How much passive ventilation is too much for plants? - Dendroboard
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:37 PM
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Default How much passive ventilation is too much for plants?

I'm trying to figure out how wide I want to get a piece of glass for the top of an Exo Terra, and that relies on figuring out how wide a strip I want to make the ventilation screen.

I have a screen window kit from ages ago, which looks like this:


The problem with that is these corners:


Those four little corner braces at the top of the package have to be inserted into the aluminum frames to hold them together. But from either of the two ends to the middle is 2.25" long. Which means that the screen panel I intend to make must be, at the very least, 4.5" wide.

This is the Exo Terra in question (+ my toes):


The footprint of the ceiling is 24" x 18". I am planning on resting the screen panel on the back of the tank, so that it will be 24" long.

That means that, at 4.5" wide, the screen panel will be basically 25% of the surface area of the top of the tank. (In reality it will be slightly less due to the aluminum frames.)

My question is, is 25% of the ventilation too much? Will it fail to hold humidity for plants?

I am planning to use either mosquito netting or weed barrier as the screen material, although I am uncertain as to whether or not air can pass quickly enough through weed barrier. (It's also annoying to cut in a straight line.)
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Old 07-12-2019, 12:15 AM
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Default Re: How much passive ventilation is too much for plants?

I have six 12 x 12 x 18 Exos set up for dart frogs (so, pretty humid). I mist these by hand once in the morning, and sometimes again in the evening. I cover the screen with acrylic inserts on top of the stock screen top. Covering just the front screen allows the viv to dry out in a plant-healthy fashion between mistings; covering the front section entirely and covering the back except for a ~1 1/2 inch gap keeps things pretty moist -- algae grows on the back and sides that I clean off every few months.

I have three 18 x 18 (two 18 high, one 24 high) and five 8 x 8 x 12 set up for crested geckos. I mist once daily in the evening. These have stock screen tops, no additional covering. They usually dry by morning (down to ambient humidity ~50%RH, I assume but have never measured), and grow a range of hardier standard viv plants (Neoregelia, Fittonia, Pilea involucrata, Pellionia, Begonia).
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Old 07-12-2019, 12:32 AM
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Default Re: How much passive ventilation is too much for plants?

I have had an 12" * 12" * 18" Exo Terra, so I think I am able to picture what you are saying. (By the way, is that the way the dimensions are always ordered? Width * Depth * Height, and not another arrangement of those dimensions?)

IIRC, the screen top of a 12 * 12 * 18 is divided in the middle by a plastic line that is horizontal, when viewing it from the front of the tank.

If I am correct, the space I would have reserved for a screen panel would be somewhere between the two settings you described in the first paragraph --- although when factoring in the space covered just by the black plastic lines of the stock ventilation panel, I can't say which of the two of those my hypothetical 4.5" * 24" screen panel would more nearly resemble. Not that it matters, though; being anywhere in the window between "healthy drying-out" and "pretty moist" is perfectly fine.

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Old 07-12-2019, 02:44 AM
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Default Re: How much passive ventilation is too much for plants?

The ExoTerra site lists vivs as "W x D x H"; I assume that people generally tend to do the same.

Yes, I think your plan is somewhere in the middle of my dart viv arrangements. I like the acrylic inserts, since I have extras of a few different depths precut and can swap them around depending on how a certain viv is looking.

Compared to many folks here, I get the feeling I run my vivs on the dry side, though they don't seem so to me.
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Old 07-12-2019, 07:45 PM
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Default Re: How much passive ventilation is too much for plants?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinstrome View Post
Those four little corner braces at the top of the package have to be inserted into the aluminum frames to hold them together. But from either of the two ends to the middle is 2.25" long. Which means that the screen panel I intend to make must be, at the very least, 4.5" wide.
I've used similar window kits. Are you not able to snip the 2-1/4" down to something smaller to reduce your total width? That's what I did with mine.

Ventilation a risk/reward topic. Running a "drier" tank is going to lead to healthier plants (especially epiphytes) and provide some benefits to the frogs, but you're at greater risk of getting into lethal territory. So its worth considering your own habits. Are you going to be on top of checking things at least once a day? If not, running a little "wetter" might be a good idea.
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Old 07-12-2019, 11:09 PM
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Default Re: How much passive ventilation is too much for plants?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmb5245 View Post
I've used similar window kits. Are you not able to snip the 2-1/4" down to something smaller to reduce your total width? That's what I did with mine.
I had considered doing this, but something in the instructions implied that the whole thing was needed for stable insertion. And it does taper off at the end, although I don't know if cutting that part off would be a meaningful loss.

I would not be unwilling to try it, though, except that the information I got from this thread has made me think that the width I would have to have it at, is not such a bad width for ventilation. (And I can always put something on top of it if it doesn't work out alright.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmb5245 View Post
Ventilation a risk/reward topic. Running a "drier" tank is going to lead to healthier plants (especially epiphytes) and provide some benefits to the frogs, but you're at greater risk of getting into lethal territory. So its worth considering your own habits. Are you going to be on top of checking things at least once a day? If not, running a little "wetter" might be a good idea.
I would be using a MistKing, one that at that point would only be attending to that one tank, so I hope to get a regular misting cycle going.

Thank you for the advice!
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Old 07-13-2019, 02:52 PM
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Default Re: How much passive ventilation is too much for plants?

There's no pat answer - "it all depends". Specifically in this case, it depends on your watering regime and "the greater home environment" (freezing farmhouse, overheated shared-system upstairs flat, etc). Personally, I think the dimensions or proportions you're looking at are just fine - a nice middle ground to start with, and see what you like & how it works. You may well be happy right there. Better that, than starting with an extreme that you're sure to have to modify.

Quote:
something in the instructions implied that the whole thing was needed for stable insertion.
That's to build a full-dimension screen frame, that sits outside in all weathers, with massive expansion and contraction of the aluminum, getting pulled off every now and then for window cleaning, etc. A very harsh and dynamic environment. A challenge for simple friction fasteners.

Your application, however, is more like a super-mellow paradise. Just trim down the corner pieces and stick 'em in there. You're good to go, so GO.

Quote:
And it does taper off at the end, although I don't know if cutting that part off would be a meaningful loss.
What you will lose is ease of insertion. You can very easily re-create the/some/plenty 'nuff taper with a Dremel or other "grindy" tool. A bench-mounted tool would be safer for your fingers, but with care you'll keep all your skin. Take care with your eyes and hearing too, eh?

Quote:
Running a "drier" tank is going to lead to healthier plants (especially epiphytes) and provide some benefits to the frogs, but you're at greater risk of getting into lethal territory. So its worth considering your own habits.
The sentence I bolded is always a great starting point, in any endeavor. Personally, I like drier, but then again, I keep snakes. They cannot tolerate humid stagnant air. But from what I understand, evaporative cooling is greatly hindered in superhumid conditions. So - crispy critter or hot potato, what are you afraid of? Ha ha. Some leaf litter and low-growing plants will mitigate dry air a lot. Heat, however, is insidious, and a real killer. Just something for folks to chew on.

Good luck!
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