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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Context:
About a year ago I set out on a personal journey to fix what I consider three of the biggest issues standard terrariums we buy in the U.S. have which are the following:

1. Moisture on the glass prohibiting visibility to our animals and plants.
2. Fruit fly's escaping with Houdini like skill.
3. Cost of buying a terrarium and retrofitting it with fans etc.

I started with the cheapest type of aquarium that is readily available which is the standard 10 gallon aquarium sold at Walmart, PetSmart, Petco, etc. and sells for $10-$15 dollars each.

I bought a small 3D printer and learned the software and eventually developed a prototype which I used to create pourable molds so I could replicate the same pieces for each and every tank I had or would have in the future. The resign that I use is confirmed by the company to be non-toxic once cured.

The resulting solution was this:

Top part
The top that uses an adjustable speed fan to blow small amounts of air into a chamber to force the small amount of air into a narrow stream to clear the front glass while maintaining high humidity for epiphytic plants (which are the only plants I really use). The fan at 30% speed is almost fully silent but has enough power to blow away any fruit flies getting close to the top in an escape attempt.

The fan stays on 24/7 and leaves enough humidity and water on the background to maintain tropical mosses with this daily misting schedule (8AM 3 minute mist and 8PM 45second mist).

There is a small clip at the top to hold the glass in place.

Bottom
The bottom fits over the existing aquarium lip and is sealed with silicone creating a waterproof bottom that can hold 2-3 inches of water which is plenty for a false bottom and drain. The bottom is curved to allow the water from misting's to roll off into the tank instead of leaking out of the tank.

Glass
I simply go to any hardware store and ask them to cut a 1/8th inch piece of glass meeting my dimensions to snuggly fit the length and height to form almost a seal. Costs usually $5-$10 wherever you go.

Final
I then just use a small bead of silicone on the bottom to create a lip this way there is a perfect seal on the bottom so no flies get out and allows for me to only need one small clip on the top to hold the glass.

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great work and there is a HUGE need for 10 gallon and 20 gal conversion kits. A few people make them, and then they peter out and disapear. Cost and profit margin are the reason. 10 gallon tanks with vert doors are excellent temp tanks, q-tine and overflow ect. Very much needed
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think you need double the size of the current false bottom tho...
Thanks for your input as everything can always be improved and it helps my thought process. I made the low profile bottom with the idea of grading shallow up front to higher in the back (a hill) which would accommodate more than enough layering to keep a thriving springtail culture going. These tanks currently don't house frogs so the pictures don't really show the actual intent of my design in the substrate layer.

I also built these molds with customization in mind. So with a little DIY I can quickly change the style like the following:
The bottom part actually can be cut about an inch from the top and be used with any height of glass you would want for the bottom. You just place the cut piece no top of whatever height glass you want and silicone in with aquarium silicone. So that way it would look like the more traditional exo-terra or zilla terrariums they sell with glass doors.
 

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if you really want to get creative - go Euro and make the slanted false bottom an insert and have the water dam in the front and a way to drain it possibly. People would go nuts for a Euro tank and conversion kit. you'd sell a ton
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Interesting idea. Can you share images of the individual pieces?
Hey Chris, sorry for the delay I had to make a couple molds to show the pieces and just got to it this morning. Below is essentially what I need to make my tanks, the only thing not shown is the speed control for the fan and the clip that holds the glass in which is essentially just a picture frame clip.
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Hey Chris, sorry for the delay I had to make a couple molds to show the pieces and just got to it this morning. Below is essentially what I need to make my tanks, the only thing not shown is the speed control for the fan and the clip that holds the glass in which is essentially just a picture frame clip.
View attachment 304008 View attachment 304009
Pretty nifty idea! My only suggestion may be to add some passive ventilation on the bottom piece, even with the circulation. Good job!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Original Test Tank (9 months of growth fresh trim)
I probably should have put this tank up first as its the original tank used to test the final version I came up with.

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Great job Andrew,
Having converted dozens of aquaria into vivariums, I want to mention something you might be able to fix. The top rim in a mass produced aquarium is a cheesey part. It's not made to be water tight, but is usually the buttress they use to stabilize the box while the silicone sets. So there is a lot of silicone glooped around, and not usually uniformly applied. It is not made to hold water, and silicone will not stick to plastic for the long haul. It will eventually leak if water is held against it. As in the case of a false bottom vivarium. Maybe not tomorrow, or next month, but eventually the plastic/silicone seal will fail. That's why I remove all frames and partially dis-assemble a tank to make all fresh glass/silicone seals. But that's a lot of work and what you're trying to do is offer a way around that.
If there was a way with your kit to go BEHIND the frame and seal in a glass dam (perhaps included in version X.x) you'd have solved a problem none of the tank conversion kits I've seen have. Or in the DIY spirit include instructions on how they may do that themselves. You can't seal silicone to cured silicone either, so a glass to glass siliconed surface is the ticket.

Good Luck, it looks sharp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hey thanks for the information from your experience. I actually did take that into account. The bottom that retains the water goes on has a cut that fits on the lip to the glass on the sides and bottom which you put some light silicone on. I then just glob whatever amount of aquarium silicone on the inside of the tank where the wall is touching the glass which creates a watertight seal to the actual glass not rim.
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Two weeks of growth update.

I like to use Broms and Moss as a natural indicator that the vivarium's are humid enough, and orchids to indicate proper airflow and adequate drying period (meaning the humidity is lowering enough to not cause root rot.)

Broms: have started to grow their white fuzzy roots which ive noticed will only grow very short if humidity isnt around their natural environments humidity.

Moss: The moss that i spread on various sections has started to "greenup" which is really just the moss growing and not being so matte and water logged. It is also starting to grow into the epiweb and the planted aquarium substrate.

Orchids: Small growth has started with new leaves and new roots. The roots are a nice green when misted and have a good white look to them once the humidity lowers which is important to have for orchids. This indicates they have enough low humidity to not rot but enough humidity to not dry them out.

Vines: The various vine clippings have started to root into the background. With the middle tank there is an obvious larger amount of growth, which is due to the fact I just used a ton of clippings and tossed them on the base of the epiweb.
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
if you really want to get creative - go Euro and make the slanted false bottom an insert and have the water dam in the front and a way to drain it possibly. People would go nuts for a Euro tank and conversion kit. you'd sell a ton
So I have been thinking about this a lot since you made mention of it. I have never had or used a euro tank but have been looking at them extensively now.

I figured out a lot of the variables on how to make this work, but here is the main issue I run into in my thoughts: euro tank bottoms seem to all have a chamber with the back piece of glass full size and the front with a gap and a screen on top of the chamber. Maybe its because I've never seen one in real life but if you mist for a long time (minute or longer with mistking) the issue I run into is thinking the water on the glass door would rolldown and drip through the screen into the chamber. Depending on how you make the chamber I would think either it collects and stays there or drips out onto whatever the tank is sitting on.

Is that how they work or am I missing some sort of slanted piece or something to avoid that?
 

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Euro = slight slanted bottom allowing the run-off misting to catch in a front dam for both storage/ humidity and ease of draining. The goal for the Euro is to allow a substrate that never gets waterlogged like almost all of our U.S designs. I have seen plants grown in the front dam and the frogs even go into it with the plants if they want standing water - so it's also a win-win for hydration.
 

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and if you could make a plastic lightweight and easily shipable 'insert' for a 10 gallon vert - BOOM....it's NEVER been done. $$$$
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Euro = slight slanted bottom allowing the run-off misting to catch in a front dam for both storage/ humidity and ease of draining. The goal for the Euro is to allow a substrate that never gets waterlogged like almost all of our U.S designs. I have seen plants grown in the front dam and the frogs even go into it with the plants if they want standing water - so it's also a win-win for hydration.
Ohh, I definitely had a different idea of why the euro was desired and now this makes way more sense.

Do you have a link to the tank in your picture? Im trying to see how the vent piece under the door in general works. Now that I see what you mean though and how the euro is supposed to work I have an easy fix for my dripping issue, but why recreate the wheel.
 
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