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278 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After about 10 months, I felt it was time for a change. The previous inhabitants moved onto another tank. Leaving this one open. After some searching I settled on some F.G Vents from BtCope (GREAT frogs btw thanks Brett) So I started planning for that. and also reflect on what I liked and didn't Like about the previous setup.

And some quick thanks.. and honorable mentions

Raimeiken - His build thread was a huge guideline on what direction I wanted to go.. Alot of my tank was emulated after his. From the Euro vent, to the MH lighting, the front Vert conversion. and even plant selection.
Link to his build thread: NEW 40gal VERT VIVARIUM! converted from my old Paludarium

FrankH - He helped me out w/ the custom hood design and lighting and I've since continued to use this setup on the new hood and other tanks as well.
Link to his thread and the lighting portion of it

Dizzle21 - For the awesome clay substrate.
BonnieLorraine - Great cuttings, fast shipping!

I apologize for the lack of ANY type of timeline on this. This was very impromptu and all the pictures were usually taken as an after thought w/ my cell phone.. if ANYONE wants better pictures, or specific pictures let me know.. I'll have the wife dig her nice camera out and get some good shots up.. I'll definitely be getting better pics of the inhabitants

DISCLAIMER - I'm not a plant guy! Any names listed are because I've written them down. There's maybe 3 of them I can identify on site. I've researched placement and placed them as best as I can figure.. PLEASE feel free to make suggestions on placement or movement w/ justification. However to the best of my knowledge they should be pretty happy.

Well first off.. Here's a link to the initial build thread
40B Vert build thread

and some quick sequence of pictures on the initial build, for ya'll and for myself.

1.Laying down the GS and glued on slabs

2. The false bottom with WEEDBLOCK and in the wrong corner (I thought it was a square the the orientation was irrelevant.. WRONG)

3. Playing with grout

4. The Grout cured and Painted

5. GS branches/vines and covered

6. The kitty litter background in place

7. Planted

  • My water feature never fully functioned. The design flaw in my false bottom put my water feature in the wrong corner and caused issues in the overall design.
  • The substrate was starting to get stagnant from constant saturation and inadequate drainage.
  • The vert front just never worked for me. I had a screen top which was a little to large and needed to be taped most of the time to control humidity. The "door" was a Swing down type.. which never stayed on especially w/ a door that size.. and the bottom glass cracked when I drilled a hole for the pumps cord so I had that unsightly patch on there.
  • Lighting was just not efficient.. it was doing the job but not a great job. temps to hot at the top.. and not ideal at the bottom. same w/ light requirements

  • Weed blocker makes a horrible substrate divider.. I just didn't allow enough drainage into the false bottom so the substrate just became saturated and boggy.
  • Kitty litter is great but you have to be careful w/ misting.. to much to little and it goes down hill.. the top half just never stayed moist enough and the bottom was to moist. It works great in my smaller tanks or tanks w/o a huge vertical gradient..but not for this one.
  • the ultrasonic fogger worked great. The water was pumped from the bottom up to the top.. in the top there's a deli cup hidden in the GS that is filled w/ water.. and an opening leading to the water fall.. that opening is screened off w/ some fiberglass mesh so as not to allow any frogs into it, and the top is covered by another slab I made out of GS that acts as a lid. I wish I had some pictures of it because it flowed great. However in my renovation I chose not to incorporate it.. MOSTLY because I forgot to run the wire during the rebuild, and I was never around when it turned on to enjoy the effect. (the only real reason for a fogger is for personal pleasure) so it just wasn't worth the hassle.
  • The custom hood I designed was a great hood, but not ideal for such a tall viv.. that was another huge issue w/ this. So this time around I decide to go w/ a metal halide.

  • Fix the water feature to flow better.. no more dropping off.
  • Get good plants and not just HD/Lowes plants
  • Build a hood for a MH light
  • Have a side opening front.
  • Incorperate a "Euro" style front vent

So with that all in mind I finally pulled the tank.. Covered the whole room in plastic and set about tearing it down.. Here's one quick pic of it before it was tore apart

State of terrarium before tear down

it wasn't until after I laid down the GS and covered it in silicone that I decided to start documenting this. so here's the first picture after the GS/silicone had been applied. For this I chose to mimick Grims technique by dilluting the silicone with toluene(spell check) and mix in the peat/sphag. I've used this on my last tank and loved how well it worked and how easily it covered.. it just doesn't hold great to uncut GS (the skin) Also in this picture you can see the setback divider for the Euro vent setup. and.. something that DOESN'T belong in a Terrarium

I carved "stairs" down from the first fall to the pool. and then created a channel going down to the bottom. this way eliminating falls and potential problems as experienced before. The only fall is OVER the bottom in the pool so regardless of how it trickles out i'll be where it needs to.

Here's a full tank shot.. I built the false bottom from the old one.. just reskinned it and cut it down 2 inches (for the euro vent) and also made it so it's in the proper corner. I had a problem.. it wouldn't fit in.. DANG.. so I gut out a corner and put it in as two pieces.. easy fix.. but annoying.

Here's my Swinging door gluing in place. I used Raimeiken's general outline for the Front vert conversion.. I might even go so far as emulating how he screened the top half. but so far my temp/humidity are great w/o it and would hate to go through that effort only to have it throw off my numbers. I also took a flexible magnetic strip w/ a sticky backing and put that on the terrarium and the door and its pretty solid and keeps it closed.. very nice latching and cost $2, also not the plastic.. my room was a MESS for the entirety of this build. however when done all I had to do was roll up the plastic.. throw it out.. and CLEAN!

With everything in place. I started placing Broms. and tilly's as well as some of the aquatic plants I had either laying around from the old build, or recently acquired.

I want to address this as a separate topic. Because it's played a huge role so far. The previous setup I had was working... "ok" so i took my old hood, and that's now sitting on top of my Exo-terra and working GREAT. The new hood I built was still based off of FrankH's design.. but I incorperated T5's as well as a Metal Halide, and raised the height from 6inches to 8inches. I found a deal on Craigslist for a MH/t5 light about 18inches long so I bought that for a STEAL (40$ for the whole thing) tore it down.. and used the internals in my new hood. The guy I bought it from was growing.. medicinal plants, and had actinic (sp? the blue lights) and he had some great plant growth so for the mean time I've been using those.. I think I might go w/ some 3500k blubs and hopefully help w/ flowering. I swapped out the 10k MH he had for a 6500K blub.. Also I have a 12v fan running for cooling. The sides of the enclosure are about 1/4" higher then the base to allow airflow out the sides. So far temps have been working great. Only 80's around the top 3"s of the tank, everywhere else is sitting in the 70's. There's been a noticeable difference in the plants. You can see one of my earlier full tank shots.. and look at the last one and you can see the Tilly in the upper left go from green, to starting to really color up red.
Here's some comparison pictures of the two different hoods.

older setup:

New setup: (I used aluminum foil on the front to help reflection, I intended to cover the rest in foil as well. but haven't gotten around to it.

I finally got my order of plants/cuttings (mostly cuttings) in from Bonnie and got those planted. most came in in good shape the only one I was really worred about was the Hydrocotyle verticillata which is pretty fragile to begin w/ but its holding on.

List of plants from Bonnie:
  • Biophytum sensitivum (picked up personally later)
  • Codonanthe carnosa
  • Dischidia nummularia
  • Episcia sp. #3 (solid hot pink, in grow out tank)
  • Hoya curtsii
  • Hydrocotyle verticillata
  • Pleopeltis (In grow out tank)
  • Neoregelia 'Aurora'
  • Peperomia prostrata
  • Pilea glauca
  • Polypodium formosanum
  • Anubias barteri var. nana 'Petite'
  • Orchids
    Epidendrum porpax
    Encyclia tampense​

I always wanted some jewel orchids, and managed to nab two from Bonnie, but Andy's orchids is right down the street, only problem is it's not exactly open house so you can order,and do a local pick up, but you can't see exactly what you're getting before ordering.. LUCKILY there was an open orchid house here and Andy's Orchids was going to make a showing.. so I picked up three nice Jewel orchids from Him,and he was very helpful w/ selection and placement and care.. VERY great peeps.

masdevallia patriciana

Ascocentrum pumilum - Thumb there for size reference; TINY!

Pleurothallis grobyi type - I really like this one.. great bushy plant.. REALLY neat. (Thanks raimeiken for pointing this one out)

Here they are planted:

Finally got the substrate in.. Dizzle21 made a batch of clay substrate based off of Dougs/Pumillos recipe and procedure and I picked up two packed 1 gallon bags from him (THANKS) ended up using about 1 and 1/4 bag for about 3 inches of clay substrate on avg (lower towards the pond, and Higher towards the background) Also got my Biophytum from Bonnie, and placed all my terrestrial plants. Also Seeded the clay w/ some Dwarf white isos, and springs. layed down some leaf litter.. actually ALOT of leaf litter.

Now for the best part.. and the part I feel bad about.. because I don't have GREAT pictures of them.

I picked up 5 F.G vents from Brett/Btcope.. he's an outstanding guy to work w/. Awesome communication, very easy to work with and he made things happen. It was a pleasure purchasing from him.. heck he even let me buy ALL of the vents he had available. The are frogs are Sean Stewart line and they are F2 from his original import. They range in age from about 6 weeks to 4 months. I had seen pics.. I knew they were "thumbnails", but when I picked these guys up I was not prepared for how TINY these things are.. The fattest one is barely the Thumbnail of my 2 y/o son. and most of them are the size of my thumbs pinky nail! I was worried that 5 in a 40b Vert my be boarding on crowding.. now I'm not so worried. and w/o further ado PICTURES (wow.. these are actually pretty crappy)


So far I'm very happy w/ the new setup.. how it functions, and how it looks. I feel much better about my plant selections and placement. Now it's time to let it start growing in.. Only thing that worries me is I leave early next year, I'll be gone for, hopefully, about 6-7 months. So while I'm away the family will be caring for it, but that's mostly just making sure it's watered, and the frogs are fed. Everything else.. well cross your fingers. but it should be pretty established by that point.

Final tank shot as it's currently sitting:


278 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
LLL reptile, they usually have a bunch of it.. not even sure what type of wood it is.. It was MUCh longer.. I cut it in half. used the portion you see there. and then then "untwined" the other part and used those in the first build. Been holding up great. and the Frogs love running across it.
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