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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
During a move earlier this year, my In Situ Amazonia got dropped. :mad::cry:

Miraculously, nothing broke and nothing was lost except time and effort (frogs were taken out first, and although many plants got buried and damaged, they pretty much all survived). The inside of the tank got totally trashed though. I gave the frogs to a local frogger because I didn't have enough space, time, or supplies on hand to quickly build them the home they deserved. So I did a complete tear-down, disinfected the tank, and started all over.

I decided to rebuild it for Ranitomeya variabilis 'Southern', with cork-bark mosaic and lots of ghostwood for climbing surfaces.

My S.O. got sad when I wasn't planning on doing a water feature, so I built a rock "waterfall" in the corner that just drips for several minutes 3x a day to keep the rocks moist. I built a little scaffold with egg crate, temporarily tacked the rocks in place with some hot glue, then locked them together with Great Stuff Pond & Stone. I used a Dremel to clean up the GS P&S, and used regular GS and silicone to stick it into the corner:
Wood Art Shade Tints and shades Ceiling


I laid down some parchment paper, positioned some ghostwood branches, and used GS to hold the branches together but separate from the viv itself.
World Wood Branch Twig Organism


I took the stuck-together branches out, used some stainless steel screws to solidly secure them to one another, removed as much GS as possible, then put it all back into the tank.
Wood Trunk Sculpture Art Plant


More cork on the sides and sphagnum in the gaps
Wood Rectangle Twig Trunk Art


The substrate is just a sheet of fiberglass window screen, some horticultural charcoal, a layer of calcium-bearing clay pellets, and plenty of leaf litter on top.
Plant Branch Wood Organism Terrestrial plant

(Don't mind the flower pot taped to the branch - just trying to keep it out of the way while I was messing around with the substrate.)

Plant Wood Branch Twig Art

Branch Wood Twig Terrestrial plant Flower


Next the microfauna. I accidentally spilled a bunch of springtails on a leaf, but thought it looked kinda cool to see them all together. I put in a mixture of temperate whites, tropical whites/pinks, silvers, and blues. It was actually pretty interesting to see how the different types of springtails spread around and ended up occupying different environmental niches within the tank. The temperates and the blues seem to like moist areas and substrate, the silvers like the ghostwood, and the tropicals kinda dart around everywhere.
Plant Organism Terrestrial plant Moisture Grass


We waited patiently for about a month while things got moldy and the bugs settled in.
Cat Felidae Carnivore Mammal Small to medium-sized cats


When the mold died down I mounted all the orchids with sphagnum and super glue.
Plant Wood Organism Terrestrial plant Grass
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Here it is after an additional 2 months of growth. Those bromeliad roots are going crazy!
Plant Organism Terrestrial plant Flower Art



Bonus for anyone who knows how to look at cross-eyed stereograms! I think it looks way cooler when you can see the depth:
Plant Plant community Flower Botany Organism



Plant List
Orchids:

Barbosella orbicularis
Dichaea ancoraelabia
Dichaea hystricina
Dinema polybulbon
(syn. Encyclia, Epidendrum)
Dryadella cristata
Dryadella edwallii
Dryadella zebrina
Epidendrum porpax
Lepanthes calodictyon
Lepanthes clareae
Lepanthes gargoyla
Lepanthopsis astrophora
Macroclinium dalstromii
Masdevallia brachyura
Masdevallia lychniphora
Masdevallia nidifica
Ornithocephalus gladiatus
Platystele stenostachya
Platystele umbellata
Pleurothallis acrisepala
Pleurothallis allenii
Pleurothallis brighamii
Pleurothallis macroblepharis
Pleurothallis tripterantha
Porroglossum dactylum
Restrepia brachypus
Restrepia cymbula
Restrepia dodsonii
Scaphosepalum digitale
Sophronitis cernua
Specklinia picta
Stelis argentata
Trisetella hoeijeri


Non-Orchids:
Marcgravia sp. 'Azreal'
Marcgravia umbellata 'Red'
Monstera dubia
Neoregelia
'Angel Face x Midget'
Neoregelia 'Chiquita Linda x Fireball'
Neoregelia 'Chiquita Linda'
Neoregelia 'Dartanion'
Neoregelia 'Ed Prince'
Neoregelia 'Red Bird'
Philodendron 'Burle Marx Fantasy'
Philodendron verrucosum 'micro'
Solanum sp. 'Ecuador'
 

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What size enclosure is this?

I think you did an amazing job. It looks absolutely cool as hell! That’s an impressive plant list too. You must’ve spent some cash!

Are you having any issues establishing a moisture gradient within the substrate? I would imagine that the drip emitter/drip wall in addition to regular misting would eventually saturate your somewhat limited floor space. At least it appears as though you can turn off the drip if you wanted to, huh?

I had problems with a drip wall in the past. I used a smaller, horizontally challenged enclosure, added a drip wall and had difficulty keeping the moisture confined to only the wall I intended to keep moist. Without carefully engineering a design to drip, drain and possibly recirculate and contain the water, one can end up with a bog. It seems without those proper provisions, even a longer enclosure can suffer the same fate. It just takes more time to do so.

Regardless of my past fails, your set up looks killer! I’d like to see more pics in the next coming months. Excellent job!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
@solidsnake - Thanks! I think the interior is about 30 gallons or a smidge more. The exterior dimensions are 22.25"W x 17.5"D x 24"H. My next build is going to be the 36" tall version, but I really wish they made one with a larger footprint too.

So far the drip rocks haven't been a problem, but I can still decrease the drip rate, the frequency it turns on, the length of time it's on, or turn it off all together if it becomes too wet. Since the substrate is just charcoal and clay, the water drips right through and flows underneath to a small trough where it recirculates and gets flushed periodically. The moisture from the rocks does wick into the adjacent cork/moss background a bit, but the plants don't seem to mind so far, and there are plenty of drier spots where the frogs can hang out if they want.
 

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If you don’t mind me asking: What are you using for a drip emitter? How are you controlling the rate?

I’ve just used an appropriately sized (gph & head height) waterfall pump hooked up to a timer and flowing through hose that was capped off distally and had a few perforations to allow water to leak where I wanted it. All of this was regulated by a ball valve. I had problems only achieving a “drip “ though. It was more or less a significantly decreased flow, but not a sustained drip like I wanted.
 

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If you don’t mind me asking: What are you using for a drip emitter? How are you controlling the rate?

I’ve just used an appropriately sized (gph & head height) waterfall pump hooked up to a timer and flowing through hose that was capped off distally and had a few perforations to allow water to leak where I wanted it. All of this was regulated by a ball valve. I had problems only achieving a “drip “ though. It was more or less a significantly decreased flow, but not a sustained drip like I wanted.
Have you tried using 1/4 inch tubing and then a drip attachment for a literal dip irrigation system? They have rates from 0.5 gph to 3 gph. I'm not sure how the back pressure would affect a continuous water pump though.
 

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I haven’t tried that before. I’ve certainly heard of people using an actual drip irrigation system, but I never studied it enough to be able to successfully put all of the pieces together and have it function. IE; what pump(s), lines, fittings, etc. I’d like to know how to though.

Any tips?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
@tangled - They're pumice/feather rock. I think the porosity of the rocks is part of what makes them work for drip walls. I think to some extent the water is able to percolate through the rock and diffuse more than it would if it were flowing over regular stone. When I was setting it up and testing it, I figured that some proportion of the water ends up flowing/dripping along the back and through the center of the column, but because there's nothing back there except for egg crate and GS, and because it ends up draining underneath the clay substrate, I figured it was fine.

@solidsnake - My setup here is pretty much exactly what you have described. I have a dimmer on the pump so I can slow it down, plus a ball valve distal to the pump that can provide a little extra resistance to flow. The pump and ball valve are outside of the tank so they can be adjusted/repaired/replaced easily. The tubing then runs up the back of the column, and sort of oozes/trickles out of two holes drilled through the top rock. As it seeps through the rock, I think the trickle disperses and ends up dripping down the front. As moss and stuff has begun growing over the rocks, I think that has helped to disperse the water flow too.

I also thought about using a drip hose at one point, but I wasn't sure how much pressure would be necessary to force the water though the pores and ultimately didn't end up experimenting with it.
 

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I haven’t tried that before. I’ve certainly heard of people using an actual drip irrigation system, but I never studied it enough to be able to successfully put all of the pieces together and have it function. IE; what pump(s), lines, fittings, etc. I’d like to know how to though.

Any tips?
I have extra pumps, I'll try to remember to buy a pack of 0.5 gph heads this weekend and see if it works with the cheap water fountain pump without burning it out.
 
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