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Old 08-17-2019, 04:05 PM
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Default Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

So I don't think I understand the various layers of drainage that we discuss in regards to our animals enclosures.

On one hand we talk about the substrate and the multiple layers needed in order to ensure that there is a place for all the moisture to go and keep the humidity within our enclosures high.

And then I read about people drilling drainage holes in the bottom of their terrariums and it makes me wonder is this a thing that's necessary? Without a drainage hole in the bottom of my terrarium am I going to eventually run into problems? Or is this a flooding issue so that you can remove excess water in the event that your misting system goes berserk?

I'm about to buy my terrarium/s in a couple of weeks to start getting them ready to cycle. I have 2 different types to choose from, either the Zilla Front Open Terrarium 40B or the Tetra Deluxe ReptoHabitat Reptile Enclosure 36x18 40gal.

The Tetra comes with a drilled hole already, sliding glass doors like that in a pet store and screen top but I would have to find some sort of barrier in order to prohibit moisture loss.

The Zilla open front obviously opens from the front but.... I may or may not need to drill a hole in the bottom of the tank? And I don't need to worry about moisture loss as they come with the plastic covers for the top.

Thought please.
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Old 08-17-2019, 04:31 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

Most people (from what I've seen or read on here) put the drainage hole in the back or side of the tank not the bottom panel of glass.

The picture below is the drain bulkhead I put in my 29 gallon exo terra. The hole is in the side of the tank
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Old 08-17-2019, 04:40 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

Consistent misting within an enclosure without the presence of a drainage hole will cause a build up of water in your drainage layer.

Since you will most likely have a substrate that you wonít want sitting in standing water, you will eventually need to remove at least a portion of the water volume in your drainage layer.

Having a hole drilled in the bottom is not a necessity for this as you could also siphon the water out, however having a hole drilled makes it so that when the water level reaches the hole, it will drain on its own. Meaning less regular maintenance for you to have to do.

I personally drill my tanks and run a hose from the hole to a reservoir that I can easily remove and dump as needed.

So the short answer is no, drilling is not needed however is a convenience. Having the hole drilled will also prevent the water level from reaching your soil if your misting system decide to just spray itís entire amount of water into the tank at once. This would also assume your substrate layers are above the hole that is drilled.


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Old 08-18-2019, 12:09 AM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

Never build a dart frog vivarium without a drainage layer, you will regret it.
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Old 08-19-2019, 06:26 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

The advice here is good, but here's one more variable to consider. In my small vivarium (12x12x18 housing a pair of imitators) I do not have a drainage hole and have not had issues. I attribute this to a combination of the smaller size of the viv and a heating pad mounted to the outside of the tank bottom. The heat encourages evaporation, so water in the drainage layer pretty quickly mists back up into the vivarium. This arrangement balances temperatures and humidity pretty well most times of the year (I turn off the heater in the summer).

I don't think I'd try a larger vivarium without a drainage hole of some kind, though. I also have a 65 gallon tank with a false bottom and water feature, and I change water/access equipment through an arm-sized access area at the top that goes all the way to the false bottom.
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Old 08-19-2019, 08:13 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

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The advice here is good, but here's one more variable to consider. In my small vivarium (12x12x18 housing a pair of imitators) I do not have a drainage hole and have not had issues. I attribute this to a combination of the smaller size of the viv and a heating pad mounted to the outside of the tank bottom. The heat encourages evaporation, so water in the drainage layer pretty quickly mists back up into the vivarium. This arrangement balances temperatures and humidity pretty well most times of the year (I turn off the heater in the summer).

I don't think I'd try a larger vivarium without a drainage hole of some kind, though. I also have a 65 gallon tank with a false bottom and water feature, and I change water/access equipment through an arm-sized access area at the top that goes all the way to the false bottom.


..Heating pad? How cold is your house? I have a 12x12x12 orchid tank that I recently set up and I even have a drainage layer in that. It's so easy to do, it's silly not to. Always put in a drainage layer and save yourself headaches. You don't need a drain hole in the bottom of the tank; but you do need SOME way to drain water out. I personally prefer eggcrate false bottoms with a pvc drain pipe I can push my siphon tube down and drain that way. Easy, without worrying about holes in my tank.
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Old 08-20-2019, 05:07 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

If you plan on having an automatic misting system then having a way to drain or siphon the excess water is almost a must.

I mist all of my tanks by hand (twice a day) and never see excess water to the point of it needing to be drained. For that reason, I don't have a need for any holes in the drainage layer.
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Old 08-20-2019, 05:54 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

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If you plan on having an automatic misting system then having a way to drain or siphon the excess water is almost a must.
Almost a must if you 1) already have a ton of experience and are calibrated to how much water evaporates + is transpired by the types & amount of plants, in that room under that natural + manmade climate, AND you never go away for very long and you check your stuff all the time, OR 2) you use a small reservoir and a pump that can handle running dry, and you take the time to get calibrated on how long to run your cycles, and how often you need to refill your reservoir to keep your biota hydrated but not flooded.

Otherwise, it's just a simple MUST.

Seriously, if you're going to have auto-misting (and it's wonderful to have, trust me) just buy or do the drilled version. Forget the siphon. Cleaning up one stinky flooded viv will convince you. Or, skip that crap and go ahead and be convinced by us. A decent (but still inferior IMO) alternative is my option 2 - use a stout pump like a MistKing that can run dry, and use a reservoir whose capacity is less than the amount required to fill your false bottom and get the substrate wicking. And, treat the near future like a vo-tech course with an exam at the end - study, learn, retain, and use. Your call, man. Easiest, smartest thing is just do the drain.

Good luck!
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Old 08-21-2019, 05:49 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

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Almost a must if you 1) already have a ton of experience and are calibrated to how much water evaporates + is transpired by the types & amount of plants, in that room under that natural + manmade climate, AND you never go away for very long and you check your stuff all the time, OR 2) you use a small reservoir and a pump that can handle running dry, and you take the time to get calibrated on how long to run your cycles, and how often you need to refill your reservoir to keep your biota hydrated but not flooded.

Otherwise, it's just a simple MUST.
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Old 08-21-2019, 06:25 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

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Originally Posted by jgragg View Post
Almost a must if you 1) already have a ton of experience and are calibrated to how much water evaporates + is transpired by the types & amount of plants, in that room under that natural + manmade climate, AND you never go away for very long and you check your stuff all the time, OR 2) you use a small reservoir and a pump that can handle running dry, and you take the time to get calibrated on how long to run your cycles, and how often you need to refill your reservoir to keep your biota hydrated but not flooded.

Otherwise, it's just a simple MUST.

Seriously, if you're going to have auto-misting (and it's wonderful to have, trust me) just buy or do the drilled version. Forget the siphon. Cleaning up one stinky flooded viv will convince you. Or, skip that crap and go ahead and be convinced by us. A decent (but still inferior IMO) alternative is my option 2 - use a stout pump like a MistKing that can run dry, and use a reservoir whose capacity is less than the amount required to fill your false bottom and get the substrate wicking. And, treat the near future like a vo-tech course with an exam at the end - study, learn, retain, and use. Your call, man. Easiest, smartest thing is just do the drain.

Good luck!

I have an auto-misting system with 5 gal reservoir, and not one of my tanks has a drain-hole. once very 6 months I take shop vac and suck out any excess water in the false bottom. Its not all that hard and not all doom and gloom as you make it to be with out a drain hole.
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Old 08-22-2019, 12:16 AM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

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I have an auto-misting system with 5 gal reservoir, and not one of my tanks has a drain-hole. once very 6 months I take shop vac and suck out any excess water in the false bottom. Its not all that hard and not all doom and gloom as you make it to be with out a drain hole.
Hey, that's cool man. I'm glad for your run of good luck. (And note - I included siphon or drain in my quote - one nearly MUST have one or the other.) But keep enough tanks for enough years, without drains, and eventually, you're gonna get shit on by Lady Luck. Or, you'll just do something absent-minded like pull off a misting head for a lemon-juice soak, and forget to plug the line or whatever before the next few misting cycles. No luck involved. Everybody does something spacey like that eventually.

A drain is cheap insurance. Real cheap, like 5 minutes (setup + drill time) and 15 bucks (bit + bulkhead). Who can't use some cheap insurance?

Good luck!
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Old 08-22-2019, 01:23 AM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

I've been doing this for 15 years and have never once needed a drain hole in the bottom of my tank. I have kept literally dozens of tanks on automated misting systems. Due diligence and paying attention to what you're doing will stave off any major troubles. Plus, having a hole with a tube coming out of the bottom of your tank can be a nightmare when you are working with a rack system or some kind of stand/shelf where that's simply not feasible. A simple drain 'stand pipe' that goes down into the false bottom and you can access from inside the tank is more than sufficient for most hobbyists and has a proven track record. Plus, no extra glass drilling on tanks. I have drilled several holes in lids, but even I would get nervous when drilling a 300-400 dollar tank. It's an unnecessary risk for most folks, imho.
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Old 08-22-2019, 01:47 AM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

Given that I have cracked an Exo Terra tank that would have been priced at $200 if I had bought it new, I will be inclined in the future to go with the standpipe+siphon system.

My reason for using automatic drainage had been from a belief that the drainage bucket would fill up with water as often as twice a week. (Indeed, my previous terrarium, whose drainage layer needed to be filled to the drainage point for its waterfall to work, does fill up its bucket quickly.)

I don't think that's going to be the case, though. I haven't seen a drop drip into the drainage bucket from this newer, cracked tank in over a week, even with some serious misting on top of auto-misting. If it indeed takes months for the drainage layer to fill up, I will definitely go with the standpipe+siphon system next time.
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:09 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

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I've been doing this for 15 years and have never once needed a drain hole in the bottom of my tank. I have kept literally dozens of tanks on automated misting systems. ... Due diligence and paying attention to what you're doing will stave off any major troubles.
I say the same to you as I said to the other guy - hey, congrats on your run of exceptionally good luck! This is in absolute earnest - do not read any snark into this - there is none. But, please, please, please - don't try to convince the newbs - lurking and otherwise - that if they try to do like you, that it's gonna go like that for them. Exceptional is...well...exceptional. Not to be expected. Rather, to be considered highly unlikely.

Quote:
Plus, having a hole with a tube coming out of the bottom of your tank can be a nightmare when you are working with a rack system or some kind of stand/shelf where that's simply not feasible.
Absolutely. Can be. It's a design + workflows issue. If you plan, build, and operate for such a setup - it's no problem. If you set up a rack full of tanks without drains, and then decide "ah crap! I need drains" - yeah, sure, it can be a damned hassle. Retrofits usually are. Just like tear-downs and major clean-ups are.

Pointer for drained racks - casters on the rack. Just swing the whole damn array out from the wall when you need to catch up the dust bunnies or whatever. Put your drain bucket, your fresh reservoir, and your pump all on the bottom shelf. Tanks above, hoses or PVC pipes down to the bucket. Right there folks - a free pointer.

It might also be worth pointing out - I leave town. A lot. Work trips, herping trips, family trips, all of it. Being gone 4-5 days is common for me, probably happens 3x every 2 months or so. And a couple times a year, I go away for 2-3 weeks. I don't have anyone coming in to look at my stuff. Am I the only guy who lives like this? Seriously doubtful.

So I wear the belt, AND I wear the suspenders. Get it?

Quote:
I've been doing this for 15 years ... I have kept literally dozens of tanks on automated misting systems.
I've been doing these humid, planted vivs about 25 years, also with lots of tanks at a time. Not sure when Mist-King came out but my first auto mist systems were DIY. I've got hundreds and hundreds of "tank-years" experience. I too am diligent and attentive (i.e., "good"). Mostly, I am also lucky. Being both good AND lucky is awesome! However, a few times, I've been just ass-raped by Lady Luck. Being good, just good, is not enough. And a few times I've been stupid with water - not good. It happens to the best of us.

Another thing - most of my naturalistic viv keeping has been with hot snakes (part of why nobody touches my stuff - liability, and simple family safety). Tree vipers, mainly - they're really perfect for it. Best practices (and best means best!) include Not Ever putting your hand into an occupied tank. And hauling the animal out, hey, they just don't appreciate it. Baby's not happy, daddy's not happy. So passive gravity - draining - is a better choice than fighting gravity with active sucking. I mean fer fuck's sake, who wants to fight gravity? Jeez.

But look - even not keeping dangerous animals, the less time the viv doors are wide open, the better. Frog jerky on the carpet, or whatever the reason. Right?

Quote:
even I would get nervous when drilling a 300-400 dollar tank
No nuts no glory, right? Ha ha. Totally just kidding. But seriously - it's pretty hard to break glass when drilling, if you're careful. The degree of nervousness one suffers is no index to the actual risk of breakage.

Good luck, everybody!
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Old 08-22-2019, 09:03 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

I appreciate your thoughts! I'm not trying to be combative here either, just posting a differing approach.

It's not luck I've never flooded a tank; it's proper planning and attentive husbandry. My false bottoms are always able to handle more water than my mist reservoir could ever dump into a tank and I am diligent about keeping them emptied when they approach being full enough that that is not a problem. It's easy enough to set them up with this way with some basic math. I only ever set up large tanks for my froggos so my false bottoms are easily able to accomplish this without taking up too much vertical space.

At any rate, I would agree with you that if you were keeping some kind of dangerous animal or high flight risk animal sitting with the door to a tank open while you suck water out of it is not ideal. But, most of us aren't doing that so it's not an issue there for the majority of hobbyists.

As far as fighting gravity, well; I laugh at gravity every day! Cue The Last Airbender gif... Just kidding. Siphons easily overcome gravity because air pressure is stronger than gravity. You could run a siphon up to almost 30 feet vertically and as long as you prime the tube it will still work. That being said, I have a sink attachment that powers the whole thing which makes it even more effective.

I think, as far as ease of use and simplicity goes, you cannot beat a standpipe and false bottom.
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Old 08-22-2019, 09:54 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

I don't know about it being hard to crack glass drilling. Even using water, slow drilling, and drilling at what I have later seen is a normal distance from the edge of the glass, the glass cracked at the last second, seemingly because the drill knocked into it.

I think the drilling part is a much bigger part of the equation. Even with a tank that's only $70, a modest chance of cracking the glass is a big deal.

I certainly found the information about temperature useful. I am often obsessed by a need to have things set and precise, and temperature is one of those things I have tried to control too strictly.
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Old 08-22-2019, 09:58 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

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I appreciate your thoughts! I'm not trying to be combative here either, just posting a differing approach.
Cool, no sweat, I get that.

Quote:
It's not luck I've never flooded a tank; it's proper planning and attentive husbandry.
Well, perhaps it's semantics but I would suggest that your record is due to being both good (in planning & ops) and being lucky. I truly believe that for the most part, we create -or repel - the "luck" we experience (or don't). Only occasionally are we favored or disfavored by true chance.

The key practice you have described is ensuring the reservoir volume does not exceed the "internal drain" (siphoned false bottom) volume. It's exactly the same principle to follow if you have an external (bulkhead & bucket) drain - don't have a 10-g reservoir with a 5-g bucket, or you're liable to have a 5-g mess.

Part of my learning curve (sometimes my learning splat) is derived from my travel habits. Small reservoirs just don't work for me - they don't last long enough. Also, with a lot of vivs, for economy of space and money's sake I'm more inclined to have a few good pumps and a lot of mist heads, than to have one pump - and one reservoir, and one timer - per tank. More heads = more variance in discharge, and more opportunity for gremlins. Anyway, what this all has driven me to, is a 10-g reservoir per pump, about 10-12 heads (mainly servicing about 6 tanks) per pump, and about a 2-g bucket per tank. So my cumulative drain volume exceeds the reservoir, and each individual bucket can hold the full (nozzle-free) 2-week cumulative, net (discharge-evaporation) output of the 1-3 (mostly, 2) mister heads it serves. I'm still running a small risk of bucket filling/spilling, but no risk of viv flooding, since they've all got well-screened drains.

My biggest vivs with the deepest LECA or Matala layers (doubled-up Matala) could hold 2 gallons easy, if when I left I almost emptied them. My substrate depths are pretty chintzy, like 3-4 cm, no more. But filling both those layers (air/false bottom, and soil/ABG) with water when I leave town is an essential part of my no-desiccation strategy (and I live in a desert). So I actively, intentionally don't rely entirely on my misters to prevent desiccation - when I leave my soils are at field capacity, and my false bottoms are also brimming. Consequently I rely entirely on the buckets to catch my excess precipitation. Even if I get a clogged mister the day after I leave ("bad luck"), each tank - and its single snake - are good for a couple weeks ("good luck"). My workflow before a trip is to fill my reservoirs (RO water), fill my soils and false bottoms (tap water), and empty my drain buckets - in that order. (When I'm home I hand-water the snakes with tap water, shortly before their nightly misting - that gets them essential minerals, but also ensures those minerals get rinsed off the glass before they dry onto it.)

So - yeah my situation is somewhat different from most froggers'. It's probably most similar to those with large vivs who travel a lot. But - I still maintain that a drain is cheap insurance, for any viv keeper. And that drilling is not to be feared, just respected. Like driving a car, running a chainsaw, shooting a gun, etc. Don't avoid it - just be super careful.

I do own a siphon - one of those cheapo bulb dealies. I use it to empty out my in-viv water features (yeah, I'm one of those dumbasses, ha ha) when they need a scrub. Frankly, I think it's kind of nasty, there's always a little dripping at the end when I pull the hose out from the viv. Thankfully my (basement) herp room has a sheet vinyl floor, atop the concrete.

Anyway - different strokes and all that. Cheers.
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:21 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

I set up an 18x18x24 Exo tank about a year ago and placed a waterfall pump in a corner void space behind the background that I built. I actually ended up not using the waterfall feature because it completely saturates my substrate, but found that I could use the waterfall pump to drain excess water from my tank. It works like a charm. About once every 7 - 10 days I pull the hose from my waterfall pump out through the top, poke it into a plastic gallon jug, turn it on, and drain about half a gallon of water out of the false bottom layer. It's awesome because my houseplants love the rich "brown" water that I drain from the tank.

Between the drainage layer in the false bottom, the Mist King misters (my tank has 2), and my fogger ... the humidity level stays exactly where I need it to be. My misters run for 15 seconds every thirty minutes, and my fogger runs for fifteen minutes every thirty minutes. My thumbnail darts love it!
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Old 08-24-2019, 01:42 PM
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Drilling glass is somewhat more easy with glass cutting oil. Just take a foam cup, cut it in half, use the open ended top part, put a ring of plumbers putty around the rim on the glass, put a tablespoon or 2 in the area where you will drill, angle the drill head at first and then bring it to a level seating as it begins to cut deeper and go slow. Never cracked a tank with that method.
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Old 08-30-2019, 03:59 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

I like the drilled hole.

I have three viv setups, and the first two I was scared to drill through the glass.

I used a 1/2 inch PVC pipe that goes through the backround into the drainage layer. I attach a shop vac to the top to drain, but it is very annoying.

In my new one, I drilled a 16mm hole with a diamond drill bit (link below) 1.5 inches up from the bottom in the back of the tank. A mist king bulk head and valve, and you are all set.



https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073M1D6KP..._QDuADbWMRB3ZC

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Old 08-30-2019, 07:56 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

Quote:
My misters run for 15 seconds every thirty minutes, and my fogger runs for fifteen minutes every thirty minutes.
Holy crap that's a lot of watering. No wonder you're pulling a couple gallons a month outta your little Exo. Are you losing a lot of plants to rot? Got rampaging mosses and liverworts? Ha ha. Not dissing that - I love me some happy cryptogams.

Quote:
I like the drilled hole.

I have three viv setups, and the first two I was scared to drill through the glass.

I used a 1/2 inch PVC pipe that goes through the backround into the drainage layer. I attach a shop vac to the top to drain, but it is very annoying.

In my new one, I drilled a 16mm hole....
That's what I'm talkin' about. Find your courage, and get busy.

Quote:
Drilling glass is somewhat more easy with glass cutting oil.
I've heard that. I just use water, but otherwise normally use just the same technique you lay out, with the clay ring. Once in a while (usually with big heavy tanks I don't want to lay down, stand up, etc.), I just drill the backside, vertically. These jobs I take outside, have my wife hold a water hose gently spraying over the drill-spot, and I go to town with the cordless. Piece of cake.

Anyway, I've done a few dozen holes now, three different sizes (smaller = way faster, less tiring) and I have yet to break anything.

Anyone can do it.
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Old 08-30-2019, 10:33 PM
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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

Drilling glass with those type of bits is really really easy.

There are a ton of youtube videos that show you how to do it.

I'm not handy, and I had no problem

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Default Re: Do you need a drainage hold in the bottom of your terrarium?

Quote:
I'm not handy
Please don't say that, let alone believe it. This is what I always tell people:

Every single person who has ever lived, came into the world not even knowing how to feed, clean, and clothe their self. We are all born knowing NOTHING. Seriously, nothing. Helpless, helpless, helpless.

But our capacity to learn new things, and retain, extend, and adapt the things we learn, is amazing. It might as well be unlimited.

To put it to analogy - there's no software on delivery, just an operating system. But there's also killer RAM, and a monster hard drive. Load it up! You're never gonna run out of memory!

Nobody is born handy, it is learned. Don't be helpless, just start doing. Doing is learning. The knowledge of how to do things, is true power and freedom.
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