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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, I recently started working on my vivarium and thought I would share my progress!

Through this thread, I hope to provide a step by step guide to my thought process and build; your input and critique is encouraged and appreciated. I also want to thank all of you for your inspiration, time, and effort you put into this community, sharing your knowledge and expertise!


A. FALSE BOTTOM (Egg Crate Method)

-Plaskolite @ Home Depot ($15)
-Zip ties @ Home Depot
-Weed blocker @ Home Depot


-Cut into desired shape.
-Hold over stove or use a heat gun to bend and shape (optional).
-Connect via small zip ties.
-Cut weed blocker a bit larger than egg crate pieces and attach using zip ties.

-To prevent from seeing your false bottom from outside your tank, or having to use black contact paper to cover the bottom half of your vivarium, simply leave a ½” gap between the egg crate false bottom and the glass. Fill this gap with an aquarium substrate of your choice; I decided to use Fluval Plant & Shrimp Stratum. More on this substrate in a future post when discussing the pond.


-PVC pipes of varying sizes
-ASI Silicone @ NEHERP ($9)
-Hot glue gun
-Gorilla Glue


-Use stove or heat gun to weaken PVC (Use thick gloves!!!)
-Bend, twist, and pull into desired shape.

-Testing fit with my sketched background.

-Apply hot glue to PVC, and attach rope (This is solely meant to aid in applying the more permanent gorilla glue).
-As per Gorilla Glue instructions, damped rope and pipe, and apply glue sparingly along side rope, where it touches the pipe.
-Let cure for 1-2 hours.

-Cover pipe and rope in a layer of silicone (apply about 1 ft. at a time).
-Immediately roll on and press the background substrate (described in section D, below).
-Hang for several hours until dry.


-Ropes of varying thickness
-Screw with thick head
-2 Washers
-1 (wing) nut/fastener
-Same materials listed in section B.


-Repeat steps used for PVC pipe in section B, and instead use rope.
-For a more vine-like look, apply gorilla glue to only a few spots rather than entire length of rope.

-I plan on anchoring one of my vines to the mesh roof of the terrarium.
-To do so, attach ropes around the head of a screw using hot glue first, and then gorilla glue.
-Follow silicone and substrate steps listed in section B.

-This is simply to show you how the washers and nut will be used.
-One washer will be below the mesh top, and the other, above.


-Miracle Gro Sphagnum Peat Moss
-Coco Cradle (10 quarts) @ Josh's Frogs ($9):
-New Zealand Sphagnum (500g) Moss @ NEHERP ($18): NEHERP - Substrates For Live Vivariums


-I made my mix with 1/2 peat moss and 1/2 coco cradle.
-I then shredded some sphagnum moss by hand and added it to the mix (you can eye this out, just don't add an excessive amount as this will make it tougher to adhere to background).


-Great Stuff (GS) Foam Gaps & Cracks @ Home Depot ($5) - If you want to play it safe, I recommend using a black pond foam for this section of the vivarium.
-ASI Black Silicone @ NEHERP ($9)
-Fluval Plant & Shrimp Stratum:
-Blade or some sort of knife.
-Did I mention gloves?!


-If you look back to section A, I used my stove to bend my egg crate into a curved incline.
-Having formed the pond area and wrapped it in weed blocker, apply GS foam.
-Let the GS cure overnight, and carve it to desired form.

-Make sure it still fits in the vivarium!

-Apply silicone to carved GS and press on the Fluval stratum.
-I'm still working on this as you can see!


-I don’t want to have stagnant water in my pond, and thus have been thinking of a pump & filter. The water from the pond will be flowing underneath the false bottom, eventually filling about 15 gallons of the tank. I had thought about including a bulkhead in the back of the tank for easy drainage, however with a pump, I figured this might not be necessary as I can simply pump out the water into a bucket. What do you guys think of a Tom Aqua Lifter vs. the Hydrofill ATO Pump? I hope to have a few plants, shrimp and/or nano fish. Any thoughts on those pumps, and/or if I should include the bulkhead drainage?

-Initially I wanted to incorporate a fan to aid in air flow, however, I have temporarily scratched this idea. I figured the front-opening Exo-Terra terrarium I have, will provide enough ventilation through the front and top. (I know, the lack of a glass top will most likely lower humidity, however, this is an easy fix later, if heavy misting is not enough.) Do you guys suggest I still incorporate the fan?


326 Posts
ha Doc

Sounds right to me! As I don't live in the USA I am not sure about all the specific materials, but others will no doubt chime in.

What is your idea about the kind of animals you want to live in the set-up? What kind of landscape, climate etc are you working on?
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