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Hello, Firstly let me tell you what the structure is like . I have what you would call a 150 gallon high aquarium 48" X 24" x 30". Then i added an addition to going upward and sort of like a hutch like structure on top lined with 1/4" metal machine cloth. ( i used to have a veiled chameleon in the upper part), that i plan on attaching plexi glass over the machine cloth to help keep humidity in. the "hutch like structure is almost the same dimensions as the aquarium under it it sits on top of. It has no bottom , so things can go between both spaces. the hutch is like is 48" x 20 " X 30", and a very large door in the front that extends out the front another 2" making the width actually 22". The door is most of the front of the "hutch". I made it like that so i can get the glass panels for the aquarium in and they are placed in at a 45 degree angle and can't just push the glass panels up and get out. So roughly the interior is 48" x 24" x 60" What i am thinking to put in there is peacock cichlids at the bottom, and either pygmy chameleons up top ( anyone know how high they will climb) , or tree frogs like red eye tree frogs , tiger legged tree frogs, stuff like that. i am going for look of a coastal prehistoric forest.

Ok i am thinking below will be water upto about 17" or 18" making the water space 48" x 24" x 17 3/4". for the island chain i was thinking food safe 12 gal buckets that are 15 " diameter x and 18" tall. I am going to use them as planters then hide them with the 500 lbs of base rock i have in a bin from past setups, and try to make it look like a mountain chain under water. I want to plant a bunch of tropical water lilies in there too. But the island chain will consist of 3 islands, and will use the base rock to change how they look so they don't look like cylinders in water. In 2 of the buckets i am thinking like dwarf tree ferns like silver leaf which get 3 1/2 ft tall, and i have a dracaena "corn plant " where i cut the cane short enough it also will stay short. how i have it groomed it almost looks like a couple of palm trees. I also will put in some small cycads, I know they can get 3 to 5 ft, but they are also very slow growers. if i have to if it becomes a problem i can take them out and keep them as a potted house plant. croton might look nice also. what i want though is some stuff that stays lower ( like grows 1 or 2 ft) and stuff that grows most of the 5 ft up, but without growing so tall its pushing on the roof of the enclosure. In the very right corner of the enclosure i also have a waterfall that falls from the very top. in the background i am just gonna use a universal rock background. for the water pump and intake for the FX 4 canister filter i will use some of the rock to make a small sectioned off spot in the back right corner to try to keep things from getting back in there and then put a cap stone on it. in the buckets and in the planter up top ( more on that below) i want to add some isopods and spring tails.

In the "hutch " like upper area it also has a stone like background hiding the metal machine cloth behind it. from it i have branches and stuff coming out of it like trees that have grown into a rock wall, and plant it as a tropical arboreal terrarium, birds nest ferns , orchids , rattlesnake plants, orchids, bromeliads., and i forget what they are called but commonly just called air plants. One of the branches is so wide that i could even plant some moss on it, its like 4" or 5" wide. the water fall i will put java moss in it. I also thought of how to do a DIY auto mister using a smaller water pump, put a replacement garden hose end on it for a connection then run it to a couple of splitters that each go out to 4 wide shower heads, then plug it in with a digital light timer set for 1 min. i want the water to come out with less pressure then a typical shower, but not so low it doesn't have enough pressure to take use of the entire surface of the shower head. There is one optical illusion in there , between the top of the aquarium and bottom of the hutch is structural supports for the hutch that goes between 2 2 x4s ( you can't see them due to the space between aquarium glass panels and under the "hutch door" is what is the bottom of the "hutch is a 2" x 4'), but between those 2 x4s is some plexi glass below and above it to make a " box", in the box is some LED bulbs , so more light for the aquarium section and so canopy doesn't shade the water too much for the aquatic plants below. on top of that "light box" i have low profile 20" ceramic pot, at the drainage holes on the bottom i sacrificed a media bag and glued it to the bottom as a strainer so water can get out, but not soil media, as a barrier before the drainage holes i have some crushed coral gravel also as a filter layer in the pot. I am thinking to put the hot spot ( do tree frogs need a hot spot ) above the waterfall sitting on the metal mesh. I at one time was thinking a water dragon, but i was a afraid of it eating the plants and the fish. If i did another chameleon again i would do a smaller one maybe from pygmys to as big as maybe a dwarf jackson. instead of the frogs chameleon, and even then with a dwarf jackson i still almost see it going for peacock cichlids even though they are like 5" to 8" fish. I know from experience chameleons can swim ( more floating then swimming but they can slowly), but they are not the strongest swimmers , so my other fear with chameleons is them falling into the water.

So does anyone see anything as improvements, or problems or just plain advice? Also if you see another option to occupy the upper areas with the fish below let me know. it can't ne too fast , because the hutch door is massive( it was originally for a chameleon so speedy things getting out wasn't an issue. Like day geckos would be pretty but afraid they would dash the door faster then i can close it as the door is 45" long.)
 

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I strongly encourage you to only add a water feature when the animals will actively use both the water and the land. To me, there is no need to restrict the space for the terrestrial animals, or the aquatic ones. The fish will certainly use all 150 gallons if it is given to them, and the herps will do the same. Water features can be dangerous for many animals-you brought up the chameleons falling into them. Also, they can dramatically raise humidity. For most animals, the level of humidity brought on by a water feature is too high. That is even the case with most dendrobatids. If you follow through on this tank, please consider optimizing the entire tank for the inhabitants. That either means reconsidering the design, or reconsidering the stocking. There are countless semi-aquatic amphibians that could do well in this sort of enclosure. There are also some snakes. I was at the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco a little while ago (Fantastic place, check it out if you are ever over there) and they had a vine snake enclosure. I do not know what species they were, but I got to see them actively fishing for livebearers that were breeding in the water feature. There was a gorgeous paludarium for them, with vines growing through the branches which were hanging over the water feature. The fish had a lot of space, and the entire enclosure was optimized for the snakes, which were able to actively hunt and forage for food. I would consider that a successful paludarium. Now, these snakes are probably impossible to find for a private keeper, but that enclosure goes to show what is possible.
-Oscar
 

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I strongly encourage you to only add a water feature when the animals will actively use both the water and the land. To me, there is no need to restrict the space for the terrestrial animals, or the aquatic ones. The fish will certainly use all 150 gallons if it is given to them, and the herps will do the same. Water features can be dangerous for many animals-you brought up the chameleons falling into them. Also, they can dramatically raise humidity. For most animals, the level of humidity brought on by a water feature is too high. That is even the case with most dendrobatids. If you follow through on this tank, please consider optimizing the entire tank for the inhabitants. That either means reconsidering the design, or reconsidering the stocking. There are countless semi-aquatic amphibians that could do well in this sort of enclosure. There are also some snakes. I was at the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco a little while ago (Fantastic place, check it out if you are ever over there) and they had a vine snake enclosure. I do not know what species they were, but I got to see them actively fishing for livebearers that were breeding in the water feature. There was a gorgeous paludarium for them, with vines growing through the branches which were hanging over the water feature. The fish had a lot of space, and the entire enclosure was optimized for the snakes, which were able to actively hunt and forage for food. I would consider that a successful paludarium. Now, these snakes are probably impossible to find for a private keeper, but that enclosure goes to show what is possible.
-Oscar
Just did some research-they were Burmese vine snakes, Ahaetulla fronticincta
 

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Please do search "mixing" here and read the threads, especially but not only the points about pathogen transfer between species. There are also many issues to consider in the 'design the enclosure for the species' department; one that stands out is the idea to use very high light plants in an enclosure for animals that prefer shade.

On that note, please do consider starting the project by determining the precise husbandry needs of the target species, and building an enclosure for them -- shoehorning animals into visually appealing but habitat-inappropriate displays isn't a good way to keep animals. Biting off more than one can chew in terms of enclosure complexity is also often a bumpy ride to failure. With all due respect, it sounds as if you're not very familiar with caring for the plants you're considering (and the ways in which the target animals will interact with those plants), either; mixing unfamiliar plants with widely differing needs is a lot harder than a person might guess.
Also, I don't know if the risks are known but I personally wouldn't use hardware cloth in an amphibian enclosure, as I suspect zinc is not friendly to amphibians.

I'd recommend against DIY misters in such a build, mostly because the cost savings will be 1% of the total project cost, but is much more important ithan 1% in terms of overall enclosure operation. Actually, I recommend against them in all cases since MistKings are so crazy reliable, and have a resale value down the road.
 

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I would only recommend doing such a viv with a truly amphibious species, some examples would be... mossyfrogs "highly recommend" some newts "only if your dedicated and ready for a challenge", fire belly toads "you can have a couple in one tank-try and buy them from a breeder not a petstore",
There are other frogs that would work even small semi aquatic Ranidae if the footprint is large enof*. if you really wanted sumting* different you could try a brackish environment with crabs, or sea slaters "they will eat plants". or mudskippers.

I do not recommend mixing species and the notion that animals will stay in different "zones" is false the examples i listed are animals i think could be kept in a tank with a island layout not necessary what you have in mind do ye* research on the animals you want to keep and shoot for the ideal habitat they need not what they will "tolerate".
 

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I've seen someone do something similar to your idea with darts. But your tank is not big enough to do it. I'm not sure how many gallons his tank was but it was 10' in length with a height of 48". If your tank isn't that big then all you're doing is denying your frogs the space they need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Please do search "mixing" here and read the threads, especially but not only the points about pathogen transfer between species. There are also many issues to consider in the 'design the enclosure for the species' department; one that stands out is the idea to use very high light plants in an enclosure for animals that prefer shade.

On that note, please do consider starting the project by determining the precise husbandry needs of the target species, and building an enclosure for them -- shoehorning animals into visually appealing but habitat-inappropriate displays isn't a good way to keep animals. Biting off more than one can chew in terms of enclosure complexity is also often a bumpy ride to failure. With all due respect, it sounds as if you're not very familiar with caring for the plants you're considering (and the ways in which the target animals will interact with those plants), either; mixing unfamiliar plants with widely differing needs is a lot harder than a person might guess.
Also, I don't know if the risks are known but I personally wouldn't use hardware cloth in an amphibian enclosure, as I suspect zinc is not friendly to amphibians.

I'd recommend against DIY misters in such a build, mostly because the cost savings will be 1% of the total project cost, but is much more important ithan 1% in terms of overall enclosure operation. Actually, I recommend against them in all cases since MistKings are so crazy reliable, and have a resale value down the road.
My problem with mistking and other store bought misters is they will clog up with mineral deposits and such unless you use distilled water. This is drawing from the aquarium which will be an 8.2 Ph and hard water for the fish. i am not restricting sections of the tank, i am just trying to make land masses for planters ( islands) within the body of water, so i can plant terrestrial plants in the planters, so roots have to not be soaking in water and to hold in soil. Most of the plants i will be using like high humidity but not standing roots in water. i am mostly thinking of tree frogs for this reason of the humidity. but i do want african cichlids on the bottom populating the water. I am not really interested in breeding them, but if a few tadpoles survive the gauntlet of the fish below so be it. Peacock cichlids get about 5" to 8", so not big enough to swallow the frogs or even froglets if that tadpoles make it that far. As for the enclosure its self its already made, i am reusing one i have already, just basically redoing the decorations and such on the inside, and if i need to to keep in more humidity i have some plexi glass panels to attach on the outside in front of the machine cloth to seal in more humidity. I do alot of research when i do my set ups , like toxicology and animal /plant requirements. Like another reason i might lean towards tree frogs is they don't eat plants, and some of the plants i want to use are toxic to eat. i can give some pics of it as it was setup last time. it will be a lot the same though how i am arranging the bottom will be different .the files are .jfif format. one change is the water level will not be as high, like the aquarium height is 30", i would only do up to about half way to maybe 18" of water for the "islands".
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My problem with mistking and other store bought misters is they will clog up with mineral deposits and such unless you use distilled water. This is drawing from the aquarium which will be an 8.2 Ph and hard water for the fish. i am not restricting sections of the tank, i am just trying to make land masses for planters ( islands) within the body of water, so i can plant terrestrial plants in the planters, so roots have to not be soaking in water and to hold in soil. Most of the plants i will be using like high humidity but not standing roots in water. i am mostly thinking of tree frogs for this reason of the humidity. but i do want african cichlids on the bottom populating the water. I am not really interested in breeding them, but if a few tadpoles survive the gauntlet of the fish below so be it. Peacock cichlids get about 5" to 8", so not big enough to swallow the frogs or even froglets if that tadpoles make it that far. As for the enclosure its self its already made, i am reusing one i have already, just basically redoing the decorations and such on the inside, and if i need to to keep in more humidity i have some plexi glass panels to attach on the outside in front of the machine cloth to seal in more humidity. I do alot of research when i do my set ups , like toxicology and animal /plant requirements. Like another reason i might lean towards tree frogs is they don't eat plants, and some of the plants i want to use are toxic to eat. i can give some pics of it as it was setup last time. it will be a lot the same though how i am arranging the bottom will be different .the files are .jfif format. one change is the water level will not be as high, like the aquarium height is 30", i would only do up to about half way to maybe 18" of water for the "islands".
forgot to mention the chameleon in that picture was very sick , he had tongue rot and his tongue was no longer usable to catch prey due to the amount of scar tissue on it it lost all elasticity. We were able to cure him of the tongue rot, and at that point he was still being hand fed with high calorie food to try to get his body weight up, but he was so weak , and the food just wasn't enough calories to get it back up, he died shortly after that picture. I was trying to get him to learn to eat from a hanging cup feeder, but even wax worms were able to evade him even in a controlled tight space of the cup. He at that point had been hand fed for about 6 to 7 months at that point and while he tried to catch prey in the cup it proved too challenging for him. I had spent like $700 in vet bills on him, but nothing was working.
 

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Those peacock cichlids are at least going to try and take your frogs and because they cant swallow them whole it will be a horrid bloodbath. Cichlids are ferocious, I had one Appistogramma Cacatouides who attacked a mid sized amano shrimp and won. They are basically a mouth and a stomach and try to swallow everything. Your cichlids will probably end up chocking on one of your frogs...

If I understand correctly you want an aquatic part and a terrestrial part, with a species on the land that both utilizes land and water, combined with a fish of some sort. This has been done many times before, but I have a feeling that you want to reinvent the wheel.

Most (if not all) people on here are against mixing species. Personally, I don't think it's that bad to have a paludarium with a frog that's accustomed to water (so no terrestrial dart frog or tree frog) and some fish in the water. However, common sense is very important and I think previous experience with every species you intend to keep is a must.
 
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