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Old 07-22-2019, 06:51 AM
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Default Cliffside build

I think rocks are a hardscape feature that are massively underrepresented in our hobby terrariums. After looking at some photos of wild frog habitat, i think that more than a few species occur naturally along mountainous regions and are found among the lithophytic plants growing on cloud forest cliff sides. I found some photos of excidobates mysteriosus habitat (below) that were pretty inspiring. I want to build a terrarium with at least one rocky side. This will be my build thread. Here's to hoping it turns out half as good as I'd like it to! If anybody has some cool rock features in their terrariums feel free to post below for inspiration
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:06 PM
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Good luck. But my curiosity is how to find the right type of rock for the extreme humid environment we create?
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:43 PM
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Default Re: Cliffside build

I don't have a rocky build, although I thought about incorporating rocks into a build of mine that was meant to emulate the spire-like skellig islands.

The advice I got in that thread is what I'd like to echo: is there any particular reason you want to use real rocks? (if that is what you're saying you want to use?) They can be somewhat dangerous, besides making a viv quite heavy.

You can achieve a very similar effect with sliced up insulation foam and Drylok, or using a flexible mold to create a likeness of a real rock and then using a certain type of expanding foam to fill into that mold. (Then using whichever texturing agents you want.)

I suppose it depends at least partially on what size the viv is and where the rocks are located in the tank. If they're hanging over frogs, real rocks could be dangerous, even if you're pretty sure they're not going to fall. If they're resting very comfortably against the side, it's probably not a big deal.

Either way, you may want to look up some of the rock-making techniques of rail road model-makers. Some of the hardscapes they make are indistinguishable from real rock even with a close look.
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Old 07-22-2019, 10:00 PM
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To gtylers question about rocks in humidity, humidity does not affect rocks... Rocks are kept submerged in aquariums which are a lot more "humid" than our terrariums. I apologize if i misunderstood your question. And to the second post talking about fake rocks versus real rocks, i agree. I'm not going to be using real rocks, they're far too heavy and I don't want to have to move a 500lb terrarium every time I move lol. I've already started making foam/drylok rocks. I agree, they're much lighter and easier to deal with.I'm building the actual glass tank itself too, and I'm waiting for a few supplies to be delivered before I can move on and finish the background.
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Old 07-22-2019, 10:44 PM
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My mistake about that.

Your rocks are looking good!
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Old 07-22-2019, 11:24 PM
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My mistake about that.

Your rocks are looking good!
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Old 07-22-2019, 11:27 PM
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Except for the weight, real rock is better in every way than the other options. Most rock is completely inert. It looks natural and when it’s time to break down the vivarium, you don’t have a bunch of foam that will take forever to break down in a landfill. Not to mention all the foam scraps before completion and all the chemicals we assume to be safe in the vivarium. Most people don’t move their vivarium frequently so I don’t know why real rock isn’t used more often.
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Old 07-23-2019, 04:28 AM
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@captain awesome, while I agree that in theory going the natural route is best, I quickly found it to be impractical in actual application. Stacking rock from top to bottom in a large 70 gallon terrarium is pretty infeasible and would weigh a ton; not to mention the chance of the rock tearing from the glass over time and crushing unsuspecting frogs or even shattering the terrarium itself. The only actual rock I can think of that might work is porous igneous rock, but then you run the risk of injuring frogs with the abrasive nature of those rocks and/or catching limbs In the holes of those rocks.
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Old 07-23-2019, 04:39 AM
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Default Re: Cliffside build

Also, a heavy terrarium doesn't need to be moved a lot to become a serious problem. If it is needed to move only once, it may spell the end of that setup. Rocks can be built into the hardscape in a way that a teardown is required to extract them. And people with a limited lifting ability, from one cause or another, may not be able to avoid that.

EDIT: Although I loosely understand that either polystyrene or styrene may leach into drinking water, I don't think that is an issue if water has a one-way route through the viv, either draining through a pipe or being siphoned out. I would be open to hearing from someone with a less "loose" understanding than I have on this subject.

(It was suggested to me a while ago that melting foam with heated metal tools might cause a chemical problem, but that is probably not what Llama is doing.)

And although I want to avoid getting into an environmental argument, you have to consider the tradeoff. The alternative to buying a foam product that lasts perhaps a decade or longer in a vivarium, is doing something else that in some way interferes with nature. If Llama goes and grabs a rock out of nature, that may interfere with nature in a way that is impossible to predict.

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Old 07-23-2019, 02:10 PM
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Most vivarium are not massive builds. Most are probably 20 or 30 gallons? Around 10% of which is hardscape. That’s only 50lbs of granite. Less if you use a lighter stone or less background.
Yes a 200 gallon setup would be too heavy with all that rock but a 200 gallon isn’t movable with substrate in it either.

And it’s hard to believe that moving a rock has similar impact to generating and disposing of foam.
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Old 07-23-2019, 04:36 PM
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@captain awesome, you made a few generalizations in that post. My terrarium is not 20 or 30 gallons, it's 70. You say a hardscape is only 10% of the average terrarium. That would be a pretty bare and plain terrarium in my opinion, and is certainly not the case with mine. If you feel that using actual rock is far superior in terraria then by all means make one, I'm not saying one should never use real rock. But I encourage you to go out and stack large rocks to make two 24"x18" walls; they'll be quite heavy. I felt I could not achieve my desired design with real rocks so I will be using my foam rocks which, so far I'm quite happy with. I'll post update images tomorrow. Cheers mate, we can just agree to disagree.
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Old 07-23-2019, 06:59 PM
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Wasn’t trying to argue. Also wasn’t saying it’s the best for everyone. It sounded like people wanted to use real rock but didn’t think that was possible. Was just saying there are non traditional ways to get great vivs
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Old 07-23-2019, 09:26 PM
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Default Re: Cliffside build

I do personally prefer real rocks when I can get them. I have never been outstanding at making fake rocks or anything that relies on drylok, really. I wish the states --- or my part of the states --- had a distributor for ohko stone and seiryu stone. I would make such use of them! I especially am interested in the potential of ohko stone; I became enamored with it after watching a Japanese gentleman make several builds that involved use of it and other stones.

But I don't want to distract from Llama's thread with a discussion about rocks (which I started).

My mistake about the double-post earlier. Something on my phone freaked out and it didn't seem like the first post had been sent.
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Old 07-25-2019, 06:26 PM
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No worries to either of you 🙂 little logistical arguments are what make this site interesting.
Kinstrome those rocks are really cool, if you Google search "feather rock terrarium" there is an absolutely insane terrarium that pops up in the images, it overgrows the rocks so you can't see them, but it is a beautiful tank. I wish that kind of stuff was cheaper and more readily available.
Here's my update! I've finalized how I want my hardscape to be placed and have finished the fake rocks for the most part. They might get one more coat of either a lighter or darker paint but that's it. Next step is to carve out the foam, silicon in more roots and add a layer of hygrolon. (Also need to add the sliding doors still). Here are some images.
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Old 07-26-2019, 04:44 AM
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I'm pretty happy with how this is turning out. My lights are coming in tomorrow and after that it'll be time to set up the misting and add the few finishing touches. I'm not going to be able to ship most of the plants I want for another month or so because it's so hot out here in the Arizona summer, but that'll give my mosses and bugs a long time to establish themselves before I start adding tons of plants and think about getting frogs.
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Old 07-26-2019, 03:34 PM
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Default Re: Cliffside build

As a fellow human who also obsesses about rocks, I really like that build! I can't wait to watch this take form. Very nice work!
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Old 07-26-2019, 08:37 PM
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This is some good work. Love the incorporation of the driftwood into the background. This is one of the most aesthetically pleasing tanks I've ever seen.
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Old 07-26-2019, 09:51 PM
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Default Re: Cliffside build

I always like it when I can see things in the driftwood. I see a pair of wings on the left side of your setup.
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Old 07-26-2019, 11:43 PM
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Default Re: Cliffside build

I made this tank, its made with slate

Not going to lie its really heavy, heavier than any other set up I have and I have 36x36 vivs.

I would always suggest if you have rocks you design a way for them to be removed. I can remove the huts but its still a solid 2 man job for an 18x18x24 each time it must be moved.

https://www.dendroboard.com/forum/pa...-exoterra.html
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Old 07-27-2019, 03:56 AM
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Thank you for the kind words 🙂 once I start a build I get very verryyy impatient to see it all the way through. I'm practically chomping at the bit to plant it, but patience is a virtue-especially when all the orchids I want would quickly wither away in the heat by the time I got them. I will update whenever I buy some plants. Here's my final update for now, with new lights and some leaf litter.
20190726_194951_1564195833075.jpg
And a closeup of my big, bad, spiky 'Aechemea Vaquero'. hoping it colors up nicely and shoots lots of roots down the side of the "cliff"
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Old 07-27-2019, 07:10 PM
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Default Re: Cliffside build

It's really looking good. I like the rock idea.
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Old 07-30-2019, 04:33 AM
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So this terrarium is eventually going to house a pair of redhead histrionica. The big bromeliad I have planted has some pretty good spikes along the edges and I've seen other threads talking about spikey bromeliads. It seems that when it comes to the small, arboreal ranitomeya and pumilio species the general agreement is that they'll hurt you, but probably not the frog. For terribilis and other big clumsy frogs it's a no go. What about the large obligates such as histrionica and lehmanni? I imagine they're probably far more graceful than a terribilis but they are still pretty hefty frogs. Has anyone kept large obligates with spiky bromeliads? I like the bromeliad and it has big deep axils for tadpoles, but obviously if it poses a serious threat I'll have to get rid of it. Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 07-30-2019, 05:11 AM
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I can see so much progress, I am excited to see the result.
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Old 07-30-2019, 08:47 PM
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In case it helps anyone answer my question, here is a close up of the spines, they are pretty big. They're so big I feel that it would be pretty easy for a frog to maneuver around them or even walk on top of them safely. I could be totally wrong but I would think the more subtle, sharp edges on many hobby aechmeas and even neoregelias would pose a greater threat of abrasion (and infection) to our frogs than the risk of punctures that these might pose. I'd love to hear some people's thoughts, anybody agree or disagree?

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Old 07-30-2019, 08:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Llama View Post
Has anyone kept large obligates with spiky bromeliads? I like the bromeliad and it has big deep axils for tadpoles, but obviously if it poses a serious threat I'll have to get rid of it. Any advice would be appreciated.
I honestly don't know for sure, but if it were me (and my $$) I would play it safe and not use it. There's plenty of non-jagged edged broms out there that get big.
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Old 07-31-2019, 02:58 AM
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Default Re: Cliffside build

I have found the artistry and innovation of faux rockscape - incredible but I have to say there is something inherent about real rock. Is it a surfactant detail of tactile intimacy? Our guys evolving through millions of wet, dry, cool, warm contact, on, under, beside, rock.

Lizards seem to dislike the scrabble scrabble acoustics of faux and stop using them after only a few experiences climbing on them. I am guessing that is what it is, a light run or tap of ones finger will reveal inordinate sound dynamic perhaps instinctively adverse to the foray of a prey animal.

Im too new here and inexperienced with faux rock to say much more, but I do love rock, like working with it and like locality representation of rock types.

I have boxes of rock with different features, that I need and use and their weight, structure, flush flatness of base e.g. have specificity to me for various taxa and viv design mostly to enable activity, repose and relationship to water, light, temp resources. I have just as much cork bark.
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:16 AM
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Little update, I got some plants from a few gracious local froggers and it was cool enough to get an order in too. I found an aechmea identical to my 'vaquero' minus the half inch spines so im going to play it safe and give the 'vaquero' to my little Imitator group who I would not worry about in the least on a spiky brom. Ill be using a J.C. Superstar Aechmea instead with my big histos. But here's a little update photo. It has a couple marcgravia species and the rest are either ferns, moss or orchids. It needs a few more big leafed plants, maybe a philo and maybe a couple more orchids but it's coming along. I'm also putting a uva/uvb bulb directly over the large aechmea to serve as a high basking spot if wanted. (And to burn the heck out of the plant to make it color up more).
Screenshot_20190731-135440_1564621974758.jpg
And here's my male Rio Branco just because he was out today. Their terrarium sits right above this one.
20190731_145607_1564622048323.jpg
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Old 08-07-2019, 11:04 PM
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Update time! Whole bunch of plants added. Waiting on just 3 more and then it'll be time to wait for it all to grow in. I threw in a bunch of orchids and a few tillandsias. I have no misters directed on the rock wall and they don't wick water so I figured it would be perfect for a few more tolerant species of airplant.
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Old 08-07-2019, 11:16 PM
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And this is one of the inhabitants!
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Old 08-10-2019, 06:41 PM
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Default Re: Cliffside build

Looks awesome, congrats on the redheads and, canít wait to see it grown in!


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Old 09-03-2019, 11:20 PM
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A few new photos. the orchids are evidently settling in well.
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:27 AM
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More blooms and more frogs pics!
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:27 AM
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What are those flowering plants you have in there?
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Old 09-28-2019, 11:10 PM
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To the member who asked, they're all various species of orchids. Most of them are pleurothallis, restrepias and stelis.

Here's some update photos. Moss and plants have really taken off on the hygrolon. Understory plants need to grow a little bit and then I'll be happy with it. Also added 5 more bromeliads.
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