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Hi Dendroboard!
I've been sitting on the sidelines of the forums for quite some time, and after using the builds on here as a guide, I put together my first Dart frog vivarium just over a year ago for my breeding pair of D. Leucomelas. There were a few BIG problems with my first viv that prompted me to do this new build with a Zoo Med tank.

1. My 29 gallon tall tank was only 12" from front to back. After I had my foam background in, there was hardly room for scissors to trim (no front door)!

2. The plants grew every well.

3. My built in waterfall was foamed in... the pump was far too strong and since I only had Hydroton (no false bottom) my substrate was a swamp, so I never ran the pump.

4. It was too hard to clean, too hard to get eggs out, etc. etc. My Leucs only gave me one set of eggs, and the tads didn't make it ootw. They still call every morning.

So without further ado... I give you the last 2 weeks since picking up my Zoo Med 18 x 18 x 18 tank! (Yes, I already wish I got the 18 x 18 x 24" :rolleyes:).

This is the tank with Silicone spread against the background. I used GE Silicone II in Black. This was 1 whole tube. I decided to just use Silicone II because I saw no one reporting real problems by using it, some people said use GE I, some said GE II.



The 3" ABS pipe houses a small fountain pump that came from one of my nano freshwater tanks... I will be able to pull it out if it goes out on me. There is also a ball valve in line so I can control the flow right where the tubing comes out of the pipe.



There is about 10 lbs of lace rock that got way too covered up in foam. I could've saved the weight and just omitted it. Live and learn..
I got a little excited and did ALL the foaming at once after the silicone had dried... I should've done it in smaller steps, because besides taking me until about 3 AM (hence the dark photo) it also......
E X P A N D E D a lot more than I thought it would. Literally over the next 3 days into this...



Where'd my waterfall spraybar go??
 

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I trimmed all the foam down with a short knife and razor blade. As you can see, I sunk some net pots into the foam and foamed em in. I put a small 3/16" airline tube through the bottom to facilitate drainage in case it became a problem. I did this BEFORE I foamed and then after my foam over-expanded I cut the foam away to find my drain again. I suppose too much foam is not a problem really... I lost some rock work (ok all of it) but gained a canvas to shape as I wished.



It was then covered with 100% SILICONE, GE I in clear. I was going to do a mix of toluene and silicone and peat/coco but I just got lazy. 2 tubes of silicone and lots of gloves and coco got me this...



It was a 3 day process.. doing a small section, pressing coco onto it and then rotating it, doing the other angles, vacuuming it off the next day and filling in thin patches and repeat. I still have thin areas where a perfectionist would notice.. but they look fine to me. Is it 100% coverage? No. But only a pro-viv builder and myself would know, my family and friends just say "how does the dirt stay in that shape?" :D ;)

Obviously, Hydroton went in over the false bottom, and I used rocks that I had collected in Oregon and in Hawaii long ago to make a spill basin and dry creek bed. I thought I might want to make it deeper, but decided against it. Instead the creek bed will house some cool liverworts and mosses I've had growing from wild collection.

Now... I didn't want to spend a ton of money on silicone (plus that black stuff was a mess). So I didn't cover the sides.. I learned later that the silicone helps to attach the foam to glass.. so a little bit would've probably been a good thing. I did end up squirting some back behind the foam to keep it "tacked" to the glass in some spots.



EW... those sides look nasty. Time for some leftover vinyl tint action!!
Much better...!

 

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Oh Yeah... By the way.. sorry for the Iphone pics! I wish I had another camera! At least phone cameras are way better nowadays...

Leaf litter from some hedges and plants outside... planted with some sad orchids from the current Leuc tank and with 2 cryptanthus. The green one is actually a light starved cotton candy pink variant... im sure it will color up again in the new home :D



Likely, I will pull out that viney plant unless it fills the whole area really nicely and swap it out for a peperomia or a fern. I think I will also try to get my hands on some mini-mini bromeliads and go (almost) all cryptanthus and bromeliad. But... this is what I had on hand and at the local nursery without spending $200 on awesome orchids.

Any ideas for epiphytes I can pin to the foam and wrap in some moss that don't get to large?? Maybe the upper part will stay dry enough that I can just use Tillandsia everywhere around the top?

Water actually flows around this orchid (its in a pot that doesn't let water seep in) on both sides. It will be a slow drip type flow, but has little pools in the rockwork behind and below the orchid.



A close up of the two Cryptanthus 'Cry Ruby' and the faded out pink/green one.



Close up of the Dry Basin



As much of a closeup as I could get of the locally collected liverwort and some of the springtails I put in (originally from josh's frogs I think)... These things have been sitting UNTOUCHED in a 6 qt rubbermaid with charcoal, dead moss and some leaves with about an inch of water for nearly 6 months. They are thriving!! So I took as many as I could find and seeded this tank with them!
(pic of the rock and liverwort front and center of tank)

 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
FTS ON 9/7/14 - SILICONE (way) DONE CURING, NO CHEM SMELL...FIRST REAL ROUND OF PLANTING DONE!


TANK/LIGHTING
- 18" X 18" X 18" Zoo Med
- 2 x 23 watt CFL in domes (Too much?)

BACKGROUND/SUBSTRATE
BG
- Great Stuff Small Gap Foam
- GE Silicone I & II
- Coco fiber
- Lace Rock
Sub.
- Hydroton over false bottom
- 1/1/1/5 parts Charcoal/ADA Amazonia/Ground Green Moss/Coco Fiber
- Assorted Leaf Litter

FLORA
- Native mosses/liverworts
- Phalaenopsis orchid
- Green lady slipper orchid
- Cryptanthus 'Cry Ruby'
- Crypt. 'unknown pink'
- Nephrolepis cordifolia "Lemon Buttons"
- traily leafy viney plant ???

FAUNA
- Mated Pair of Dendrobates Leucomelas (Saurian Enterprises)
- Hopefully a million springtails
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Not having used Hydroton...isn't is supposed to be under the FB???
Sorry for the late reply!
Yeah so to clarify I actually have hydroton in the bottom of the tank to about 2" deep under the false bottom to keep debris away from the pump and add more biological filtration within the tank. Above the hydroton is about a 1/2" of empty space (except for on the perimeter of the tank, where hydroton fills the whole space to hide the false bottom from view).
So my substrate layers look like this...

~~~~~Leaf Litter~~~~~ 1/2" - 1"
....Coco/Moss/Charcoal.... 1" - 1 1/2"
oooooo Hydroton ooooooo 3/4"
xxxxxx Egg-Crate xxxxxx
Empty Space 1/2"
000000 Hydroton 0000000 2"

Sorry, that was probably WAY more info than you wanted :)
 

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Thinking of pinning Marcgravia all over the back after I saw THIS Vivarium thread by Roberthvalera...



Would marcgravia be able to grow over my GS background? Would you root it in the substrate and let it climb/pin it around?
 

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Would marcgravia be able to grow over my GS background? Would you root it in the substrate and let it climb/pin it around?
Yes, it will even grow on glass if it's humid enough;)
That's probably the best way, though you can just pin it to the background without any contact with the substrate if you'd like, the roots will find it's way down eventually.
 

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Nice job with the build! The leucs will certainly enjoy the tank. Marcgravia is one of my favorite plants and it will easily climb your background. I would just set it on a bed of sphagnum at the base of the background and let it climb. The cheaper species grow relatively fast and should start looking nice after a little while.

I'm a little worried about the phalenopsis orchid in there. They don't like to be constantly wet and perfer to dry out between waterings. Also, the flower spike (if it flowers) will be pretty tall. In general, orchids from the pleurothallid alliance are better suited for vivarium life and many can be generous with their blooms as long as they don't require a temperature drop to do so.

John
 
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