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Old 07-24-2020, 06:19 AM
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Default First build/questions

Hey guys so last night I started my first terrarium build. I got an In Situ Amazonia and a box of cork bark. Its been slow going cause I have such a hard time deciding where to place the pieces but it's been fun. Heres some pics.





I started adding some pieces to the sides today.



Now my question is do any of you have recommendations for how to fill in some of the larger gaps behind the cork bark? Is great stuff my best bet? Id rather avoid that if possible just because I will most likely need to fill in stuff on all 3 sides and having to buy a can for each side seems wasteful. Unless it's possible to let a side cure a bit before tipping it over and doing another side before the can dries itself shut? I assume I'll at least have to use some to fill in and shape the cave on the left side unless someone has a better option?

This is one of the bigger gaps that im worried about. It was hard to get a picture of it but there's about 1.5-2" of space from the top of this piece to the glass and it only gets bigger as it goes down. I assume its best to fill something like that so frogs can't get behind it?



And lastly does anyone have experience with these vigoro coco liners? Its a planter liner from Home Depot and a search seems to say that people have used them a long time ago but I was wondering if anyone had used them more recently or how they are holding up if its been in your tank for a while. Also mine seems to have some kind of oily/sticky substance on it (I assume to hold it together) so I was concerned it may not be frog safe. It does say 100% natural coco liner though..



Thanks for looking and let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions!
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Old 07-24-2020, 08:22 AM
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Default Re: First build/questions

Looks pretty good. Some people like to fill in the gaps between cork with sphagnum moss, however yours look a bit too spaced apart, so great stuff is probably the way to go. You can reuse the cans, so you dont have to worry about wasting any. Make sure there are no cracks or holes the frogs could get into. As far as the coco liner goes, I donít know if that specific stuff is frog safe, but Iíve used a similar material and it breaks down stupidly fast, so just avoid using it.


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Old 07-24-2020, 10:44 AM
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Default Re: First build/questions

When I want to fill in big gaps I either break up pieces of cork bark to fill the gap, or use sphagnum moss to fill it in.
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Old 07-24-2020, 10:45 AM
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Looks pretty good. Some people like to fill in the gaps between cork with sphagnum moss, however yours look a bit too spaced apart, so great stuff is probably the way to go. You can reuse the cans, so you dont have to worry about wasting any. Make sure there are no cracks or holes the frogs could get into. As far as the coco liner goes, I don’t know if that specific stuff is frog safe, but I’ve used a similar material and it breaks down stupidly fast, so just avoid using it.


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Thank you. Yea I was hoping to just use silicone and spagnum but none of my cork pieces were very flat so it’s not looking like that will work. Okay cool. I do have one can of it and it said expect single use so I wasn’t sure if it was reusable. Any tips on saving it or will it just be good to go round 2? Okay good to know I’ll prolly return the liner then. Are there any other materials that are similar but don’t break down as fast? I’ve seen the hygrolon but I’m not big on the look until it grows in. I think I’ve seen other stuff as well but can’t remember what it was called.
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Old 07-24-2020, 10:48 AM
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Default Re: First build/questions

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Originally Posted by surfindude686 View Post
Thank you. Yea I was hoping to just use silicone and spagnum but none of my cork pieces were very flat so itís not looking like that will work. Okay cool. I do have one can of it and it said expect single use so I wasnít sure if it was reusable. Any tips on saving it or will it just be good to go round 2? Okay good to know Iíll prolly return the liner then. Are there any other materials that are similar but donít break down as fast? Iíve seen the hygrolon but Iím not big on the look until it grows in. I think Iíve seen other stuff as well but canít remember what it was called.
I have coco fiber liners that I've been using for about 8-10 months in a viv and don't show any serious signs of wear/rot.

Ones that I've intentionally started to break apart still look decent in a vivarium.
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Old 07-24-2020, 10:55 AM
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When I want to fill in big gaps I either break up pieces of cork bark to fill the gap, or use sphagnum moss to fill it in.
I assume you mean gaps from cork to cork? I’m talking about gaps behind more rounded pieces of cork so behind the cork in between the glass. Although that idea could still work and I didn’t even consider that. Kinda seems like a waste though as you wouldn’t see it and it would just be stuffed back there. I do have plenty of it on hand though so it might make sense to use what I got.

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I have coco fiber liners that I've been using for about 8-10 months in a viv and don't show any serious signs of wear/rot.

Ones that I've intentionally started to break apart still look decent in a vivarium.
Hmm so two contradicting experiences with the Coco liners. Did yours also have the oily feel to it?
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Old 07-24-2020, 10:57 AM
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Default Re: First build/questions

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Originally Posted by surfindude686 View Post
Thank you. Yea I was hoping to just use silicone and spagnum but none of my cork pieces were very flat so itís not looking like that will work. Okay cool. I do have one can of it and it said expect single use so I wasnít sure if it was reusable. Any tips on saving it or will it just be good to go round 2? Okay good to know Iíll prolly return the liner then. Are there any other materials that are similar but donít break down as fast? Iíve seen the hygrolon but Iím not big on the look until it grows in. I think Iíve seen other stuff as well but canít remember what it was called.
As much fun as it is to have that instant satisfaction, I would just buy some more cork bark if I were in your position. Fill in the big gaps with cork and stuff sphagnum into the smaller gaps. This will give the advantage of having lots of places for plants to root and grow. This background is going to be in this tank for a while (years probably) taking an extra week or so to get in the right materials isn't so long on that time scale. /shrug Just my 2 cents.
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Old 07-24-2020, 11:48 AM
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Default Re: First build/questions

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Originally Posted by surfindude686 View Post
I assume you mean gaps from cork to cork? Iím talking about gaps behind more rounded pieces of cork so behind the cork in between the glass. Although that idea could still work and I didnít even consider that. Kinda seems like a waste though as you wouldnít see it and it would just be stuffed back there. I do have plenty of it on hand though so it might make sense to use what I got.



Hmm so two contradicting experiences with the Coco liners. Did yours also have the oily feel to it?
Both cork to cork and cork to the glass.

In my latest build I didn't do a full background only a few pieces of cork bark attached to the back. I used cork pieces and sphagnum moss to fill in the gaps behind the main pieces of cork.

Yes the coco mat had a BIT of an oily texture to it. But not anything that caused me great concern.
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Old 07-24-2020, 03:07 PM
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Default Re: First build/questions

If you want to use spray foam for the larger cavities you certainly can. I would be careful though to only do a small amount to avoid it expanding too much and popping the cork off of the glass.

If you went that route you should be able to do multiple sides in the same sitting. Especially since they're already attached to the glass.
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Old 07-24-2020, 03:43 PM
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Default Re: First build/questions

If you have the smart dispenser great stuff cans they are just reusable. If you have the one with the straw you plug it on the top of the can. I think some of them come with a cap for the straw as well. Or you could just buy more cork and fill in the gaps with sphagnum, that will grow plants better, just be super sure there are no gaps a frog can fit behind, especially if you intend on keeping smaller frogs.


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Old 07-24-2020, 04:18 PM
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Ironically, I found a frog doing this, this morning
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Old 07-24-2020, 10:16 PM
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Thanks for all of your responses and feedback! To be clear this is far from finished and luckily I bought way too much cork bark. Here’s an update on my progress.





I think I will move forward with the great stuff and start with small amounts. I would hate for it to rip off the silicone so thanks for the caution. I think my can does have the straw with the cap so hopefully I can get a few uses out of it.

Unfortunately I work all weekend but if I have time I might get back to it late tonight. I’ll keep y’all posted with updates as it progresses and thanks again!
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Last edited by surfindude686; 07-24-2020 at 10:19 PM. Reason: Fixed pic
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Old 07-25-2020, 11:27 PM
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Blasted some great stuff in the gaps and the cave. Might have gone a little overboard cause it pulled the silicone off in a couple places. Fortunately I think it will be fine and probably ended up reinforcing it instead of weakening it.







I think it should be frog proof by the time I jam sphagnum in the cracks. Now I gotta figure out what to use to cover the great stuff. Any suggestions? I’m thinking silicone and some kind of loose tree fern fiber. I’d rather not use the drylock.

Also does anyone else have input on that planter liner? I’m tempted to use it but the adhesive seems sketchy. I want to use it to cover the exposed two sides with because epiweb or tree fern panels are a bit more than I’d like to spend but if it’s the only guaranteed safe option then I’ll just suck it up and buy one of those.
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Old 07-27-2020, 04:40 PM
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Default Re: First build/questions

I personally prefer the look of drylok as the coco fiber or whatever material you use with the silicone will eventually wear off. However, if you choose to go the silicone route, use black or brown silicone since the foam is yellow. Will look a little better in the end as the fiber breaks down.
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Old 07-28-2020, 04:19 AM
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I personally prefer the look of drylok as the coco fiber or whatever material you use with the silicone will eventually wear off. However, if you choose to go the silicone route, use black or brown silicone since the foam is yellow. Will look a little better in the end as the fiber breaks down.
Too late! Just started a couple hours ago with the clear silicone and a ground up coconut soil kinda stuff 🤦‍♂️ The only brown silicone I saw was GE 2 and I had read that may not be the best choice. We’ll see how it goes but already looking back I wish I grabbed some drylok today.
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Old 07-28-2020, 11:28 AM
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Too late! Just started a couple hours ago with the clear silicone and a ground up coconut soil kinda stuff 🤦‍♂️ The only brown silicone I saw was GE 2 and I had read that may not be the best choice. Weíll see how it goes but already looking back I wish I grabbed some drylok today.
GE 2 is not recommended for animal terrariums. The mold inhibitors are not typically regarded as animal safe.
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Old 07-29-2020, 12:22 AM
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GE 2 is not recommended for animal terrariums. The mold inhibitors are not typically regarded as animal safe.
Yea that’s what I had read so I stayed away. Could only find clear in GE 1 so had to go with that. Just a heads up if anyone happens to be reading this, there was some GE 1 that also had a mold inhibitor. The staff at Home Depot told me that was the newer stuff they got in and he pulled out an older box for me that didn’t have the mold inhibitor.
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Old 07-31-2020, 06:02 AM
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On my first viv I used black silicone and cocoa fiber ó the cocoa fiber eventually wears away and you can see the silicone underneath. Not pretty.

If youíve already started but regret it and want to try drylock ó use a razor blade and shave off the silicone/cocoa layer from the foam, and try again! I just used drylock and acrylic paint for the first time on my new viv and it was AMAZING. Looks so good


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Old 08-01-2020, 05:29 AM
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On my first viv I used black silicone and cocoa fiber — the cocoa fiber eventually wears away and you can see the silicone underneath. Not pretty.

If you’ve already started but regret it and want to try drylock — use a razor blade and shave off the silicone/cocoa layer from the foam, and try again! I just used drylock and acrylic paint for the first time on my new viv and it was AMAZING. Looks so good


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Thanks for the recommendation. I think I’m just gunna stick with what I’ve got cause it’s a fairly small section. I also covered a bit with the coco planter material and I think that will work well for a cover up as it become necessary. For future tanks I’ll definitely try out the drylock cause I’ve only heard good things.

Here’s an update on my progress. Was a busy day yesterday.

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Old 08-01-2020, 05:59 AM
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Looks really cool, I like the feeling of depth! Canít wait to see it planted


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Old 08-03-2020, 12:11 AM
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Received some plants yesterday! Was happy they all looked pretty healthy because we’ve been having a heat wave in slc and they got delayed in transit for a few days.

Got another question here. For anyone who has an InSitu tank, what are you running your lights at? 100% seems very high powered and I don’t wanna fry my plants while everything is growing in. I just put some moss mix in so I turned them up to about 60-70% but I’m not sure if that’s too much, too little, or about right.

Need to get some more plants but this is how it’s sitting atm.

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Old 08-03-2020, 12:49 AM
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I have an insitu but not their spectral design light. But, based on the par readings they published my lights are slightly brighter than their lights. I run mine at 100% I don't even have a dimmer. My plants are very happy with the results.
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Old 08-03-2020, 01:36 AM
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I have an insitu but not their spectral design light. But, based on the par readings they published my lights are slightly brighter than their lights. I run mine at 100% I don't even have a dimmer. My plants are very happy with the results.
Awesome thank you! I’ll turn em up a bit over the next few days and see how the plants react.

Out of curiosity and future reference could you tell me what light your running?
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Old 08-03-2020, 01:54 AM
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Awesome thank you! Iíll turn em up a bit over the next few days and see how the plants react.

Out of curiosity and future reference could you tell me what light your running?
I built my light myself. I am using luxeon sunplus LEDs on pcb. 29 of them I think... Have to review my build log to be sure.
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Old 08-03-2020, 05:14 AM
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I have the InSitu along with their lighting system. The tank is newly planted so Iím using the dimmer to slowly acclimate the plants rather than throw them in right at 100%, which seemed really bright. I started at ~50% and have been increasing it a bit every few days. Iíll probably stop at about 80% then watch for a few weeks to see how everything does.
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Old 08-03-2020, 10:27 AM
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Default Re: First build/questions

Im looking to get the Amazonia as well. I see that they come with the sloped bottom so you don't have to worry about making the false bottom. Did you pour your substrate mix directly onto the surface or did you use the epiweb as well? And did you use any sort of substrate barrier?
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Old 08-03-2020, 11:00 AM
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Im looking to get the Amazonia as well. I see that they come with the sloped bottom so you don't have to worry about making the false bottom. Did you pour your substrate mix directly onto the surface or did you use the epiweb as well? And did you use any sort of substrate barrier?
The reason to use a substrate barrier is 1) to keep frogs from burying down till they reach water and laying eggs/depositing tads, and 2) to keep the substrate from falling down in the cracks till it reaches the water and starts to rot. So whether you need one depends on what you put in the trough the insitu has. For me I put safe-t-sorb (calcined clay, same stuff as turface). While this is pretty dense stuff I still worried about things working there way in there over time or frogs digging so I added a sheet of fiberglass window screen.



This allows plant roots to penetrate but should keep most other things out.
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Old 08-04-2020, 11:25 AM
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Im looking to get the Amazonia as well. I see that they come with the sloped bottom so you don't have to worry about making the false bottom. Did you pour your substrate mix directly onto the surface or did you use the epiweb as well? And did you use any sort of substrate barrier?
Similar to minorhero I used turface but I didn’t use a substrate barrier. I filled the trough with turface and also covered the whole slope with it. I used almost a full bag from glass box tropicals (think it was a gallon). Then I put a thin layer of abg directly on top of that. By thin I mean I used like half a bag of it. I saved the extra and will probably add a bit when I plant more but I’ll keep it isolated to the future plants.

Keep in mind this is my first tank but I actually asked someone at InSitu about a substrate barrier and they said they wouldn’t bother unless they were using epiweb and expensive plants. I guess when the roots take hold in epiweb they are hard to remove.
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