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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Plant Plant community Leaf Wood Organism


Phase 1 of my Cloud Forest-inspired vivarium is complete!

I have a few prior posts on this build, but lots of changes have occurred since those posts and I’m really happy with the current status of the project. The biggest structural change was sending the vivarium off for surgery, to make it vented with sliding glass doors at the front. This made building and maintenance 10000x easier. I parked the idea of a water feature until I keep a species like glass frogs, or atelopus (if they ever arrive in England) that have breeding preferences for laying above and/or in running water. I would also want an even larger build and still keep the water element on the small side. But I digress…

The inspiration for the build is a mid-elevation montane rainforest on the slopes of the Andes. Rather than selecting a specific country or micro-region, I wanted to include a variety of plants that spanned across Peru and Ecuador and even into Colombia, but all inhabiting a similar eco region/climate. I want to add mini orchids in future that appreciate temperature drops, so selecting plants (and frogs) that appreciate lower temperatures than their lowland cousins was essential for me.

In future, I am leaning towards stocking the vivarium with an army of Ranitomeya Sirensis ‘Highland’, but am also heavily considering Ranitomeya Variabilis ‘Southern’ and Ameerega Silverstonei.

The hardscape consists of a cork mosaic and sphagnum moss mosaic background, Manzanita Wood for the branches, a large trunk of Millennium/Mystery wood (same tree as redmoor root/spiderwood), liana vine, and some Seriyu (I think?) stones. There are also random pieces of unidentified wood dotted around, such as the large stump on the left hand side. The base layer is filter foam method, carved to flow down from back-right to front-left in imitation of the slopey cloud forest terrain.

Rectangle Art Glass Wood Display case


Many of the aroids came from an Ecuagenera import. All did very well apart from the Philodendron Lynnhannoniae. This guy dropped all of his leaves after coming in looking very tired. I have chucked the rooted stem in the viv to see if it might miraculously recover, but I am not holding out hope.

Phase 2 of the vivarium will be to add mini orchids, some vines and branches higher up in the viv, and upgrade the lighting and technology generally. This will come once the vivarium has grown in more.

The 3rd and final phrase will be adding frogs 🐸

Dimensions

120cm x 60cm x 90cm
48” x 24” x 36”

650 Litres
180 Gallons (US)

Plants 🌱

Anthurium Polyschistum
A. Arisaemoides
A. Cutucuense
A. Villenaorum
A. Pallidiflorum

Philodendron Lynnhannoniae
P. Verrucosum sp. Mindo
P. Villamagense Paru
P. Ernestii

Monstera Subpinnata
M. Dubia

Vriesea Hieroglyphica
V. Fosteriana
Neoregelia Fireball

Elaphaglossum Peltatum
Pepperomia Emarginella
Solanum Uleanum
Marcgravia Umbellata Red
Various other Marcgravia Sp.

I deliberately only added 3 large bromelia to (hopefully) ease egg and tadpole deposition visibility from my end. I’ll add some tadpools or film canisters once frogs are in.

Enjoy the view from the green corner of the room. It really brings the space to life and just being able to view it gives me a real sense of calm.


And the vivarium’s most attractive angle in my opinion…

Plant Terrestrial plant Organism Wood Trunk


99% of everything I did in this build was filmed, and look forward to sharing the 6-part series (thanks for this recommendation @Gemma ) on YouTube.

Thanks for reading, happy to answer any questions! Which frogs do you think should live here?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for advice guys. Maybe my post was unclear, but there will be no water feature. In previous iterations of the build I was thinking of doing it, but decided against it
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I like the way the layout looks, but I want to inform you that those vriesea will grow waaaay to large in no time.
Thank you. I've had them for the best part of a year and so far they haven't grown much at all so I'll just keep monitoring them and replace if needs be. But yeah I wanted some larger bromeliads that would provide good nurseries for the tadpoles but without them overpowering the vivarium. If you know any 'mid-sized' bromeliads that could work please let me know.

if it was up to me, I'd go for around 5 Ranitomeya variablis or sirenis max.
Yeah I think that's about what I'll start with and see how it goes.

A.Silverstonei would not be a great choice for this enclosure since they would not be able to make a lot of usage of the layout.
To be honest I haven't done much research about them, outside of knowing they come from a very similar habitat as Sirensis, and might appreciate the temperatures/conditions of this viv. Do you say this because they're larger and need long open spaces to hop around?

In your pictures it does seem the tank has a waterfeature on it's left side?
It's not a water feature 😅 There is no water in it. Just a depression, part of the slope from back right to front left.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Normaly both those Vriesea will grow easily up to 50cm in diameter. Vriesea Eruthrodactylon is a good midsized bromeliad, one often preferred over any other bromeliads in my enclosures for the Oophaga to drop of tadpoles.
Oh believe me, I WISH we could get Eruthrodactylon in the UK but at present they are incredibly scarce. The tank has a LONG time to grow in before frogs arrive, so perhaps they will become available in that time. Thanks.

Yes. The Ameerega are a lot larger and your enclosure's layout (branches) doesn't provide enough useable space for them.
Yeah that makes sense. The hardscape is very busy, it is more oriented to a 'semi-arboreal' Ranitomeya sp. that can happily walk along the thin branches and are generally much smaller.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Here’s some inspiration

How do you plan on getting those temp drops?
Ah, I absolutely love Indra's build. Incredibly naturalistic, just like a scene from cloud forests I have been fortunate enough to see in person. I might create a mood board/inspiration list, and this viv would be very high up. In truth though, I don't currently have the budget for the amount of plants he has in that one 😅. Also there is less availability for those smaller plants in England than North America. Sounds ambitious but I was aiming for something between that build and a Troy Goldberg style with fewer plants/small epiphytes but just as visually appealing in a slightly different way.

The temperature drops is such a good question - I have done so much research on it, and there doesn't seem to be a simple solutions that benefits all plants and animals simultaneously. The viv has 3 holes drilled in the back, one towards the top-left corner. I had considered adding some kind of cool mist humidifier there to kick in very briefly in early morning and night. This type of fogging is recommended in some of the dart frog literature I have read, but having a thick fog is discouraged by users on this site for the potential detriments to the frogs. It would be the perfect solution for the mini-orchids if this viv remained a terrarium only.

A major part of wanting a water feature initially was that evaporative cooling seems to be the most efficient way of reducing temperatures. That being said, a heavier evening misting from the automated system, accompanied by fans could be the best solution here. I do have a remote monitoring system which I will hook up in time, and will be able to see the temperature graphs.

England in general is pretty cold, and I think room temperatures are a few degrees lower than North America, so perhaps keeping the room cooler and then heating during the day could also be an option. But the 40 degree days in summer are ominous (cheers to the climate crisis 🍻), and I have heard from friends some of the aroids such as a. cutucuense struggling when the temperatures rise, but bouncing back over winter. No doubt the orchids will be even more fussy.

Let me know if you have any other recommendations or think one options seems better than others :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
What orchids are you looking at? I can perhaps comment on the temperature drop with that info.
I planned on starting with 3 of the following:

Masdevallia Sernae
Specklinia Grobyi
Lepanthes Calodictyon

This was a combination of reviews and relative ease of growing, climate preferences, availability, price, and looks.

More than open to suggestions on these and others, thanks :)
 
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