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Old 07-02-2019, 01:44 AM
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Default T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

What? Another dragon-themed terrarium? Didn't you just do one?

Yes.

Yes I did.


^I snagged this piece of ghostwood off of Glass Box Tropicals as soon as I saw it. Somewhat expensive (it's ghostwood, after all), but absolutely worth it.

I didn't know exactly how I would use it until it arrived earlier this afternoon. I knew I saw an animal head of some sort --- a deer, or a horse, or something --- but when in doubt, just about every ambiguously-detailed "head" can be a dragon head. Because, who knows what a dragon's head looks like?

I thought about using a marble to make an eye, but the slot I wanted to put it in was just a little bit too narrow. So:


^I used an old woodworking trick and boiled the wood until it became pliable. (And I also accidentally sterilized it, which is nice and probably unnecessary.)

This was risky; I didn't know how manzanita would react to boiling temperatures, and the piece of driftwood in question was already pretty rickety. It survived, though.

The process also turned the water in the pocket amber-colored and left a faint smell of lumber. I don't think I'll be boiling sausages in it again, at least not for a while.

...So, I took the driftwood out of the pot and went to work. I didn't think to photograph the marble before I put it in, because I've had it for years and it never seemed like a new element to me.




^I was very pleased with how it turned out. It looks very much like an eye, I think, with the flesh pockets to the sides and the lower eyelid encroaching up on it. Frankly, I thought I would either 1) push the marble too far and lose it in the dark pocket to its right, or 2) outright break the wood. Now, quite the contrary, it's lodged in there so securely that nothing will accidentally knock it loose.

Now, there are a few things to note:
  • This is intended as another uninhabited terrarium. I'd like to keep its production animal-safe, just in case. But if I pass the point of no return, I will not risk any animals' lives by putting them in there.
  • I have not decided on an enclosure for this driftwood, or much of anything else, either. It is about 24" by 8" or so, so it isn't a small piece of wood. I would like to have more than a head to this dragon, so I'd like to find a large tank at a reptile show or build one myself.

    I have decided, however, that I will have no water feature in this terrarium. At least, unless it becomes functionally import or very likely to not run into problems.
...I guess that's about it, as far as important things. I'll post updates as they come to me. I am known for long posts and myriad posts.

This is much a log of the steps of this project for me, but I always appreciate input! Many thanks again to jgragg for his immense support in my previous build thread, as well as to anyone who offered advice and intelligence there or in the many other questions I've asked.

EDIT: An important thing I forgot to mention: The "head" isn't complete. At least, probably not. It seems to me it could use a jaw, unless people are able to see the thin horizontal recess running along the right side of the piece as a closed mouth. If that is the case, it is basically a complete head, with horns, an eye, a full mouth ... and all the other stuff.
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Old 07-02-2019, 01:43 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

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Originally Posted by Kinstrome View Post
EDIT: An important thing I forgot to mention: The "head" isn't complete. At least, probably not. It seems to me it could use a jaw, unless people are able to see the thin horizontal recess running along the right side of the piece as a closed mouth. If that is the case, it is basically a complete head, with horns, an eye, a full mouth ... and all the other stuff.
That's the way I saw it. Looks good!

Mark
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Old 07-02-2019, 11:38 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Thanks! I'll probably stick with it like that.

I bought a tank today that is just about the right size to have this driftwood piece somewhere in it.



I did not personally check the dimensions --- I ought to have --- but the seller's measurement was 24" * 24" * 18" (width * height * depth)

The top was somewhat altered:



^He used his own wire mesh to seal the top, and he did a pretty good job of it. 75% of the screen was covered in aluminum foil originally, but I removed most of it. Evidently that's what a crested gecko (the tank's former inhabitant) needs to hold in humidity.

I know about folk here partially replacing the wire mesh on top of their vivs with glass, but that's for frogs' humidity / air flow needs, and plants are secondary. So next up for me is to decide what to do about the top.

A couple of options are:
  • Get some rectangle of glass that does not fully cover the top, and just let the uncovered space provide air flow. In this way, I can move it back and forth if I want to change where the air goes out.
  • Get a rectangle of glass that fully covers the tank, then drill holes for ventilation. This requires a lot more technique, because I'd have to drill holes without damaging the glass multiple times perhaps, and then I'd have to do put in the wire and whatever holds it in place, which I don't know how to do. Plus side, though: I would be able to house an animal in it in the future.

A side note: thinking about not using a bulkhead and drainage container, but rather a concealed pipe from which I can pump the water out.

If I keep making terrariums, I should probably just buy a drill press...

Last edited by Kinstrome; 07-02-2019 at 11:39 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 07-03-2019, 03:09 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Looks pretty sick! Looking forward to seeing where this goes.
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Old 07-05-2019, 12:08 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Beautiful piece of wood! I'm interested to see what you do with it
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Old 07-05-2019, 12:48 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Thanks! I always appreciate compliments. It's hard to know who's really looking, even with the page visit counter.

I'm considering using pink foam and hot-wire tools to carve castle ruins.

Holy shit, you're basically just re-making the previous terrarium.

Yes. Yes I am.

And it gets worse: I did this ANOTHER time over a year ago!

This is T3:





Castle walls, check. Waterfall-spewing dragon, check. Water feature that didn't work for five whole minutes, CHECK.

(But this terrarium won't have a water feature.)

...Anyway! I'm thinking about carving pink foam, using a polymer clay tool to make brick patterns, slicing holes into it using hot metal, and somehow making the pink foam board thinner, because it's too thick to make castle walls small enough to fit into the tank. (That last concern is my biggest.) Also, I don't know if acrylic paints can survive light mists a couple times per day, or if I need to use some kind of thin sealant to protect them.

I'm not dead-set on a castle, anyway. It would just be a neat construct for plants to grow around.

Other notes:
  • I'm considering Turface for the substrate because of its supposed cheapness, but I can't find a retailer ANYWHERE around here that stocks it. Tractor Supply Co., nope. Walmart, nope. And I'm sure not going to pay to ship 50 lbs. of it (or really, any quantity).
    ---
  • I've not used foam to create a hardscape, as some folks do for aquariums, vivariums, and paludariums sometimes, but I have the equipment to do so, and more or less have the know-how.
    ---
  • I'm not sure how the dragon / animal's head emerges into this terrarium. It can't have a big body visible like the dragon in T9, the previous terrarium, due to space limitations. It's hard to see just from photographs, but the head has to lean at such an angle for the "face" to be visible, that it takes up a lot of space. It also would have an unseen neck at the angle it needs to be at, hidden by the "jaw". That part might be useful, if I want to hide its body in some sort of construct. But I am having trouble imagining what sort of setting would make sense for a dragon / woodland spirit. Maybe an artificial tree that takes up the back-left corner of the tank?
    ---
  • If this is a woodland spirit, I'm considering including some pointed quartz crystals I have in order to mystic-ize the setting it lives in. Quartz crystals are supposed to be safe when exposed to water, better than selenite crystals. If I do this, though, Turface just won't look right.
    ---
  • Artificial lianas and vines are another option for decoration.
    ---
  • Whether or not I decide on using a castle, I want to have some structure inside that takes advantage of various plants' tendency to grow and twist around things. Polymer clay is great for accomplishing this, but I don't yet know what, besides an old castle, looks natural in a forest or forest-like setting.
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Old 07-10-2019, 03:42 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

I'm going to put this thread to the side for a little while. I haven't been able to conceive an attractive setup that would involve the piece of driftwood that I began this thread talking about. At least, I haven't been able to get a good idea that involves putting that driftwood in the 24" * 24" * 18" Exo Terra I have.

I found something better to use that tank for, so I'll make a thread about that soon. I'll be back someday to handle this driftwood piece.
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Old 08-10-2019, 06:36 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

I'm probably going to try to do this again, because the "badass stump reproduction" project isn't turning out like I'd hoped for it to turn out.

I'm thinking about having the face of this driftwood sort of peeking through a forest cover. (Because it's sort of a "forest guardian.") I'd like to have a plant that grows to look like a tree on a small scale --- so, which kind of tree-like plants would you recommend? I don't know of a really good example of what I'm looking for, but a good example of what wouldn't work, on the other hand, would be any small or ground-cover plant, anything that grows more horizontally than vertically.
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Old 08-10-2019, 08:24 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

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I'm probably going to try to do this again, because the "badass stump reproduction" project isn't turning out like I'd hoped for it to turn out.



I'm thinking about having the face of this driftwood sort of peeking through a forest cover. (Because it's sort of a "forest guardian.") I'd like to have a plant that grows to look like a tree on a small scale --- so, which kind of tree-like plants would you recommend? I don't know of a really good example of what I'm looking for, but a good example of what wouldn't work, on the other hand, would be any small or ground-cover plant, anything that grows more horizontally than vertically.
How tall does the "tree like plant" need to get?

Biophytum sensitivum resemble a small Palm tree but only get to be 6" tall.
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:49 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

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How tall does the "tree like plant" need to get?

Biophytum sensitivum resemble a small Palm tree but only get to be 6" tall.
I have a Biophytum sensitivum and I like it, but it doesn't really provide the kind of forested look I'm going for. (Although it does look like a tree, indeed.)

I may get some small bonsai-able trees that can survive indoor light, and just trim them liberally to make a woods. I guess I should get some undergrowth, too, at that point, if it's to look like a forest.

I also kind of want to keep this viv "animal acceptable," even though I wrote earlier that it was going to be animal-free. So if anyone notices me doing something that breaches the line from safe to dangerous, for any kind of herp animal, feel free to let me know.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:19 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

I'm going to do a recap of some of the things that happened to this tank while I was planning to use it for the stump prop. Most of these photographs are in the other thread.


^This is a view of the top of the tank, with a hole in a glass top and a screen-window panel cut to size. The glass has a single hole for a 4-nozzle MistKing piece, but after seeing how flooded the chamber becomes so quickly, I may change it to a 2-nozzle MistKing piece instead.


^This is the underside of the eggcrate platform, designed smaller than the width / depth of the bottom of the tank so that the gaps between it and the glass walls can be filled with drainage media (in this case, simple turface).


^This is part of the crack that appears after I drilled the back of the tank for drainage. It has been smeared with Lexel, as much psychological insurance as a functional repair. Probably it will eventually spread to the edges and perhaps even crack open, but there will be very little water in the tank because of how low the bulkhead was placed, and besides, the tank will be sitting in a place where water leakage won't matter. (The tank is watertight at the time of this writing.)


^This is the "forest guardian head" sitting in the tank, not positioned as it will be when the tank is done, but just sitting in there biding its time.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:33 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

I decided to post this separately from the previous post in order to distinguish this one from a recap post to a post in which I'm looking for feedback.

This is what the tank currently looks like, with plants plundered from another terrarium (the "skellig spire" one I made a while ago):


^Neos 'Fireball' and 'Blueberry Tart', a mostly-unseen Pellionia repens, and a trailing vine from NEHERP whose name I used to know.

I am liking the way the vines trail over the face, although it may not survive in the position its in, because the roots don't reach the substrate. I have a peat brick below them, maybe that will work, I don't know. I ought to take a photo of it.

I'll be filling the spaces around it with "trees" in order to create a veiled appearance, with the eye peeking through. I want to reiterate that any suggestions are welcome, whether they're suggestion to do something or suggestions not to do something.
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Old 08-19-2019, 12:18 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Some updates, notes for myself:


^I've put in some plants considered for placement in this terrarium, to see how they fit. Dendrobium kingianum, on the left, will be part of the forest in front of the face. (It will be mixed with a Dendrobium auriculatum I believe.)

There is a peat brick --- an item I've had around for a while, whose properties I have not understood well enough to plant something in it up to and including now --- supporting the head from behind. I am hoping with a little support from sphagnum moss maybe the vines / neoregelias / other plants will root into it, because otherwise they'd have to go all the way to the ground.

(Anybody have experience with peat bricks? I'm not really aware of whether it's considered a terrestrial or epiphytic medium, or both or neither.)


^These orchids --- whose leaves are "purpling" for reasons I don't understand --- are candidates for placement elsewhere. The Trichosalpinx memor may be draped across the head, rooting in that back area. Pleurothallis geographica, I'm not as sure about. Originally I had been thinking it would make a forest-like tree.

I also want to plant some kind of small clingy epiphyte, likely a Microgramma, somewhere along the "horn". And perhaps a clingy Marcgravia going up the mouth / snout.

I stuck some Dusk moss mix all around the ghostwood head earlier today, but these photographs were taken prior to that.

I will probably build up the substrate with more ABG mix when I get it
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Old 08-19-2019, 01:39 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

I’m not familiar with keeping the specific orchid species you have mentioned however, in general ‘purpling’ orchid leaves typically mean they are receiving an ‘over exposure’ of light when compared to the general requirements.


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Old 08-19-2019, 03:27 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

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I’m not familiar with keeping the specific orchid species you have mentioned however, in general ‘purpling’ orchid leaves typically mean they are receiving an ‘over exposure’ of light when compared to the general requirements.
That makes perfect sense, considering I was keeping them only about 18" or so from a pink LED grow light

It's a shame. I like this purplish hue, and I would have positioned the plants a certain way if it stayed that way. But now that they're under a Spectral Designs panel --- fairly "normal" light --- I guess they'll either change back or at least grow normal, healthy green leaves.
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Old 08-19-2019, 04:12 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Just depends honestly.. over exposure to light might not prevent them from flowering. I had/have some Pleuro’s that started turning purple or were already purple and either had flowers or started producing flowers with purple leaves.. it really will just depend on the species I would imagine, and whether or not there is appropriate air flow and water to compensate for higher volumes of light. Probably technically wrong with that last statement but, purpling in orchid leaves is definitely a result of over exposure to light.


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Old 08-19-2019, 11:56 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Thanks for the info. Actually, I almost don't care about flowering plants at all, unless they flower so frequently that it's almost a regular state. I like my terraria to grow steadily, not oscillate between flowers and no flowers. I understand why more patient people can appreciate flowering plants, though.

I'm posting this update mostly because I am looking for some info or help regarding a decision that may turn out to be a blunder:


^So, a short history: I had planned to put in tree fern fiber panels in the background, suddenly decided that I wanted it to be visible from all sides, then even more suddenly realized that it wouldn't matter if it were visible from the back, because the driftwood only looks like a face from the front ... and so I promptly siliconed in the tree fern panels. T

The result was... less than aesthetically brilliant. (Trust me, this photograph at this angle is very generous.) My thought was I could better create the "forest" around the guardian head with epiphytes growing out of the panels, ideally eventually covering the bottom panel at least. That way the discontinuity between the two horizontal panels could be addressed.

Also, as you may be able to tell, the mist doesn't exactly soak into the tree fern fiber panels. That's probably the biggest issue right now. I could switch back to a quad-nozzle for more water coverage, but I don't know if that will do it.
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Old 08-20-2019, 02:50 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

See what I mean about tree fern panels not exactly being the most aesthetically pleasing background material?

In all honesty it looks good so far. Just might need some fine tuning.

As you seemingly have learned tree fern panels are not a ‘wicking’ material such as something like hygrolon would be. In fact I think the great stuff, covered in silicone with peat/choir/bark method is more capable of wicking than tree fern panels.

The panels themselves are not going to distribute water to create an overall, equally moist surface the way sphagnum or hygrolon would. Obviously those two examples are extreme examples however; I’m sure you get the point.

If you want a portion of the panels to be wet and remain wet those areas will need to be directly and continuously hit by your misters. The panels also dry really fast if there is air movement. Especially if there is dry air coming into the enclosure.

By the look of it, you have your misters pointed straight at the background, maybe try playing around with their orientation a bit to see if you can get some more coverage.

Also, because tree fern doesn’t wick like most people would think, even having the panels go into your drainage layer and touching the bottom of the enclosure (bottoms constantly soaking in water) will not have the effect most would expect. It does pull up a bit of water however, in my experience it is barely visible above the substrate layers. Which at that point that moisture could be coming from the substrate itself. This also probably wouldn’t apply to the orientation of your panels since you have the fibers set up in a horizontal orientation.

Anyway, don’t get discouraged. Looks good so far. I think it just needs some fine tuning and maybe those extra misting heads if you are looking for your background to be fully covered by your mist.. also another thing to keep in mind. If you are looking for the panels to start sprouting moss and ferns in its own, they will need ample light and will need to be wet in those areas all of the time.


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Old 08-20-2019, 03:57 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

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See what I mean about tree fern panels not exactly being the most aesthetically pleasing background material?
lol I had forgotten whom I had said that to, but the irony was not lost on me as I was struggling to make an attractive background with an item I had applauded for its beauty and utility.

I had 24" * 12" panels, and when there's a little distortion in such a big piece of material, it creates a big problem in getting everything flush. Also, the panels had to be sawn to fit the tank, but because stuff was already in it, the pieces barely fit; they had to be sized short and still were pretty roughly jammed in.

Had I been able to buy 10" * 10" or 12" * 12" panels, it may have turned out better. (And it would have turned out better for sure if I had done this before actually setting up the rest of the build.

Quote:
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In all honesty it looks good so far. Just might need some fine tuning.

As you seemingly have learned tree fern panels are not a ‘wicking’ material such as something like hygrolon would be. In fact I think the great stuff, covered in silicone with peat/choir/bark method is more capable of wicking than tree fern panels.

The panels themselves are not going to distribute water to create an overall, equally moist surface the way sphagnum or hygrolon would. Obviously those two examples are extreme examples however; I’m sure you get the point.
I certainly learned that it wasn't a wicking surface within about 30 minutes of the panels' first exposure to mist water, although I don't remember clearly whether or not I had specific belief one way or the other of its wicking properties.

But yes, these are valuable examples in communicating the point. I know, of course, the fantastic water distribution power of hygrolon / sphagnum moss, and my first impression looking back at the tree fern fiber panels post-first-misting was something like, "well, I probably should have used LFS or hygrolon, for what I paid."

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Originally Posted by Eruantien View Post
If you want a portion of the panels to be wet and remain wet those areas will need to be directly and continuously hit by your misters. The panels also dry really fast if there is air movement. Especially if there is dry air coming into the enclosure.

By the look of it, you have your misters pointed straight at the background, maybe try playing around with their orientation a bit to see if you can get some more coverage.
I did this shortly after I posted the last update. I changed to a quad-nozzle and experimented by having them all spray back. It looked a good bit better, but I doubt this background will ever be a wall-o'-green like my other terrarium's background is becoming.

There is no active air movement, and there is probably even less passive air movement now than before, because part of the mesh surface of the ventilation panel is covered by the thickness of the tree fern fiber panel on top.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eruantien View Post
Also, because tree fern doesn’t wick like most people would think, even having the panels go into your drainage layer and touching the bottom of the enclosure (bottoms constantly soaking in water) will not have the effect most would expect. It does pull up a bit of water however, in my experience it is barely visible above the substrate layers. Which at that point that moisture could be coming from the substrate itself. This also probably wouldn’t apply to the orientation of your panels since you have the fibers set up in a horizontal orientation.

Anyway, don’t get discouraged. Looks good so far. I think it just needs some fine tuning and maybe those extra misting heads if you are looking for your background to be fully covered by your mist.. also another thing to keep in mind. If you are looking for the panels to start sprouting moss and ferns in its own, they will need ample light and will need to be wet in those areas all of the time.
I knew about the ample lighting and wet all the time, fortunately. I will be determining in the next few days where water will consistently hit, so I can know where to plant things.

Yeah, my panels are well above drainage, even if that would have amounted to anything. Also, a note: I had wanted to use a tree fern fiber panel I had that had vertically-oriented fibers (even placed horizontally like the two in the tank), but it was just too crumbly and I suspect it would have broken in half by the time I jammed it into the back wall. I know that that wouldn't have changed much, but indeed I believe it would have looked better.
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Old 08-20-2019, 04:49 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

I was pretty lucky when I decided to grab my lot of panels. I was looking into getting some from an orchid specialist however, as you had mentioned, they didn’t have squares, only odd shaped rectangles or ‘totems’ as they are called.

A few months later someone had supposedly realized they had an abundance of various squares stored away.. then, glass box and josh’s mysteriously ended up with a crap load of squares.. all of my panels started as 12x12’s. My panels (once received) were chosen based off of density, siliconed to the back and sides, jammed in as well. I have full coverage.. bottom to top, all panels vertically oriented... some sawing needed to take place (huge mess, but resulted in useable fibers for substrate). Also, because I had gotten so many at once, I had the luxury of choosing the more dense pieces vs the more crumbly ones (I did also choose some crumbly ones assuming plants would root more easily into them as they spread). Loose or crumbly panels suck for initial mounting, or rather, when using toothpicks as braces to mount to the background. Even the crumbly pieces hold up over time though. Keep in mind the panels are actually sawn off of a root structure that occurs naturally. The pieces I had in my 29 gallon were in there for a couple years without breaking down and still have no visual signs of deterioration when comparing the initial build pics to some of the pics I took closer to the end.

The deterioration factor as well as how well epiphytes grow into the panels is why I prefer it.. plus You really don’t need to worry about whether or not your material is frog safe or not.. just use safe adhesive and you are golden.

The only downside to using tree fern is that it needs to be harvested.. while it is arguably renewable over time, it takes a long time for the actual plant to produce root structures dense enough to provide the panels. This is why it is so hard to come by.

I’m still working on my most recent tank but am entertaining the idea of a tree fern drip wall for my next enclosure.

Sorry for ranting by the way.. hard to stop typing sometimes.


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Old 08-20-2019, 07:25 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Drip walls are one of those things I haven't explored, mostly because I don't really understand them or what function they serve. My history with water features suggests that that kind of thing might not turn out as well as it looks on paper.

I'm not certain I understand what you are saying about the crumbly pieces of tree fern fiber versus the dense pieces. Are you saying the crumbly pieces are easier for plants to root into, but more difficult to actually fix the plant to?

I've been storing the tree fern fiber that has crumbled from the panels on clean surfaces, but I haven't been gathering the bits that fall from being sawn on my bandsaw. I used to saw soapstone (which is talc) on the same bandsaw, and much of the dust was still on the bandsaw table when I started sawing. I don't know whether or not talc is safe for plants --- I don't know enough about how different minerals interact with roots to have any idea by myself. (I also have sawdust on the bandsaw table, and I had heard sawdust is not good as substrate for plants until it composts. I'm not certain about the details or the validity of that information.)

Never feel afraid to write a lot in my threads! I can always use more information, and if not me, someone else now or in the future will find some use in these discussions.
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Old 08-21-2019, 09:53 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Does anyone have other tree- or forest-like plant options? The Dendrobium choices don't seem like they're going to manifest the kind of woods I'm looking for.

I'm kind of going for the wooded areas present around much of the forested US, like in Louisiana or Washington state or, well, in quite a lot of places. I'll have moss as undergrowth and probably a couple of Davallia ferns as bushes.

There are absolutely no wrong suggestions, even if your idea of a tree-like plant is Spanish moss.

EDIT: Another update: I may be buying a custom terrarium / aquarium background decal, either uploading a free photo of a panoramic forest or taking a photo myself of the nearby woods and using that.

...Yeah. Don't need any advice on that count, just felt like updating y'all.

Last edited by Kinstrome; 08-21-2019 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 08-23-2019, 03:13 AM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Do you want something coniferous? Norfolk Island Pine maybe? I did a google search and found some images of people growing it in terrariums. Might get big though.
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Old 08-23-2019, 08:18 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Thank you for the suggestion! That is probably a better option aesthetically than what I ended up substituting out Dendrobium kingianum for: Ficus Benjamina branches. My reasons were 1) they will grow quickly enough that I won't have to wait 10 years for a nice-looking forest, and 2) they are free, because I had a Ficus benjamina tree that I needed to trim anyway. It is a tree, however, that would need to be frequently cut to size.

Your suggested Norfolk Island Pine is nearer aesthetically to the forest I am going for. I would be somewhat worried, though, that without aerial roots, it might not create a complex network that sort of hides the driftwood head. (Although I may be able to achieve that with undergrowth-like bushy plants.) If it can stand not-quite-as-powerful-as-the-sun Spectral Design lights, I think it would create a nice canopy, and produce a dappled-light effect perhaps.

I'll post some update photos while I'm at it:


^I took out the Dendrobium kingianum stalks and caked the ground in NZ tree fern fiber. It looks like pine straw, and it would also help the kind of plants I wanted to put in the substrate.


^A bunch of Ficus benjamina branches, probably too many, but we'll see.


^Put down some "grass" in the form of various gathered mosses.

Some of these decisions are questionable, and I understand, and I welcome criticism. Note that I am not completely going for the typical terrarium look. It is also very possible I will replace the Ficus benjamina branches before they root.

A sidenote: I am definitely going with the background decal plan now, and it is possible I will even rip up the tree fern fiber plaques. The plaques seem to be causing water to drip on Pyrrosia christii and turning its leaves brown.
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Old 08-31-2019, 02:53 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

I removed the tree fern fiber panels and put a decal around the tank. I may have alluded to it:






^It was difficult to apply alone. The maker of the decals / backgrounds makes them as paper, something I didn't realize until the package arrived. So I had to tape it on in a few places, a process that didn't work perfectly, as you may intuit from the rippling in the back part.

I may run a razor down the decal along the left-back corner and pull the back part of the decal taut, so that the break in the picture is along the seam of that corner and is therefore less unpleasant to the eye.

I know decals are not typically used by hobbyists decorating their vivs, but there was no type of hardscape I could conceive that would look natural with the forest I'm trying to make. And because it was a custom job, I was able to pick an image I thought fitting.

Finallly:


^I planted some redwood / cypress saplings I had ordered. They are somewhat difficult to see, because they fit fairly well with the background!

I think the likelihood of them surviving in the viv environment, with its humidity and Spectral Designs lighting, and limited rooting space besides, is not high. I will just have to see. Of course, they would not need to grow very large.

So, this is basically the end of the build. I may make minor changes, but I doubt that I will be doing anything phenomenal that makes a striking change in the appearance of the viv. Otherwise, I'll update with growth photos every few months.
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Old 09-01-2019, 03:41 PM
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Default Re: T10: Coming Terrarium based on Dragon Driftwood. (+ Journal)

Nice! I think the decal works better than the fern boards.
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