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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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Leaning towards housing a group of Ranitomeya variabilis "Highland" , R. sirensis or R. amazonica.

I started with a bargain tank from Craig’s list. Besides some of the issues associated with a tank vivarium the bow front was missing the center brace. While not critical in regards to structural integrity of the vivarium it was an issue in regards to using traditional bow front glass canopies but ways around that. Much of what was done is fairly common place but the top construction may be useful to some.

I drilled the back and installed a drain and then started with an egg crate false bottom. For looks added a front leca strip and then covered with substrate barrier. Ordered some tree fern fiber and then sourced everything else locally and made some traditional ABG mix. I milled the sphagnum very quickly by using a metal mesh waste basket (also used to strain/rinse the leca and is one of those must haves in my opinion if you do a lot of DIY stuff related to fish tanks, gardening, etc..) by placing it inside a 5 gallon bucket and then just by hand rub it back and forth using the trash can as a cheese grater, very quick and easy.

For background went mainly with cork from the local Menards as readily available option. The cork tiles were 12x12 and 3/8 in thick and based on email (took forever) they indicated natural adhesives of the product were used (but issued disclaimer regarding product use). Upon opening clearly they were thermally compressed as odor is strong.

Siliconed it on the back and then built up some areas. Wasn’t too worried about it as wont’ be seen in the long run. Siliconed the ghostwood (Bloomsandbranches) ends to the glass and held in place with tape then sprayed great stuff pond foam to secure and fill in some areas around the driftwood and sanded and sealed with the typical Drylock method.

Leaf litter is mix of locally collected during some of our “Covid Hikes” the family has been taking. Mainly oak species, acorn caps, honey locust seed pods, and red bud seed pods. Added some live oak leaves and have a bag full of smaller magnolia leaves that family will bring up next visit. All were baked in the oven and stored dry in a sealed container for at least a month while I was collecting plants. The vivarium was seeded with temperate springtails and some dwarf white isopods. And have been misting by hand while working on the top.

For the top wanted to make sure I could easily access the tank when needed. With the brace broken/missing decided to build a series of insets to sit in the lip of the frame. I went with a three sectioned set up: front access hatch for typical feeding, upkeep, and cleaning of front glass, a separate glass section for lighting, and then a third section for venting.

I used aluminum L bracket and aluminum brazing/welding rod that can be done with typical propane torch.
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It is easy to use and definitely in the realm of the hobbyist DIY type. The joint is more than sufficient for this project. Just cut material, sand/rough up surfaces to be joined, and bevel the face edges at the joint to make a V, and clean surfaces. I clamped to a board and left the area to be joined overhanging. Heat with the torch until the rod melts then fill in the V joint and lap over onto both pieces slightly and let cool. I cut a 2x6 (traced tank profile) to bend the L bracket on using clamps, heat, and carefully bending by hand and over my knee.

After the frames were built I sanded them all, wiped down with acetone, primed with a metal etching primer (Rustoleum) then painted with Rustoleum paint.

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A window screen frame kit was used to make a vent then siliconed into the vent frame. I cut some glass and siliconed it place for the mid-section (picture taken prior during checking fit). For the access front panel I used 3/8 inch PVC exterior trim. The trim can easily be cut with any hand saw (coping saw even) and sands easily and can be worked with traditional hand and power tools. It has sufficient structural integrity not to sag (small distances) and humidity/water is not an issue.

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Using a NiCrew Classic 2 LED light and no issues so far besides one of the orchids initially adjusting to the light intensity (purple leaves and spots). Several broms reddened up when I had them in in terrarium on my plant rack and did not lose color after a month under the NiCrew. I still have to add some fans for internal air circulation (have to break out he 3d printer and make some mounts) and will look at adding a misting system down the road.

Now to let some of the terrestrial plants to grow in and vines do their thing.
 

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Nice Job. Especially on the lid, I learned some stuff. I love the look of the horizontal ghostwood. Throws a nice contrast to the background and really adds interest to the tank.
 

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I really like the lateral matrix of the branches. It exploits activity space splendidly.
 

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Looks great!

I'm using nicrew LED lights on a few of my tanks. It hasn't been very long (a month or so) but I REALLY like them so far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Very impressive!! How can you tell when it needs to be drained?
The back of the tank is drilled and bulk head drain kit (or equivalent) is installed. Mine is just about 1 inch above the base of the tank. Any time the water reaches that depth it will drain out the attached hose and into the waste container.

I can visually check the back of the tank or look underneath the stand if needed.

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Fishstand2.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well after many months finally obtained some R. variabilis 'Southern'. I wasn't for sure what to expect in regards to activity. All four immediately started to rummage around the leaf litter eating springtails. I was glad to see they were so active. I added some more springtails and flies and had flash backs to Hungry Hungry Hippos. They were out and about for about 6 hours before disappearing for the night.

The following morning I turned the lights on lightly misted resulting in stirring up some flies hidden in the leaves and out they came. Things very likely will change but so far they are more bold than I expected at this point.

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