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First viv build and questions!

4173 Views 32 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Zoomie
Good day, frog people.

This board has pretty much been my bible for the last few months; you guys have provided me with a TON of great information and ideas, and I appreciate it. In any case - I've been keeping and working with herps for a very long time and so am not a complete neophyte, but am about to set up my first pdf viv; I just want to run things past all you resident experts before I finally get to the constructin'.

Structurally speaking, here's what I have in mind: I've got a 220 gallon terrarium, 44l x 25w x 25h (if you're gonna fail, fail spectacularly!), with leucomelas or possibly auratus in mind. Will have a GS background, waterfall feature, Hydroton bottom. Now that I'm farther along, I'm actually reconsidering the Hydroton for a false bottom... though it's more work and I've already got a ton of Hydro, so I may just stick with it. The water feature also won't take up nearly as much floor real estate as it appears in my professional blueprint here. But I'm considering having it run along a ledge in the background, then trickle down into a second run, then into the pool, thusly:

My specific questions:

1. Is there any specific benefit to going with a false bottom instead of Hydroton? So far my reading here suggests "eh, not really", but do correct me if I'm wrong.

2. For the first part of the water feature, is it safe/structurally sound to carve a run right into a ledge in the GS background (silicone-sealed of course)? Is GS prone to degrading/leaking/etc over the long term?

3. For the second part of the water feature, I'm considering using a cork bark halfpipe. Same questions.

4. How big a deal is water circulation in a terrarium that large? I plan on having the pump in one corner, return pool in the opposite, to avoid most of the water just sitting there stagnant. If I can move the entire feature to one side with no ill effect, that will make things significantly easier and take up even less space.

Any other tips or things I may have over looked, I'm definitely open to suggestion. The frogs and I thank you.
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I like the idea(and the illustration), and think that having the water flow over halfed cork bark could add some tannins to the water. To be honest, if you are going to have a water resevoir at one side as shown above, I would use a false bottom. It just keeps the water better filtered and circulating. Good luck, and that is a MONSTER tank! I am jealous, where did you get it?

Thanks JB. It's not really going to be a large reservoir since I know pdfs don't really use them, mostly just a spot for the water to get back down into the underlayer. Wouldn't having the water feature cross the tank like that solve the circulation issue? It also seems like Hydro would provide some good microbial filtration, wick some moisture up into the substrate for plants, and avoid the possibility of a false bottom eventually bowing or breaking. Then again, I may just be trying to rationalize already having bought so damn much of it.

The tank is a custom from Glasscages. Very nice drop-down front, and very reasonably priced. (Would have been even more so if I'd been able to stick with a standard 48", but couldn't for space issues.)
So... how about that waterway through the GS then? Good idea, bad idea?
I assume it's such a good idea that you are all literally speechless.
not speechless, deep in thought. I like it but think you should do a wood work waterfall across the back ground. It looks like its just out in the open from the drawing. Not joking on you just trying to see it in my head. Other then that my friend have fun and please post pics.:D
You are worried about the GS leaking? You said you were going to seal it wil silicone.

Whether the cork bark half pipe is a good idea or not depends largely on if you will be providing skateboards or BMX bikes for your frogs.
Now we're talking.

Frog MC, you're unfortunately a little late - the GS ledge is drying as we speak. When people say that stuff is an ungodly sticky mess, they're not kidding. Anyway, wood for both parts would have been nice, but I was running low on cork. Also, the water won't be as obtrusive as it looks there - it's more a case of just trying to illustrate the structural rather than aesthetic aspects, not to mention the limitations of MS Paint.

Atmus, I just wasn't sure that GS, even sealed, should actually *hold* running water over the long term, as opposed to just being a background that gets a bit wet. We're gonna found out.

Everybody's advice is appreciated - this really is a terrifically useful board. I'll get some pics up shortly.
Also, if the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles taught us nothing else, it's that herps are dedicated skaters, not bikers.
Hey, on a somewhat-related note, here's a quick, fun Q&A for you guys:

Q - while drying peat moss, is 350 degrees hot enough to make it catch fire right in the pan?

A - emphatically yes.

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I like it.
I like it.
I am going to totally experience this one vicariously.:eek:
BIG tank = cool.
Also, if the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles taught us nothing else, it's that herps are dedicated skaters, not bikers.
But the Battletoads rode rocket bikes.
I know that there are waterfalls that have an activated carbon filter integrated into them that you may be able to integrate into the bottom for the return to draw water through a filter medium and also have anything deposited into the waterfall go down a small slate rock creek and end up in a small shallow "pond" using the hydroball medium to allow drainage from plants and substrate to pass through the balls and recirculated through the enclosure but I think the pond should only be a few inches deep and made to form a sort of "bowl" into the hydro medium and then use a reptile friendly "screen" over the top of the hydroballs for drainage and then form the bowl with small natural river pebbles like you would use in a freshwater fish aquarium....also insuring that any Tadpoles in the small pond would remain there naturally or could be removed and easily grown...also for water cleanliness you only need to replace with a new activated carbon filter bag which is specific to that brand and waterfall model... Here are two links for some that I've been considering for a similar idea...

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I like it i am planning on doing a 55 gallon very close to that design hope this works.
Instead of cleaning roadsides, they should force convicted felons to sculpt Great Stuff with a utility knife.

One full day of carving down, about one more to go. Jesus assgrabbing Christ.
As promised, some photos of the progress so far:

Up first, the stand I built. This thing took forever to build, can probably survive a nuclear holocaust, and I'm incredibly proud of it. Of course, it is about 2 inches too big to fit in the hallway it was designed for.

On to the actual tank. After setting up a simple well for the pump, and eggcrate against the back to help bond & support such a big mass of GS. (Shot sort of upside-down and backwards.)

Placing wood, cork, and other decor.

After foaming everything into place.

A bit closer up and from the proper orientation. You can start to get a sense of the overall setup now - on the right is the well, that huge lump of crap will be the waterway ledge. It's coming together pretty nicely after carving; I'll put up some more once that's done.
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Forgot to take a picture right after I was done carving, but here we are with peat moss and such already attached. Things are on hold for a couple days because I'm waiting on my ABG Mix delivery, and I have to go pick up more Hydroton (as with everything else, I needed more than I thought). Still, for a first attempt I'm pretty happy with how it's coming out.

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Set up, planted, and finally DONE. It's surprisingly hard to get a good photo; it's actually pretty carefully arranged, but here looks like a big messy jumble. Regardless, here you go.

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Well I see I'm way too late and that tank looks great!
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