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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Finally putting together a vivarium. I probably won't get it finished until this Fall, but I've made some progress so far. And I know I'll have questions along the way, so I figured I'd start sharing.

It's a 20 gallon long, probably destined for a pair or trio of tincs or leucs. But that decision's a ways off.

So far:
- I've got the tank, disinfected, with a false bottom and a layer of weed block (I poke holes in the weed block until water drained through it at a decent rate).
- I've got some driftwood (for the background + foam) and some dead manzanita (to be peat-coated for mock vines) boiled and baked repeatedly.
- I've got a mini water pump for circulating the water.
- I've ordered a DIY LED kit from aquastyle online & will soon get started on building that.



















 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Some progress...

I coated the manzanita and foam partition in silicone and peat.

I've zip-tied the partition in place, but will still need to foam it a little more to make it more contiguous.

I'm also going to foam in the background and sides

Just got my 14 LED w/ controller kit from aquastyle online.

When I get going on figuring all that out, I'll give a detailed post on it. I'll also be cutting the heatsink in two and building a frame for it, so that it'll span the whole tank. More later. Here's just a couple update photos.





 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Finished the background.

The next steps:
-vacuum up leftover peat & clean glass
-work on the placement of the manzanita & silicone those in
-construct diy led lighting (the lamp used in these photos is way more yellow than the leds will be)
-install & test water pump
-acquire substrate

Some photos from today:






 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, I've been working on figuring out how to make a lid and a hood for this tank. As well as how to incorporate a vent, a fan, access to my water pump, and the leds.

I'm thinking about using plexiglass since I've already got some, and building the hood so that it rests on the edges of the plexiglass to minimize warping.

I got carried away with Google SketchUp (first time using it - it's free and simple and awesome). Thought I'd share what I've been thinking so far.

So here's the lid, with the water pump access in back, next to a ventilation strip. And there's the fan, mounted in a raised portion of the plexiglass, so that the fan is inside tank, but not visible from the front.


Next up is the hood, shown from front.


Here's the hood and lid together, from the back. This shows that the hood doesn't cover the vent, so that the humidity won't interfere with the leds. I'll probably coat that back piece of wood with something to keep the humidity from causing it to mold.


And finally, the hood and lid together, from the front and underneath. This shows how the fan is pointed at an angle toward the front glass, to minimize condensation and to push air across the length of the tank.


Any thoughts? I don't have any other vents, other than the strip at the rear of the lid. How wide do you think that should be? I plan on keeping a spare piece of plexi around for covering part or all of the vent if humidity drops too low.
 

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I think it's looking great so far.

With it being open on the top, I'm not sure you'd need to worry about leaving the vent uncovered.

As far as the hood, is it going to be hinged so you can easily access the lid?

Also, how do you plan on affixing this to the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think it's looking great so far.

With it being open on the top, I'm not sure you'd need to worry about leaving the vent uncovered.

As far as the hood, is it going to be hinged so you can easily access the lid?

Also, how do you plan on affixing this to the tank?
Actually, the lid isn't open (it might look that way in the diagram because its translucent). I will construct the whole lid out of plexi, so it will closed except for the screen vent.

The hood is the wooden frame holding the heatsinks that will sit on top of the tank, routed to fit the lip of the tank top edges. I'm aiming for the whole hood to be easily removable, so that the lid can be accessed.

And yes, there will be a hinge on the plexi tank lid - you can see in the first picture a thin long handle for opening it. So to get into the tank, I would have to remove the hood and lift the plexi lid. I'm hoping that won't be a pain...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
As promised, update pictures.

I built a wooden hood following my plan, made to hold the 14 LED's and controller from aquastyle online. I will be painting the hood black eventually.

I cut the heatsink in half lengthwise, to span more of then tank, and arranged 7 zigzagged LED's per heatsink. I had some problems with the two driving boards, but Ray (who runs the website) sent me replacements. Still, only one of the boards seems to be working (so these pictures have only 7 of the LEDs running). And the controller doesn't seem to be working... I will keep writing him to try and try to fix it for good! He has been very helpful. But if anyone has experience with the controllers from that site, I'd love to talk to you!

I also made a thin vent for the back of the lid. There's space on the left for a little removable square of glass for accessing the water pump.


Here's the vent with the hood on. As you can see, the hood fits just in front of the vent, so the lights and electronics won't be directly exposed to the humidity of the tank.


Next, here's the progress I've made on the background. I took my manzanita branches, broke them into pieces, and fastened them how I liked them to the foam. Then I super-glued them into place.


After that, I covered the super-glue with silicone and peat, and – when dry – I removed the fasteners to reveal the finished result.




I'll keep you updated!

Oh and please let me know if you're handy with LED systems, driving boards, or SolarLux controllers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Looks great! Hard to believe it's a 20 long, looks bigger :)

Duff
Thank you!
That's my goal!
I'm purposefully using very small branches, collecting the smallest live oak leaves I can find, and searching for the smallest-leaved plants... all in the hopes of being able to achieve the detail, depth of field, and intrigue offered by larger tanks.

Unfortunately, adding the substrate will take up a significant chunk of space... that's coming soon!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Removing that hood wood drive me crazy. Im curious to see how the plexi holds up with the humidity :eek:

Nice tank either way!
It's a small enough tank and the hood is light enough that I'm hoping it'll remain easy.

And I was worried abou the plexi too... so I'm deciding to go with glass! And I'm going to use the opportunity to teach myself how to cut glass while I'm at it.
 

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It's a small enough tank and the hood is light enough that I'm hoping it'll remain easy.

And I was worried abou the plexi too... so I'm deciding to go with glass! And I'm going to use the opportunity to teach myself how to cut glass while I'm at it.
It looks really nice, but as the lights are attached to the wooden portion, how are you planning to deal with cords as you take it on and off? I suppose extra-long ones would make that less of an issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Some quick updates.

Painted the hood black:


Cut a groove in the foam for the water pump:


Stuffed it back full with the foam I cut out, and siliconed over the seam:


Vacuumed out all the peat moss at the bottom of the tank and filled it with enough water to test the pump, and it's working! It's hard to see, but it's dripping off the biggest piece of wood into the pond. Sweeeet. That piece of wood will look good one day with some ferns above and behind it...
 

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I really like what you've done so far, you've managed to make this tank look much bigger than it is. I hope you'll be equally talented when it comes to planting this beauty ;)

It's always nice to see a full DIY build, keep up the good work
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It looks really nice, but as the lights are attached to the wooden portion, how are you planning to deal with cords as you take it on and off? I suppose extra-long ones would make that less of an issue.
Yeah, this is something I'm still working out a bit. The tank is currently on a desk, with ample space to put the hood down on the side that is closer to the outlets – so there's no strain on the cords.
Also, I do have extra-long cords, and I'm working on cleaning them up a bit with clips and tubing.

It's not ideal, but it'll work for now. If I know I'm relocating the tank to a permanent location, I'll fashion a way to get the lights in a wall mount above the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Well, it's been a long while.

Finally pulled the hardscaped tank out of the basement and got to planting it up!
Pm'ed BonnieLorraine and got an amazing plant package of small-leaved cuttings. Also made an order of some marginal/aquatic plants from Substrate Source.

I switched out the diy led situation for some 13W Jungle Dawns –– turns out it just was too much of a hassle with the heavy hood and all those cords...

Edit: Gonna re-upload higher quality versions of my pictures using an image hosting site
 
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