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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

So I am new to the paludarium/viv world, however am a woodworker and cabinetmaker, and general craftsman. I live and breathe construction, but have also been in the aquarium hobby (fresh and salt) for over 10 years (other experience I have in my intro in the newbie section of the board)

This build will have alot of restrictions and challenges. I am very glad to have Dndro as such a good resource as I have been doing research for quite a few months and gathering some needed construction materials. I will also be attending the Toronto Reptile Expo this coming weekend (Jan 27) to search out some build materials like cork and branches/driftwood etc.

The Location:
I live in a condo and unfortunately lots of wall space has been dedicated to storage and my 80 gal cichlid tank and my 30 gallon reef tank. This paludarium will be located offset of a column infront of a window. To make it even more challenging it will be above a mini freezer that is 38" to the solid wood top. The freezer surround is built with solid wood and lag bolted to the concrete next to it. I have 56" from the top to underside of ceiling and may end up using it all (with the false bottom I want below, height of tank, and cabinet/access above).


The Tank:
It is a custom 1/2" glass 75 Gallon column tank. It originally was going to be used for Discus (hence the taller profile) but decided to take the plunge. Exterior dimensions are 24.25"W x 24.25"D x 29.5"H. This gives a rough 75 gallons to work with. Due to the tall profile, this is where my wife and I had the idea to 'sacrifice' 5-6" on the bottom to water to allow us to still house some aquatic plants and MAYBE some small guppies or shrimp...still not decided on this part.

When I got the tank it was in pretty rough shape, it sat outside for something like 2 years. The back glass has a few scratches which I am not too concerned about and the silicone inside looked like it was in rough shape. Being in the building industry, scraping near the joints looks like UV reactive sealant was used to secure the glass together. Either way, entire tank was scraped, washed, disinfected, washed again, taped off, degreased and then resealed with Silicone 1. I typically have contractor packs of this stuff in storage.
(disregard the dead plants in the tank):rolleyes:



The Construction Materials:
I have compiled some of the materials I will be using to build the false bottom, air circulation channels, lid, background, tank surround/cabinet (more on that later)

-Paper towels
-GE Silicone 1
-Paper towels
-Caulking gun
-glass scrapers and lots of replacement blades
-First Aid Kit (because I am bound to cut myself duh)
-Paper towels
-Masking Tape/Frog tape for nice clean caulking lines
-Rubbing Alcohol
-Acetone
-Silicone profile scraper (old credit card cut to profile)
-Paper Towel (Did I say that yet?)
-Respirator and fans (since I am working inside in the middle of -10C weather)
-3/4" PVC for false bottom standoffs
-White lighting diffuser
-Zip ties
-Great Stuff Sprayfoam (I found 16ox Multipurpose Black RV/Marine at HD near me)
-Drylok (grey)
-Titebond 3
-Acrylic Paints (for tinting Drylok)
-All The Tools!

Above is what I have so far. Have some other misc stuff lying around for other stages, but luckily they are still in storage.

Timeline:
Well this is the interesting part. I have always rushed into and finished builds quickly. every 2 years the 80 gallon gets re-scaped in the matter of 24 hours. The reef was assembled in approx 7 days once materials started arriving. This build is going to be longer thought out and implemented. I work from home and typically can spare an hour throughout the day. Family life typically eats up mornings and afternoons and time with the wife afterwards with another hour or 2 to focus on the build. Weekends are sporadic for time to work on the build also.

With all that being said; once I have a clear direction and have all the materials I would like to have the build completed in 5-6 weeks time. I have an image in my head of the design and pretty adamant in sticking to it due to where the pal will sit in the condo and what I am looking for in terms of inspirational photos/builds I have seen. I would then like to have it run for 7 days to off gas anything remaining and ensure the water feature will work without issue. I would then like to place order for all the plants/CUC and get it planted in 7 days and let things cycle and settle

Sorry in advance if this becomes long winded, but I am also tracking this for myself and my daughter. Happy reading and I am gladly open to suggestions as they come.

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Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Progress: False Bottom

Today's small progress was the start of the false bottom. I had mulled over many ideas before with keeping the water feature and false bottom components separate to avoid tannin leaching from the ABG mix I want to use, but with everything I am reading with the potential risks of the divider between the water and non-water areas failing at some point and the false bottom keeping the ABG off the bottom AND the current discussions about ABG alternatives, this is what I have so far:




The false bottom sits at 5.5" above the bottom glass. The shape of the land has been fine tuned a few times to get the right flow....still needs a little bit.

The recessed area between the 2 masses will have a 1/2" bulkhead as the input from a fog machine. It will be masked with a piece of driftwood also. The idea here is to make it look like fog coming out of a cave or tunnel. At the narrow point near the front I am thinking of having a mossy cork round bridge type thing. From that cork back, the water area will be a shallow 1/2"-1" and get deeper from there to the front glass.

3 more bulkheads will be installed on the rear coming from a canister filter. 1 will be the return TO the canister and a valve will split 2 feeds, 1 back directly to the pond, and 1 for a trickle waterfall/stream.

I still need to finish creating the PVC pipe standoffs (cut to 5.25" and channeled at bottom to ensure no stagnant water stays inside of them)

The perimeter of where you see the blue line will get pieces of the light diffuser as my plan here is to cut a long 5" piece and then torch it to bend it to the profile (similar to how you would heat and bend plexi/lexan)

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Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Progress: False Bottom




Finished constructing the false bottom. Used 3/4" PVC stand-offs and my hands regret doing the perimeter diffuser, all the cutting with snips and super-glueing (due to misplacing my tiny zip ties). Of course I found them after the fact so will be using them before the bottom soil cloth.

Speaking of, below is product I have used for raised plant beds to keep soil in and a bit of moisture in. Question Is: Should I use this or should I be using something different? I fear that door screen may allow too fine of particulate to get through.



Another question which I am sure is pretty obvious, is do I need to silicone the false bottom down if the standoffs are secured to the false bottom structure?

Next steps now are to get the holes for the bulkheads drilled. As mentioned, I will be using a canister filter as not a lot of filtration will be needed, but just some. I may be using a ZooMed 501 due to it's small footprint and ease for me to hide it behind the tank. One idea that came to mind was to have a valve and output under the false bottom as to be able to 'wash' out any accumulated dirt or detritus. I would be able to temp turn off the water feature and open the output to get full flow under the false bottom.

I am still debating on if I will treat or camouflage the vertical surface of the false bottom, or just build up the substrate. DSB's are typically used for aerobic/anaerobic bacteria, and this could be a great are for this (I would employ substrate from my cichlid tank to kick start the cycle)

It's slow progress, which is testing me, but I am looking to the end product.

Thanks for reading! Comments and suggestions welcome!

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Andrew
 

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I'm really impressed with your false bottom, it must have taken a lot of patience to curve it so smoothly like that!

I dont think it would hurt to add more silicone just in case, and maybe do a test with your liner that substrate doesnt leak through I can't imagine it'll be too bad especially when your abg is wet and more compact
 

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I would suggest caulking it down, but I am not sure on the life of that fabric submerged.

Solo
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That material breaks down in my garden. I wouldn't use it.

Looks great so far.
I would suggest caulking it down, but I am not sure on the life of that fabric submerged.

Solo
Thanks both! Yea I did some more research on it and I will probably use something else. If I don't plan on replacing the land substrate in 5 years it may break down. It is of organic composition and will degrade. I will look around today at HD or Lowes for some fine polyester based screen.

I'm really impressed with your false bottom, it must have taken a lot of patience to curve it so smoothly like that!

I dont think it would hurt to add more silicone just in case, and maybe do a test with your liner that substrate doesnt leak through I can't imagine it'll be too bad especially when your abg is wet and more compact
I will certainly be adding some silicone. I guess my worry was not being able to get access under the false bottom for some reason. I guess that's not really something I would ever need.

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Andrew
 

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Awesome tank! I can't wait to see when this is done. If you are going to have running water going into the false bottom then you might need something with bigger holes like fiberglass screen. I've found that weedblock or other barriers that have tiny tiny holes and are semi-permeable take a while for water to go through. I'm using two layers of screen for my current viv. (it doesn't have a water feature) and I regret it. I should have only used one layer but I think it will be fine because just in some spots I cut the screen so water might pass through, just in case. You might think about using weedblock or something similar for the abg but switching it up for something different with the water feature.

Also I cant wait to see your selection of frogs since this tank will be so vertical. Another question: are you going to be doing a backround?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Awesome tank! I can't wait to see when this is done. If you are going to have running water going into the false bottom then you might need something with bigger holes like fiberglass screen. I've found that weedblock or other barriers that have tiny tiny holes and are semi-permeable take a while for water to go through. I'm using two layers of screen for my current viv. (it doesn't have a water feature) and I regret it. I should have only used one layer but I think it will be fine because just in some spots I cut the screen so water might pass through, just in case. You might think about using weedblock or something similar for the abg but switching it up for something different with the water feature.

Also I cant wait to see your selection of frogs since this tank will be so vertical. Another question: are you going to be doing a backround?
Hey Ethan, yea I ended up picking up regular fiberglass screen since I didn't want to run the risk of water not passing fast enough through the soil and into the bottom.

Background is coming soon, waiting for the bulkheads to get in, hopefully today so then I can drill and get things better visualized for the crevices, ledges and profile of the back.

In terms of frogs, I played with the idea of tree frogs, but my wife likes the size and character of the PDF's. I want to still do some branches hanging out into the tank in case I still go to a tree type frog but I have heard leucs are good climbers. My issue with the leucs is I am concerned their calling may be too loud. I've never heard it in person in a closed viv so not sure here either.

Ranitomeya Imitator or Auratus are on my wish list however. I am going to wait for the tank to be finished and cycle and have it acclimate so I can see what it's conditions will be without having to heat or cool or mist too much.

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Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter #11
To keep in mind with frog calling is darts will call during the day time or just before/after their light cycle, while treefrogs are going to call at night.

Anyways the leucomelas call is fairly loud but very pleasant IMO.
That's good to know about when. That will probably be deciding factor with the calling at night, would not work in our place.

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Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter #12
This will be a multi-day post since not much has happened due to me being sick on Friday and Saturday and also the Toronto Reptile Expo today.

Made a trip to Home Depot last Friday and saw a few intriguing plants. Of course the Selaginella that I got, my cat peed on it the second I turned my back. Did a few quick freshwater dips to get it mostly rinsed out so hoping for the best....BTW if you can ID any of these that would be awesome (last one is the Selaginella)











I also ended up picking up the mesh to wrap the false bottom and found my bag of zip ties


After wrapping the false bottom I started working on ideas for building up the landscape for the water feature. Still need to figure out the left side but was waiting to pick up the cork pieces. There will be a collection area at the top with some sort of overhang above, which will cascade down to another collection area, then another cascade down to another collection area followed by the 1/2-1" fall to the pond area.






Speaking of cork!


A bit ticked off since I bought 3 bags of the Magnolia leaves and didn't notice the third was missing from the bag they packaged all the cork and misc that I bought from them.

Otherwise the Reptile show was great, saw a pretty cool paludarium display there, however am less than impressed with the Zoomed reptifogger and how little the output was in the small display.


Another good find was a plant source that had some really good looking air plants and broms


Also I have not concluded in regards to heating, whether I am going with something in-water, inline with the filter, or with a heat mat.


Anyway, next steps at this point are to drill the 4 holes for the bulkheads and decide on heating. If it's going to be in tank, I don't want to see it in the display area, so I would need to incorporate a channel to get a heater in and out of the back near the water inlet and outlet.
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Andrew
 

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If you go for an in tank heater, get a Finnex 25W Titanium tube heater. Reef Supplies sells them in Canada. No risk of them breaking if a part of them gets dry.

Solo
 

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Discussion Starter #14
If you go for an in tank heater, get a Finnex 25W Titanium tube heater. Reef Supplies sells them in Canada. No risk of them breaking if a part of them gets dry.

Solo
Thanks for the suggestion Solo, I have a 100W Finnex in my reef aquarium and the 50W Finnex I can get here is still a bit too long for me to be able to maneuver it into the bottom without removing any background (finnex is 6" long)

I've decided to go with a similar heater that I have on my large freshwater, Hydor inline heater.



Hope this doesn't cut down on head pressure for the filer. We shall test once it comes in, if needed I will upsize the filter from the 15 gallon model to the 30 gallon

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Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Progress: Bulkheads

So due to the snow storm we are getting in the city here, my attention has turned to ensuring life support for my other 2 tanks, clean blankets and towels, batteries, battery powere air pumps, 15 gallons of fresh RODI, 10 Gallons of fresh saltwater, just to name a few. I got stuck when we had a winter storm in 2016 and was not prepared (hard lesson learned)

What I did get completed are the 4 holes for the 1/2" bulkheads; I forgot how long it takes to drill 12mm glass. This will set me up nicely to silicone down the false bottom and start laying out the hardscape. Orders for all the remaining supplies will go in this week!




Top left is fog inlet, top right is inlet for water feature, bottom left is the false bottom 'wash-out', and bottom right is the filter return.


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Andrew
 

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Progress: Hardscaping

So after being sick for a few days I tackled a small part of the false bottom and the background. I added the pipe for the false bottom 'flush' and then siliconed the false bottom in place. Then I attached the fogger pipe and ran it to where I wanted the output (forgot to take a pic). Taped over the end and cut all the cork to size for the background. Trying to get this tank on it's back with the bulkheads installed was a bit of a challenge, but nothing a few rolled up towels didn't take care of. Put in a temp pipe for the waterfall outlet.

Roughly laid out:



On it's back and foam started:



One question should i be worried about this hollow spot? There doesn't seem to be anyway in or out of it, foam is in contact all the way around with no gaps. If needed I can poke a hole or 2 in the cork and squeeze in some foam.


Got it upright and started to foam in the waterfall area. Alot of the foam going in is support material so lots will be carved away. Used up all 3 16oz cans and think i need another 2 or 3 to do what I need:





This is starting to look awesome and have a few more pieces of cork I want to put in to get it to look the way I envision.

Any comments or suggestions are welcome!

______
Andrew
 

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Progress: Hardscape

It's always nice to come home to 1 of the 3 large orders you've been waiting for gets here.


So the last few days I have been working on the 'rock-forming' with foam and foaming in the cork logs to form some branches. I was stuck between the decision of lots of branches to allow for more air-plants and orchids, but it would make it difficult to light, vs just enough but making sure the future frogs could cross all bodies of water safely.

This week, the glass top order will go into a local glass supplier that I have used to order glass for my custom aquariums.


Anyway, below is what I believe is how it will stay. All branches are foamed in and foam carved except for the one in the foreground that lays across the waterfall.

The plan is anywhere that should be a branch will get silicone and coco fiber, then the rest will get 5-6 coats of dry lock and acrylic paint to imitate rock.




You can also see the output for the fogger in the back of this cave:


______
Andrew
 

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Progress: Cabinet design and Background

Alright, so I have been busy with work so only have had a bit of time here and there to get things done. I added another cork tube to the tank after getting the tank up onto it's resting place and viewing it from my work desk, couch and kitchen table. Something just seemed to be missing from one spot. I now know I should have designed it more like a root structure than a tree structure (branches/roots coming down vs. branches going up)

One thing I am working on today is getting the coco background material ready for application. Bought a dried brick of it and for the life of me was trying to get it to work without having to soak it but it wasn't working. 4L of water later I had about a gallon worth of coco fibre. Got it layed out on a few baking sheets and have been baking now for almost 2 hours. I am baking at 300F and turning every 20 mins. I am terrified of it catching fire (my oven is sh**). My other contemplation right now is to apply it using either GE I Silicone or Gorilla Glue Original. AHHH, Decisions!


I have also been working towards finalizing the design for the cabinet that will surround the tank and house all the equipment etc. I should be able to house the small zoomed filter in back with all the hosing etc and have a compartment ontop for the electronics. I have not finalized what Lights I am using so the space ontop may become taller. For now I am showing the 2 switch panels and 2 fan controllers.





Let me know your thoughts with profile cutting the side panels to match it to where I would paint black on the tank to block the foam and cork, or if I should straight cut the wood and just leave it with the paint. My idea is my 2 cats will stand and scratch the black paint.

I saw these new Zoomed lights at Big Als this past week when I was taking in some fish I bred. It's a 24" fixture with sound effects. It's called ZooMed AquaEffects - Model 2.


I am not sold on them, just liked the idea if I ran 2. However have heard less than raving reviews of ZooMed lights in general. Spectral is still high on my list.
 

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Progress: Cabinet design and Background

I am not sold on them, just liked the idea if I ran 2. However have heard less than raving reviews of ZooMed lights in general. Spectral is still high on my list.
Probably a good idea to go with spectral designs. Tested by many other froggers and I have heard nothing but positivity. You also can't beat the price for what you are getting.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I definitely agree. At this point shipping and the dollar exchange are what are holding me off from completely pulling the trigger. Also due to the lights going in a cabinet, I am trying to figure out a mechanism that these can either mount or hang from that can be moved to allow access as I understand that the lights should sit directly on or right above the glass top.
 
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