06:26 PM
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Default Re: 180 Gallon Terrarium

I find it funny that so many people come from the reef keeping hobby to dart frogs. Although you still have a reef I have seen countless people post that reeds was their previous hobby. Both of your setups are fantastic by the way!
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Old 12-10-2018, 10:55 PM
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Default Re: 180 Gallon Terrarium

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Originally Posted by Wyofrogs View Post
I do love terribs, but I already have a group of tincs coming for this setup. I am thinking of finding someone who wants to build like a 250gal long tank for gold or mint terribillis. If I did that setup it would be all understory growth and larger plants like monstera and ferns. huge open areas of mossy ground space and dark gloomy wood. I great contrast to the yellow or mint green frogs.
Yeah, they would definitely enjoy the floor space. You can also plant it a little denser, if you want to, because the terribs don't usually care much about hiding :-)

Mark
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Old 12-11-2018, 06:57 PM
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Default Re: 180 Gallon Terrarium

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I find it funny that so many people come from the reef keeping hobby to dart frogs. Although you still have a reef I have seen countless people post that reeds was their previous hobby. Both of your setups are fantastic by the way!
I Have noticed the population of reef keeping and frogs are pretty high. A lot of my friends in the hobby have both or want both. I just love anything that can be kept naturally in a glass box. Fish frogs, corals, you name it!
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Old 12-14-2018, 02:10 AM
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Default Re: 180 Gallon Terrarium

Here are the four "New River" Tincs(only three pictured). They are currently under quarantine, in an observation tank, and should be added in the next couple days. Due to there size, I would like to make sure that they are eating and functioning normally before being added into a larger enclosure where observation is harder. But currently they look healthy and active!
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Old 12-14-2018, 02:17 PM
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Wyofrogs,
What was that product you used for the hardscape ? Sounds very interesting for our hobby.
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Old 01-06-2019, 09:25 PM
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Default Re: 180 Gallon Terrarium

Hello Everyone!

Its been a while since I've updated due to traveling for the holidays. I just wanted to show everyone how much the terrarium has changed over the last few weeks. A little over three weeks ago, I added four Dendrobates tinctorius "new river" to the terrarium and shortly after left them while I traveled. Thankfully everything was happy when I returned last week and I noticed that not only were the frogs doing great, the plants had made an incredible transformation in color. Look at this little guy just chillin on the small phalaenopsis sp.

Here is a side by side comparison of the tanks in just under a month. the only thing I did was increase the humidity in the terrarium by adding an extra mist and fog cycle. Incredible!!

I also was cleaning out some debris from the system, and realized that just like certain corals, bromeliads look the best from top down. Check out these crazy colors that are coming out!

You also can't beat the contrast between the wonderful blue of the frogs against the red broms! I am also trying to answer as many of the questions as possible in a timely manner. So still bear with me.
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Wyofrogs,
What was that product you used for the hardscape ? Sounds very interesting for our hobby.
It was called thorite, but it might be going by a different name.
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Old 01-10-2019, 08:58 PM
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Thank you. I'll check it out.
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Old 05-13-2019, 09:15 PM
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Default Re: 180 Gallon Terrarium

Hey guys, here is PART 1 of my latest update!

So again it has been a while and I wanted to do an update, plus another update. Since I last left all of you, I had just redone my scape to better suit the addition of the "New River" tincs that I ordered at the end of last year. Well after a few months, the terrarium had grown in and became a nice lush environment that the frogs really enjoyed. Most of the time, they all seemed content to just hope around, but if someone approached the tank, they had the ability to hide quickly in a brom.



Here is a group shot of the frogs at about 6-8 months old, giver or take a month or two.



I still haven't heard any calling yet, but am guessing that I have two females and two males(what do you all think?). Aggression is non existent at this point in their life, and I hope to keep it that way. I really dig the pattering on these frogs. Talk about some beauts!

With all that being said, it was not all sunshine and rainbows for our fantastic quartet. Some very drastic things did come up in the last couple months, but don't worry yet, all is not sad for this group.

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Old 05-13-2019, 09:26 PM
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Cliffhanger!
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:51 PM
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PART 2

After a long search, I was able to track down a property that allowed me to do my business and live on the same location. So naturally I was excited for the possibilities of my enclosures. After a few weeks of planning, this is what came to be.



As you can see, the plan is to have my display systems in my main consultation room where the majority of people will be meeting me. I know it isn't optimal to have a reef aquarium surrounded by natural light, but I feel like I am up for the challenge. The terrariums location was a dead giveaway the moment I scouted the property for the first time. It was just too perfect. I also am planning on setting up an iwagumi style natural planted tank on the opposing wall. Here is a closeup of the new layout.



The pros to this location is for sure the awesome brick wall behind the system, and the perfect little nook. The largest con is transitioning the peninsula style layout to a more traditional single view. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. As for now, this is the main update since the last time, and I hope you enjoy it. Ill get some front on pictures shot when the plants have had time to grow in a bit.
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Old 06-19-2019, 02:57 PM
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Default Re: 180 Gallon Terrarium

Beautiful set up. I really loved the peninsula version, it was amazing. The new is just as good. I'd love one day to have a really big tank like yours. Anyway, awesome job!
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Old 09-24-2019, 11:58 PM
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I know its been a few months and I want to do an update in the next couple of days. But I was walking through the room that the terrarium and aquarium are in and felt like sharing a picture of a few of my favorite things. The 350gal reef is only a month or so old, but I felt like it was worth sharing. Dang frags are hard to see this far away! Hope to have a terrarium update soon! Doesn't the natural light look great... and worrisome for algae? Please mind the cords all being exposed, I have new windows going this week and need to have easy access for moving. Anyways, I hope you enjoy.

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Old 09-25-2019, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Wyofrogs View Post
I know its been a few months and I want to do an update in the next couple of days. But I was walking through the room that the terrarium and aquarium are in and felt like sharing a picture of a few of my favorite things. The 350gal reef is only a month or so old, but I felt like it was worth sharing. Dang frags are hard to see this far away! Hope to have a terrarium update soon! Doesn't the natural light look great... and worrisome for algae? Please mind the cords all being exposed, I have new windows going this week and need to have easy access for moving. Anyways, I hope you enjoy.



Absolutely stunning view! The reef is so good looking being this simple. I'm a bit jealous.
Keep us updated!
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Old 09-26-2019, 01:15 AM
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Here is the full tank shot in the perfect nook. I feel that since this thread should be focused more on the build aspect of the terrarium, I am going to start posting the way I decided to scape this layout, the plants used, and the internal mechanics in the next posts. For now, I think it is nice to see the layout as it lives currently. Keep checking back to see the future posts!

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Old 09-26-2019, 02:48 AM
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Beautiful viv! What light are you using on it? It looks really good!
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Old 09-26-2019, 01:41 PM
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Beautiful viv! What light are you using on it? It looks really good!
Hey Dendrodragon03, the two main workhorses are 36" custom BML(BuildMyLed) lights. I wish I could remember what spectrum I ultimately landed on, but think it was around 56K. I don't think they are a company anymore, or at least the don't operate under that name which sucks. And then the supplementary light is a 48" Marineland fixture. I had two as well, but one of the power-supplies burned out. All three of the lights having been in operation for at least 5 years and have produced solid results.
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Old 09-26-2019, 02:25 PM
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These next couple of posts are going to go over the design of the terrarium, with a walkthrough of each the overall display, the foreground, midground, and background. Because cameras tend to compress depth, I wanted you guys to see each section as if you are looking at the tank. I isolated the zones in color that I am talking about to make discussion a little easier. Now to begin…

Full Tank

This terrarium is designed to resemble a dried stream bed in the northern amazon basin. I wanted the feeling of this terrarium to look like a seasonal stream bed where light is able to penetrate the lower portions of the forest floor. Because this terrarium is designed for terrestrial frogs, epiphytes were used like those found on logs that have fallen. All wood in this system is horizontally positioned to achieve that look. Plants, while planned out, weren’t planned to be part of a biotope system. The main intended feature of the terrarium is the dry stream bed. I planned to have it be the central focal point. While it was achieved in the beginning, moss growth overtime has blocked large portions of the rock structure. At first I thought that was inconvenient to the overall balance of the system, but once ferns grew through fissures in the rock structure, it began to look more natural. Like with any of my systems I plan them out for what the end result will look like instead of what it looks like freshly planted. I see too many vivaria that start “packed” and beautiful for the first month or so, but as plants become acclimated and grow in, what was once a wonderful layout quickly becomes a claustrophobic mass of green. Plants have been selected to grow close to their full potential without being crowded(unless specifically designed to).

Foreground

The foreground of the terrarium is minimally planted and the location where the species of moss I have can grow freely. Currently there are four distinctly different mosses growing adding interest and color variants. I know I have immersed java, live sphagnum, and two types sheet moss(I know... general name). The base substrate has really determined what species takes off. The left side has a dense water loving coco fiber/mulch media where the moisture loving sphagnum grows, the middle and lower right side is strictly an aquarium designed substrate that drains quickly for the sheet mosses, and the higher portion right of the foreground is where I positioned java moss on the structure of my plateau. The middle portion of my tank is where the “dry river bed” begins, but might be easier seen some earlier pictures. Visual movement was important as the beginning of the stream fans out allowing the viewer to pierce through the foliage and lead the eye deep into the back portion of the terrarium. Most of the plants are ferns, but some semiaquatic or marginal species have also been selected. I will go over them later in a plant specific post.
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Old 09-26-2019, 03:01 PM
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Midground

The middle portion of the terrarium in my opinion is where you see the most variation in plant visual interest. If reading the system from left to right, as most westerners do, you start with the largest bromeliad in my collection. Currently it measures 18-20” from front to back and about 12” high. I felt that it was necessary to ground the large plant with a smaller brom in the front where the jagged wood begins to lead up and across the front plane. A macgravia was also selected to grow up the piece of wood for that same purpose. This is where you will see a collection of larger river stones pushed back and up and I guess you could call this the beginning of the stream. While it is the heaviest rock portion of my terrarium, it has wonderfully been accented with a fern growing through the rocks. As you complete the journey across the branch it slants down to the slated cluster of bromeliads. I purposefully staked these specimens together to give it a more natural growth like you would see in the wild. It was ridiculously cool to see clusters of epiphytes all benefiting and at the same time fighting for light space in the Amazon, which is why I gravitated to planting this way. The top right of the midground is where some orchids and other broms grow, diminishing in scale keep that central focus.

Background

Unlike many systems that I have seen through the years, I wanted the background to almost melt away. This was successfully achieved in the lower left by slanting the substrate down at an angle, and when paired with little to no planting, it’s as if the back of the terrarium could continue to travel through space. The same is true in the top left by adding some larger plants to allow the illusion that you are leaving the stream bed and moving up into the forest floor. The top portion is the most chaotic planting. As I knew this system would only be viewed from the front, I decided to have no real intention with the planting. This gave me many benefits and only slight faults. It allowed a place for the frogs to disappear when they so desired and get R&R. It’s hard to tell from pictures but there also is a network of small dens that the frogs can escape to from one another. It has been interesting to see that even though this is a small space, the same frogs can be found in specific holes. These small territories also help frogs escape things that are slightly out of my control such as moisture and heat. I have mentioned in other posts that the terrarium in the height of summer can reach temps well into the 80s, but due to planning, the frogs have those areas of escape as they can escape deep into the cool substrate.
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Old 09-26-2019, 10:34 PM
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Default Re: 180 Gallon Terrarium

Wow. Gorgeous tank. I am super jealous.
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Old 09-27-2019, 02:11 AM
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Well planned and executed!
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Old 09-27-2019, 08:20 AM
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The tanks are GORGEOUS and they work well with the house, something that doesn't always happen. You really have a eye for design!

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Old 09-28-2019, 11:29 PM
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PLANT HIGHLIGHTS

Bromeliads




It’s no surprise that when looking at the terrarium, the overall plant dominance is in the amount of bromeliads. I knew that the depth of the system allowed these incredible plants the opportunity to expand and grow to most of their potential. Here is a collection of some of the interesting patterns with my Neoregilia, Aechmea, and Alcantarea. One of the things that is most striking is that because these are mostly hybrids, patters and coloration are similar but at the same time incredibly diverse.

Ferns/Moss





The ferns in my collection mostly come from these that are pictured. As I am not well versed in fern morphology, I have no idea what the species are, but I believe that I have a combination of rock, button, rabbits foot, bolbitis, davalia, and selaginella. The ones pictured are the most prolific and sized. The large frond on the top was at least 20” before being cut back. If anybody has an idea what some of these might be please let me know! I have used numbers to help out! The moss that I have was planted in two main timeframes. The first grouping was planted when I had the system running as a paludarium. It was planted with java moss and tropical mood moss(if that can really be an identifying name), and a collected species growing freely in a tropical greenhouse with orchids. The second main installment of moss was added in the form of Dusk Moss Blend, that I believe is dominated by sphagnum. Some of the ferns also immerged from that mix as well.

Orchids

While I don’t have any of my orchids pictured here, I will say that while they are a cool addition to this system, I am in the planning stages of setting up an orchid dominate leucomelas terrarium. I think that I need to focus more on them as a primary group of plants than a secondary addition. Currently I have some bulbophyllum, cattleya, dendrobium, and pleurothallis.
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Old 10-05-2019, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Wyofrogs View Post
Here is the full tank shot in the perfect nook. I feel that since this thread should be focused more on the build aspect of the terrarium, I am going to start posting the way I decided to scape this layout, the plants used, and the internal mechanics in the next posts. For now, I think it is nice to see the layout as it lives currently. Keep checking back to see the future posts!

Just AMAZING work! Thanks for posting all of your progress. That room just looks stunnng!!
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Old 04-04-2020, 02:37 AM
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Wow it has been a while since I did an update on the terrarium. I thought it would be a good idea to show how the tank looks before a cleaning and maintenance, and after. As you can see from the picture, I had to remove a lot of ferns to get the balance of the system back. Hello there broms, where did you guys come from!? One thing that I am pretty excited about is most of my ferns are starting to get clusters of spores. I guess you can say excited and also dreading. I thought I had a lot of ferns before!

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Old 04-11-2020, 04:23 AM
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Default Re: 180 Gallon Terrarium

WOW!!!!

An amazing build. It's been a while since the last time I entered Dendroboard. and you have inspired me!

Time to build a tank during lockdown.
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Old 04-14-2020, 03:19 PM
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[QUOTE=Wyofrogs;3073920]PLANT HIGHLIGHTS

Bromeliads




It’s no surprise that when looking at the terrarium, the overall plant dominance is in the amount of bromeliads. I knew that the depth of the system allowed these incredible plants the opportunity to expand and grow to most of their potential. Here is a collection of some of the interesting patterns with my Neoregilia, Aechmea, and Alcantarea. One of the things that is most striking is that because these are mostly hybrids, patters and coloration are similar but at the same time incredibly diverse.



Wow those are incredible! The colors, super jealous. Great job
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Old 04-18-2020, 05:37 AM
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Default Re: 180 Gallon Terrarium

Just Amazing!

I'de say you totally captured the Amazon basin feel you were going for.
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Old 05-28-2020, 02:36 AM
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Default Re: 180 Gallon Terrarium

I know it's been a while, and I hope to do a formal update soon. But I walked into the main room with the tanks this evening and the rain light made the room look incredible. I love the contrast between the blue heavy light of the reef against the warm green of the terrarium and how they both are complimented by their walls. It nice to sit on the couch and look at the two of them. On a different note, the reef is approaching its 1st year birthday. Time to really start adding corals to it!
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Old 05-28-2020, 04:59 AM
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Having a coral tank is a dream. Lucky to have that gorgeous combo!
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