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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi Everyone,

I recently posted a thread asking the community's opinion on 2 different custom vivarium ideas I had. There was an in-wall idea and a 360 cube. The winner from that was the in-wall. Here's a quick mock-up of the idea I had for the in-wall:



I've started planning this project in more detail and wanted to share with the community the build from start to finish. I will need help along the way so this would be good place to keep all conversations regarding this custom viv grouped together. This is going to be a long build. Probably close to a year when its all said and done from first cut into drywall, to tank construction, to hardscaping, to planting, to grow in and finally the introduction of frogs.

PLANNING STAGE

THE LOCATION

Here is the recessed wall I am going to be working with along with dimensions and even stud locations. The main goal of this build is to have the final product look like it was built into the house as part of the decor. When completed, all the internal workings of the tank will be hidden from the viewer with just the front glass allowing the viewer a look into this living piece of art, if you will. The tank’s perimeter will be finished with decorative moulding to match the rest of the house.






THE TANK

The tank will be tall, at almost 45”, and a little less than 24” wide, but not very deep at 12”. It will be made out of 0.25” thick Starphire glass and will feature a sliding front door for feeding and maintenance. The bottom of the space will house the power, pump and brains (ECO500) of the operation. The top will have reserved space for lighting and the misting nozzles and access to refill the water reservoir.






THE RESERVOIR AND CONDUIT

Behind the tank and the drywall will live two PVC tubes. The left will be constructed out of 4” PVC along with some 90 degree elbows to become the tanks water reservoir. The tube on the right will be made out of 2” PVC tubing with two 90 degree elbows and will allow me to run wires and plumbing to the top of the tank. A support shelving, at the bottom will elevate the tank and allow room for the pump and controller.







THE MISTING SYSTEM

MistKing. What else? I will be sending the water from the reservoir up to the top using the MistKing Starter Diaphragm Misting Pump (http://www.mistking.com/Starter-Diaphragm-Misting-Pump.html). Since I will be only running two nozzles, this will be more than enough. Because the tank is not that deep or wide, I opted to use MistKing’s Premium Straight Misting Nozzle (http://www.mistking.com/Starter-Diaphragm-Misting-Pump.html). I spoke to Marty at MistKing and he informed me that the nozzles provide a 24” diameter spread @ 24”.






THE VENTILATION SYSTEM

Because there will be no ventilation holes drill into the actual tank, I devised a plan to run a series of CPU fans to control the temperature and humidity inside the viv. this will be controlled by the ECO500. A custom built piping system will deliver cool air to the bottom-front of the viv (hopefully removing any condensation from the front glass), up through the tank, until it is finally exhausted out by the top-rear exit pipes. Also smaller CPU fans will be installed at the top and bottom of the wall to keep things cool for the lights and electronics. These fans will be constantly running.






THE LIGHTING SYSTEM

This is where I find my biggest challenge. How do I provide enough light to the bottom of this tank without burning the top plants and overheating at the same time? My idea (which will probably change after doing more research), is to use six Jungle Dawn 40W LED Spotlights. Two at the top and four along the sides to fill in the lower areas of the tank. Again, this is just a first thought and my gut is telling me it’s overkill. Hopefully we, as community, can find an effective solution. All I know is that I want to use LEDs, they need to be dimple and compatible by the ECO500. Let the ideas fly. Along with the main grow lights, I plan on adding color to the tank in the way of waterproof, outdoor LED lighting. This is so I can add color to the rampup/down times of the day, moonlight at night and perhaps even a thunderstorm effect timed to the misting schedule.






CONTROLLING THE ENVIRONMENT

As mentioned earlier, I will be using the ECO500 (http://www.mistking.com/Starter-Diaphragm-Misting-Pump.html), from EcoZone to control all aspects of the viv. I chose the ECO500 because of the four controllable 120v outlets, the I/O interface for the MistKing system (this is nice because it frees up an outlet for other uses), and the ability to ramp up/down the main lights in a 24hr cycle. The below plan shows the final location of the unit as well as other details such as hydroballs for drainage, false-bottom, substrate thickness and background thickness.






Well that’s the plan so far. It’ll probably change as I do more research and talk more with other members of this community. Thanks, in advance, for any help. And I hope you enjoy the journey of this idea going from simple 2D plans to reality.

Stay tuned.
 

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Well, someone's a designer of some sort! Nice orthographics :D with the lights, if you were to have them on the sides, how about rather having them opposite each other you could have them stepped, and you could also maybe angle them at like 70 degrees pointing downwards to give it more of a light from the 'sun' look? Just a thought, can't wait to see this :D

*edit - having them at the sides at a 45 degree angle may cause the light to leak out of the viv so if you are looking into it you would basically blind yourself. Don't quote me on that just a concern

Sent from my D5503 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, someone's a designer of some sort! Nice orthographics :D with the lights, if you were to have them on the sides, how about rather having them opposite each other you could have them stepped, and you could also maybe angle them at like 70 degrees pointing downwards to give it more of a light from the 'sun' look? Just a thought, can't wait to see this :D

*edit - having them at the sides at a 45 degree angle may cause the light to leak out of the viv so if you are looking into it you would basically blind yourself. Don't quote me on that just a concern

Sent from my D5503 using Tapatalk

Lol. Yeah. I design websites for a living.

I'm not sold on the lights. I was thinking about angling them so they fire down rather than just straight across.

I have them like this so they can sit flush with the side glass. If I angle them you might be able to see the inside of the wall which is a deal breaker. Ideally I would like to just have a solution at the top so I could create a background on the sides as well. If the side lights fail, I won't be able to access them.
 

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Why go with starfire glass all around when the back and side portions will not be visable to look through.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Why go with starfire glass all around when the back and side portions will not be visable to look through.

I'm just going to use it for the front pieces of glass and top. I'm thinking of something other than glass, that is easier to build with, and can be sealed water tight. I'm open to suggestions.

I hear people use plywood, but not sure how they waterproof wood.
 

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Jonjoyce did an amazing plywood build and he used something called polygem 1319 to seal it, apparently it's made it fully waterproof. I'm not too sure on how expensive it is although I got the jist that it isn't exactly the cheapest

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Jonjoyce did an amazing plywood build and he used something called polygem 1319 to seal it, apparently it's made it fully waterproof. I'm not too sure on how expensive it is although I got the jist that it isn't exactly the cheapest

Sent from my D5503 using Tapatalk

I have a gallon of that Polygem stuff. It is water resistant but not waterproof. I'm planning on using it for hardscape items like mushroom ledges and custom rocks where I need particular shapes I can't find.

Polygemming the entire interior would cost more than using glass all the way around. I'm going to poke around to find that build. Thanks for the heads up.
 

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I would have linked you it but I've no idea how to on a Mobile D: I've once seen someone use sheets of corex before, it's corrugated plastic and joints etc can be sealed with silicone

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are you going to knock the drywall behind the viv out? i know it only saves you 1/2 inch but it would also give you room to route pipes and cables
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
are you going to knock the drywall behind the viv out? i know it only saves you 1/2 inch but it would also give you room to route pipes and cables

I will only knock out what I need to knock out for the PVC pipes. Top light area and bottom equipment area still need to look nice when opened, so the back wall is needed. I'll have plenty of wire and plumbing routing with the 2" conduit.
 

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I have a gallon of that Polygem stuff. It is water resistant but not waterproof. I'm planning on using it for hardscape items like mushroom ledges and custom rocks where I need particular shapes I can't find.

Polygemming the entire interior would cost more than using glass all the way around. I'm going to poke around to find that build. Thanks for the heads up.
Polygem has a variety of products, the 1319 I used is a 100% solids clearcoat epoxy, waterproof, very strong and no toxic fumes. Some members on here suggested it to me, I'm no expert but it's the best product that I know of to waterproof plywood for a vivarium. That being said, I don't see this method being cost-effective on a viv under 200 gallons. It's just too much work when you could buy or make one out of glass for a reasonable price. I've never attempted a project like yours, but I think glass would probably be a good option.

Although having a plywood structure with the stand and hood built in did give me some great opportunities for experimentation. None of the drilling has to be planned in advance, which was a luxury. Plus, the potential for weight capacity is virtually limitless with the right design.

Hope this helps,
Jon
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So I think I am close to finalizing the material the actual tank is going to be built with. Plywood for the sides, back, bottom amd bottom-front (where the excess water will collect for drainage). Top, top-front, bottom-front (where the substrate starts) will be starphire glass. All 0.25" thick.

I am choosing plywood since, those parts will not be seen by the viewer. Easier to work with and cheaper. In terms of waterproofing the wood, I have 2 options based on research:

Pond Armor's Pond Shield Epoxy
This is a non-toxic, paintable epoxy that comes in 8 colors. Based on some reviews though it is not very easy to work with and is pricey. The company claims X amount for X square footage, but users say double that amount.

AMES - BLUE MAX
This stuff is a lot cheaper. Only comes in blue (which is okay since the insides of the viv will be covered in background and hardscaping). This looks like the winner.

Anybody have any experience with these products?
 

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Plans look great, I have one comment though.

I built my first viv without any ventilation and was going to rely on internal air circulation only. After a while I found it really started to get 'stagnant' in there so I tried to increase the fan timing. When I increased the fan timing I began to start having certain times of the day where it got quite dry, so at that point I began scheduling the mistking more often.

Finally I said enough is enough. I ended up having another top piece of glass cut and included two vent holes when I siliconed screen on to. I still use the internal fan a couple times a day, but now its just much 'fresher' inside the viv with a bit of ventilation to allow air exchange.

Just my $0.02 :D
 

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Ive read eniugh stories where water found its way with time. If its inbuild i wouldnt risk any Chance on miniature leaks and potential fungus Problems and would just opt for Glas or some kinda pvc/forex

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ive read eniugh stories where water found its way with time. If its inbuild i wouldnt risk any Chance on miniature leaks and potential fungus Problems and would just opt for Glas or some kinda pvc/forex

Gesendet von meinem GT-I9195I mit Tapatalk

Yeah. I have to be real careful of the material I choose for the tank. If there is a leak it's a complete tear down. As the moisture not only effects the tank but my house as well. Thanks for the eye opener. Rethinking natural materials for enclosure.
 

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Glass is so reliable and easy to seal, I can't see any reason not to do it. The cost savings would be marginal, if any. JonJoyce told you that you weren't likely to see any cost savings going the treated plywood method. The hours to get it right are almost certainly in favor of glass. It is just so easy to get some GE Silicone 1 clear and seal the glass. Done. And, if you did it right, there is very little reason to ever wonder what's going on back there.

Also, plus one to erikm's comments about getting some sort of external ventilation going in there. Maybe you already have that planned. I am not sophisticated enough to follow all of your drawings :)

Best of luck and I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Project construction officially starts.

Back wall opened for receptacle, water reservoir and conduit install.






Conduit (black pipe) assembled and main body of reservoir (white pipe) assembled and fittings cemented.






Pipes and receptacle dry fitted into space.

 
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