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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm building up an InSItu Amazonia for some (probably 2.2) R. reticulata.

What I'm primarily trying to accomplish with this viv is to maximize the area of available substrate surface. I intend to raise up the tads in this, the parents' viv -- by providing film canisters for deposition and then feeding the tads in those canisters in the viv until they morph out and leaving the froglets in this viv to grow out -- and so want to maximize the foraging area and springtail reproduction/habitation area as retic froglets are quite dependent on springtails at morphing.

To do that, I've constructed a "nurse log": a simulation of a fallen and decomposing tree trunk that provides both a nursery area for plants and a food and habitat source for microfauna. I've raised it off the ground so that it increases the substrate surface area of the viv beyond the actual footprint of the viv, as I am always trying to maximize usable foraging area for the frogs.

(An aside: while I believe this will be functional in the ways intended, as an actual simulation of wild habitat it is somewhat whimiscal; while nurse logs are a common feature of temperate forests they are said to rarely be a feature of tropical rainforests. The "natural ecosystem" conception falls short again.;))

Here's how I did it.

I started with this lovely cork round:

World Trunk Gas Wood Art


Then I sawed off the bottom of the thicker section at an angle; this cut surface will rest against the substrate:

Automotive tire Wood Gas Trunk Concrete



Then I opened up the top of the long thinner section:

Wood Art Trunk Artifact Natural material


I coated the inside of the cork with silicone (this took more silicone than I would've thought), and after it cured I filled the opening with Great Stuff:

Wood Natural material Artifact Rock Mineral


I rounded out an opening for a secret-looking but keeper-accessible frog lair at the cut end of the thick section, and (after taking this photo) coated the ground-contact surfaces with silicone:

Wood Trunk Door Building material Bedrock


Here's the log in place and just after initial planting. The main substrate is calcium clay with leaf litter (the front drainage trough is simply filled with a piece of aquarium foam). The nurse log is filled with ABG. The cave area is accessible for frog removal, and there are no other hardscape areas that frogs can access and not be removed. I may at a later date add a smaller cork round or two, as these can be useful for frog removal (when the frogs are in the round, remove the round into another viv or tub).


Plant Terrestrial plant Wood Twig Trunk


Flower Plant Wood Grass Compost



Plants are:
  • Philodendron 'McColley's Finale'
  • Philodendron 'Prince of Orange'
  • Medinilla sedifolia
  • Marcgravia 'Azreal'
  • Pilea sp. 'Purple Ecuador'
  • Peperomia trinervis sp 'Ecuador'
This viv will be allowed to grow in for a few months before frogs are introduced. The log turned out to be a little less tall than I anticipated, and so I'd like the Pilea and Philodendron to gain some height to allow the frogs more climbing distance. The Marcgravia 'Azreal' is a very strong grower once established, so that plant will provide a lot more usable surfaces, too.
 

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I've stomped around several tropical forests and I can assure you that "nurse logs" are one of the most important and distinctive habitat features there. The increased light and dead wood along with all the insects and fungi it supports draws all kinds of other organisms.

A rainforest tree fall is the best way to get a look at canopy orchids and other epiphytes. Sometimes they will even persist growing and blooming there on the fallen limbs for a period of time before the canopy closes again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've stomped around several tropical forests and I can assure you that "nurse logs" are one of the most important and distinctive habitat features there. The increased light and dead wood along with all the insects and fungi it supports draws all kinds of other organisms.

A rainforest tree fall is the best way to get a look at canopy orchids and other epiphytes. Sometimes they will even persist growing and blooming there on the fallen limbs for a period of time before the canopy closes again.
Well, that's good to hear. I came up with the viv idea based on what I see in our own woods here in Wisconsin (where the soil seems much less desirable for microfauna compared to rotting logs; likely an effect of non-native earthworms, from what I understand). I based my statement up there both on explicit claims in papers (such as this one) and by a noticeable dearth of hits for discussions of tropical vs temperate nurse logs. It would be interesting to dig deeper into why the literature has this asymmetry.
 

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Looks really good. I don't understand why you sealed the inside with silicone however. I would think you would want it exposed to allow decomp, grow fungi etc to attract your desired microfauna. Can you explain that aspect?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Looks really good. I don't understand why you sealed the inside with silicone however. I would think you would want it exposed to allow decomp, grow fungi etc to attract your desired microfauna. Can you explain that aspect?
I filled the log with ABG for microfauna (and I'll likely be adding leaf litter to that part once the plants start growing in). I'd like the log to last for the lifespan of the frogs, or at least to not be the shortest lived part of the viv as a whole, so I sealed off the moisture-contact surfaces. Cork bark does degrade in contact with water, and while it usually isn't substantial or quick-moving, I thought in this case a decomposing hole in the bottom of the ABG trough would be problematic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
View attachment 303197 What plants are these, some sort of Pilea?
Yes, Pilea sp. 'Purple Ecuador'. Neat plants, but get a bit leggy and need good light. I'm still figuring out the best pruning plan for these, as they respond to pruning with a flush of very small leaves and then take a while to grow larger leaves again.
 

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E. Anthonyii Santa Isabels
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Any concern about the philodendrons outgrowing the tank? I have an Imperial red in a growout that’s growing like crazy there…I’m also starting to quarantine a Mccoley’s finale, but I worry it’ll have a similar growth spurt in the growout (let alone if I put it in a frog tank).
 

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Any concern about the philodendrons outgrowing the tank? I have an Imperial red in a growout that’s growing like crazy there…I’m also starting to quarantine a Mccoley’s finale, but I worry it’ll have a similar growth spurt in the growout (let alone if I put it in a frog tank).
My Philodendron McCauley finale has exhibited VERY little growth in the tank I have it in.
See this thread for details:
Vivarium discussion Sept 28, 2020

@Socratic Monologue this is a great tank. I'm actually building something with a similar look
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Any concern about the philodendrons outgrowing the tank? I have an Imperial red in a growout that’s growing like crazy there…I’m also starting to quarantine a Mccoley’s finale, but I worry it’ll have a similar growth spurt in the growout (let alone if I put it in a frog tank).
Yes, but FG's experience spurred me to try these plants. In just weeks, these are putting on new growth strongly for me.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Maybe I'm the outlier haha.
Yeah, is this plant in that peculiar thumbnail viv of yours? The one with the bold sirensis? That viv might be positioned exactly in some cosmic intersection point where the fifth dimension enters our world or something. :unsure:
 

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E. Anthonyii Santa Isabels
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My Philodendron McCauley finale has exhibited VERY little growth in the tank I have it in.
See this thread for details:
Vivarium discussion Sept 28, 2020

@Socratic Monologue this is a great tank. I'm actually building something with a similar look
Yes, but FG's experience spurred me to try these plants. In just weeks, these are putting on new growth strongly for me.
Oh I see. So there’s a possibility that it might be okay for a while in a viv…or just explode in growth, as suspected. Lol a schroedinger‘s plant situatio, based on Fishingguy’s experience it seems.
 
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