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Discussion Starter #1
So, I've got a 30g hex aquarium that is going to be planted within the next 2 weeks (get paid tomorrow, get eggcrate Saturday...) to be prepared for the arrival of frogs sometime mid-April, and I'm wondering.... should I build a canopy?

The tank is 24" tall and 20" wide point to point, 18" flat to flat. Each panel is 10" wide. Now, I COULD just slap together a screen top that would rest flat on the top, maybe get a piece of acrylic to help control the humidity.

OR.... I could build a canopy that extends another 12" above the top of the tank, adding another 15 gallons to the total volume of the terrarium. All of a sudden 30g->45g and I can keep another frog or two inside.

CONSIDERATIONS: I'm not sure how to make it in such a way that it will be able to just rest on top of the tank. No, scratch that, I have no effing clue. Humidity is also a concern. The straightforward approach would be to just make the basic frame and fill the gaps with nylon screening, but that would probably release more humidity than I want. I suppose the easy fix would be plastic wrap, but I was hoping to be able to make it look professional. I could use solid wood panels instead of cutouts or frames, but that would defeat the purpose of having the canopy in the first place. Give them 45 gallons to muck around in, naturally they're going to choose the 1/3 of the tank that has no way to view them. So I could either make the frame with mesh and later add acrylic panels as needed, or work from the start with acrylic/glass (toying with the idea of getting cheap picture frames from the dollar store and using the glass from that, if it's only to keep in humidity.....). Also general concerns such as, do I make the canopy straight up-and-down or do I have it taper inwards? Tapering would make adding panels even trickier but would add to the aesthetic qualities, I think.

Once finished, this terrarium will have a waterfall coming down the back, river down the middle, and a pond in the front that will take up about 1/4-1/3 of the footprint. So there will be a fair amount of humidity just from that, as well as my misting. I may also install some sort of rain/mist system if I can get something figured for not too much cost.

Thoughts?
 

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This is just my two cents and take it with a grain of salt, since I have only built two vivariums myself.

Firstly though, acrylic will warp in humid situations, so whether you decide to do a canopy or not, you do need to use glass. You can go to Lowe's and get them to cut the glass to the exact size you want. You will want to seal off the vivarium almost completely (most people leave a few small screened vents though) so I think your idea to build a frame and wrap it in screen won't work.

In my opinion, if you haven't built a viv before (assuming you haven't) then it's best for most people to keep it simple. This way it can be kind of a "practice" viv, and you can gain experience of what works well/what doesn't work, and what you want to do differently next time. So I would maybe save the canopy idea for another time, but that's just my opinion. It sounds like it could be a neat idea though.

If you really want to add height to your tank still though, here's a really recent thread where the poster made a tank taller by getting new panels of glass cut to the right size, and then siliconing them together.
http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/78785-drsalsas-column-tank.html
 

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Thanks! Checking that thread now. It probably would be a better idea to just go with the basic flat-topped screen top for the meantime, until I get extra funds together to get all the glass panels I'd need. How much would that be anyway...? I guess I'll ask the guys at Lowes how much 6 12x10 glass panels would cost when I go in for the eggcrate and foam. Though I did like the prospect of being able to build the background upwards and having plants growing above the level of the tank. Well, you never know... it doesn't have to be enclosed until I have something living in there, and there won't be anything living in there until April, or even months later... plenty of time to put a canopy together...
 

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Thanks! Checking that thread now. It probably would be a better idea to just go with the basic flat-topped screen top for the meantime, until I get extra funds together to get all the glass panels I'd need. How much would that be anyway...? I guess I'll ask the guys at Lowes how much 6 12x10 glass panels would cost when I go in for the eggcrate and foam. Though I did like the prospect of being able to build the background upwards and having plants growing above the level of the tank. Well, you never know... it doesn't have to be enclosed until I have something living in there, and there won't be anything living in there until April, or even months later... plenty of time to put a canopy together...
It cost me about $20 for a 36"x18" piece of glass, and they also gave me the glass that was leftover after cutting it to size. The general consensus here is that you need a full (or at least mostly) glass top to keep the humidity high enough. Since it's a hex tank though, you might have trouble getting one piece of glass for the top, and I wonder if you might have to go to a glass shop for that. I'm not sure.

That's true. The first vivarium I made, I never put frogs in, and so several months later I'm still using just saran wrap to cover the top! :)

Oh one thing you may want to try is putting an add up on craigslist asking for free egg crate. I did that, figuring someone might have some leftover from a project or some they were going to throw out, and what do you know, someone did! It's worth a try at least.
 
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