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Hello Everyone,

I am planning on designing a dart frog vivarium with my Exo-Terra PT2614 Large/Tall 90 x 45 x 60 cm 36” x 18” x 24” (WxDxH) and I am new to the frog hobby. I am not just planning on keeping Dart frogs but also breeding them and designing a self sustaining ecosystem. I plan on using the egg crate false bottom with ABG substrate and leaf litter. I am not sure exactly what plants to use right now but I have plenty of time to research that info later. Right now my main worry is designing the background and how I am going to do this. I have never used great stuff before but it doesn't look too difficult. My question is should I throw the Exo-Terra background that the cage came with away or use it? Once the egg crate is in the cage that background would obviously have to be altered to make it fit again and that would kinda suck. Or I could use the LECA method and keep the Exo-Terra background and maybe add to it on the sides with the great stuff. What do you guys suggest?
My next worry is if I should drill a hole in the bottom of the tank and attach a bulkhead, like somebody had suggested to me on another forum. I do not know exactly what a bulkhead is or what components are needed to make it work. All I know is that it is used to drain the excess water. Can anybody explain a little more about this bulkhead and help me understand how it is used to drain the tank and why this would be the best way to drain the water? If I am going to drill a hole in this expensive tank then I really want to understand this concept.
My next worry is how to apply structure and texture to the great stuff-made background. Do I wait until it dries to add the eco-earth,woodchips, etc... or do I throw it on when it is still wet? And if not then what do I use to make it stick? I am guessing silicone but I just do not know the process. And if I use silicone then what kind is the best to use? So my next concern is what kind of material to use to coat the background? I am planing on using many epiphytic plants so I want a background that can do this. I would love to have a big tree fern panel background but this tank is way to big for that. What do y'all think about CoCo fiber sheets? Do these have to be used alone or can you attach it to the great stuff foam background? What do you think I should do for my background? What would you do???
Kinda going backwards here but lets say I decide to do the egg crate false bottom method and want to incorporate a waterfall that empties into a small stream, or just a stream that ends in a small, inch deep pond. How exactly do I alter the egg crate to achieve this goal? What are the best water ideas that you would suggest? (and I don't wanna hear nothing. Darts don't need a stream. :D) I am doing this for aesthetic purposes mainly.
I see a lot of people scape their vivariums with the substrate lowest in the front and rising higher towards the background and I like this idea for obvious reasons. I am thinking about scaping the great stuff down the back of the tank and on both the left and right sides of the terrarium. I would keep the background thinner on top and bow it out the further down the tank I get so that the plants can get better light and the frogs can climb it better. Not to mention I just think it looks cool. Carve out some root formations maybe. Does this sound like a good idea? I would like to add some hydroponic pots in there too for plants. Probably going to attach some drift wood too. Any advice on the background would be great because this is my main concern right now. I will make a build log so everyone can see how I do for my first vivarium.
Before I do anything with this Large Exo-Terra cage I am going to practice on one of my smaller tanks. Probably the 12"12"18" Zoomed cage I have sitting empty. I do not want to make a mistake on the big Exo-Terra. I have so many questions right now but I am going to post this before I have to leave the library because I do not have internet at home unfortunately. By the way my name is Troy and I live in Madison, WI. Thank you for helping me in any way you can! I am very glad to be apart of this forum. Its fortunate there are forums like this or I wouldn't be exposed to any of this wonderful information.
 

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Dang nobody can even answer any of my questions? Its all good. Im just excited about this project and thought I would get some feedback. Oh well. :(
Well if anyone has any advice I would still appreciate a response.
 

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Let me say first off that taking a saw to the background you already have will most likely be much easier than making your own background, but not as rewarding. Its all up to what you want to do though. I just made a GS background a couple weeks ago and it was easy and fun, plus I was able to put pots in the background.

When forming the background wait for the GS to cure (its not drying) until it is hard. Then carve or sand it to remove the smooth texture. Use silicone on top to apply your desired finish. (This is how I did it, it is not the only way to make a background)

Some people silicone the eggcrate to the back first because silicone holds much stronger than GS to the glass itself. Its probably a good idea to do this.

Your idea sounds cool, but dont rush things. I rushed mine a bit and though I don't regret it I could have done a better job. A lot of the things you asked have been answered many times over in the grow logs, and I am sure questions you havent even thought of will be answered there too. There are some things I discovered on the forums AFTER already doing them a different way. To see what I did check out my grow log here http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/me...build-40-gal-build-log-lots-pics-details.html (its not finished yet, but should be soon)
 

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I incorperated the exoterra background in with my great stuff background. I broke the backround into a bunch of smaller pieces and siliconed some to the back of my tank along with pots, driftwood, ect. and used the great stuff to fill in the rest.

Sent from my DROID2 GLOBAL using Tapatalk
 

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The best way to get the answers to your questions (and answers to more questions you don't even know you have yet!) is to spend hours looking through all the build threads on here. That's what I did/do. :)

I just got a 36 x 18 x 24 Exo too! It's a really nice size tank. I'm glad that you're going to practice on a smaller tank first though, I was actually going to suggest that. My first tank was a 29 gallon tank that I already had kicking around, so there wasn't much to lose. I didn't do a bad job on it or anything, but if I were to start over, I would do things differently. So I think it's good you're not starting out with your big Exo for your first build.

I personally don't like the background that comes with the Exo-Terras, they have a purple-ish color to me in some light, and I don't like it. Also if you look closely, you can see the styrofoam beads, so it looks very unnatural. You should definitely go with a homemade background! Just look around for ideas on all the build threads on this forum. There are plenty of looks to choose from, and you just have to pick the one that appeals to you most and works well for the type of frogs you want to get!
 

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Hello Everyone,
My next worry is if I should drill a hole in the bottom of the tank and attach a bulkhead, like somebody had suggested to me on another forum. I do not know exactly what a bulkhead is or what components are needed to make it work. All I know is that it is used to drain the excess water. Can anybody explain a little more about this bulkhead and help me understand how it is used to drain the tank and why this would be the best way to drain the water? If I am going to drill a hole in this expensive tank then I really want to understand this concept.
Do not try to drill a hole in the bottom of the tank. The bottom glass may be temepered and the whole thing will shatter when you try to drill it.

I have drilled holes on the back panel on smaller exo's with no problem.
 

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Thank you everybody who took time to respond. Yes you all are definitely right about looking through all the threads to answer my questions. I just have such a large viv that I worry a little more about this build than I would with a smaller one. It is going to take quite a bit of Great Stuff to make this background but I know I can make it great if I just follow the directions and exercise some of my carving abilities. I will keep doing research and don't worry I am in no hurry. Definitely going to take my time on this project. Thank you.
 

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I just wanted to jump in here and also emphasize that you should not drill the glass.

Regular glass is hard enough to drill by an amateur, but if you are very new and inexperienced with it I would *highly* recommend paying a prof glass cutter the few dollars to do it for you...


but tbh you don't NEED a bulkhead drilled, you can always use a siphon tube as well
 

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I just wanted to jump in here and also emphasize that you should not drill the glass.

Regular glass is hard enough to drill by an amateur, but if you are very new and inexperienced with it I would *highly* recommend paying a prof glass cutter the few dollars to do it for you...


but tbh you don't NEED a bulkhead drilled, you can always use a siphon tube as well
Thank you for the info. Maybe I will just use the siphon method. Where would I be able to get it professionally drilled? I am purchasing a Mistking next month and planning on getting a new glass lid made instead of using the 4 square screen that the exo came with, so I will have to get that drilled for the mister, but that will be way easier to transport to get it professionally done. Does this sound like a good idea?
 
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