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As many of you know from my previous post I recently re-built my 135 gallon terrarium, adding a sizable drip wall/bog section. In the being all was fine, well almost. I kept thinking there was a leak because my sump was losing water slowly, but I couldn’t find it. In addition my false bottom was gaining water even slower, but much faster then from simply watering the tank (turns out there actually was a leak in the sump).

Well as the tank settled in and I up-graded the pump to my drip wall (and replaced the leaky sump) the rate of water loss from the sump and gain in the false bottom increased significantly. One night I tracked down the culprit. I like to hunt for the frogs at night with a little flash light to see where everybody bedded down for the evening. I don’t do it often nor do I end up finding many frogs, but its fun (and no it weird at all). Well this evening I noticed water dripping down from the false bottom rather quickly, and several hours after the tank was watered none the less.

The way the bog is set up there is a three inch glass divider separating it from the false bottom. The bog is filled with peat and dead leaves which extend up and over the divider and blend seamlessly into the media in the main portion of tank. There is also a large log which extends across the bog and the halfway down the tank. Can anybody see the problem here? This all sets up a very nice path to wick water strait over the divider via capillary action. Which it does quite well.

It was tolerable for awhile. When I installed the background I put in two siphon tubes under the false bottom and one under the bog (there is sort of a false bottom there too, so I am not trying to suck up mud). When it was first set up I was removing a gallon of water every couple of days, then two every couple of days, then one a day, then two a day … and last week it all came to a head when I was removing four gallons once a day with the pump only running when the lights are on. Four gallons is about the sump’s capacity.

So now I am left with no choice but to drill a hole in the bottom of the tank and cut out a section of my false bottom to install a bulkhead. This basically sucks, as I have to drill the glass up side down from inside the stand. Since I can’t build a damn to hold the lubricant, my girlfriend will have to constantly spray the bit with water as I drill (soaking me in the process). You can see how this is not an event to look forward to. But alas there is no other option that I can see. The up side is I know the bottom of the tank is not tempered, because I bought it used with a crack in the bottom corner (which I later broke out to install some plumbing). So there will be no issues here like the time I thought it would be cool to salvage the glass pains from a pepsi cooler and then cut them up to make a tank. Nothing like making the first cut to have a 5 by 3 foot piece of glass explode into a bazillion little shards while you’re barefoot in the work shop (I won’t be doing that again).

Sorry for the long post, but I thought sharing this easily foreseeable mistake might help others. I like a lot of people always forget water is neat stuff (as a biology professor of mine always liked to say) and it does unexpected things. Like “flow” up-hill over a divider and into your false bottom.
 

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Don't feel bad, man. If I hadn't almost killed a pair of my killifish when i was a teenager by draping one thread of a spawning mop over the edge of the tank into the water, I would have never been as careful about potential sources of capillary action when building my tank.

Still, it's a great tank!
 
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