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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am working on planning my first viv, and was wondering if I should use a false bottom or hydroton clay. The viv will be in an Exo-Terra 18"x18"x24" terrarium. I plan on having a waterfall that is pumped through a tube that is hidden in the background, and then on down to either a small pool area, or some sort of drainage point, where it goes back through the drainage layer, and to the pump (sorry it isn't a very clear explanation, but I'm in a hurry). I might be using Exo-Terra plantation soil, with some coco-fiber or tree fern mixed in. Thank you in advance for any advice!
 

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false bottom. I like it SO much more than using LECA. LECA will wick water up into your substrate to a certain degree, a false bottom will provide much better drainage for your substrate. And its lighter, if you ever have to move your viv
 

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And its lighter, if you ever have to move your viv
That's exactly the reason I a regret using leca. I am going to be moving in December and my 18" exo terra with a leca layer and clay background is going to be one of the hardest things to move. I'm probably going to need to take it apart and replace the leca with a false bottom and pull out the clay in lieu of a lighter background. I wish I'd realized how much weight I was really putting inside there when I set it up...
 

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The weight in an 18x18x24 isn't going to be significant, but since you are creating a water feature I would go with a false bottom for easier access to the pump. Also, Exo Terra plantation soil is coco fiber, that is just their brand name for it. You should definitely mix in some additives like tree fern and charcoal to promote drainage and aeration, straight coco fiber will hold too much water.
 

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I say LECA. It's easier and looks better in my opinion. False bottoms have their advantages too though.
 

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False bottoms and LECA both look ugly if you don't hide them. Some great advice given by the above posts. False bottom all the way for the above mentioned reasons.
In my opinion, they ONLY advantage LECA has is that it's easy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
...Also, Exo Terra plantation soil is coco fiber, that is just their brand name for it. You should definitely mix in some additives like tree fern and charcoal to promote drainage and aeration, straight coco fiber will hold too much water.
Sorry, I meant to say Tree-Fern Fiber and possibly some orchid bark. Thanks for the info on their soil.

Well, it looks like I will be using a false bottom, especially since my family has moved around a lot, and I doubt we will be in one place for more than a few years. Another question I had was whether or not I would need to run a filter of some type on the pool area, if I do one? If so, should I use like a canister filter, or a sump, or even something else. Thanks!
 

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False bottom all the way. Hydroton balls are possibly the most unnatural looking things ever if they arent hidden.
I would argue though that a plastic false bottom looks even more unnatural if not hidden as well ;)

Regarding the weight issues, i dont know what kind of Leca you are using but Leca weighs next to nothing and surely does not add that much weight to the viv.

I can appreciate the advantages of a false bottom holding more water though, and not wicking any water into the substrate.

As with most things there are pros and cons to each :)
 

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Leca,

its easy, more natural looking than a false bottom, not heavy at all, and quick to install.
 

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Im having the same problem but with lava rocks. I made up my mind with the false bottom but reading these post I might do the lava rock for filteration reasons. The weight was a concern for me too but ill just hire someone to haul it out. You cant go wrong with a canister or a sump for filteration and either one can be used to run your waterfall
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well, after doing a bit more planning and some reading up on what people prefer, I've decided I'm not going to have any water features. I'm just going to do a nice landscape and background with lots of plants, and a misting system and call it good. Should I still use a false bottom, but at a lower level, like maybe 1"? I could have a drainage system that is just a simple drilled hole, a bulkhead, and some tubing that runs to a drain.
 

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I use LECA and I have my tanks drilled to drain the water resevoir at the bottom. I think that either one is fine and can support an evaporative water table to keep the humidity up. I don't mind that the LECA causes the water to wick through the substrate, but that should be a consideration for what substrate to choose. I choose clay substrate with LECA because I know that organic substrates tend to hold more water and may cause issues for some plants. The humid/wet but not drenching wet environment also helps with reproducing the microfauna in the tank. I do have a good amount of leaf litter added to the top layer of substrate as well as springtail/isopod medium on top of that - so planning on how you layer your substrate will depend on what you pick as your foundation. There is often no right answer here so I'm just sharing my experience. If you can afford to with time and money just experiment with what works for you. Happy frogging!
 

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I like false bottoms much easier to hide just make it so there is about an inch gap from the false bottom to the bottom front panel and add some river rock or pebbles. Then all you see is the rocks/pebbles and can still see the water level in the false bottom. But in the end is is all a personal choice.
 

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As above the false bottom would likely work best with what you have planned.
I use false bottoms on all my setups that have water features of any sort.
 

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I read with a lot a of you though this thread, went with false bottoms. I went with hydros, top with Brent's clay media mix, and leaf litter.With a drilled bottom and reservoir, with circulating pump,over a drip wall because;
1. Hydros are very light. Not much weight added to my vivarium. in chase I have to move it.
2.Hydros are very porous, so very bacteria friendly,Aid in breaking down waste, build up in my tank.
Sure you can do the same thing with lava stones, but that's added weight.:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
What if I used a false bottom that was 2.5" high, and a 1" layer of Leca underneath the false bottom? I would then make a small compartment out of egg crate, covered in screen, which would house the pump for my waterfall. The purpose of the Leca underneath the false bottom would be to provide a place for beneficial bacteria to live. Lastly, does anyone have any suggestions as to what pump I should use for a small waterfall? I was looking at the Reptiflow 200 or 250, but I've found a few people who don't like them. Are the Minijet 404 or 606 models any good? Any other suggestions are welcome! Thank you!
 

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The surface area on the LECA would be good for beneficial bacteria growth, but most of your beneficial bacteria will be in the substrate itself. I have LECA in my tanks now, but if I ever make a tank with a water feature I'll be switching to false bottom.

It seems as though you've abandoned the idea of the waterfall (a good move for your first tank), so I'd suggest making sure you focus on the substrate. I swear by the ABG mix, as do many others on this board. You can find the recipe in the threads or just order it from a supplier. I suggest joshsfrogs.com- he's a sponsor of Dendroboard and has reasonable prices with the best customer service possible.
 
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