Dendroboard banner

1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
211 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, This is my first post here so be gentle. Am just getting started with vivarium building. I've read many different sources regarding false bottom construction. I thought plastic egg-crate was generally accepted as the best method for setting up recirculating water features, etc. Then I read an article in a recent Reptile Magazine that did away with the egg crate and used foam "peanuts" as a drainage layer on the bottom. Seemed like a much more elegant solution without the ugly edge of the eggcrate to worry about. The peanuts were hidden from view by using a stiff card to insert a layer of aliflor between the glass and peanuts. Then I recently went to the Daytona Reptile Expo and saw some stunning displays that used LECA (aka Aliflor) as a drainage layer directly on the tank bottom. A small pool was dug out on one end, and the Aliflor was covered with a layer of sheet batting (polyester fiber from Walmart) and on top of this was a heavy layer of "Atlanta Botanical Garden Mix" that was nicely sculpted. Java moss, plants and rocks were used to cover the bottom of the pool. A pump was concealed in a back corner in short section of 4" pvc pipe. The aliflor seemed to work very well as a "false bottom". Seems like it is much easier, is lightweight, and would serve the same purpose as a more complicated system of egg-crate and window screen. Is there an advantage to the "old-school" egg-crate method that I am overlooking ??
George
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
200 Posts
Egg Crate vs. LECA

I like the eggcrate because I can see the water build up. I guess if you use a pump you wouldn't have to worry about water build up though. I also like it because if something goes wrong under there I can dig through the dirt level, lift a section of the eggcrate and fix it. Whereas with LECA, you'd have to dig out the top dirt layer and the LECA layer to get to the problem. There was a recent post about concealing false bottoms that you might want to look at. It's in the Parts section.

http://www.dendroboard.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2559
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
986 Posts
It's really mostly preference between using the LECA and a false bottom. I personally like using the egg crate for a false bottom for three reasons.

First, in larger tanks, it takes a lot of LECA (Aliflor, etc) to make a suitable drainage layer.

Second, LECA takes up volume, so you can fit less water in the bottom of a tank that has LECA. That may not seem important, but if you have a water feature, water will evaporate from your water reserves more quickly than you think.

Finally, if you use a false bottom setup with a water feature, you can make an access hatch to easily get to and remove your pump, etc. without digging and messing up your tank. I usually use a piece of flagstone/slate to cover my access hatch.

However, like I said, it's largely a preference issue, and what works best in your specific situation. I would be more likely to use LECA in a 10 gallon than a 55 gallon. However, with that said, my 10 gallons have a hidden false bottom. I hope something I said helped.
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Am I the only one who uses both?

I put the leca ontop of the false bottom partly for landscaping purposes and partly for keeping the coco/peat/dirt from resting directly on top of the screen (and getting into the water) I'll actually use gravel too even.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
211 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanx for the info! I can see the benefit for a false bottom on a larger vivarium I suppose. I set up a smaller 20 gallon tank with the LECA drainage layer and it works beautifully. For access to the pump I used a short piece of 4" pvc that I cut into a half-round section, I slotted the bottom 1 inch to allow water to enter the "chamber" and glued it to the back of the tank. I used a piece of filter batting to plug the top. This gives me easy access to the pump. The pump return tube is buried and it dumps water back into the pool on the opposite end. I got a 90 gallon "Lizard Lounge" that I also want to set up but I think I'll take your advice and use the eggcrate bottom for that one. Should be cheaper than using an entire 40 qt bag of aliflor. Question. If i cut a section of the egg crate out to make a pond, what is the best way to finish the sides of the pond to provide a natural slope down to the bottom, keep rocks, gravel, or frogs from getting under the eggcrate, and to still allow the water to permeate from the pond to the rest of the tank reservoir. I thought about using some of that nylon needle point screening for a edge skirt. It's flexible and permeable. Think that will work?? George
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
211 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for sharing those pics of Jason's setup. Looks great. Obviously he has a buried pump to recirculate the water?? Wonder if he made a separate accessible chamber for the pump, or did he just bury it ??
George
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
I remember not so long ago there was a discussion about the lizard lounges. I dont think they are built to hold water and i thought either some one had one leak or was afraid it would leak maybe u could dig it up so, just be carefull not to have the water level to high. I think in that case the falsebottom would not only be more cost efficient but minimze the water level becasue as Homer said the Leca takes up volume and the added volume raises the water level.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
211 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thanks furrizzl, I'll try to find that post. I know that Oceanic Systems, who makes the lizard lounge, also makes a custom "lizard lounge" specifically for dart frogs. It is similar to the standard tank but they provide a hole in the bottom of the tank to allow drainage into a sump. Several LL's are displayed on their website ( http://www.oceanicsystems.com ) set up with beautiful vivarium displays complete with water features. I have a standard 90 gallon LL with closeable ventilation vents and a rubber wiring grommet on the back glass. These vents are about 5 inches off the bottom so obviously the water cannot be any deeper than this depth. The tank is made with heavy-duty glass and quite solid, and quite expensive I might add ($370). What sold me on this tank was the picture of the same model on their website set up as a frog vivarium. As a cabinet maker, I built a matching cabinet and hood out of cherry. Also have 10000K Eurostyle compact flourescent fixture to fit over top. I hope it does hold water, or I'll be very dissappointed. All I need is a pool in there with just enough water to keep the pump submerged at the opposite end of the tank. For the reasons you stated I will also go with the eggcrate false bottom. Thanks for your input.
George
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
487 Posts
As lacerta said, the only reason their not designed to hold up water is because of the vent holes. However if it does leak even with only a few inches of water, thats nothing silicon cant handle. :)

I think i misread, but i dont see a reason for going with a sump. Plumbing can be a big pain, especially the sound they make. Not to mention darts dont need any extra type of filtration, or heating (which im guessing the sump will be for).

How much Watts is the compact flourescent? Sounds like this vivarium is off to a great start!

M.N
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
211 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Thanks Moe for your response. Regarding the custom dart frog LL (it was mentioned in the March issue of Reptile Magazine) the sump hole was to bleed off excess water about once a week. The vivarium design they featured used a room humidifier (Walgreen or Sunbeam) on a timer that heavily misted the vivarium twice a day. Apparently the amount of water added to the total system exceeded the rate of evaporation, hence the drain with a simple bulkhead fitting and petcock.
The compact flourescent system I purchased was advertised in one of the popular marine aquarium magazines. It has two compact flourescent bulbs, each about 36 inches in length with reflector, ballast, wiring harness, etc. designed for DIY retrofit. It comes standard with one broad spectrum and one "actinic" bulb, but I opted for two broad spectrum bulbs instead (no extra charge). The actinic bulb is apparently used on living coral reef systems to support the spectrum requirements for zooxanthellae algae living in the living tissues of coral. Of course, for terrarium use the actinic bulb is not needed. Each bulb is rated at 98 watts. So the both of them should provide close to 200W of 10K illumination. My only concern is that compacts supposedly generate more heat than standard flourescents. If that's a problem I have a 110V muffin fan I can mount to the back of the hood for forced ventilation. From what I have read over the last year, the compacts are very popular with the Europeans. Strangely, whenever I visit Reptile shows and ask various breeders or cage manufacturers it appears that they really haven't caught on in the U.S. for vivarium/terrarium use. The marine aquarium crowd is a different story. Compact flourescents have been the mainstay for living coral reef systems for years now. The see the quality of light compared to standard flourescents--there is no comparison. With a densely planted vivarium, I would think compacts are the way to go. Anyone have any experience with them? George
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
986 Posts
A number of people on this board use CF's for their terraria, and I personally think they are fantastic. I think that the big drawback has been the relatively high prices for the ballast/setup and bulbs when compared to your typical fluorescent fixtures, but prices are starting to come down.

The CF's put out roughly twice the lumens per watt when compared to your typical fluorescents, but they do produce a lot of heat as well. Therefore, I would say that you should probably plan on using the muffin fan and making sure that there is ample ventillation in the hood. I have found that there is a big difference in heat buildup based upon the material you use for your hood. My metal hood does not have near the heat buildup issues that my wooden counterparts do--I imagine it has to do with the heat conductivity of metal versus the insulating properties of wood.

Regardless, I think you'll be very happy with your CF fixtures.
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
:!: Just noticed something said on the first post... In regards to using craft stock polyfill for filtering.. BAD idea. It has a different 'makeup' as say 'aquarium' poly.. The cheaper craft stock has loose fibre particles that will disipate into the water supply, which can for obvious reasons be very dangerous... Spend the extra 2.00 and get the aquarium specific stuff.
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top