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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I bought about 20 plant clippings of various dots from Etsy and about 5 bromeliads from someone else. I have been letting my tank cycle for a little over a month now and ALL my plants are dying. My setup: 40 gallon eco terra, plant lights, 40mm fan circulating air within the tank, automatic mister going 20 seconds every 8 hours with RO water, after mist humidity 86% average maintenance humidity 80% temps average about 73 degrees, isopods and springs introduced day 1, lights on only 12 hours a day, substrate ABG mix with coco husk topped with sphagnum moss and frog moss, background made out of expanded foam with cork pieces and covered in aquarium safe silicone and substrate cured 6 weeks prior to introduction of plants, plants all processed per NEherp site, drainage layer of egg crate and barrier. I have digital temp and hygrometer, I am putting darts in but want it to be more grown in and it looks as bare as the day I planted it with some all out dying. My broms are mounted and all plants have sphagnum around roots. What am I doing wrong
Plant Wood Vegetation Trunk Grass
Plant Wood Cabinetry Grass Terrestrial plant
Plant Wood Organism Terrestrial plant Grass
 

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Hold off on frogs for a while.

It looks from the photos that there isn't any screen on top. There should be at least a few inches of screen strip all along the back of the top. Making it larger than you think you need, and then covering up part of it with glass or acrylic overlays is the best way to go so you can adjust ventilation when needed.

It is hard to tell for certain from the photos, but the plants look dry. Fresh clippings, especially, need constantly moist substrate (and restricting the ventilation at this stage of the game -- while they're growing roots -- isn't a bad thing for them. Sometimes I invert a clear cup over them for a while). If so, I'd recommend removing the sphagnum layer and frog moss (troublemakers both) and soaking the viv -- I can't see the nozzle setup exactly, but spray a quart of water into it for starters. Misting should be during daylight hours only -- plants need some dry off periods. A heavy misting (raining) in the AM and then one eight hours later wouldn't be a bad place to start.

Ignore the humidity readings -- they're just misleading, and misting wrecks the sensor anyway.

It looks like there's a can-style light on the viv? I doubt that gives good coverage to the whole viv. A strip, or full panel light, would be much more effective in that shape viv.

Nice looking hardscape, BTW. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for the advice. How do I get the strip you are talking about when the glass goes all the way up. I will remove the moss, but what should I put on top of the substrate when it’s time to move my dart frogs in? I know lots of leaf litter but I don’t want them to be stressed with all the substrate on their skin. I am upgrading the light to a strip light so the whole viv can be lit up. As far as the quart should I basically always have a little water in the bottom of the tank?? Like under the false bottom? And then by heavy rain how long would that be?? So basically most 2x daily for how long? I have a timer strip so I can control whether it runs at night or not. I have 2 nozzles at the front in each corner and angled various directions to attempt to hit all plants, however I notice the middle and some areas still remain dry. Thank you in advance for your advice. I just don’t want to put even more money into plants to go south and that has been the only thing I cannot seem to get off the ground lol
 

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The glass on top should be as long (left to right) as the viv is long, but a handful of inches short from front to back. In that leftover space you either glue screen (works, a bit messy looking) or make a screen insert using a window screen kit from the hardware store. Like this (ignore the part about drilling the low vents, as ExoTerras already have low vents under the doors). Though that doesn't look like an ExoTerra. Is it?

Or (easiest method) put the stock top back on and cut some acrylic inserts to fit the screen that leave an open screen area along the back.

Multiple layers of leaf litter on top of the ABG is the best way (you can break up the magnolia leaves for some smaller pieces). The frogs won't be stressed by ABG.

Well, if there is water in the drainage area, and that level consistently but slowly increases, then perhaps the viv is being watered enough. Is the ABG dry, moist, or wet?

With a misting system you should be prepared to hand mist the areas that get missed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Oh I see what you mean…I thought you meant in the front like the doors….the top is all mesh. So I should cover it 3/4 of the way?? The abg is only wet where it just misted. There is no water underneath at all. I’ll gets the leaf litter is set up and remove the moss I’ll fix the lights as well. As I said it gets misted every 8 hours for about 20 seconds. I will turn it off at night and mist every hours but for how long? And then start hand misting areas that are getting missed. So aside from how long to mist, what to cover the top mesh with, and fixing the lights as leaf litter I think the only thing I need to know is do I put water in the bottom under the egg crate bottom. Then I need to buy more plant clippings and start over. Ugh…..so much to do lol. I thought I had thought of it all.
 

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Cuttings are the cheapest, but not the easiest way to start with plants. After you do all the suggested things, if you’re still having trouble rooting cuttings, I use a closed bin with a layer of long-fiber sphagnum and a cheap cabinet light - or it could be as simple as a food container with a little moist sphagnum placed somewhere with filtered natural light. That way the humidity stays extremely high, which reduces plant transpiration until they have roots and can effectively take up water. Here’s a mostly Begonia propagation bin:

Terrestrial plant Adaptation Plant Natural material Annual plant
 

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Cuttings are the cheapest, but not the easiest way to start with plants. After you do all the suggested things, if you’re still having trouble rooting cuttings, I use a closed bin with a layer of long-fiber sphagnum and a cheap cabinet light - or it could be as simple as a food container with a little moist sphagnum placed somewhere with filtered natural light. That way the humidity stays extremely high, which reduces plant transpiration until they have roots and can effectively take up water. Here’s a mostly Begonia propagation bin:

View attachment 301796
This is what I do whatever I have a batch of cuttings. So much easier than trying to get them to start rooting in the vivariums.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So logically speaking it can take months before I have enough of a root system to plant my tank lol. Well I suppose I’ll buy more plant cuttings and get those started
 

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So aside from how long to mist, what to cover the top mesh with, and fixing the lights as leaf litter I think the only thing I need to know is do I put water in the bottom under the egg crate bottom.
You don't need to actually pour water into the drainage (well, some people do this in a fight against their living in a desert climate, but that's different than your situation) -- it collects the water that drains through the ABG. You can determine how much water needs to be added via misting by monitoring the water level in the drainage layer: if it never collects water, and you suspect the plants may be too dry, then increasing the volume of each 'misting' (raining) session may be a good idea. If the drainage layer fills once a week, likely decreasing the volume of each session is a good idea. So this answers the 'how long to mist' question; each viv is different by a factor of at least four, I'd guess. Other than the hassle of draining the drainage layer, there is no harm in adding too much water via misting at one time (there is harm in misting too frequently, though), so if there is any suspicion that the plants are struggling for water then I would open the taps, so to speak.

On the mesh top: is it an ExoTerra? Different brand/style vivs need a different approach, as I believe some don't have low vents under the door and might best be handled as a fish tank viv (I don't know; I've never used this kind).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You don't need to actually pour water into the drainage (well, some people do this in a fight against their living in a desert climate, but that's different than your situation) -- it collects the water that drains through the ABG. You can determine how much water needs to be added via misting by monitoring the water level in the drainage layer: if it never collects water, and you suspect the plants may be too dry, then increasing the volume of each 'misting' (raining) session may be a good idea. If the drainage layer fills once a week, likely decreasing the volume of each session is a good idea. So this answers the 'how long to mist' question; each viv is different by a factor of at least four, I'd guess. Other than the hassle of draining the drainage layer, there is no harm in adding too much water via misting at one time (there is harm in misting too frequently, though), so if there is any suspicion that the plants are struggling for water then I would open the taps, so to speak.

On the mesh top: is it an ExoTerra? Different brand/style vivs need a different approach, as I believe some don't have low vents under the door and might best be handled as a fish tank viv (I don't know; I've never used this kind).
This is Not an Exoterra, which I DID say it was in my original post. This is I believe a reptizoo knock down terrarium with double hinges open front doors. The only mesh is the lid
 

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This is Not an Exoterra, which I DID say it was in my original post. This is I believe a reptizoo knock down terrarium with double hinges open front doors. The only mesh is the lid
Ah, then my suggestions aren't very applicable -- they're all made assuming that there are low vents to allow for passive ventilation. Sorry for the confusion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ah, then my suggestions aren't very applicable -- they're all made assuming that there are low vents to allow for passive ventilation. Sorry for the confusion.
Oh ok lol so I don’t need to put a strip of glass over the top? I do have a 40 mm fan with a guard on it that I added last week on the inside side of my tank to circulate air that’s in the tank. should I set up an entirely different tank?
 
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