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Old 08-20-2019, 01:52 AM
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Default Branch Epiphyte Vivarium

I decided to try my hand at an epiphyte themed vivarium so I did a mockup with some wood that I had sitting around.
20190802_213928_1566263375799.jpg

I had a 75 gallon aquarium with slate siliconed to the back glass in storage. I decided to remove the slate and use it for this build.
20190803_153106_1566263710058.jpg

Removing the slate took a long time.
20190803_184808_1566263752489.jpg

Once the slate was removed I rebuilt the mockup in the aquarium to make sure it would fit.
20190808_204423_1566263859844.jpg

Next I siliconed egg crate the the back glass to act as support for the foam background. After that cured I started foaming the wood into place, starting on one side.
20190817_211620_1566264623357.jpg

After that foam had cured I carved it and started working with the wood on the other side. I used rocks, tape, string, and other random items to hold the wood into place while the foam cured.
20190818_204039_1566264839067.jpg

After it cured, I made sure that the wood was supported by the foam before starting to carve it.
20190819_173515_1566264930157.jpg

I added a couple of net pots behind the branches and foamed them into place.
20190819_202501_1566264987180.jpg

From there I started foaming the rest of the background. Unfortunately I ran out of foam so I cant finish foaming the background tonight.
20190819_203815_1566265055127.jpg

On the way home from work tomorrow I will get more foam and fill in the rest of the background. This is how it looks as of right now:
20190819_213939_1566265192458.jpg

I plan to do the silicone and peat/coir method to cover the foam but may also work in some moisture wicking fabric that resembles hygrolon. Plants will include Neoregelia, Peperomia, moss, orchids, and Pilea
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:13 PM
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I forgot to mention that I included vines in the original mockup and made some with the left over silicone from securing the egg crate to the background. 20190818_194929_1566303129890.jpg20190816_184446_1566303159671.jpg20190816_181047_1566303195762.jpg20190816_181034_1566303257471.jpg
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:12 PM
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Another session of carving yesterday's foam and adding today's foam.
I used 4 cans total for this build. I used the original red great stuff foam the first two applications and used the blue door and window for the last two. I used the red cans first because they were what I had on hand, and I'm glad I did. The foam is more rigid and holds the wood. The blue can expands less and is more spongy when cured. That is annoying when I am trying to carve it because it keeps squishing rather than tearing. I doubt that it would be rigid enough to hold the weight of the wood in place.
20190820_190922_1566342670242.jpg20190820_185634_1566342747559.jpg
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Old 08-22-2019, 12:47 AM
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I made a little more progress tonight. I carved the last section of the foam background.
20190821_194642_1566434081215.jpg

I say carved, but really I have been creating texture by pinching and tearing at the foam until all of the glossy, smooth surface foam is removed.
20190821_191534_1566434042219.jpg

The end product of doing this is this texture:
20190821_194716_1566434278837.jpg

Right side
20190821_200103_1566434148398.jpg

Left side
20190821_194747_1566434185839.jpg

I have decided to just go with the silicone and peat/coir method rather than try to finagle hygrolon under the wood and over the foam. Im worried that I will end up dislodging one of the branches and with enough misting and humidity the other method will still grow moss just fine.

The next step will be to tape newspaper around every piece of wood in preparation for the silicone step. I am not looking forward to that part.

I also still need to decide how I am going to do air circulation/possibly ventilation and how many mist king nozzles I should order.

The current plant list is as follows:
Neo 'Wild Tiger'
Neo 'Mini Skirt'
Neo ampullacea
Neo ampullacea hybrid (red)
Neo 'Chiquita Linda'
Neo 'Dartanion'
Neo punctatissima
Neo 'Red Waif'
Neo Vulcan x Black Knight
Peperomia prostrata
Peperomia sp. 'Costa Rica red'
Pilea glauca
Dinema polybulbon 'Golden Gate'
Tropical mosses (java, christmas, willow, etc)

The possible plant list (plants in house) is as follows:
Peperomia orba
Peperomia rubella(?)
Utricularia calcifida
Pilea sp. 'Dark mystery'
Fittonia
Possibly a fern or two

I will likely order some mini orchids when the weather is more mild.

The Neoregelias are currently in a 10 gallon waiting for this vivarium to be finished.
15664344799202032383103476813638_1566434568057.jpg
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Old 08-23-2019, 01:26 AM
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Default Re: Branch Epiphyte Vivarium

Canít wait to see this thing planted. Great progress so far!


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Old 08-25-2019, 12:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eruantien View Post
Can’t wait to see this thing planted. Great progress so far!
Thank you! It is my best vivarium so far. I have a couple more on the back burner but they wont look as good as this one.

I took a few days off working on this due to work, laundry, mowing the grass, etc. But I did make a little bit of progress today:
20190824_201018_1566692654052.jpg

I used painter's tape to cover the wood pieces with newspaper so that I dont get any silicone on them. It was a tedious task that took entirely too long. Any spot where the wood touched foam and thus would need to be siliconed, I covered as much of the wood as possible while still leaving a small strip of the wood for the silicone to adhere to:
20190824_200932_1566692703046.jpg

I did the same along the rim of the tank and the side glass:
20190824_200927_1566692758712.jpg
20190824_200914_1566692787149.jpg

The big piece of driftwood was harder to get newspaper onto, so I used alot of painter's tape instead:
20190824_200901_1566692973228.jpg

Tomorrow I should start the silicone process, I hope 4 tubes is enough. I am using clear GE All Purpose Silicone 1. I would prefer black or brown as it hides any bare spots better. However clear is the only silicone 1 that I can find locally and I didn't want to have to order it. I would rather be able to grab it off a shelf. The vines I made earlier were using the same silicone so as long as I get good contact with the peat/coir while the silicone is curing I dont think anyone will be able to tell.
20190824_203942_1566693605895.jpg
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Old 08-25-2019, 11:47 PM
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Four tubes of silicone was not enough. I covered as much of the background as I could with what I had and will have to grab some more on the way home from work tomorrow.
20190825_185659_1566775579074.jpg

Getting the silicone into all of the little crevices was frustrating to say the least. My next greatstuff background will not be as detailed as this one. I used gloves but still managed to silicone most of the hair on my wrist to my skin...
20190825_185025_1566775491298.jpg

For the coating I used a 50/50 mix of coir and peat moss. This is patted onto the silicone with extra put on top to ensure good coverage.
20190825_185638_1566775553280.jpg

I got most of the bottom section and the top corners, leaving the middle for next time. I will let this cure tonight and get some more silicone on the way home from work tomorrow.
20190825_185628_1566775522604.jpg

Tomorrow I will brush off the excess coir/peat mixture to use again. This will let me see which areas will need touch ups in the areas that were covered today.

Unfortunately the 3 branches on the left side are too heavy for the great stuff to hold up. I didn't put down a layer of silicone or silicone light diffuser to that section like I did for the back. The foam is peeling away from the glass and has separated enough that I can fit a screwdriver between the foam and the glass.
20190825_185737_1566775617278.jpg

I will have to cut this section of foam off, rough up the back surface, silicone it back in place, and hope that fixes the problem. At least it happened now and not after construction finished.
20190825_185753_1566775712138.jpg
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Old 08-27-2019, 12:14 AM
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After work I stood the vivarium upright and brushed the coir/peat mixture off of the background to reuse.
20190826_183802_1566864360662.jpg

There were a few places that needed minor touch ups as well as the big section in the middle.
20190826_185243_1566864426307.jpg
20190826_185222_1566864395835.jpg

I then got a knife and cut off the section of foam that was holding the wood on the left side. Once that was off I roughed up the smooth surface that was against the glass so that the silicone will adhere to it better when I silicone it back into place after the rest of the background is finished.
20190826_200907_1566864566095.jpg

Having that wood out of my way actually made it alot easier to finish applying silicone to the background.
20190826_194505_1566864456405.jpg

I did all of the minor touch up work that needed to be done on the right side of the background before finishing the left side. I dont think I have enough silicone left to finish the build so I will buy another tube tomorrow. Now I am just waiting to see what places will need touch ups after this round of silicone cures.
20190826_194802_1566864510578.jpg
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Old 08-28-2019, 01:27 AM
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I brushed off the excess coir and peat.
20190827_200052_1566955077736.jpg

There were alot of spots where the yellow foam was sticking through the silicone as well as chunks of cured silicone that came off of the foam. It was all spots foamed with the blue can, so I dont think I will ever use that kind again. Because of this I couldn't make the progress that I had planned to make tonight as I basically had to touch up spots all over the whole area that I had coated yesterday.
20190827_210802_1566955480085.jpg

I pulled the painter's tape off of the glass which left a nice clean edge to the background.
20190827_210734_1566955283929.jpg

Unfortunately it wasnt as nice for the wood. Where I removed it from the wood the clean edge showed the clear edge of the ripped silicone so I had to do some touching up where every piece of wood came out of the foam.
20190827_210738_1566955419450.jpg

I did go ahead and coat the outer surfaces of the foam that I had cut out. So it will already be coated when I silicone it back to the glass.
20190827_210810_1566955628626.jpg
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Old 08-29-2019, 10:16 PM
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Not a lot to add today. The background is pretty much done so I am reattaching the piece from the left side that I removed earlier. I stood the vivarium on its left side, applied silicone to the glass and cut foam, then pushed the foam into the silicone. After smoothing out the silicone around the edges of the foam I applied peat/coir and used a rock and a gallon jug of vinegar to weigh the foam down while the silicone cures.20190829_123235_1567114845120.jpg
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Old 09-02-2019, 03:13 AM
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The silicone has cured, full tank shot:
20190830_195841_1567393024571.jpg

I am toying with the idea of adding in these 2 smaller pieces of wood:
20190830_203556_1567393060954.jpg
20190830_203321_1567393206869.jpg
20190830_203604_1567393133299.jpg
20190830_203306_1567393167226.jpg

I plan to work on adding the fake vines and working on the drainage system tomorrow. I also still need to decide how I am going to do the internal air circulation.

I have ordered two dual Mistking nozzles, NEherp moss and NEherp moss mix. I also currently have java moss, Christmas moss, willow moss, Notocyphus Lutescens, multiple utricularia species, live sphagnum moss, star moss and Riccardia growing out. So there should be plenty of diversity to grow on the wood and background, although the riccardia seems to be melting at the moment.
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Old 09-08-2019, 03:13 AM
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Once I had the vivarium situated in its permanent location I cut a piece of weed block fabric to size and got it under the wood.
20190907_180157_1567912086921.jpg

I then back filled under the fabric with LECA. It would have been impossible to get the fabric under the lowest projections of the wood after the drainage layer was in place. This is why I had to put the fabric and LECA in what would normally be a counter productive order.
20190907_192550_1567912230610.jpg

I did leave an area free of LECA to act as a pond for both aesthetics and practicality of draining excess water. I filled this depression with gravel and used gravel around the perimeter of the folded over fabric to hold it in place as I added substrate.
20190907_192453_1567912179895.jpg
20190907_192442_1567912116901.jpg

The substrate mix is loosely based on ABG mix.
20190907_204912_1567912268503.jpg

Once the substrate was added I misted the tank down and started placing bromeliads.
20190907_215943_1567912318384.jpg

I am going to a reptile show tomorrow and might buy some more bromeliads there depending on what is available. I still need to add terrestrial plants, microfauna and then leaf litter. I won't be adding any more epiphytes until the wood has absorbed enough moisture that it won't be pulling moisture away from the plants.

Last edited by Okapi; 09-08-2019 at 03:24 AM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:06 PM
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Default Re: Branch Epiphyte Vivarium

This is amazing. I'm subbing, this is a really fantastic build!

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Old 09-12-2019, 01:53 AM
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The wood is going through it's moldy phase. This will go away on it's own eventually. For now I'm just misting the fuzz off every day.
20190909_180921_1568251341699.jpg

I went out and collected maple, oak, chestnut, cherry, apple, linden, and magnolia leaves as well as botanicals including magnolia seed pods, sawtoothed oak and other acorn caps. I dont like the look of just one type of leaf laid down like shingles. I also like different types of leaves because they decay at different rates. I boiled the collected leaves/botanicals in batches and left them to cool down and dry a little bit for a day.
20190909_212844_1568251474626.jpg

I used the fast decomposing maple leaves as a bottom layer to feed microfauna. Then I put down a layer of slow decomposing magnolia, chestnut and oak. Finally I randomly scattered an assortment of leaf types and botanicals over the top, letting things stay as they landed. Full tank shot:
20190911_210235_1568251858539.jpg

I really like leaves with "character" including bug damage, curls, wavy edges, etc. I included a lot of these as well as smaller leaves in the last scattering of leaves and botanicals so that they would be noticable. Sawtooth oak acorn caps remind me of rambutan fruit skins so I included them. It wouldnt be hard to imagine the ground under fruit trees littered with more than just leaves.
20190911_210330_1568252006915.jpg
20190911_210310_1568252052466.jpg

Left side
20190911_210016_1568252378664.jpg

Middle
20190911_210023_1568252429706.jpg

Right side
20190911_210040_1568252470692.jpg

I also got a tiny bit more planting done. I added a very green fireball pup to the left side of the tank. I also planted 4 cuttings of Peperomia sp. 'Isabella' and 1 cutting of Peperomia trinervula 'bibi'

Peperomia sp 'Isabella' is a creeping vine that should ramble around over the leaf litter. It can also be used as a cascading or trailing plant if planted in a pot on the background.
20190911_210338_1568252800686.jpg

Peperomia trinervula 'bibi' will mound at the base of the bigger driftwood piece.
20190911_210101_1568252894554.jpg
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Old 09-12-2019, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Okapi View Post
The wood is going through it's moldy phase. This will go away on it's own eventually. For now I'm just misting the fuzz off every day.
Attachment 280358

I went out and collected maple, oak, chestnut, cherry, apple, linden, and magnolia leaves as well as botanicals including magnolia seed pods, sawtoothed oak and other acorn caps. I dont like the look of just one type of leaf laid down like shingles. I also like different types of leaves because they decay at different rates. I boiled the collected leaves/botanicals in batches and left them to cool down and dry a little bit for a day.
Attachment 280360

I used the fast decomposing maple leaves as a bottom layer to feed microfauna. Then I put down a layer of slow decomposing magnolia, chestnut and oak. Finally I randomly scattered an assortment of leaf types and botanicals over the top, letting things stay as they landed. Full tank shot:
Attachment 280362

I really like leaves with "character" including bug damage, curls, wavy edges, etc. I included a lot of these as well as smaller leaves in the last scattering of leaves and botanicals so that they would be noticable. Sawtooth oak acorn caps remind me of rambutan fruit skins so I included them. It wouldnt be hard to imagine the ground under fruit trees littered with more than just leaves.
Attachment 280364
Attachment 280366

Left side
Attachment 280368

Middle
Attachment 280370

Right side
Attachment 280372

I also got a tiny bit more planting done. I added a very green fireball pup to the left side of the tank. I also planted 4 cuttings of Peperomia sp. 'Isabella' and 1 cutting of Peperomia trinervula 'bibi'

Peperomia sp 'Isabella' is a creeping vine that should ramble around over the leaf litter. It can also be used as a cascading or trailing plant if planted in a pot on the background.
Attachment 280374

Peperomia trinervula 'bibi' will mound at the base of the bigger driftwood piece.
Attachment 280376
Mine tank is going through the same mold. How long can I expect that to last, and can frogs be introduced before it resolves?

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Old 09-12-2019, 10:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ambilobe View Post
Mine tank is going through the same mold. How long can I expect that to last, and can frogs be introduced before it resolves?
I would guess just a few weeks to a month, depending on the wood. For example, if it is grape wood then it may mold for a very long time. Misting, air flow and microfauna help keep the surface fuzz under control, but the fungus will phase out when it runs out of whatever it is adapted to feeding on in the wood.

I have only planted some more terrestrial plants and an orchid today, but I did work some of them in higher up in the background and onto the wood. I'll just have to manually mist them a few times a day. Once I get my mistking nozzles and moss mix I'll be able to start adding moss to the wood and background.
20190912_122324_1568327201940.jpg
20190912_122332_1568327256211.jpg
20190912_151926_1568327306251.jpg
20190912_151939_1568327335948.jpg
20190912_152011_1568327368117.jpg
20190912_152028_1568327407825.jpg
20190912_152041_1568327446447.jpg
20190912_170303_1568327494593.jpg
20190912_152000_1568327564941.jpg

The full tank shot was taken before I tied a patch of live sphagnum moss to the big pieces of driftwood for mounting the orchid, Dinema polybulbon.
20190912_152917_1568327601520.jpg
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Old Yesterday, 01:49 AM
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Default Re: Branch Epiphyte Vivarium

Looking good!
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Old Today, 12:31 AM
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Looking really good!
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