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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Not a lot of people seem to be very conscious of how heavy some of the build methods we use actually are. When I made my viv I used a clay background with a leca drainage layer. From what I had read LECA was supposed to be a lightweight option for a drainage layer. I thought, easier than a false bottom and it's lightweight? Sweet. I didn't even consider how much weight I was adding with a clay background. Well, after having to move my 18" cube exoterra from one stand to another a while back I realized that it is FETCHING HEAVY.

So, for a couple months I've been looking things up and mentally planning/preparing to gut the viv and actually try to make it (relatively) lightweight enough to pick up and move around. I have a couple moves planned in the next couple years because of school and I'd like to be able to take my frogs with me :)



So, now all my supplies are in and I'm ready to put this to the test. This morning I broke down the viv and weighed each of its components that I'm pulling out and each that I'm putting in. Here's the breakdown so far.


Removed:
Clay background - A surprising 29.6 lbs
LECA - 16 pounds (couple bags worth originally)
Gravel that hides LECA -17.8 pounds

So yes, LECA/hydroton is lighter than gravel but that is not to say that it is in any way lightweight. Altogether that is 63.4 pounds :eek: Holy Crap. I had no idea.


New "lightweight" replacements:
Eggcrate false bottom -Just a hair over 1.1 lb
Coco Panels for background - 1.6 lbs
Gravel to hide False bottom - 6.8 lbs

Altogether that is 9.5 lbs. I've shaved off over 50 lbs!!! (exactly 53.9 lbs) I'm stunned! Originally I had hoped that best case scenario I could shave off maybe 15 lbs.


Pictures are to come, but as I wait for gorilla glue to dry I thought I'd share this with everyone.
 

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I'm pretty conscious of how heavy my tanks are after moving them up and down the stairs. How big are your tanks?

My vote is Waterfall Foam Sealant (I won't say Great Stuff cause that always shrinks like crazy) for background. Coco Panels don't leave much to plant with. Use cork bark and forget about any heavy Malaysian drift wood.

I personally like LECA for the plant roots, but I agree eggcrate is lightweight. Forget the 7 pounds of gravel to hide it. That's what duct tape is for!

Justin
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oh, forgot to put the size on there... fixed now. It's an 18" cube.

I agree about the coco panels. They're not much to plant with and not much to look at honestly. But, the goal is to cover it in plants anyhow, so with any luck I won't be looking at it for much longer. It's in there now and it's not too bad too look at though.

I like malaysian driftwood. My guilty heavy pleasure I suppose ;)

I was really surprised how heavy the gravel and leca were. The leca weighed a little less yes, but there was also more in there. I had about an inch or so around the tank of gravel before. Now I know an inch is way more than i needed. The new on has a much thinner rim of gravel.

I thought about using great stuff as well. I went with coco panels however because they're so dang thin. There's a fairly decent amount of "extra" floorspace in my viv now, which is better for the frogs. Plus, I'm curious to see how these do. I've searched for a long time on here looking for peoples experiences with coco panels and it seems like more people used to do it but shifted to things like GS/clay. There were complaints about some of them deteriorating relatively quickly. These are from Josh's and apparently they've got a higher rubber content (or something) that will make them last longer. I see it as a good opportunity to see for myself :)
 

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Some weight-saving tips I've picked up over the years:

Non-biodegradable packing peanuts instead of LECA - Looks terrible, but weighs nothing, and can be easily hidden with contact paper.

Thick foam sheet "risers" used in conjunction with LECA - reduces the amount of drainage material needed to get the correct substrate height. Will also reduce the amount of water that can collect in the bottom of the tank.

Spray foam and cork - probably the lightest weight background materials. Cypress is good too, but the "sinker" pieces are still dense enough to get heavy. I like the worm-eaten floating stuff better.

Thinner growing substrate layers - terrarium plants don't usually need a deep soil mix, as long as a drainage layer is present that they can root into. 1-2" is usually enough.
 

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I've been reorganizing/redesigning my frog room and many of my vivaria recently, and I'm acutely conscious of weight now... I had a 40 breeder with a concrete background which was agony to move around.

My solutions:
1) Custom plywood vivaria which I've been making. I tend to go for big enclosures, and plywood with epoxied interiors is SO much lighter
2) Epiweb backgrounds - feather light, they don't rot or sag, and so far they seem totally awesome.
 

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you think an 18 cube is heavy?? lol try moving a 50 gallon oceanic tank (really thick glass, no center brace) with a thick clay background, 100% gravel drainage layer, and lots of hardscape. That tank was easily over 300 lbs all together. AAAANNNDDD we had to carry it down two flight of stairs. ya that sucked! hahaha. A word of advice: if you make a clay background, make sure you don't have to move the tank in the next couple months! or ever for that matter hahaha
 

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You can hide the drainage area and false bottom with contact paper that matches the room in some way. Looks more professional than tape or other methods.

I use a false bottom with an air gap between the surface of the water and the bottom of the false bottom. The tanks are plumbed so this significantly changes the weight of the tanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
18" is definitely heavy when you're moving it by yourself :)

There are lots of ways to reduce weight and I enjoy hearing everyone's suggestions/tips. I looked into Ecoweb, but I seem to remember seeing some threads about frogs getting a foot stuck in the web. However, there's a current thread where people are saying they're using it without any problems so perhaps that's more of an isolated incident than it is a normal thing.
 

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I made the mistake of constructing a 70 (48x18x20) with clay backround, hydroton, 3-5 in of hydroton, 2 in of substrate, and tons of wood and coultured stone. It looks amazing, and the plants love it. I didn't realize what a mistake it was until I tried to move it (fully planted) from the workbench in the garage to the frogroom on a 5' high shelf in the house! Its funny thay the best lessons I've learned are ones I learn the hard way.
 

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I just wanted to say I completely agree with this thread. My first build was a 5ft 100ish gal tank. This thing weighed a freaking ton when I got done with it.

Anyways when I decided to redo it to better suit some phelsuma grandis I was getting I took weight into consideration.

I used a false bottom on both builds but on the first build I used gravel to hide it as well as make a small water area for my waterfall/stream to drain into. On the remake I used no gravel and went with a mainly coco chip substrate that isnt too thick. I made it 100+ lbs lighter and now it can easily be lifted with 2 people.

The background is mainly great stuff and that stuff doesn't weigh much at all.
 

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I have started building my viv's light as well. For the backgrounds I just use cork bark attached with either silicon or spray foam. For the substrate I have been using a layer of chunk charcoal with a layer of spag and them lots of leaf litter. So far it's working well and I can pick up all my tanks with ease.

Doug
 
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