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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been planning my viv for a week now, and I want to place an order on joshfrogs.com, but I have a bunch of equipment already lying around, and I want to get my whole plan sorted out so that I don;t forget anything

1. Lighting- I have 3 uvb fixtures lying around, x2 15w all glass aquarium fixtures, one of which has a reptiglow bulb, the other has a no-name bulb. The last thing I have is a clamp lamp with a reptiglow 2.0 bulb in it. Which of these should I use? I know a combination of these has to work.

2. Water feature- I know most advise against it for the beginner, but I really enjoy planning them, and they look sick. I want a waterfall, and hopefully a small pond with a couple RCS in it. I want the waterfall about 12" up my tank, so what type of pump should I be shooting for here? I was planning on using a 4" drain pipe, covering it with gs so that it wasn't noticeable, then just having the water come out the top where I want it to via a submersible pump. Also, what should I make the actual water feature out of? Could I just carve it out of gs or Styrofoam, or can gs come into contact with water? I have a nice rock that would work perfectly, but would gs be able to hold it up? I also have one of those foggers, can it be used in moving water, or does the water have to be stagnant?

For the pond, how would I do it correctly? Just cut out the eggcrate where I want it, them separate the substrate with something? What would I separate it with?

3. Substrate- I was going to buy ABG mix from joshfrogs. How many quarts would I need to fill up my 24x18x24 exo-terra? I was going to use eggcrate as a false bottom with enough water underneath for the submersible pump to operate. Does leaf litter need to be sterile, or can I go out in my yard and get oak leaves and sea grape leaves? How do you get it sterile?

4. Everything else- Do I need a heater or heat rock? Do I just use glass to cover the screen on the top of the exo-terra to retain humidity?

Thanks for any advice or input, I really appreciate the help. Pics are of the rock I want to use for the waterfall, and all my lighting fixtures.
 

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Lighting doesn't need to be complicated. Any flourescent strip light will work unless you buy very light-demanding plant species, but most others will be fine. Don't worry about "Repti-sun" or "UVA/B" or any other brand name on those bulbs, it won't matter and it won't penetrate through a glass top. I use the same lights you attached in the second picture for some of my tanks and they work fine.
Leaves work best if you let them dry out naturally; I usually pick mine as they fall of the trees in the Fall. You can just take some leaves from non-toxic trees as long as they have not been treated by pesticides and bake them for a bit to make sure any small bugs don't sneak in that you don't want.
No, do not use a heater or heat rock. Darts are fine in room temperature, and anything above 80 can be anywhere from stressful to deadly depending on the species. Use a glass top to help keep in humidity. There are some threads on here about exo-terras and how to make them suitable for dart frogs.
Bryan
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
So how many of those fixtures do you think I should have? Should I use the strip lights only or the clamp lamp also? Any specific minimum/maximum wattage?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ok, I siliconed the bottom of the tank today so it can hold water without leaking, but I need osme advice, so I can start on the waterfall and stuff!
 

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So how many of those fixtures do you think I should have? Should I use the strip lights only or the clamp lamp also? Any specific minimum/maximum wattage?
It really won't have anything to do with wattage as far as minimum or maximum. Whatever amount of light you want is fine as long as it stays cool enough for the frogs, so if the temps are breaking 80 I would move the lights higher up or take some off. I've use the single strip lights that you can buy at a pet store to go with a glass tank, but most of my tanks are less than 12 inches deep so I can use just one bulb. If your tank is deeper and you want to use two strip lights, that would probably work too. Just remember that in nature, in the rainforest forest floor, where most poison dart frogs live, not a ton of light gets through all of the trees and plants to the bottom level. So there really isn't any need to blast them with light unless you choose very light-demanding plant species.
Bryan
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yeah that makes sense. So i'll use those 2 strips and see how that does. Sorry about wanting to light everything to high hell, it's a reefer's instinct after 4 yrs. after blasting corals with lights strong enough to blind you :p
 

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Yeah that makes sense. So i'll use those 2 strips and see how that does. Sorry about wanting to light everything to high hell, it's a reefer's instinct after 4 yrs. after blasting corals with lights strong enough to blind you :p
Yeah I know where you're coming from, some people use t5HO lights for frog tanks like with reefs but I've always just stuck with the easier strip lights. I think you will find that a lot of things in this hobby are a lot easier than reefing, the only thing really different is making fruit fly cultures (but I guess that takes the place of water changes with aquariums...)
Bryan
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Does anybody have any advice on constructing water features? Can I just carve them out of gs/ foam, or do I need a special substance? I was planning on blocking off the pond from the substrate w/ great stuff, then my having it connect to the rest of the water under the false floor so that it would be constantly circulating.
 

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You can either block off the water section with great stuff or silicone glass pieces to block off a water section or you can use egg crate/light diffuser and let the water sit on the entire bottom of the tank, add screen to the top of the egg crate where you will add substrate and make sure to leave enough space (at least an inch) between the water and the substrate. Or you can add gravel to the entire floor bottom and add screen to the top of the gravel where you will add substrate. But gravel makes the tank a lot heavier.
 

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You can either block off the water section with great stuff or silicone glass pieces to block off a water section or you can use egg crate/light diffuser and let the water sit on the entire bottom of the tank, add screen to the top of the egg crate where you will add substrate and make sure to leave enough space (at least an inch) between the water and the substrate. Or you can add gravel to the entire floor bottom and add screen to the top of the gravel where you will add substrate. But gravel makes the tank a lot heavier.

I would suggest you don't try to contain the water in only one section of the tank, I'm sure it's possible but I've never had it work easily. In my experience, the water always finds a way to get off course and slowly seep into the parts that you want to stay dry, so that the water drains every few days and the substrate just ends up being saturated. It would probably be easier to just allow the water to fill the whole false bottom, but like Andry said, gravel would be heavy so use LECA or just a false bottom with eggcrate, and that way if water accidentally flows off course it will still drain to the bottom and keep the top substrate dry.
Bryan
 

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Does anybody have any advice on constructing water features? QUOTE]

Yeah...Dont! Lol! Just kidding! It can be a pain though. Its also hard to explain in one post. I would search through the build threads alot and when you think you figured it out search them agian. Gs is easy to carve and holds up to water. You can also use floral foam. Not the stuff that can hold water but the green styrofoam blocks. Like this. 002.jpg
Then you can carve it like this 004.jpg
After you have the shape cover it in grout, paint it, seal it and you have a waterfall like this. 009.jpg
Also dont forget to add a way to drain off excess water before it reaches your substrate. I just use a piece of hidden pvc or just make sure you can remove the return line to your pump to drain it off or add a bulk head.
Anyways long story short search the build threads cause there are 1000 ways to do it! Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ok, so what i'm planning to do with the waterfall is just carve the path I want the water to take out of gs when I do my false background. The flooring with be eggcrate and weedblocker, and the whole false bottom will be full of water. I will have a 4 inch pvc pipe hidden under gs in the background, so that my return pump is easy to access by just sticking my hand into the pvc and pulling it out rather than creating a trap door to remove it.

My question is whether or not I need to put gravel where the waterfall is draining through into the false floor, or can it just drain into the substrate?

The pond with be sectioned off with gs ON THE TOP ONLY, leaving space on the vertical eggcrate so that water is constantly being renewed, and the pond isn;t a little stagnant section of water itself.

Will this work? Any advice would be awesome. Thanks!
 

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Gravel is best. You dont want your waterfall flowing into your substrate. That would just make mud. I used gs and carved out a "stream" covered it in silicone to allow water to flow down the stream. Leave the end free of gs and cover the whole thing with rocks. I also use window screen and not weed blocker. It holds up longer imo.
Your idea should work. Just remember you dont want mud and your supply water and return should be set up so it allows water flow under your false bottom. This helps prevent water from sitting to long.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Ok awesome. I finished the false floor yesterday, and I'll post a pic in a bit for criticism/advice. I also placed an order on joshsfrogs for substrate and cocohusk, and a few other things
 

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A pic would help of course but make sure that no frogs can get back to the 4 inch PVC pipe area. Or they may fall in and drown, get trapped or sucked into or against the pump. Or even just wind up under the false bottom.
That is of course if I am picturing what you said correctly. If you have this taken care of already than ignore this part.
Otherwise sound like you are in the right path to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
How would I be able to plus the 4" pvc? Could I just create a small removable resovior at the top with great stuff? It would be shallow, and then I would just have the actual return line sticking a bit out the top. Would this work?

Also, how would I hide the false bottom from view outside the tank? Would it be better to put something on the outside or on the inside?

Another question, how would I hide the small portion of eggcrate on the vertical piece that seals the pond from the substrate? I want it to be connected with the rest of the water, but I don;t want an ugly piece of eggcrate in view.

I started placing things, so this is what i'm planning....
 

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You could make a plug of GS for the pipe sure thing. I usually tape off and use black spray paint on the outside to hide the internals from view. Others use contact paper or just stuff spag. moss and such to hide the edge of the egg crate. It would also be covered in weed blocker and then your substrate so that should hide most all of it. A nice build up of pond pebbles near the "pond" could hide that edge if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ok aweomse, those are all things that i was considering doing. As far as the scape, how do you guys like it? I'm going to partially cover teh sides with GS as well, so it will look like the waterfall is in the background, and the driftwood is coming out of it. I will also add more pots and ledges on the sides, but this is my first viv so I hope it comes out well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
ok will do. Should I remove everything and then place the weed blocker, or could I just place it around everything. Should I tuck is underneath the eggcrate, or just have it ride up on the wall a little?
 
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