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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, please don't start wars on this topic... We know there will be differing opinions...

I'm just getting back in to darts (long history with reef and planted tanks) after an almost 10yr hiatus...

I've ordered the glass for a 24x24x30 euro (pretty much following the plans in the construction section). I'll go whole hog on that one; so it'll be months...

In the meantime I picked up a 18x18x24 exoterra, to get things started (and we know it'll never come down, but I'm telling the wife that it will :D)

Basic question - and I must say I'm surprised it's not a sticky... What is the recommended idiotproof setup? Hardware, substrates, etc.

Lighting - what's the happy medium for a tank this size? On the shelf downstairs, I can pick from T5s, 55w PCs, even have a few 70w halides kicking around - which worked nice on nanoreefs... DIY - I can build anything...

Circulation - is there any guideline on air movement in the tank? Fresh air / cooling is easy enough to figure out, but I see that many have fans inside the tank as well...

Mister/fogger? I know mistking has a big following... Seen a few people mention not to bother with a fogger; but I'm also in the arid canadian prairies - getting humidity to 80% will be a challenge (especially in winter). Currently I'm showing 16% RH in the house (and yes, we have a whole house humidifier)

Heater pad, well that ones easy... But what hardware is ok and what is to be avoided here?

Substrate/false bottom... Ok don't string me up here, I see this causing arguments... What's going the better choice to get started with, what'll cause the least issues over time?

I'm really leaning to leaving out the backgrounds etc on this one - save that for the big one...

Thanks in advance,

Andy
 

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For lighting I would use either T5 or PC with a 6700k bulbs, or they even make screw in LED bulbs that look awesome, checkout our sponsor lightyourreptiles.com. Don't use MH you will fry your frogs. Circulation is not neccesary but is nice to have, maybe someone else can chime in on this. Fogger is more for asthestics, misting system is unnessary but I love mine since im busy and cant hand mist my tank every day, if you have the money I suggest Mistking. I cant say a heating pad is neccesary, but good temps should be 65-78. For a false bottom eggcrate/light diffuser good with window screen as the divider. On top ABG mix/ Atlantic botanical garden should be good, you can look up the formula to make it or purchase from our sponsors. I think you should do a background, It will give you some experience so your next one looks killer! Also need to add that with the exoterra, they come with a screen lid that needs to be converted to glass, good diy skills helps! goodluck _Dillon
 

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Well, since it sounds like you are both experienced in technicalities and in reef-keeping, I'll try to make it super short...


Lighting: 6500K (daylight) is appropriate. No need for any UV or other additions, although there is discussion that UVB exposure is beneficial (but many don't use any UV with great success)

For reference sizing, I have 2x2' 32W 6500K T8's lighting a 29gallon and it is growing out nicely. In comparing with reef lighting (from what I know) you do not need the blues as much, you prefer a clean white; I believe this is due to the fact that terrestrial plants make more use of the red wavelengths (ie warmer color temps) than reefs do, but don't quote me on that..

Substrate: ABG. (you said idiot proof right? DIY I use a mix of coco fiber, shredded sphagnum, crushed wood coals, sometimes I'll use sand to add drainage, etc....it really depends on the tank to be honest)

--Don't forget about a drainage layer (gravel, LECA, false bottom is preferred by many for the weight savings but otherwise I find them all to be more or less the same)

CIRCULATION: I don't know about any guidelines; the reason many have the fans in the tank is to prevent the tanks from fogging up so that viewing remains clear. I would just caution to be wary of how much airflow you put through your tank, as that is a pretty small environment (a little bit of air to us can be a storm to them)

I personally have my fans setup to blow air across my lights. This helps keep the tank cool without ruining my humidity levels nor interacting with the inhabitants. On larger tanks this isn't so viable of course

MISTER/FOGGER: I'd agree on skipping the fogger. Mistking is def the way to go for idiot-proofing, esp if cost is not an option. Hand misting is the ultimate idiot proof cost effective way? :p

HEATING: Never had an issue here so I can't comment, I'm always trying to cool things never heat them.
 

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For exos you can get the dedicated canopies that hold compact fluorescent bulbs, if you know your way around lights already and have some to hand this might be an unnecessary expense but it's easy, just plug and play. My personal favourite is T5HO, just bear in mind you won't need as much light as for a planted tank, certainly not a reef. The light is for the plants, not the frogs (ignoring the current uvb debate) so unless you want to have colourful broms a-poppin' you don't need to go crazy.

For ease my substrate choice would be: a layer of leca (or a false bottom if you want to make one), with some sort of divider such as window screen between that and the substrate, medium orchid bark is a good choice. It drains well but holds enough moisture for plants to grow and is very slow to break down, put a thick layer of leaves on top (oak or magnolia work well) and you're done.

Exos are good for passive circulation because of the built in vents and screen top that you can cover or uncover as you wish. On mine I use overhead projector transparencies and leave about half an inch at the front and back of the tank open, and that works for me. I've never used fans, which means that I exterminate orchids depressingly quickly, but everything else grows fine.

For one tank I'd hand mist, cheap and easy and gives you some good face time with the viv. Please remember though that I'm in the south east of the UK, where moisture is abundant. My vivs would maintain 50% humidity if I didn't touch them, even at the moment with the central heating on in the house. For yourself it's probably worth starting simple and seeing how well you maintain humidity, and buying the misting system and/or a fogger if you have a need to. Tweak first, spend later, your financial responsibility will also give you some brownie points with the wife for when that second viv is an addition rather than a replacement!

As long as temps are in the 70s you don't need extra heating, most species, including the 'beginner' ones you'll probably end up with are fine with this.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm 90% sure I'll need a heater, where it's going to sit, the 30g planted tank now sits - while by the book 150w of heating is enough for an aquarium... I've got 500w on that tank to level out the swings...

With my schedule at times, manual daily spraying, isn't going to work... I'll have the arduino hooked up to it long before the auratus get in... To handle the day to day humidity levels.

So a 2x24w t5ho would be plenty for this tank then?

Background - I'm still thinking about it; it's such a small space... I was envisioning a less than full backdrop out of eggcrate this morning, give myself more planting space... But not so hard to remove later if(ok when) I want to rejig things...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Still not loving the bg... Going back to one of my favorite aquarium layouts...

Thinking about a layout like this - nice big pillar, wont be quite so geometric, just a quick sketchup doodle... Hole in the middle for a peek through, will be thoroughly planted.





Thoughts?
 

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Andy,
Welcome (back)! Just a couple additions/comments on what others have said and my 2 cents. Not sure how cold this space gets, but if you go with mantellas or some of the more montane dart species (Epipedobates or Ameerga), you won't need to be as warm. My mantellas have gone down into the mid-50's F with absolutely no problem. They just slow down on feeding.

Keep in mind that many people like to set up their vivarium and allow time for the microfauna to establish/reproduce. This would allow you time to tweak such things as humidity, temperature, lighting without endangering frogs. Being in Canada, you're very fortunate to have comparatively easy access to some great CB animals from Understory Enterprises without having to go thru import/CITES paperwork hassles.

I have avoided LED to this point mainly because of it's high frontend cost and some concerns over spectral output and chlorophyll absorption peaks. But there are several people here that are having good results with it. SO please do consider it.

Good luck!
 

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Some good answers so I am only going to touch on what has been more or less overlooked. Internal Circulation. It really does a lot more than keep the glass free of condensation. There is really nowhere on the planet where life exists without currents, be it air or water. Air movement keeps old stagnant air moving so that your plants can properly purify it. With our life plants we have the ultimate in air purification systems if we take advantage of it. Moving air will increase your plants health and growth. It will make it possible to keep species you could not otherwise keep. Your viv will actually smell fresher--because it is fresher. Your frogs will be healthier as damp, stagnant air is not good for the respiratory system. This could also mean longer lived frogs.
An excellent thread with excellent links. http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/66545-internal-air-circulation.html
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Ventilation makes sense to me... I always assumed it was required :)

LED lights will wait for the second viv, I just dug out an old sunlight supply 2x24 T5HO (overhangs) grab some new bulbs tomorrow...

Got cork tiles to hide the back glass, I'll do the rockpile pictured above, thinking gs with a fiberglass skin, and good ol krylon, to make it look rock-ish... I know krylon is safe, have been using it submersed for years in aquariums... I bed some plant pots with drainage...

Yeah I'll wait close to a,month to get darts in... I'll restrain myself a bit anyway lol. Still need to get cultures going...
 
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