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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This has been a dream of mine for many years to set up a tropical vivarium. I've been procrastinating this build due to my other hobby of reef keeping and lack of commitment, or not wanting to get in over my head with systems to take care of. Long story short end of 2020 I had one of my larger acrylic tanks start showing unwanted signs of stress on the seams. So broke this tank down, not trusting it to hold 180 gallons of water much longer and it had sat in my garage for over a year. Finally a few months ago I had some free time and decided I would use this tank to set up the viv I always wanted. Fast forward to now and the vivarium is looking great and how I always envisioned it. It's home to a confirmed pair of Nicaraguan BJs as well as a collection of my favorite epiphytes. I always had planned for a water feature, but when it came time to set this tank up I could not find the space (or didn't want to lose real estate) to have one. So I built a drip feature that starts form the top of my back ground and trickles down along some of the branches and wood bringing continuous humidity into the tank. The drainage layer has a drain into a sump where the pump stays that runs the drip feature so the substrate can never become saturated. For lighting I have 6 48" shop LEDs that cycle as a dawn to dusk across the tank via Kasa strips. I also have one 36" UVB bulb that runs for 1hr at the peak of my lighting schedule. I run 4 fans total two for venting the hood, and two that recirculate inside the viv.

I will update with better pics as well as plant list, but here's the viv at a little over a month old.


Plant Plant community Botany Flower Terrestrial plant

Pic for those interested in seeing this tank in its past life
Water Underwater Fluid Organism Coastal and oceanic landforms
 

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I used to keep planted tanks as well. Although I did totally love the look of a cool aqua scape, I just did one too many water changes. The never ending water changes just drove me away. I feel as though maintaining a viv is much less labor intensive. I was able to pull it off for quite a few years, but life just got too demanding. Especially with the addition of a child in my life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Do you find that you enjoy this more than reef keeping? I know I enjoy it a lot more than keeping a planted tank. I kill way less plants. 🤣
I used to keep planted tanks as well. Although I did totally love the look of a cool aqua scape, I just did one too many water changes. The never ending water changes just drove me away. I feel as though maintaining a viv is much less labor intensive. I was able to pull it off for quite a few years, but life just got too demanding. Especially with the addition of a child in my life.
Maintaining a reef tank can be quite a task at times. I tend to run my tanks the most natural/simple ways possible which IMO eliminates a lot of possibility for error. Weekly water changes may sound like a lot to others but I don't mind too much. All in all I spend maybe 1-2hrs a week working on my current reef tanks.

I feel I have been neglecting them a bit from the initial excitement of the viv, it has definitely been getting more of my attention lately. I don't think I could pick one over the other, but seeing the BJs climb throughout the bromeliads definitely brings a fuzzy feeling. Ever since I was a kid seeing them in nature docs and books it's been a dream of mine to keep and hopefully be able to successfully breed them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
This is the pair of Nicaraguan BJs that call this viv home. I have kept them in sort of a dry season since they went into the tank misting only once per day sometimes every other day. I'm planning to ramp up the misting going into next month as that's when we start getting into our daily storm season in FL. With my sump and ventilation system there's really no limit to how much I can mist daily, the tank can dry out quickly if needed. I will probably start at 3-4xs per day and maybe go up to 5x in the peak of summer. Hopefully this will kick them into breeding, but we will see. They seem very comfortable and not too timid with all the space and foliage
Plant Botany Terrestrial plant Flowering plant Groundcover
Flower Plant Leaf Botany Terrestrial plant
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Had a little time off work this past weekend so I went out to one of my zen spots. Love to see these epiphytes in situ, especially when I don't have to get on a plane and fly out of the country. This place has given me a lot of inspiration and ideas to bring into my own garden, and now into my vivarium.

Enjoy the pics

Plant community Ecoregion Plant Tree Terrestrial plant
Plant Terrestrial plant Bedrock Trunk Grass
Plant Terrestrial plant Arecales Grass Flowering plant
Plant Plant community Tree Natural landscape Terrestrial plant
Flower Plant Leaf Petal Twig
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Got a nice little surprise this Easter. I was checking out the tank yesterday evening and caught my female BJ transporting two tads to some of the bromeliads. I know she deposited one into this Vriesea and I think I know where the other one went. Not sure if there's more around the tank or it was just the two, but pretty excited either way to watch these develop.
Frog Vertebrate Reptile Snake Water
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Update: I think the viv is roughly 3 months old now and I couldn't be happier with how it's turning out. The plants, mosses, and frogs are all growing very well and I'm really starting to enjoy this tank more and more every day. A picture says a thousand words so here's a little photo dump.

Second sighting of my female transporting a tad and the male barking behind her
Plant community Plant Terrestrial plant Grass Water

My newer female
Flower Plant Pollinator Insect Arthropod

New female in the fireballs
Flower Plant Green Botany Terrestrial plant

and some full tank shots
Plant community Plant Terrestrial plant Arecales Tree

Plant Plant community Botany Terrestrial plant Vegetation

Plant Plant community Botany Terrestrial plant Vegetation
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well since my last post I have welcomed 3 froglets into the vivarium. Not sure how many there are in total but I have seen 3 at once so I know there’s at least that many.

The tank is really starting to fill in. I’m finding all sorts of various bryophytes and small ferns sprouting around the tank which is cool to see.

1 of 3 froglets
Natural environment Organism Terrestrial plant Vegetation Arthropod
 
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