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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's time for this long-time lurker to come out of hiding.
I'm in a tank building bind, and you folks have by far the best vivs out there. (Seriously, have you searched vivariums on Pinterest lately? 90% Dendroboard)

Here's the issue, my crested gecko tank (12x12x18 ExoTerra) is too small and generally crappy. We would both love a show piece vivarium with live plants. I found the attached aquarium on Craiglist for $90 and thought it would be PERFECT! However, it has a broken top and no front door. I'm 5'2" on a good day. There's no way I can only have a top opening vivarium.

I love the front door of the ExoTerra cage, but how do I add one to this tank? All the tank conversation tutorials I found use rectangle tanks. So far, I've figured out that I can remove the center glass panel, cut it into 2 pieces, attach acrylic hinges to one side and reseal the edges with silicone. But how do I lock it? How do I seal the gap between the two pieces?

Also, the top. No one makes a vivarium top in this shape. I thought about cutting 2x4s into the right shape and putting a grove on the inside so it will rest on top, but that would cut off all airflow and the gecko could still touch the lights. How do I get air circulation in there?

Because of the plants I'll be using (and because he's not a frog) humidity will come from daily misting. It seems like a more controles way to keep some plants more moist than others and, hopefully, avoid having water pool at the bottom of the tank.

What do you guys think? Did I bite off more than I can chew again? Maybe I'm just missing something obvious.

Thank you!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Oops. Sorry the images are flipped. They were flipped in the email I got from the seller, but appeared right on my phone. To clarify, I haven't bought this tank yet but hopefully will in a day or two.

Here's my gecko right now. Can you hear him? He's saying, "Help me! Help me get out of here!"
 

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I'm assuming you have ruled out laying it on its side somehow since you will need the height.

I'm in the final stages of my Pentagon for darts. Is yours also a 44 gallon? For the top, I finally settled on just getting the perfecto pre-made glass canopy and making modifications to it in order to allow for passive airflow in the front of the tank. I found it at a local shop but I think Marineland.com or pet place carries them.

I'm afraid I can't help on the front opening doors aspect as I have no experience there.

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Can you cut glass? Put a large piece of glass on top of the tank. With a ruler or straight edge, trace the inside shape of the tank. Remove the glass and just cut each line you traced to the edge of the glass. You'll end up with a pentagon top. Does this make sense?
Or make a screen for the middle of the tank at the top then put two pieces of glass cut to size. Let me know if you want a pic. I did this for my hex. It was my first build so the top is shitty but you'll get the point.


Loading bowls and building vivs! Braaap!
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Oh! I've actually done this for a crested gecko. But on a hexagon tank.

Here are a couple of sources for you to start your research.
Converting Pentagon to Front Opening Terrarium
Hexagon Conversion

And here's how I did it.

My crestie was a gift from my at the time boyfriend. He was a hatchling, so I had a few months to prepare, but started looking for the right tank pretty much immediately. I score, and found a 27 gallon hex for 10 bucks at a thrift store, and a hexagon end table for another 5.


The tank was pretty old, and instead of having one solid piece of plastic, like a modern aquarium frame, it had some old plastic (maybe?) frame attached to each individual pane, and siliconed together.


Then I carefully, cut my way through the frame, and sliced open the silicone down both sides of the pane I wanted to remove.


And cut around the bottom, until the pane popped out.


When I cut it, I opted to cut it into 3 pieces, instead of two. One for the base, one for the top, and one for the door. I did mine myself, but if you aren't familiar with cutting glass, take it to a shop. The edges of my glass pieces were beveled, breaking this piece in the wrong place would have been a HUGE hassle to replace.


The cut edges were rough, and not SUPER straight through the glass, so I took a medium sanding block, and wet sanded all of the freshly cut edges until they were smooth, and the door fit clearly. After sanding was finished, this was the gap I was left with.


After a mock fit to make sure it all fit, I went through and cleaned all the silicone off the edges of the pane I'd removed, the raw edges in the tank, and the entire bottom of the tank, and up about 4 inches on each pane. This ensure when I went to glue the pieces back in, I could get a solid line of silicone without any leaks.

For hinges, I used a couple of basic metal hinges from the hardware store, scuffed up with the sanding block, and siliconed into place. I've moved this tank about 3000 miles, and it's been running for 2 years now, and they're still holding strong.


Getting there.


For the door lock, I used a small metal hasp. Josh's Frogs sells an acrylic version, that would probably be less obvious on the front of your tank here, but I was lazy, and just grabbed mine when I bought the hinges from the local hardware store.

For the cover, I forgot to take pictures of the process, but I have a mostly finished one, and I can snap one of the final result and fit if you'd like.

Anyway, I made the cover out of 1/2"x1/2" square dowel. I covered the inside of the rim with wax paper all the way around the tank, and then basically eyeballed the angle of cuts I would need to make to get the pieces to a snug fit. Then siliconed them together, into the frame. I also added 2 supports across the tank, for a better fit, and more rigidity.


After it was finished drying, I coated it in a few coats of black enamel paint. Then, I cut a piece of window screening roughly that shape and size, laid it on top, and laid a large bead of E6000 on top of the screen. With some rubber gloves, or a piece of wax paper, I smoothed the glue out, and into all the crevices, before covering with MORE wax paper, and putting some heavy books on top. This made for a pretty solid hold, and a flush fit. Then I trimmed the excess window screen off with a sharp razor blade. The screen side fits down, giving about a half an inch buffer between the inhabitants of the tank, and the lighting fixture.

Initially I used the 18" exo terra fixture, but I've recently upgraded to an aquatraders fixture instead, which rests on feet above the tank, and looks much cleaner.

It's been a few years, and it's holding up pretty well to the humidity swings of the gecko tank. And, with screen on it, it's a snug enough fit, that I can barely work it off. Snoopy has never even come close to lifting it up to move it.

Now, with that said, if I were going to do it all over again, with the intention of doing it for a crested, I would definitely do 2 doors instead of one. I prefer the look of one door, but getting Snoopy out of the tank is a HUGE headache. He's since been moved to a 24x18x24 exo terra, and now this tank is just for plants.



To bad you aren't one state closer, or I'd totally help you with this project. I had a blast doing mine!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You have the hex tank I was drooling over!! That landscaping is amazing! And yes, please post a picture of the finished lid. I'm still trying to figure out how the wax paper fits in and how it secures onto the tank.

What state are you in? I'd love the help. This tank is huge. Roughly 24x24x24 and I think that's a 44 gallon....for 1 crested gecko. Kinda seems like a waste, but whatever. I want the plants and it sounds like fun.

I'm currently in Illustrator trying to map out the lid. Found a cool way to automate the lights, humidity, and fans using a Rasberry Pi so now I want to fit that into the lid along side LED lights. Here's the link to it.
(That's in addition to planning the custom background and learning about plants.)

Does anyone have a fan size recommendation and/or how many I need? Orchids need airflow butt I don't want to blow them over or make a lot of noise since the tank will be in my bedroom. The tank specs are attached
 

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Don't make the same mistake I did... I was building a viv for a large leachie and during the process I just really loved all the miniature orchids and really cool shinglers that I could not help myself. I bought all these rare delicate plants...

Cut to: My leachie still sitting in her original home and the viv I built is now occupied by a group of Sphaerodactylus geckos.

If I put her in there it would be like a bad Godzilla movie.

It wouldn't be as bad but a crestie would def destroy any miniature orchid for example.
 

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Thank you! It's SUPER overgrown right now. I'm getting ready to hack through it and see if I can clean it up a bit.

Derp. Missed a thought when I was typing apparently. The wax paper was really just to keep it from gluing to my table and to the tank while it was taking shape. After the glue had dried, I peeled it off and was left with a nice seam. I did an entirely mesh top, which left for plenty of air flow, to get the proper humidity drop during the day, while only requiring one heavy misting at night. No fans required.

As for securing to the tank, it's just a very snug pressure fit.






I'm in North Carolina, right outside Raleigh. My 24x18x24 is also about 45 gallons. I think it's a great size for my crested. I find him all over the tank, all night long.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm hoping the tank is big enough that he won't trample everything. Right now he pretty much sits in the same spot all day. Doesn't even chase crickets, just waits for them to grow wings and chirp....grrrr....

I found some wall mounted orchids for sale. The plan was to build them into the custom background with the rest of the wood and such so maybe they would stay (mostly) out of harms way.

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you! It's SUPER overgrown right now. I'm getting ready to hack through it and see if I can clean it up a bit.

Derp. Missed a thought when I was typing apparently. The wax paper was really just to keep it from gluing to my table and to the tank while it was taking shape. After the glue had dried, I peeled it off and was left with a nice seam. I did an entirely mesh top, which left for plenty of air flow, to get the proper humidity drop during the day, while only requiring one heavy misting at night. No fans required.

As for securing to the tank, it's just a very snug pressure fit.






I'm in North Carolina, right outside Raleigh. My 24x18x24 is also about 45 gallons. I think it's a great size for my crested. I find him all over the tank, all night long.
Oh....there's another piece of wood on the sides. I was just seeing the top rim before. That's kind of what I want to do, but I want it tall enough to fit the lights in. It will be in my bedroom and I don't want LEDs in my face. I guess it would be the same thing you did, but imagine your lid had a roof. That's why I was thinking about fans because now there would be little to no air through the top.

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I said the same thing... Its late at night when everything is quiet when godzilla comes out lol

There still are some really cool plants that these guys can't destroy you just have to be creative.

Hoyas are a good example... Definitely not all that common and an established hoya could def take a beating.
 

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Hoyas are a good example... Definitely not all that common and an established hoya could def take a beating.
I definitely have a hoya in Snoopy's tank, and it does GREAT. He can't hurt it, and the watering requirements match up well with a crested's needs.

Oh....there's another piece of wood on the sides. I was just seeing the top rim before. That's kind of what I want to do, but I want it tall enough to fit the lights in. It will be in my bedroom and I don't want LEDs in my face. I guess it would be the same thing you did, but imagine your lid had a roof. That's why I was thinking about fans because now there would be little to no air through the top.
Oooh, I follow yeah. Mine is also in my bedroom, next to my bed actually. I just have the timer set to go off before I go to bed. Using a taller piece of wood, but leaving it open topped, with the right light fixture should cut down on the lighting blasting all over the room. Otherwise, I would make it a 2 part system. One screen cover like I have, and then another wooden box above it. Cut a hole in the back for this fan. I would pick up one of these to control how much flow the fan got, and
to power it. Throw it on a digital timer, if required, or just crank it way down, and it should solve your problems. Alternatively, this would also work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
They're highly regarded as being one of, if not the quietest fans on the market, have an excellent warranty, good customer service, and are very powerful.

Do you think one would be enough or do I need an intake and an exhaust? I'm used to building computers, so the idea of 1 way airflow is a bit strange to me. Last time I wired up fans, I used 6 or so lol.

Also, the back of this tank (the pointy bit) will be facing a wall. I guess I could always stick it in the front though.
 

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I would personally start with one. But, Snoopy's tank is currently sitting about 8 feet away from an air conditioning vent, and it seems like no matter how much I cover the tank, or how often I spray, I'm having a terrible time getting the humidity above ~40%. Even with 3-4 times daily mistings, it's never gotten to more then 80. He's shedding ok, but it's not as humid as I would like. If you aren't doing a full glass lid, there should still be SOME passive air exchange. And, depending on what you're thinking for lights, they're going to add some heat into the system, and also dry it out a bit.
 
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