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Discussion Starter #21
Best wife ever! It's never a bad idea to have an extra ready to use vivarium. Gives you a fallback in case of an issue with the main tank, or for babies.
Absolutely, she is pretty awesome!

What do you like about the safe-t-sorb? That’s a clay, right? I appreciate you documenting this all.

Using tables and stands can get tricky, I’ve spent way too many hours on Craigslist and online shopping for nightstands that are the perfect dimensions but still fit in with the room.


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Safe-T-Sorb is the same stuff as turface or oildri it is just a different color. You can buy it at tractor supply stores for about 15 dollars for a 25 lb bag and since it's pretty light stuff, that's a BIG bag.

As to why I like it? It is a hardened calcined clay and that means it has a high Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC). In the aquarium side of things it is not uncommonly used as a substrate choice because the CEC capacity means it has buffering properties. It can absorb nutrients being released from fertilizers or other substrates and store them until plants use them. I love the stuff because I also think it looks just like a bunch of little pebbles but it is light enough to stay on the surface in most aquarium substrate mixes and here at least I hoped it wouldn't pull off of the background. In this application it has no practical purpose beyond aesthetics.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Update:

Even though I won't be putting substrate or frogs into this tank anytime soon I decided to keep documenting my build, hopefully it will be helpful for other folks.

The next morning after I made the background I touched the edges and frankly couldn't discern any real difference in the dryness level since I put it together the previous night.

I then put a small desk fan literally hanging into the tank and turned it on full blast. 24 hours later it was pretty darn dry. Probably not 100% dry... but certainly dry enough for me to stand it up. Here is how it looks now:





I also used some scrap molding from a bathroom remodel to make a hood for this tank. The original idea was to have something uptop that could hide the equipment.





I frankly do not love this hood and will definitely be doing something different for my Insitu once it arrives (which should be early next week). Also the final color of this hood is not white... heh that is just primer, the hood would be painted black.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Small Update:

I settled on a light solution for Insitu vivarium. I am going to build my own! I originally was going to buy an off the shelf light but some folks over at an aquarium forum I frequent suggested building my own and after thinking about it a bit I decided to give it a shot.

I have extremely limited understanding of circuits so this is definitely pretty far outside of my wheelhouse. Fortunately the person I was talking with knows quite a bit about it and was able to tell me what to buy and diagram how to wire it up.

So I bought a heatsink, 24 Luxeon Sunplus Cool White LEDs on pcb, 2 Sunplus Deep Red, and 3 Luxeon ES Cyan. Plus 3 drivers, power supply, and all the little fiddly bits to make it come together.

I have in the past always rejected DIY lighting because I want the the light enclosures to look good. I put my aquariums in living spaces of my house. I want every part of them to look nice. But for the vivarium I am planning on having a hood which will obscure the misting system (and consequently the light as well). So it doesn't matter if the light looks like I made it myself as opposed to having someone with a design aesthetic putting it together. What matters is the color and the brightness.

The cool whites are horticulture lights but in the 6500 spectrum range. They should easily grow the plants. The reds and cyan are to make the colors pop. The sunplus chips also have a crazy angle on them of 150 degrees, so they should do a really good job of spreading the light all around the vivarium including the back wall.

In other news I got in some manzanita branches I bought from bloomsandbranches.com. I bought these when I assumed I was making a vivarium for thumbs. I still will try to use 1 or more for this build, but they are mostly for plant space. I am trying to find some driftwood that is more appropriate for tincs (meaning wider and slightly curved so I can use it to increase horizontal space).

Here is a picture of 2 of the 3 branches I purchased. The one on the right is in the same condition as when it arrived. The one on the left has already had me thin it out, and then file down the sharp stumps left by broken twigs.



And here are the two branches I thinned and filed down:



I don't know if this is a real concern or not, but I was worried that if I had sharp ends to the branches the frogs could injure themselves on the points. This is something I do for fish in aquariums. Not sure if its needed for froggies but I figured it couldn't hurt to do it.
 

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I don't know if this is a real concern or not, but I was worried that if I had sharp ends to the branches the frogs could injure themselves on the points. This is something I do for fish in aquariums. Not sure if its needed for froggies but I figured it couldn't hurt to do it.
It's not a bad idea to sand down sharp points :). They can cause injury if the frogs scrape against them.
 

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Small Update:

I settled on a light solution for Insitu vivarium. I am going to build my own! I originally was going to buy an off the shelf light but some folks over at an aquarium forum I frequent suggested building my own and after thinking about it a bit I decided to give it a shot.

I have extremely limited understanding of circuits so this is definitely pretty far outside of my wheelhouse. Fortunately the person I was talking with knows quite a bit about it and was able to tell me what to buy and diagram how to wire it up.

So I bought a heatsink, 24 Luxeon Sunplus Cool White LEDs on pcb, 2 Sunplus Deep Red, and 3 Luxeon ES Cyan. Plus 3 drivers, power supply, and all the little fiddly bits to make it come together.

I have in the past always rejected DIY lighting because I want the the light enclosures to look good. I put my aquariums in living spaces of my house. I want every part of them to look nice. But for the vivarium I am planning on having a hood which will obscure the misting system (and consequently the light as well). So it doesn't matter if the light looks like I made it myself as opposed to having someone with a design aesthetic putting it together. What matters is the color and the brightness.

The cool whites are horticulture lights but in the 6500 spectrum range. They should easily grow the plants. The reds and cyan are to make the colors pop. The sunplus chips also have a crazy angle on them of 150 degrees, so they should do a really good job of spreading the light all around the vivarium including the back wall.

In other news I got in some manzanita branches I bought from bloomsandbranches.com. I bought these when I assumed I was making a vivarium for thumbs. I still will try to use 1 or more for this build, but they are mostly for plant space. I am trying to find some driftwood that is more appropriate for tincs (meaning wider and slightly curved so I can use it to increase horizontal space).

Here is a picture of 2 of the 3 branches I purchased. The one on the right is in the same condition as when it arrived. The one on the left has already had me thin it out, and then file down the sharp stumps left by broken twigs.



And here are the two branches I thinned and filed down:



I don't know if this is a real concern or not, but I was worried that if I had sharp ends to the branches the frogs could injure themselves on the points. This is something I do for fish in aquariums. Not sure if its needed for froggies but I figured it couldn't hurt to do it.

Thanks for the info on the background, also from my understanding the red/blue won’t make color pop on plants, they will how ever change the type of growth you receive. Red for example will encourage more leggy growth this response is due to areas that receive higher amounts of “red” light tend to be areas shaded by other plants where its advantageous to grow fast and tall. Color tends to be a response to light intensity.

I did a write up on DIY led light fixture where I explained the basics of the circuitry as well as how to size heat sink, power supplies, led holder, etc.

https://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/355070-diy-high-powered-led-no-soldering.html

Hopefully this can help you.

I basically condensed this guy’s information


https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFeGgzTAA8vkzWTM7SWiQPlYAhNe3GMGi

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Depends on the wavelength of the red in respect to becoming leggy.



The shorter wavelength can travel through foliage or destruction by refraction. Conversion to the active form of phytochrome making it grow leggy.
 

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Discussion Starter #27 (Edited)
Thanks for the info on the background, also from my understanding the red/blue won’t make color pop on plants, they will how ever change the type of growth you receive. Red for example will encourage more leggy growth this response is due to areas that receive higher amounts of “red” light tend to be areas shaded by other plants where its advantageous to grow fast and tall. Color tends to be a response to light intensity.
Depends on the wavelength of the red in respect to becoming leggy.

The shorter wavelength can travel through foliage or destruction by refraction. Conversion to the active form of phytochrome making it grow leggy.
My understanding is you both have a piece of it but the whole story is more complicated. Red light does make plants grow lanky but only if you use pretty much only red light. To be clear we are not talking about the far red part of the spectrum. If blue light is added you get normal plant growth. This is why so many people are selling these incredibly ugly grow bulbs that are a mix of red and blue leds to create this truly heinous purple light. Normal amounts of red light help plants flower, or in situations where they don't flower and are getting enough light otherwise to grow properly, and then if they can, red light helps plants turn red.

On the aquarium side this is a pretty common concern since some of the aquatic plants will turn various shades of red when exposed to enough co2 and light. But light with too much blue in it won't do the trick. Thus the best aquarium leds often have a much warmer spectrum, something in the 5000s to low 6000s.

Anyway in my case I am adding the reds and the greens for people not for the plants. The cool whites will grow the plants great, but if you shine green light on a plant it will mostly bounce off and thus make the plant look 'more' green. Same for red which is why I mention colors popping.

Here is some random quick write up I found on red light plant growth:

https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/resources/pdfs/red-light.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter #28
Update:

I received in my frog cube and my glass cutter so I was able to go ahead and (for all intents and purposes) finish the vivarium. I am pretty pleased with how it went together.

First a word about cutting glass... I went to two Lowes looking for my glass to be cut to a specific size needed for this build. At the first Lowes they told me the glass cutter was out of service. (This as it turns out is just a lie). At the second Lowes they told me they are not offering glass cutting during the Pandemic... well shucks.

Instead I bought the only glass cutting tool they had, a kobalt glass cutter. Now understand I hate the Kobalt brand. Every Kobalt tool I have seen has been awful compared to literally anything else I can find, but I figured the glass cutter had to at least cut glass, and I didn't need it for more then a handful of cuts...

I should have gone with my gut... Here is a picture of two glass cutters. The Kobalt is on the left. The one on the right is a Toyo glass cutter purchased from amazon.



The Toyo cutter was purchased because the Kobalt cutter did not work AT ALL. I have never cut glass before, so when I ruined an entire 24"x36" piece of glass one small cut at a time, I assumed I was just horrible at cutting glass. I mean I worked at it for over 2 hours making dozens of cuts trying to get 2 relatively small pieces of intact glass out of the sheet. No luck.

Then I got the Toyo cutter and a new sheet of glass. Night and day difference. The Toyo cutter actually cut the glass.. So yea.. don't buy Kobalt.

With the glass cut I was able to assemble the frog cube. Some of the pieces required some filing/sanding because they were a little too tight. Other then that the whole thing went together very easily. After dry fitting everything I took it all apart and applied silicone. Here is the tank now:



Overall very happy with how it came out. I have no immediate plans for this tank but its nice to have and maybe some day I can put it to work ;P

Now I just need to wait for my Insitu to arrive. It is scheduled for Tuesday. After it comes I will immediately put together the background. Really looking forward to that.
 

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Nice! I'm sure you'll find a use for the extra tank soon enough. You Could also turn it into a plant only growing tank.

I've never cut glass myself, I'm not very handy and am quite accident prone so I try to avoid things that I'm likely to mess up horribly lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
My Insitu Vivarium is coming sometime today. While waiting I decided to do a little project for the tank.

I bought some monkey pods a little while ago with plans of using them as egg depositories instead of petri dishes. I know the petri dishes are standard in the hobby but I just don't like the aesthetic of the coconut hut - petri dish combo. Since monkey pods are not necessarily waterproof I decided to coat them in something that is. Since black film canisters seem to be popular with smaller species I decided to go black for my coating. I've heard of folks using silicone for this but I didn't want to buy and waste most of a tube of silicone. Instead I went with 2 part epoxy and powdered tint. I've used this for woodworking before and it works very well and when dry, is just plastic so safety shouldn't be an issue.

Here is everything you need:



I am using loctite 5 minute epoxy but I have also used quickcure and I suspect any clear 2 part epoxy would work fine.

I added each part to a small disposable cup and then added a little of the powdered tint:



I mixed it up with a small scrap piece of wood (could use anything for this but it should be something disposable). Then dished it into the monkey pod:



At this point it doesn't look very black but that is normal. Once heat is applied it becomes substantially darker and also much less viscus (like the thickness of maple syrup once heat is used).

I basically just heated it up with the heat gun keeping it vertical in my hand. Once it was freely moving as a liquid I rolled it back and forth in the pod till it coated everything. The first one was the sloppiest, the 2nd better and I think I got a pretty good one by the time I got the third and biggest pod.



Once completely dry they won't be quite as shiny but you get the idea. Hopefully the froggies will appreciate them as well ;P
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Update!:

My Insitu arrived and overall pretty happy. It was packed quite well and had zero damage. The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was an apology letter by the Insitu team. It seems their supply chain broke down and they could not get me tempered glass doors. They instead sent me annealed glass doors with a promise to send me the correct doors in the future. I contacted them by email and already got a response, they were very sorry and plan to can send me the correct part in 2 weeks. This mattered only because the doors they did send did not have the silicone seam along one end to keep fruit flies in.

Still in 2 weeks I won't even be close to adding fruit flies so I doubt it will ultimately make much difference. And I am glad they sent me the vivarium now rather then put the whole thing on hold for 2 weeks.

After reading in another thread I posted about problems of growing moss on a titebond 3 background I decided to increase the amount of cork bark in this background (the moss will grow on the cork but not the titebond apparently). I didn't have enough of the cork I already had so I bought 2 small pieces of zoo med cork from amazon. It came in today as well and I was able to put the background together.

This one is made from 50% tree fern fiber, 40% sphagnum peat moss, and 10% orchid bark (for texture). I definitely used about 16 oz of titebond 3 as well.

Here is the tank on its back with the bark just laid out to see how it looked:



Here it is after I removed the bark, added the background material, and then re-added the bark:



And here it is after I added more background material to obscure some of the clean cut edges:



This background is not frankly as nice looking by itself as the previous background I made since the cork is just everywhere. But I think it will look a lot better once planted. There are a lot of nooks between the bark where I can shove plants and the bark itself will be able to support moss.

In the last picture you can see the fan I have on it. Hopefully I can get this thing dried out in the next day or so and at that point turn it vertical to begin playing with hardscape.
 

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Update!:This background is not frankly as nice looking by itself as the previous background I made since the cork is just everywhere. But I think it will look a lot better once planted.
You are probably right. If there is one thing I have learned after building lots of dart frog tanks, it's that you don't really know how well you will like it after it grows in. Just last weekend I had to re-do a tank that I was sure I would like when I first planted it. However, when it grew in for a year or so, I ended up unhappy with it and starting again. I learn a little more each time that happens so I get a little better at it, but the possibility continues that I am not happy and I have to replant or adjust the hardscape. I use the cracked cork mosaic process for just about all of my tanks and it is similar to what you are doing. I would suggest some shinglers like Rhaphidophora or Marcgravia to cover the back. Oak-leaved ficus is another option, though it will take over eventually if you let it :) Anyway, you have done a good job so far. Keep up the good work!

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #34
You are probably right. If there is one thing I have learned after building lots of dart frog tanks, it's that you don't really know how well you will like it after it grows in. Just last weekend I had to re-do a tank that I was sure I would like when I first planted it. However, when it grew in for a year or so, I ended up unhappy with it and starting again. I learn a little more each time that happens so I get a little better at it, but the possibility continues that I am not happy and I have to replant or adjust the hardscape. I use the cracked cork mosaic process for just about all of my tanks and it is similar to what you are doing. I would suggest some shinglers like Rhaphidophora or Marcgravia to cover the back. Oak-leaved ficus is another option, though it will take over eventually if you let it :) Anyway, you have done a good job so far. Keep up the good work!

Mark
Thank you! I have oak leaved ficus and some marcgravia cuttings I am trying to root. I also have some unidentified species of Solanum sold to me by black jungle (they didn't know what it was either apparently). One small pot of Peperomia rotundifolia var. pilosior. Plus Asian Jasmine I bought at lowes. So between all of those I'm hoping to have a lot of vining plants. I also have a lot of low lying plants as well, which will hopefully not take up space the froggies could be using. Frankly I have more plants then I think I will use but that is on purpose. When scaping aquariums I found it was better to have too much and not need it then have not enough and wish you had just a few more plants to balance something out.
 

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One of the wall plants I like a lot is the ficus villosa. It has a ton of hairs on it which is fun. I also have a few awesome margravias including a very awesome peach colored one.


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The solanum looks nice. It'll love climbing the cork wall.

I'm a big fan of climbing/shingling plants, I have an order of marcgravia's and a solanum coming next week :)
 

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One of the wall plants I like a lot is the ficus villosa. It has a ton of hairs on it which is fun. I also have a few awesome margravias including a very awesome peach colored one.


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I looked up ficus villosa and the pictures are pretty darn cool. Unfortunately it appears impossible to purchase. Even the all powerful ebay was easily defeated.
 

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Update!

The background is not completely dry but it is dry enough for me to turn upright. I then got some time to experiment with some hardscape designs. Here is one possibility:



The rocks in this case would be mostly buried by substrate with just the tip of the rocks on the left jutting up and part of the front of that rock as well. The substrate would then slope lower to the right and cover about half of that rock there.

Missing from this is the large piece of mopani wood I bought which will be going from near the top of the rocks on the left all the way across the tank and then curving down to the substrate. This will increase horizontal space (as does the sloping substrate) and it will create a kind of bridge the underside of which (with the help of some plantings) will be a natural hide. But I am still waiting for the darn wood to arrive heh, it was supposed to come today but alas the vagaries of the USPS have defeated me once more.

Anyway once I turned it upright and had some light shining behind it I noticed all those darn clear spots at the top. I laid it back down after taking this picture and added some more woodglue media to the top to plug up those holes. I put the fan back on and will give it another day or so of drying time before I try again.

Meanwhile I also made a hood for the top to hide equipment:



This one is made of crown molding and frankly does a much better job of not looking terrible.

And now an aside about Insitu being really really dumb. On the Insitu Website they list the dimensions of the vivarium as " (width x height x depth): 22.25 x 24 x 17.5" (56.5 x 61 x 44.5 cm)". This is just straight up a lie.

Now it is the case that aquariums are commonly measured and their volume calculated by the exterior dimensions. Thus if you buy say a 20 gallon aquarium the measurements of the aquarium will be "24 1/4 x 12 1/2 x 16 3/4" and this is the outside of the tank. The volume of the tank is calculated not by what the tank actually holds but rather by an imaginary box that had interior dimensions the same size as the tanks exterior dimensions. This is just how the industry operates and it's been going on for quite some time.

The difference between that and Insitu is that the Insitu tanks have a splayed base. Aquariums do not. The measurements of the Insitu tank are from that splayed base, the widened base mind you is purely for aesthetics, it doesn't need to be splayed. If you measure the outside dimensions at the top of the tank the dimensions are 21.5 x 16.75

This is the actual appropriate dimensions of the Insitu. Does it change my opinion of the company or tank? No not really. But I do think it's really dumb for them to market themselves as a larger tank then it is based on an aesthetic design decision.
 

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Update!:

The background is all done and I moved the tank to it's final location. I also potentially finalized the hardscape. I won't know for sure till the substrate is in and I get a chance to really absorb placement. The biggest thing stopping me from planting is the light. I am still waiting for the majority of the components to come in. So far the only thing I have are the project box, thermal glue, drivers, heatsink, and power supply. All the LEDs plus some wire are coming in this week (hopefully by Wednesday).

When I moved the tank to the stand I went ahead and filled the trough in the front of the Insitu with Safe-T-Sorb for my drainage layer. After reading some threads it seems fiberglass window screen is the preferred barrier so I cut an appropriate sized piece and laid that down as well:



Here is the hardscape in the tank currently:



The substrate will be at it's highest point in the back left corner and will slope down to the front and right. Most of these rocks will be covered completely with only the top rock on the left being partially uncovered and the rock on the front right will be mostly uncovered.

Here is what the tank looks like on the stand:



Since I am waiting on light components I went ahead and installed the mistking. My reservoir and drain containers are 2.5 gallon jugs purchased from amazon. I went with these because they fit in the section of stand I have devoted to this purpose. The electronic parts to the mistking are located in a drawer in the stand next to the big compartment. Only the motor is in the section with the reservoirs. Here is how it looks:



I also setup a Wifi powerstrip which I will be using for my light. I originally thought I was going to DIY my misting system as well (which is why I bought a whole wifi powerstrip instead of just a plug) but after reading old threads from others who went down that road I decided it wasn't worth it and just bought the mistking.

Next up is hopefully the making of the light!
 
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