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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
NC24 Viv, updated 12-26-06




Well a little introduction, I’ve been a lurker here for a year or so soaking up ideas for a viv. I am active over at nano-reef.com and have a Nano-Cube 6 reef tank. I know a few people on this board are also active at NR. I wanted to setup a Nano-Cube 24 as a viv and Chris at nanocustoms.com offered me one of his 05 NC24’s with a new DX hood to work with. Chris also re-bulbed the hood with two 36 watt 7100K daylight bulbs before shipping the tank to me. For anyone not familiar with Nano-cubes, they are supposed to be an out of the box reef tank setup with two 36 watt PC lights, LED moonlighting, cooling fans in the hood and back chambers in the tank to hide the filter & pump.



Well since the NC24 was designed as a reef tank, not a viv, I knew I had to do a lot of modifications to make it work. The first thing I did was take the tank apart. Two hinges that are screwed to the top trim hold on the hood. I also removed the back chambers by cutting thru the silicon beads between the tank glass & the chambers. My biggest concern was how to keep frogs & flies in the tank, so I made a top out of a prismatic 2x4 light lens. I am hoping this will diffuse the light without cutting down too much on the usable light inside the tank, because I don’t like staring into light bulbs when I look into the viv.



I made the top with the rough side down in the hope that it will discourage frogs from trying to push their way under the top and it will let moisture drip off easily. The prismatic light lens is very flexible and I can open it enough to get a spray bottle &/or food into the viv. I can also slide the top off to remove it completely. The top slides under the attachment area for the hood hold open brackets (after a little grinding with my Dremel).



The hood comes with a light lens to protect the lights & fans from moisture, but the stock lens is recessed down into the tank and would hit the prismatic lens top that I made. I thought about just removing the hood lens since I had the prismatic tank top, but I was worried that the heat from the lights would raise the viv temps, so I used clear acrylic & my Dremel to cutout a new flat hood lens.



I wanted to have a drain system in the viv so I drilled (actually cut) a hole in the bottom of the NC24 with my Dremel and a diamond bit.



I will have my water return line run inside the drain line to cut down on the clutter. Here is a pic of the top of the drain fitting with a hole drilled thru.



I added a second elbow fitting to my drain, so I could adjust the water level inside the viv by turning the elbow up or down. I am planning on about 1” of water under the false floor. Here is a pic of the drain fitting with the return line running thru it.




One of the main reasons I wanted to use the NC24 for a viv is the cube shape & the back chambers.
I wanted to install a fan in the center back chamber blowing air under a false floor, then back out the front of the viv to keep humidity as high as possible.
I flipped the chambers upside down & cut in an air return at the top & covered the cutout with two layers of black mesh with a layer of fiberglass screen sandwiched between the mesh and I hot glued it to the chambers.
I made a removable fan holder that would slip into the center chamber. The fan is an old computer fan, which I will run with an adjustable voltage converter. The fan is a 12 volt model and is totally quiet when run at 6 volts, but still pushes a lot of air.
Her is a pic of the back chambers removed & modified for my fan setup



This is what the fan and back chambers looks like in the tank



I needed a way to direct the air under the false floor then back out the front of the tank, so I used a shop wet vac attachment for an air diffuser. I cut the tube in half and hot glued the tubes to the wet vac attachment.



I used black plastic mesh to cover the tubes and the raised parts of the false floor. The air will be pushed down the center back chamber by the fan, under the false floor and out of the air diffuser. I’m hoping this will also keep the front glass from fogging up.
Since I was dealing with a curved front glass I had to devise some way to keep my false floor & air diffuser sealed off. I came up with a false floor wall made from black acrylic, siliconed to the bottom of the tank. The false floor wall will keep water inside the wall and eliminates the need to use black silicon on the sides & front glass to hide the false floor. The one down side is that it might trap water between the glass & false floor wall if I’m not careful.



Here is a pic of my completed false floor



The next thing I need to do is work on the background. I ordered black handi-foam to make my background & I have Manzanita branches that were collected after the big fires in San Diego County a couple of years ago (so no live trees were killed in my collecting). I’ve had the branches soaking in a bucket of water for a few weeks and they are looking good with nice blacked highlights.

I’ll post more pics after I make the background.
 

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Very cool design. I've thought about ways of doing a similar air diffuser under the front glass, i like how you did it. Looks good, keep us updated!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
themann42 said:
interesting idea with the light lens. did you try try turning on the light with and without that piece on to see how much light it blocks? how did u cut it? was it easy?
I like the light lens, it really cuts the direct view of the lights, but the light level looks about the same to me. I took some pics with the lens on & off & I’ll post them tomorrow (I seem to have misplaced my camera link cable) to see if the camera can tell the difference.

The lens was easy to cut. I bought a diamond encrusted cutting wheel for my Dremel and it cuts through every thing with ease. I took a side measurement and cut the lens to the correct size with a straight edge then I slid the lens into place. I traced the curved front with a marker, then cut the front curve. The handle is a piece of clear acrylic attached with Weld-on #16. .
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Background pics

I worked on my background Saturday and had the great fun of working with Handi-foam for the 1st time. I taped off the glass & false floor with blue painters tape then put duct tape over that. I hot glued my branches to the plastic backchamber to hold them in place while I was making the background. I got a little impatient and used up most of two cans of Handi-foam in about 10 minutes, not something I would recommend. The stuff is so sticky and messy it’s a total necessity to use disposable gloves. The foam kept expanding for 15 or 20 minutes after I finished spraying it on, so I stuck my hand into the largest bubbles and pulled out pieces to create ledges & planting holes. I covered the foam with a mix of cocoa husks & peat moss while it was still wet and tried to press the mix into the foam. Some stuck but not as much as I had expected.





I have to admit I like the look of the Handi-foam background and I think I’ll leave a lot exposed. I also experimented with Flevopol. I mixed up some of the Ace concrete primer with peat, cocoa husks & orchid planting mix and applied the mix to a few spots on the background. It was a little on the thick side the way I mixed it, so I pressed some peat & cocoa husks onto the top of the Flevopol. After it dried for a while I hosed off the loose mix, leaving the results you see in the pics.



I figured I could always mix up and apply more Flevopol later if I decide too.





Here’s what I did with the extra Flevopol that I had left over
Flevopol Pots



Here is a comparison of the viv with the parabolic lens removed in the 1st pic



& the lens back in on the 2nd pic just so you can (or can’t tell) the light loss.

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Squidbillie said:
That looks great! Any plans for the future residents?
I’m still undecided about what PDFs to start out with. The local IRBA show is this weekend, April 8 & 9, so I plan on going and checking out the PDFs and picking up some plants for the viv. The IRBA shows usually have a couple of good plant venders with big selections. I hoping they will have a good selection of mini broms & orchids available for terrariums, maybe ferns & moss, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
4/8/06
I did a little local plant shopping today and came up with a few plants for my viv.
I stopped at Lowes and they had some Jewel Orchids in bloom, so I had to try a couple.
I also picked up Selaginella, don’t know what species, for my background.
I bought the smallest bromeliad I could find and I’m glad I didn’t get one any bigger or it wouldn’t have fit.
I’m not sure what the other dark green plant is, no identification label, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a brom.
I also bought a small hybrid Orchid that is in the back left corner, but needs moved to the front of the viv so it gets better ventilation.







The flevopol covered pots work great for holding plants and they disappear into the substrate. The pots sit directly on the false floor for good drainage. I used orchid plant mix, milled sphagnum and coco bedding mixed together for my substrate. I went heavy on the orchid mix for the bottom layer, then more milled sphagnum and coco bedding for the top layer.



The parabolic light lens is working well to diffuse the light coming into the viv.



The ventilation system seems to be working. The side glass started fogging up pretty quick, but the front glass is clear so far.

 

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The dark green plant is a Dracanea compacta. I have a couple of them but they were too big for my viv. Not sure how big they get when mature. They do have a nice funnel in the center but unfortunately it doesn't hold water for more than a few seconds.

Looks nice, i like the Orchids.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
RGB said:
The dark green plant is a Dracanea compacta. I have a couple of them but they were too big for my viv. Not sure how big they get when mature. They do have a nice funnel in the center but unfortunately it doesn't hold water for more than a few seconds.

Looks nice, i like the Orchids.
I was afraid it was a plant (Dracanea compacta) that was going to grow to large, thanks for the ID. It’s in a pot, so I can yank it out when starts getting oversized. I think I’ll order some mini-broms to replace the Dracanea.

I went to the IRBA show at the Del Mar fairgrounds yesterday and the whole show seemed really small this year & really crowded with people, elbow to elbow. Not worth the money to go, $8. for parking & $8. to get in, big waste of money. Only a couple of venders had PDFs and only one vender had any kind of selection other than D. auratus.
 

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Yeah, i was there too. I agree there wasn't much and it probably wasn't worth the $16 to get in. I did get some Rep-Cal and Herptivite for pretty cheap though. As you said there wasn't much selection other than auratus. Dane said he sold a couple of lamasi, but that's all he had brought.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
4-20-06


I revised the plants in my NC24 viv & added water feature
because it seemed a little boring on the 1st setup.
The viv has been moved from the shop into the house now.


I have Xmas moss in the water & on the wettest areas.


Eleocharis radicans is planted next to the glass
& the other moss is out of my yard.
I tried to wash the moss really well and remove all the dirt.


I pulled this out of a terrarium growing on my patio.


Baby Tears, Bamboo, small hybrid Orchid from left to right


Jewel Orchids & Selaginella with some Xmas moss on the wet area


Some of the plants are experimental and my not like the wet viv experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
RGB said:
Looks sweet, does the air diffuser keep the glass clear? Have you decided on a species yet?
The airflow out of the diffuser is working well to keep the front glass clear during the day, but at night the room cools down to 60 or 65 and the condensation wins temporarily.

The humidity is running at 95% all the time and the temps in the viv have been running around 65 at night and 76 to 77 during the day with water temp at 70.
We haven’t hit any hot weather yet, so I don’t know how high the temps will spike on a really hot day.

I want to run the viv without livestock for a few weeks just to make sure everything is working OK, see what plants will thrive or die and fine-tune the water flow. Right now I am running a tiny 30 GPH water pump in one of the back chambers and that has turned most of the background into a drip wall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Brom Update 5/5/06

I finally decided on Vents for my NC24 viv, so I wanted to add more broms.



Frogtofall (great guy) sent me a five Neo broms today, so I thought I would post them.



Three of them I superglued to suction cups so I could stick them on the side glass instead of film canisters.






I think I’m about finished adding plants now, I’ll let them grow & fill in some more .
I had to replace a couple of plants that couldn’t handle viv life.





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The little brom on the left is my favorite.

I’ll post more pics when I get my three Vents in a couple of weeks

Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
more plants

Well I only thought I was finished adding plants to my NC24 viv.
I was at a local street fair this morning and stopped at an orchid club booth.
They had some miniature reed-stem epi orchids that I couldn’t pass up.


I bought two plants and this is the only one with flowers, the other one is still in bud,
so I’m hoping for better colors on the second plant.
These are some tiny flowers, about 1/3 the size of normal reed-stem epi’s.



Here is a picture of the whole NC24 viv setup, I don’t think I’ve posted one yet..
The viv is on a night stand in the bedroom.
I built the little black stand to raise the tank up a little for better viewing.
(and to have a spot for my alarm clock)



Here is a pic with the hood raised and the lights on. (2) 36 watt PC’s



You can see the whole setup better with the lights off.
I added a strip of clear acrylic at the back of the prismatic lens top to prevent warping.
I was getting a lot of heat buildup between the clear light lens and the prismatic lens top,
which was raising the upper viv temps to around 80 degrees.
I drilled a hole in the clear light lens and added a scroll fan with the double sided sticky tape.
The scroll fan sucks out the hot air trapped between the two lenses and pulls it into the hood.
The scroll fan also blows the air along the bulbs to help with air movement in the hood
and the other two fans pull the hot ait out of the hood..
So far it seems to have really helped lower the temps in the space between the hood & the viv,
and the viv temps have dropped to the mid 70's, even in the upper parts next to the lights.


It looks like I’m finally ready for the Vents, which I’m picking up next weekend.
Rick
 

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Very nice Rick. That brom you like is Neoregelia "Tiger Cub". Your broms in order from left corner clockwise are...

N. fireball "Green" EL2038
N. fireball x punctatissima Rubra
N. pauciflora
N. "Tiger Cub"
N. rubrifolia

The planting is excellent. I also use the suction cup method to attach broms to the glass. Except instead of glue, I just use the little metal hook and crush it around the stolon.
 
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