Dendroboard banner
1 - 9 of 19 Posts

· Registered
182 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm back after more than 5 years to build the ultimate (for me) vivarium based on an idea I sketched more than 5 years ago.
As far as I know no one has tried something like this before, which makes it fun for me.

Plant Twig Wood Art Font

This idea was inspired by a Google Street view 360 degree photo of Cayo Zapatilla in the Bocas Del Toro, Panama area

Plant Plant community Tree Arecales Sky

The vivarium will have an angled palm on the edge of a forest next to a beach.
I plan to print a photoscan of a palm tree (which i dont have yet, hit me up if you live near an angled palm tree like the ones in the picture, i'll teach you how to take a group of photos i can use to make the 3d model) or to sculpt one.
There will be 4-5 (panama locale) bromeliads on different spots of the tree with 1 big one in the middle of the tank.
Other than that there will be several other Bocas del Toro (or maybe Panama) native plants on the tree and in between the leaf litter.
I'm still debating whether or not to put a coconut (plant) in the vivarium as it will grow very quickly and the roots might damage things.
Is there someone that has any experience with this?

The tank will be 360 degree viewable (eventhough it will be near a wall in my house, but still)
All cables will run through the tree down through the bottom of the tank into the base.

The single most important thing for me is that the tank is 100% flyproof (the single thing I've hated about the 2 vivaria I've built is the escaped fruitflys)
I'll try to achieve this by using glass doors that use magnets to seal against the vivarium.
I've used this type of door in my last vivarium. It was inspired in this by VicSkimmr if I remember correctly.

The second most important thing to me is Low/easy Maintenance.
1 door on each side helps with reaching things. it also keeps the front panel 1 big clean piece of glass which is nice.
I don’t want difficult water features or aquatic areas that will cause headaches in the future.
I also want good ventilation which makes sure that no concensation will stay on the glass long enough for algea to grow, which will in theory lower the frequency of having to clean the glass (if I use RO/DI water for the misting system).
There will be some kind of false bottom for 0-5 cm of water to stand so I can siphon it out later.

I want the tank to house pumilio (or maybe some bigger oophaga that live near beaches or islands with palm trees but I haven't been able to find any)
For now the plan is a pair of red Bastimentos (or maybe escudo)

The tank will have clay substrate and lots of leaf litter (including isopods and springtails) for the potential babies.

I'm looking forward to see the contrast between the wet lit part of the vivarium and the dry/shaded part under the tree.
I also hope I see lots of (parent and baby) travel across the tree trunk between the bromeliad area and the leaf litter.

Name suggestions for the project are welcome (maybe if I find a cool name a moderator can change the title (if that's even possible))

Last week I've done some CAD designwork which I'll include in my next post. Please subscribe if you want to see more. It is fun finally be back in the hobby after a while.

Any feedback or thoughts are very welcomed.

· Registered
182 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
As I’ve promised I’d show you the CAD designs I’ve been working on. It’s still a work in progress and any input would be very helpful.
The current revision is 70x70x100 cm in size which make it 130 gallons (unlike the title).
I plan on having 4 Biotopo Skylight RV’s as they’re a Dutch company and I’ve seen good reviews.
I've also heard they're getting a day night cycle controller with an app soon.
I also plan on using 4 mistking heads. I’m not sure if this is enough though.
Plant Pet supply Rectangle Bird supply Art

You can also see a 120mm fan on the back right.
I’ve come up with an interesting ventilation system that might or might not work.
In the picture below you see the air flowing through the tree over an angled plate (blocking the air from the water that might increase the humidity) => through a ‘ring’ of slots around the whole vivarium => through a foam that keeps frogs and fruitflies out of the bottom => along the glass all around the vivarium => into a gap around the ‘false top’ with foam (that houses the lights and the mistking nozzles) => back to the fan.

I still need to include a way to have the fan pull outside air if the humidity in the tank gets too high.
I’m looking to automate the humidity and temperature in some way.

Below you see a picture of the described airflow path:
Plant Flowerpot Houseplant Terrestrial plant Flower

As I’m writing this I think I should put the bottom airslots on the left higher to decrease the volume of foam the air needs to pass through.
I’m still looking for a foam that is fruitfly proof but doesn’t hinder the airflow too much.
I’m aware that there might be air flowing into the substrate from below. I don’t know the effects of this.

For the doors I plan to use a aluminium T extrusion on the bottom on which the door glass rests and a pair of magnets in each corner. In my last vivarium ive found this works quite well.
A mistake I made was not having the 4 pieces of glass the side is made of on a level plane when siliconing the glass planes together. Which caused small gaps between the 4 side pieces and the door piece.

On the top of the door I plan to use a Z extrusion so I can safely put the glass door to the side, leaving me a small gap to feed the frogs through while not worrying about the glass falling over.

I kind of want the bottom bracket to look like the picture below to be extra safe but I haven’t come up with a way to do that.
Rectangle Symbol Font Logo Cross

Plant Rectangle Houseplant Terrestrial plant Shade

Here you can also see the beach area. On the bottom of the tree I want to have lots of small roots that reach into the beach sand.

All answers to my questions or other help is appreciated.

· Registered
182 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Really loving the idea of a biotope/biotype Vivarium. The dart frog hobby is so creative and people always seem to have an amazing imagination and capacity for research like this. Loving that street view - what a great tree to base your build off.

In terms of misting, perhaps look into the rain nozzles from Dendroshop in Germany - they can deliver to netherlands I'm sure. That might give a more natural feel which I think you're going for. If drilling in holes from the top, you have an advantage over other vivariums that might have their misting nozzles only at the front, ruling out vertical rainfall.

For sure the most contentious part of the build on this forum will be the beach and water area, as it doesn't benefit the Pumilio. With the size of the Vivarium, the usable space area would be larger than, say, an 18x18x36 vivarium, but I would consider whether it is worth sacrificing half(?) of the vivarium for visual aesthetics. A couple alternatives could be a sandy corner with a small amount of water, or even building an aquarium beside the vivarium. The design considerations of a water feature are often more hassle than they're worth, but if you're set on it and are prepared to take it out if things go wrong before adding frogs then that is probably the best way to learn!

With a 360 degree view of vivarium, consider a couple things:

1. A lot of keepers I've spoken to have experienced positive changes to the frogs' boldness when covering 2 or more sides of the glass - likely due to them being more secure. I am a big fan of backgrounds, as when done correctly they can add to the usable space of a vivarium (sleeping in cork bark etc.), but even covering with a black film outside will allow less external light into the viv and therefore give more of a sense of security for the inhabitants.

2. For access to frogs and plants, definitely try and gear the vivarium to face one way, even if it is viewable from other sides. This will make your life easier in the future, especially if trying to catch little froglets or trim plants. From the designs it looks as if you want the tank to open on to the back of the tree - I would rethink that, but I do not know where the viv will be sitting in your space.

Bastimentos seem like a perfect choice for this build, and from general consensus will be larger and bolder than Escudo.

iNaturalist and GBIF could give some inspiration on plant choice.

Good luck on this project :)
I didn't know about the dendroshop. Thank you for telling me. More natural rain is definitely something I'd want.
For a long time the idea was to make an actual rain system like spirit-of-jungle and Troy goldberg have done. But Id want to filter the rainwater to be used again and I think that will cause a lot of headaches down the line. Of course you'd do water changes but still
I also think the raindrops will splash dirt onto the bottom 10-20 cm's of the glass which I don't want. If I can find a way around that I might still go for an actual rain system.

I plan to have roots, palm tree 'twigs' and seed pod like stuff there on the beach area but I agree with you that it is too big in its current iteration. More 'bioactive' space and space for leaf litter would be much better, especially for pumilio.
I think I'll do 2 sandy corners that are connected with a small 5-10cm ish sandy side.

You also talk about a water feature but I don't plan on having one.

I haven't thought about the 360 degree thing making the frogs more shy so it's good that you tell me. I think it's a sacrefice of this design.
Let's hope they'll show themselves. I'll try to lure them out of the bromeliads( I'd they even go there) by feeding on the ground near a piece of banana or something.

The Vivarium is next to a wall in my house, the front glass will have no door but both side pieces will have a door. I think everything will be very well accessable.

At a first glance the Naturalist website seems great for finding plants. Exactly what I was looking for actually. Thank you!

Sent from my Mi 9T using Tapatalk

· Registered
182 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Looks great, wouldn't be any harm in throwing in a nice lil background ;)

It would create more depth, give more planting room, and would allow the addition of more hardscape. You could even put another one of those trees into the corner if you wanted to get creative. good luck(y)
I understand that some people think this. But I'm going for maximum realism here. You wouldn't find a palm tree within half a meter of a giant vertical wall anywhere in the area on which this is based. I understand that in this way the space is not optimally used. When it comes to usable 'frog keeping' space you could think of this as a small 40x40x40 cm cube housing 2 frogs but with a 70x70 cm leaf litter area for the babies.

Sent from my Mi 9T using Tapatalk

· Registered
182 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If this is going to be against a wall you could have a background that is a picture of the area you are trying to replicate attached to the outside of the back glass panel, like what is done with aquariums.
I thought about that yes, that might look good, I guess I can try it in the render. When I see it in an aquarium it kind of feels cheap but I guess the alternative is a white wall as a background, so yeah...

Sent from my Mi 9T using Tapatalk

· Registered
182 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just wow. The idea to use blender and then the creation here is really stunning. Looks like you've given me a new hobby - I have far too many plans for tanks in my head and what a great way to bring them to life.

All of this sounds great. I am really excited to watch this project come to life. As another member said, I really hope you carry on with it!

As for background, you could even consider black film on the back, which would allow less light in, plus not distracting too much from the natural look you're going for. This is a consideration for later and can be easily changed.
I feel like in a couple days you can expect to learn how to use blender like I used it now.
There is a 'blender aquarium tutorial' on YouTube and I used alot of files from sketchfab. That should get you started.

Sent from my Mi 9T using Tapatalk

· Registered
182 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have that exact palm tree in my yard in florida. I’m getting ready to spend the money and time and make a mold of it. Would you be interested in it if I do?

You could use photogrammetry to make a 3d model of it. You'll need a couple hundred pictures. And then I can make it into a 3d model that I could use. PM me if you're interested

Sent from my Mi 9T using Tapatalk
1 - 9 of 19 Posts