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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys!

Thought I would show off a build I've been working on. Its been up for about a year and a half. But since this was my first tropical vivarium, it took me a little while troubleshooting and tweaking the conditions to get things to grow in nicely. I am going for an eroded hillside look that exposed some tree roots and over time got colonized by other vegetation.

Anyway here are the build specs:

Tank:
Exo Terra Medium/X-Tall - 60x45x90 cm / 24”x18”x36” (WxDxH), glass canopy w/1.5" screened vent.

Equipment:
1x 60mm fan, 4x Mistking nozzles.

Lighting:
14x XP-G Cree LEDs DIY dimmable solderless kit from rapidled. Mix of Cool(6000k) and Warm(3000k) whites w/ 40degree(front), 80degree(middle and back) lenses. Driven around 50%.

Substrate:
Hygrolon on the background. Peat, coco husk, sphagnum, sand, lava rocks, magnolia leaves on the bottom.

Hardscape:
Removable background - expandable foam on egg crates and wires, cork bark, and rocks from a local rock yard.

Microfuana:
Temperate and Silver Springtails, Dwarf Purple Isopods

Flora: (11/14*)
Neoregelia inca x fireball

Hymenasplenium obscurum
Fern sp.

Ficus pumila var. quercifolia
Marcgravia rectifolia
Peperomia prostrata

Philodendron verrucosum
Syngonium erythrophyllum

Dossinia marmorata
Dracula lotax
Pleurothallis allenii
Stelis barbata

Utricularia asplundii
Utricularia jamesoniana
Utricularia quelchii

Taxiphyllum sp. "peacock"
Vesicularia sp. "mini Xmas"
Sphagnum


Some build photos...

I made the background by spraying expandable foam onto egg crates backed with weed blocker. I think it worked out pretty well, the egg crates with all those cubes adds surface area and acts like a spine. I wanted the background to be removable if I ever decide to redo the tank, also to help hold the resale value if I ever had to sell it.


Everything was done outside the tank, including the silicon + peat coating. I made the "roots" independent to the rest of the background and much how you would do paper mache: wires, newspaper and tape as a base. Layer it up with GS and carve it down. I made them first, then wrapped the ends in wax paper, placed them where I wanted them on the background and finished up the rest with GS. I only attached them when the whole background was completed with silicon + peat. One problem I ran into is on the really thick areas of GS, it contracted and pulled in the egg crate. I had to cut slits into the background to help relieve the tension.


Everything sealed up, attached and ready for planting. The whole background is held in place by a silicon bead at the side of both upper corners and by all the substrate and rocks at the bottom. I should be able to just cut free the corners if ever want to remove it. I eventually covered some of the background and roots with hygrolon to help hold a bit more moisture. I wasn't too concerned on how real the roots looked as I planned to have them covered with moss anyway. I just needed a nice shape.


How it looks as of Nov '14. I made some adjustments, mainly flattening the background a bit to help allow more light to reach the bottom of the tank. I think it would look pretty good once the Philo fills up the upper right corner and the Syngonium fills up the middle void and the left side.


Different angle. I do plan to add a few more plants, I've been mostly waiting for the moss to fill in to provide a nice base. I was thinking of colonizing the "roots" with Peperomia sp. Isla Colon or maybe some Microgramma to help darken the overall look a bit. I also want to add some broms in the area to the left of the Neo. I tried Vriesea racinae, I'm not sure if it was my conditions or the fact it was flowering and therefore on its way out, but it didn't take very well. Anyone have any luck growing this in a viv? Any tips? Also anyone have any tips on growing Microsorum thailandicum? I thought it was suppose to be pretty bomb proof. Maybe my conditions are too cool... upper 70's/low 80's summer, 70 +/-5 spring and autumn and low 60's/high 50's winter.

Bonus pics:

Blooming Pleurothallis allenii


Pretty old pic, taken a few month after the tank was set up. Anyone know what sort of shroom that is?

Thanks for looking!
 

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This is a great looking tank. Well done! What frogs are or will be living in there?
 

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This is one of the best vivariums I have had the pleasure of seeing here . Bravo sir bravo ...
 

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Wonderful vivarium! You did a fantastic job on the moss-covered branches/roots; I think they would look really nice with some filmy ferns or Microgramma species snaking along them. The P. verrucosum will look gorgeous, as well, once it fills in that back corner.

How are you liking your lights, so far?
 

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Holy crap, well done. I like how you broke down the list at the top there. Nice idea of what equipment you are using, size of Viv, etc.
Great pics, keep them coming.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Thanks for the compliments!

To answer your questions.

This is a great looking tank. Well done! What frogs are or will be living in there?
I originally planned this tank for either leucs or the smaller tinc morphs. I toyed with the idea of having (get the torch and pitchforks ready) a tinc morph at the bottom and a Epipedobates species utilizing the top. But right now, sadly this tank is probably going to stay empty for awhile. I'm trying to change careers atm and I don't have the time to add another responsibility. I have other pets and a whole collection of carnivorous plants to take care of. =/ Right now its all automated, just add water. =P

Your tank looks boss! What kind of moss you have growing?
The moss you mostly see is Vesicularia sp. "mini Xmas". Oddly this took me awhile to get right, I tried a bunch of different mosses. I first tried some sort of aquatic moss, if I had to guess I would say some sort of frontinalis sp. That just looked bad. So I tried sheet moss next, the problem with that is that it grew upwards for me and looked very bushy and straggly. So I replaced that with Taxiphyllum sp. "peacock." I had issues with that being light sensitive and it turned yellow and bleached out on me. I also realized that it never produced rhizoids and therefore never attached itself to anything so It would keep falling off where ever I would place it. I do keep some growing at the bottom of the tank near the puddle area, looks much better. I mostly keep it just in case I go back into the planted aquarium hobby. Vesicularia seems to be working out, it attaches, grows low and compact and it seems to be able to handle the higher light level better. Though some at the top is a bit yellowed. It looks pretty nice if grown as an aquatic as well http://img2.sprzedajemy.pl/540x405_christmas-moss-mech--1142277.jpg
I try to avoid java moss at all cost...

Wonderful vivarium! You did a fantastic job on the moss-covered branches/roots; I think they would look really nice with some filmy ferns or Microgramma species snaking along them. The P. verrucosum will look gorgeous, as well, once it fills in that back corner.

How are you liking your lights, so far?
Haha, yah I was thinking of Microgramma lycopodioides, it sort of reminds me of java ferns. Ideally if I could find a species that is laced/strapped leafed and stays around 3inches in length that would be perfect, do you know any that would fit this criteria? I also plan to add more U. quelchii to the root when my current gets large enough to propagate.

The lights are not bad. They are extremely bright, can easily burn your plants if you have them turned up too high. They run cool as well, though I have them on a pretty massive finned heatsink. It makes taking photos of the tank a bit of challenge though...

I did have some issues growing a few plants that I thought were suppose to be pretty indestructible in a vivarium. I tried Cissus amazonica, Ludisia discolor and Microsorum thailandicum and a few other "easy" to grow plants. All failed to thrive, they didn't die and they did grow a little, but not at the rate I would expect. Oddly I took out the Ludisia and put it on the windowsill, open air, it is growing much better now. I still have a bit of that Cissus in the tank, but really hasn't grown at all and I had it there since the beginning of the year... From my understanding it is suppose to grow like a weed? I had this in a closed grow out terrarium by a window and it did much better at the time as well. I'm not to sure if this is an issue with the light or some other underlying problem. Some plants do really well tho... it's weird. Any suggestions? At any rate I recently replaced 2 cool whites with 2 warms to get more red into the tank. For a total of 4 warms, 10 cools, I may swap out more in the future. Or add in deep reds...

My lighting solution is a bit dated, I think I purchased everything about 2 years ago. There are better options now. If I were to make a new rig I would look into the new Bridgelux Veros. They are massive and extremely bright, I would go with the Vero 10s and a dimmer for sure. Vero® Series - Bridgelux
They come in high color rendering indexes, 90s for cools and 97 for the warms white decor line. The warm white decor line spikes really close to the 660nm wavelength. I would imagine this, mixed with cool whites would make a pretty nice setup and cover the spectrum pretty nicely. They don't seem to be too readily available, I've asked rapidled if they would carry them, they told me they would look into it. If anyone is interested in trying them I would suggest also emailing them requesting them. =) I see potential in these.
Beast mode vero rig on plantedtank:
LED Build, 526 Watts (Vero LEDs and Colored LEDs) *Updated 2014-10-10*
 

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This is a very well-done tank, and I think with a few accents is going to look great! I'm curious as to which fern is to the left of the P. verrucosum in the pictures? Is that the Hymenasplenium obscurum or just the un-ID'ed species?

Also how have your Utrics faired so far? I've tried a few other species from the Orchidioides section in my tanks, thinking they'd do well since they're epiphytic but all that I've tried have struggled so far.
 

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Great viv! ...So all that moss on the main trunks/roots is growing on hygrolon or peat covered GS? ...looked like peat in the pic, but then you mentioned hygro... just wanted to make sure I got it right.


I've grown Cissus amazonica, Ludisia discolor (or other jewel orchids at least) and Microsorum thailandicum over the years and managed to kill them all at one time or another. Usually it seems to be root rot. Things start OK but as the viv grows in the plant density seems to increase humid microclimates and probably effect airflow from passive vents or even fans.

I think leaf litter kinda smothers them too having the same effect on the roots. So my theory is problems were possibly from the leaf litter (if u tried to grow them on the floor), increased humidity from more plant density, and cool temps part of the year probably added to the problem, and you have a fairly tall viv with a relatively shallow substrate layer, all things that might possibly make some plants in the wrong spots fail.

For the floor you might try those plants in fern pots to raise them off the floor a bit, maybe with a coarser/faster draining substrate in the pot. Might add a extra fan or replace the 60mm with an 80mm or something. The tank looks moist/lush enough it could probably stand more airflow without drying out the moss and stuff.

I've also noticed when I leave new plants in their pots and let them acclimate to viv conditions they do better once unpotted usually. For example I had 2 begonia pavoninas... Unpotted one it quickly died, left the other in pot and it would show rapid new growth that would then rot away, did that over and over for a couple months like it was in turbo mode, then it settled down and the new mature leaves and roots would stay and not rot.

Every other pavonina I tried before that would also quickly die...but that one I let acclimate is still alive after more then a year I think. So I've taken to acclimating important plants in their pots and/or taking small cuttings or divisions and starting them in grow out containers that simulate viv conditions rather then the open air or greenhouse conditions many of our plants are used to when we get them.

If you are up for paying a bit more for shipping to get some cool stuff like iridescent plants that are hard to come by here check out Siamgreenculture - Mail and Wholesale order fern, moss and other terrarium plants - Home

Tell them the plants are for a vivs and they won't use the harsh chemicals but you may get snails or slugs, so definitely wanna wash or even QT the mother plant and/or just take divisions/cuttings for the vivs. There is a chance you may even get bioluminescent snails! As the grower said they were common there. I didn't wash or Qt though in the hope of that and instead got slugs... non glowing jerk off slugs :(
 

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Very, very, very nice first effort ;)

Yours is a great example of "less is more" and I love the splash of color. Reminds me of a terrestrial interpretation of an Amano aquarium design..
 

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Before I see your pictures I thought your job was at the beginning, and I thought to write you that you could not put LED at 3000 ° K, saving money. But... It's all wonderful! Excellent solution for the background, great choice of plants (viv does not look overcrowded with plants, but it look balanced and natural), great choice of lights.
Well done! Bravo!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks guys!

This is a very well-done tank, and I think with a few accents is going to look great! I'm curious as to which fern is to the left of the P. verrucosum in the pictures? Is that the Hymenasplenium obscurum or just the un-ID'ed species?

Also how have your Utrics faired so far? I've tried a few other species from the Orchidioides section in my tanks, thinking they'd do well since they're epiphytic but all that I've tried have struggled so far.
That fern is the un-IDed one, I was hoping someone here could tell me what it is! Right now I'm just really hoping it doesn't grow larger then a foot long. I originally tried the H. obscurum in that spot, that didn't work out too well. So I tried Adiantum caudatum, too bright and too wet. I'm still kinda looking for a weeping fern. Something like this... http://131.230.176.4/users/pelserpb/7_5_11/5jul11/Aspleniumnormale.jpg Compound fronds that are long and narrow. There doesn't seem like there are any available that doesn't get massive.

I think the Utrics are doing ok. As in a see a ton of subterranean growth, but not a whole lot of leaves yet. I would know if they are happy sometime next spring. I had the asplundii and alpina for years and grew them on the windowsill, they bloom for me each year in the spring. I acquired the quelchii and endresii last year, almost lost both on the windowsill. They bounced back once I added them into the tank. Its not in the pic but I keep all four in little 2 inch pots in that puddle area. Both asplundii and alpina are growing smaller and produce much less robust leaves in the tank then they did on the windowsill, but at the same time the underground growth is much stronger. I think the key for these guys is high light levels, and cool conditions. During this summer none of them really grew, but now that the temps are around 70 they are resuming growth. What are your temps and what species did you try?

Great viv! ...So all that moss on the main trunks/roots is growing on hygrolon or peat covered GS? ...looked like peat in the pic, but then you mentioned hygro... just wanted to make sure I got it right.(
I originally had just the peat, but I eventually covered it with the hygrolon when I tried the current moss.

Thanks for the tips. The only one I tried on the floor was the Ludisia, I can see your point with the leaf litter smothering the roots. I had this really weird issue the other month. Up until then I had Macodes petola growing around a Dossinia marmorata var dayii. It grew really well, well enough that I had to give some away. But all a sudden the whole group just collapse and rotted away. I suspected the soil became too waterlogged or something and the plant caught a pathogen, but oddly the Dossinia was fine. I eventually changed the soil and swapped the var. dayii for a "typical" one. I wanted a bit a green on the leaves. Honestly I'm not even sure if it was that, I saw the Macodes that I gave my sister over the weekend, she kept it like a marsh plant, completely waterlogged and sealed! And it is some how still alive and blooming! I dunno man. Just wondering have you grown Syngonium erythrophyllum and Peperomia prostrata? These have always been a bit slow growing for me. I'll look into swapping out that 60mm for a 80mm fan.

Thanks for the link, I love ferns! I wanted to incorporate more ferns on to the background, but most seem to get too big for this sort of application. =/

Very, very, very nice first effort ;)

Yours is a great example of "less is more" and I love the splash of color. Reminds me of a terrestrial interpretation of an Amano aquarium design..
Hehe, I drew a lot of inspiration from Nature style aquariums. ;) I tried to limit my plant selection to around 10ish... It's hard, too many options.
 

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This tank is awesome! Great job, I just love the moss growth! :)

John
 

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Thanks guys!

That fern is the un-IDed one, I was hoping someone here could tell me what it is! Right now I'm just really hoping it doesn't grow larger then a foot long. I originally tried the H. obscurum in that spot, that didn't work out too well. So I tried Adiantum caudatum, too bright and too wet. I'm still kinda looking for a weeping fern. Something like this... http://131.230.176.4/users/pelserpb/7_5_11/5jul11/Aspleniumnormale.jpg Compound fronds that are long and narrow. There doesn't seem like there are any available that doesn't get massive.

I think the Utrics are doing ok. As in a see a ton of subterranean growth, but not a whole lot of leaves yet. I would know if they are happy sometime next spring. I had the asplundii and alpina for years and grew them on the windowsill, they bloom for me each year in the spring. I acquired the quelchii and endresii last year, almost lost both on the windowsill. They bounced back once I added them into the tank. Its not in the pic but I keep all four in little 2 inch pots in that puddle area. Both asplundii and alpina are growing smaller and produce much less robust leaves in the tank then they did on the windowsill, but at the same time the underground growth is much stronger. I think the key for these guys is high light levels, and cool conditions. During this summer none of them really grew, but now that the temps are around 70 they are resuming growth. What are your temps and what species did you try?
As far as fern suggestions, take a look at the Madagascan Asplenium species that Andy's orchids sell. From what I've seen the individual plants stay relatively compact and have a leaf shape similar to what you describe. They do produce plantlets from the tips of fronds, but those could be pinched off if you didn't like where they were growing. Those species seem relatively easy to grow in-viv as well.

I've tried U. alpina and asplundii in frog tanks before, and they struggled. My tanks run a bit warmer than most people, topping out in the low 80s. I also grew them truly mounted in there, whereas is seems like you're growing them with wet feet. I have grown (or have had in the past) U. alpina, asplundii, quelchii, Jitka, praetermissa, and reniformis in a tank designed to grow orchids. I had moderate success blooming alpina and asplundii until the tank overheated one summer and caused them to crash. The others were stolon cuttings that I still have but I've been getting mainly submerged grown with minimal leaf development.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
As far as fern suggestions, take a look at the Madagascan Asplenium species that Andy's orchids sell. From what I've seen the individual plants stay relatively compact and have a leaf shape similar to what you describe. They do produce plantlets from the tips of fronds, but those could be pinched off if you didn't like where they were growing. Those species seem relatively easy to grow in-viv as well.

I've tried U. alpina and asplundii in frog tanks before, and they struggled. My tanks run a bit warmer than most people, topping out in the low 80s. I also grew them truly mounted in there, whereas is seems like you're growing them with wet feet. I have grown (or have had in the past) U. alpina, asplundii, quelchii, Jitka, praetermissa, and reniformis in a tank designed to grow orchids. I had moderate success blooming alpina and asplundii until the tank overheated one summer and caused them to crash. The others were stolon cuttings that I still have but I've been getting mainly submerged grown with minimal leaf development.
Alright, I'll take a look.
It may have been your temps, is it like that the whole year? I know some people over on Terraforums grows them pretty waterlogged, some mentioned they also have better growth with warm white lights. I have some asplundii on the background as well, you could sorta see them in that P. allenii pic. Those are old leaves when I placed them there earlier this year, but all those faint white lines are the stolons reaching out. I'm a bit worried it will be hard to contain later. I've been slowly migrating some of the U. quelchii up on that root with that unIDed fern. U. jamesoniana is in that area as well.
 

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I originally had just the peat, but I eventually covered it with the hygrolon when I tried the current moss.

Thanks for the tips. The only one I tried on the floor was the Ludisia, I can see your point with the leaf litter smothering the roots. I had this really weird issue the other month. Up until then I had Macodes petola growing around a Dossinia marmorata var dayii. It grew really well, well enough that I had to give some away. But all a sudden the whole group just collapse and rotted away. I suspected the soil became too waterlogged or something and the plant caught a pathogen, but oddly the Dossinia was fine. I eventually changed the soil and swapped the var. dayii for a "typical" one. I wanted a bit a green on the leaves. Honestly I'm not even sure if it was that, I saw the Macodes that I gave my sister over the weekend, she kept it like a marsh plant, completely waterlogged and sealed! And it is some how still alive and blooming! I dunno man. Just wondering have you grown Syngonium erythrophyllum and Peperomia prostrata? These have always been a bit slow growing for me. I'll look into swapping out that 60mm for a 80mm fan.

Thanks for the link, I love ferns! I wanted to incorporate more ferns on to the background, but most seem to get too big for this sort of application. =/



Hehe, I drew a lot of inspiration from Nature style aquariums. ;) I tried to limit my plant selection to around 10ish... It's hard, too many options.
Thanks, and no prob. Don't think I've grown the 2 you asked about, sorry. Everytime it looks like I'm finally getting it right with jewel orchids it all goes horribly wrong. I plan to keep trying though, and I've had similar experiences where all a sudden things just collapse with them or other plants. I think it is the microclimate and soil changes in a mostly closed system. Hard to predict and account for in the long term, and sometimes happen so fast we and the plant can't cope. Sometimes its other plants shading or crowding them out. I've lost a lot of plants cuz I got lazy with the pruning :(

If you get any thing cool from siamgreen (especially iridescent) and have some success please keep me in mind for some cuttings/divisions. I also like ultrics... I'm to poor for a big international order for now, but can usually come up with a few bucks for domestically sourced plants ;) .

I'm also trying to move towards the nature aquarium Amano like style :)

Best wishes and again great viv. Nice to have new people join us with lots of plant and aquarium experience that can jump right in with a great viv and share their knowledge/experience with us.
 
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