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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright, so I'm heading out for basic in 4 months and a day. I was thinking about getting just a small viv, no frogs since my parents won't take care of them once I leave. Just a plant or 2, a piece of driftwood, and some moss, and those cool neato glow in the dark mushrooms just for kicks. For such a low tech set-up, What else would I need as far as lighting and substrate? Keep in mind, no living things beyond plants and moss will be in this thing, so need to worry about filtration or an in depth water system, or keeping food in check, etc, and I doubt I'll do a waterfall (it'd be cool and produce soothing sounds, but I don't want this to be too high maintenance or too high tech.) So in a nutshell, to maintain this, what do I need besides the tank itself? Thank you! =]
 

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You still want a false bottom because you don't want your plants to sit in soggy soil and die. If you've got a waterfall you probably won't need to mist the plants. If no amphibian is EVER going to go in this tank you have a wider option of soils (you _can_ use things like miracle grow or perlite). And you'll still need a lighting system. The lights we use for frogs are really for the plants anyway, so no changes there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You still want a false bottom because you don't want your plants to sit in soggy soil and die. If you've got a waterfall you probably won't need to mist the plants. If no amphibian is EVER going to go in this tank you have a wider option of soils (you _can_ use things like miracle grow or perlite). And you'll still need a lighting system. The lights we use for frogs are really for the plants anyway, so no changes there.
If I were to stack up some pretty little rocks, and set up a waterfall, how much would a simple one cost, and what would I need? It's been over a year and a half since I researched this stuff, I've almost forgotten it all. Even with teh false bottom I only vaguely remember what it is. Also, since the price is only an additional $10-20, I might get a 12x12x12 or 12x12x18, and add a few more plants. I basically want a vivarium, without the frogs
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Also, not to double post (for some reason I can't edit posts from my iPod :/) but since I have looked into waterfalls more, it doesn't seem like too much work, show I just do the egg crate false bottom, or would the LECA method work equally well?

I might also do a little river too coming from the waterfall to the pump that feeds to the waterfall, but we'll see once I get the actual tank in my hands. Right now my ideas are numerous and scattered, I have a basic layout, but that's about it. We'll see when the time comes =]
 

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The waterfall wouldn't be too difficult, but you might want to rethink a stream, Streams can be kind of tough, water goes where it wants to, which isn't always where you want it to go. If you are never going to put animals into this thing, I would set it up so the pump is fairly easy to get to. At some point it will need to be serviced or replaced, and tearing apart an established terrarium to get at the pump sucks. For a 10 gallon aquarium or a 12" cube a single 26watt spiral CFL would be plenty. Would probably still be enough for a 18" high exo/zoomed, though you might not be able to grow high light plants on the bottom.

I have a super low tech 10 gallon terrarium I keep in a bay window. I don't use any supplemental light, It has miracle grow soil without a false bottom, and a sheet of glass covering the entire top except for the 2 corners I notched off for air exchange and to make it easier to lift the glass to water the thing. I only mist the thing once a month to every 1 1/2 months (depends on season). I have a salegenla, a peperomia, some wandering jew, and a couple of calla lilies. It has been up and running for over 2 years now. I will at some point need to break it down and replace the soil, but so far no problems. It helps that I don't keep it as wet as you would want it for a PDF viv. I really watch the soil and only water when it needs it.
It is a good source for cuttings for other vivs/terrariums I only ever take cuttings, never any soil, and anything I take out of there gets Qx'ed and CO2 bombed a couple times before use in another tank because the 10 gallon has a thriving population of snails.

Note: I would use a false bottom of some sort, especially if your going to have a water feature in this terrarium. If you are going to have a water feature, it might be better to do an egg-crate falsie. Leca has a tendency to wick water back up to the bottom of the soil when you have a water table that is just under the soil line. This can cause soil saturation issues and problems with growing plants that dont like wet feet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I was thinking about the streams, and I don't think I'll do it, this is my first ever viv, and to do all these special things for a first would be silly. I want to experiment with the basics, get my hands dirty first before I take on something big like a stream. Also about the pump, the only tutorials I found for having the pump on the outside were those using a sump, or a canister filter (don't really want to drill holes.) Other than that, it was an internal filter, and like you said, that can be a pain to service since it's locked away underneath the false bottom and such.

Also, would I be able to get good moss coverage on my driftwood, and possible fungi? I want this to be a proper chunk of jungle.

Also, what's the difference between 2.0, 5.0, and 10.0 lighting?
 

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There is no way I know of to do an external pump on this type of tank without drilling. If it was an aquarium that you were filling to the top of the tank you could use a siphon overflow box (though I would suggest against using one ever, they are assured to fail and cause a flood), but when your only going to have a few inches of water, they wont work.

You will want your waterfall to dump into some kind of pool or pond area. If you have the waterfall dump onto your soil, you will have saturation issues. Since you aren't going to be putting animals into this thing, you can hide your pump under some stones in the pond area. when you put your background in (I'm guessing you'll do a Great Stuff background?) you can embed the hose for the waterfall in your background. You will have to devise some way to hide the cord for the pump, you dont want to embed the cord in the background, you wont be able to remove the pump then. You could embed a piece of PVC pipe in the background that is big enough to get the pump's plug through. 1' pvc should be enough for most 2 prong plugs, 1 1/4" PVC would fit any plug through it.

You'll have to mist a lot more often than I was describing for my low tech terrarium if you want lush moss and fungus. A couple times a week to every day depending on what the relative humidity is outside the tank and how much external air exchange you have (screen top or glass top).

I'm not sure what you mean by 2.0 5.0 and 10.0 lighting. I'm guessing your talking about the exoterra bulbs that are labeled 2, 5 and 10 concerning the amount of UVB they supposedly produce. For a plant only terrarium, you don't need any UVB, UVB is for the animals. (IMHO those bulbs are overpriced crap, there are cheaper ways of suppling UVB to animals that need it).

For your purposes you can use GE (or whatever brand) spiral CFLs that can be bought just about anywhere. The only thing you want to look for is Kelvin rating or color temperature. You are looking for a bulb that has a Kelvin rating of 6500K. This is a measure of the color of the light, not the amount of light the lamp emits. 6500K most closely matches the color of natural sunlight, and generally provides the broadest spectrum of plant usable light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
There is no way I know of to do an external pump on this type of tank without drilling. If it was an aquarium that you were filling to the top of the tank you could use a siphon overflow box (though I would suggest against using one ever, they are assured to fail and cause a flood), but when your only going to have a few inches of water, they wont work.

You will want your waterfall to dump into some kind of pool or pond area. If you have the waterfall dump onto your soil, you will have saturation issues. Since you aren't going to be putting animals into this thing, you can hide your pump under some stones in the pond area. when you put your background in (I'm guessing you'll do a Great Stuff background?) you can embed the hose for the waterfall in your background. You will have to devise some way to hide the cord for the pump, you dont want to embed the cord in the background, you wont be able to remove the pump then. You could embed a piece of PVC pipe in the background that is big enough to get the pump's plug through. 1' pvc should be enough for most 2 prong plugs, 1 1/4" PVC would fit any plug through it.

You'll have to mist a lot more often than I was describing for my low tech terrarium if you want lush moss and fungus. A couple times a week to every day depending on what the relative humidity is outside the tank and how much external air exchange you have (screen top or glass top).

I'm not sure what you mean by 2.0 5.0 and 10.0 lighting. I'm guessing your talking about the exoterra bulbs that are labeled 2, 5 and 10 concerning the amount of UVB they supposedly produce. For a plant only terrarium, you don't need any UVB, UVB is for the animals. (IMHO those bulbs are overpriced crap, there are cheaper ways of suppling UVB to animals that need it).

For your purposes you can use GE (or whatever brand) spiral CFLs that can be bought just about anywhere. The only thing you want to look for is Kelvin rating or color temperature. You are looking for a bulb that has a Kelvin rating of 6500K. This is a measure of the color of the light, not the amount of light the lamp emits. 6500K most closely matches the color of natural sunlight, and generally provides the broadest spectrum of plant usable light.

So if I put the pump in the pond, or perhaps a under a coconut shell nearby, I could just pump the water from the pond back into the waterfall?

So because those bulbs are crap? (the 2.0, 5.0, and 10.0 are all the same price. Just $10 for 13W and 11$ for 26W, the UVB thing doesn't change price.) Should I just buy some other 12x12 lighting fixture?

Do you recommend buying a premade terrarium like exo-terra, or just getting a normal 10 or 20gal and DIY'ing it?
 

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Yes, putting the pump in your pond is the best bet. It occurred to me, if you are leaving soonish, and leaving this terrarium for someone else to care for you may want to skip the water feature all together. Even if you don't have animals in the viv, you will still need to do water changes from time to time otherwise the water will turn brown with tannins and/or green with algae, and will eventually turn into a stinking mess.

Sorry to backtrack a little, the exoterra bulbs aren't necessarily bad, they are just way overpriced for what they are because they are "specialty animal" bulbs. Any fixture that will hold a screw in type bulb and keeps the bulb from touching the top of your terrarium will work. Try searching for rain gutter fixture or the like to see a simple DIY fixture that would work well for what you need.

It is up to you whether you want to use an aquarium or a manufactured viv. An aquarium would be cheaper and less likely to have water leakage issues over the long run if you did do a water feature. The manufactured vivs are nice because the front opening doors make it easier to access to service, you don't have to take the lights off the top every time you need to open it. You would probably want to replace or cover most or part of the top of an exo/zoomed with glass to keep humidity up if your trying to grow mosses and such.

I'm not trying to be rude, but please use the search function and look over a couple build threads similar to whatever you end up deciding to build (with or without water feature). It will help you figure out how to build your terrarium and what materials your going to need.
One nice thing you don't have to worry about in a plant only terrarium, you don't have to frog/fruit fly proof the false bottom, doors/lid, and vents like you would with a viv housing animals :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yes, putting the pump in your pond is the best bet. It occurred to me, if you are leaving soonish, and leaving this terrarium for someone else to care for you may want to skip the water feature all together. Even if you don't have animals in the viv, you will still need to do water changes from time to time otherwise the water will turn brown with tannins and/or green with algae, and will eventually turn into a stinking mess.

Sorry to backtrack a little, the exoterra bulbs aren't necessarily bad, they are just way overpriced for what they are because they are "specialty animal" bulbs. Any fixture that will hold a screw in type bulb and keeps the bulb from touching the top of your terrarium will work. Try searching for rain gutter fixture or the like to see a simple DIY fixture that would work well for what you need.

It is up to you whether you want to use an aquarium or a manufactured viv. An aquarium would be cheaper and less likely to have water leakage issues over the long run if you did do a water feature. The manufactured vivs are nice because the front opening doors make it easier to access to service, you don't have to take the lights off the top every time you need to open it. You would probably want to replace or cover most or part of the top of an exo/zoomed with glass to keep humidity up if your trying to grow mosses and such.

I'm not trying to be rude, but please use the search function and look over a couple build threads similar to whatever you end up deciding to build (with or without water feature). It will help you figure out how to build your terrarium and what materials your going to need.
One nice thing you don't have to worry about in a plant only terrarium, you don't have to frog/fruit fly proof the false bottom, doors/lid, and vents like you would with a viv housing animals :)

So that makes thing much easier, just gotta lay down the Egg crate, then the gravel, then some substrate, with hills of course. No need to hide lines or anything, and it keeps it simple =]

Alright, thanks for the tip =]

It's a difficult decision, plus exo-terra's already have a background.

Alright, will do, thank you SO MUCH for all the help you've provided, you're amazing =]
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
BAD NEWS:

I'm having to put this on hold for about a year now. I'm shipping out to basic training on June 5th, and we know where I'll be for Tech school after that, but as far as my first duty station? Completely unknown. I could be sent to Japan and then we'd have no way to ship it out, I'd have to tear it down and everything to ship it, it's just not worth it, and my dad has already voiced his decision (a very solid no.) so sorry to those who were anticipating seeing this build :/ I'm equally, if not more, bummed out about it too :(:(:(
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You're going to love basic!!! One of the greatest experiences of my life! :) The feeling of accomplishment that you will have is priceless!


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I am here: Google Maps
Plus I'm training like a madman with my DEP so I plan to GO IN with honor grad graduation standards, I'm about halfway there.
 

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Looking back 10 years, yea basic was kind of fun. It'll really help if you start off in good shape.
You'll be so busy for the next year or so (depending on how long AIT is) you won't even have time to THINK about a viv, much less build or maintain one. Also, what if you get deployed? It's kind of hard to take care of an animal stateside when you're sitting in a tent across the pond.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Looking back 10 years, yea basic was kind of fun. It'll really help if you start off in good shape.
You'll be so busy for the next year or so (depending on how long AIT is) you won't even have time to THINK about a viv, much less build or maintain one. Also, what if you get deployed? It's kind of hard to take care of an animal stateside when you're sitting in a tent across the pond.
My tech school is 83 days, I won't be free again until this time next year, and I fully understand the situation, just an all around bummer, but it's alright =] At the moment I'm in pretty good shape, my only issue is running, my 1.5 was 12:20 last time, and that was really pushing it, so that's what I desperately need to work on, other than that I'm good (but can never be good enough!)
 
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