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Old 11-28-2005, 11:31 PM
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Default Big Viv project

After seeing some amazing home built vivs at a local frogger's house, I want to start on my own big project tank. I haven't done any calculations into what the gallon equivalent will be, but I'm assuming that it will be around 150-200. Below is a quick MSpaint rendering of what I want. I want the tank and the stand to be modular, so that they can be moved independantly of each other. As far as materials go, I was thinking of 1/2" plywood for the whole structure, with a 2x3" framework inside the cabinet. I chose the overall width to provide enough space to easily use shoplight fixtures to cover most of the ground. I hope to enlist my dad's help, as he's an accomplished finish carpenter, but I was wondering if anyone who has embarked on this kind of thing could offer some tips on waterproofing, things to avoid, and any inexpensive shortcuts that might help. Thanks.

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Old 11-29-2005, 05:00 AM
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Hey, great project! I have done this type of thing before, and have been very happy with the results.

My first wooden terrarium (and my first dart enclosure) is here:

http://www.frognet.org/gallery/album18

These are the things I have done differently the second time around:

(1) Lighter wood. 1/2" thick plywood with 2x3 framework is overkill. My most recent terraria are 1/4" luan with 3/4" x 3/4" bracing all around the perimeter. The front top and bottom are 1x 4" members. Light weight and strong. All joints were buttered with polyurethane glue or marine epoxy. I'll post a pic soon.

(2) Marine Epoxy Only. You could possibly just line the frame with pond liner, but I haven't tried that. My first terraria I built, I tried to use fiberglass resin to coat the wood. Unfortunately, it cures with bubbles, allowing water to bleed through. I had to paint over the fiberglass with marine epoxy paint (2 part). This time, I just used 2-3 coats of high grade, polyamid marine epoxy paint. http://www.budgetbob.com

(3) Thinner Glass. My first terrarium was made with 1/2" glass (scavenged from an architectural salvage yard). It's about as heavy as a tank. This time, I used the thin stuff from Lowe's and framed it in wood.

I think that is all I would do differently with this approach. Good luck!
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Old 11-29-2005, 07:06 PM
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I'm about halfay finished this right now. I used plywood and a wooden frame and then cated everything with a coat of rubberizing paint I bought at a pond store. Im in the middle of water testing the bottom and as of now. Im hopefully going to attach the wood background tonight. If you want, I can PM you the URL of my offsite Journal chronicalling my progress thus far. Just send me a PM requesting it.
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Old 11-29-2005, 07:45 PM
 
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Did I induce this? I used 3/4 ply for the whole project and think it gives the stability needed for long term life. Its around 400 gal and two people can carry it.
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Old 11-29-2005, 08:23 PM
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You can take the credit for the inspiration, Cory.
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Old 11-29-2005, 11:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cory
Did I induce this? I used 3/4 ply for the whole project and think it gives the stability needed for long term life. Its around 400 gal and two people can carry it.
400 Gallons is a monster! 8) If you are going to have a substantial amount of water in the tank (like 1/3-1/2 full of water), I would agree that 3/4 inch plywood is in order.

However, I have seen 400 gallon plywood aquariums built from 3/4 inch plywood and 1/4 inch glass that were 10 years old. We don't put nearly that type of structural strain on a terrarium, and I personally think it's overkill in a terrarium. If you plan on keeping the terrarium in one place and have no concerns about moving it, then that is no big deal.

However, since Dane indicated that his design is going to be modular, I am guessing that he may be considering portability at some point in time. My 1/4" ply tanks are soooooo much easier to move around than my original tank, and they are the same size.

My original tank is the epitome of overkill: 3/4" ply for the bottom, 2x6 dimensional lumber for the bottom sides, 1/2" glass, and 1/2" plywood back. I cut down an old hinged glass shower door for the top, and used aluminum "u" channel for the sliding glass front. One person can pick up the tank . . . but it's a workout.

Edited to add this:

P.S.--Cory, we want to see some pics!
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Old 11-30-2005, 03:42 AM
 
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I will post pics of a completed one. The one I'm working on now everyone will have to wait. I will have about 100 photos of the construction when I'm done.

Here is a approx 350 viv








Here is the 400 gal in the works. Background is mostly complete here.



Excuse the bad photos. I don't have a SLR.
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Old 11-30-2005, 04:04 AM
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Nice, Cory. I can see why you went with 3/4" ply with that design--lots of glass and not as much wood. My 1/4" ply tank only has glass on the front and top.
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