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I'm getting ready to start my adventures in Vivariums and dart frog keeping.

I currently have a 55 gallon reef aquarium that is becoming more of a nightmare than a hobbie. It's constantly overrun with hair algae or this other brown slimy algae that chokes off everything in the tank. My war with the algae is soon over as I give up the hobby entirely.

This means that I will have a nice tank (after being thouroughly cleaned) that I plan to make into a Vivarium. But being the cautious individual I am, I am going to take a 18 gallon tall aquarium and turn it into an experimental one to see if I even enjoy the hobby.

Now that you have some background on my plans, here come the questions.

1. I see alot of pictures on the net of plantwork that is growing on the wood and backwall of the viv. Is there anything special you have to do to get it to grow there? From my limited understanding of plantlife, they recieve all of their nutrients from the soil, so how can a plant grow on a peice of wood and get the nutrients that it needs to grow? Also, how do the roots take hold if the wall is only 1/4" thick?

2. My reef aquarium has a strong lighting system. I know seting up vivariums usually have low wattage floresent lighting, but the ones in my reef tank are 400watts of VHO lighting. Is this going to be too much for the viv? Currently, when I open the lid of the reef tank, it's blinding because of how bright it is.

3. I'm planning on doing the foam with cocowhatever silconed onto it (I haven't done much research on it yet, but I will once I get closer to starting it up.) How well does this work with plantwork growing off of the back wall as opposed to a cork based backing? I really don't like the flat back look that alot of vivs have, so I'd prefer to do foam because I can get the texture and look that I want. Do the plants' roots grow down into the foam?

These are all my questions for now, I'm sure I'll come up with more later.
 

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Well with the plants growing on the back wall, most will develop long roots that will eventually hit the soil in the bottom of the tank. But alot of plants used in the vivs only need light and high humidity. Also growing on the wood and with frogs pooping everywhere, there is an amazing amount of nutrients.
The lighting you have now can be used, the only thing you have to watch out for is raising the temp of the tank too much.
There are other forms of cork that arent flattened out and still retain a nice form availible on many websites, but with the foam, the plants roots go over it and never into it ( they cant get through the silicon ). You can find some pics of how I did it at http://www.rjmarchisi.com/frogs/08_04_04/

rob
 

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To add a little more to what rob said about plants, another thing about some of the plants being connect to wood is that some plants (for example the bromeliads) need to have dryer roots or thier roots may rot. some people manipulate the ground to create good drainage to keep the roots from going bad.
As far as a light being to bright, bright lights are alright but the question is how hot do they make the enviornment (which rob also addressed)? You dont want to cook the enviornment. Reef lights are very bright and hot, but the envirionment usually has a fairly swift current and some people use chillers to control that heat. I dont know any specifics about wattage and size of tank but regular aquarium florecents are cheaper anyway.

jason
 
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To put the lighting into perspective...

A regular 48" Fluorescent bulb uses 36 watts of electricity to produce the light level that it does.

a 48" VHO bulb uses 110 watts of electricity, producing three times the output that a regular Fluorescent bulb would.

I have 4 VHO bulbs, the equivalant of 12 regular Fluorescent bulbs.

So yes... it's bright... I'd rather not downgrade to regular Fluorescent lighting because of how much money I've invested into the VHO setup.

But thankfully, they don't get too hot. In my current reef tank, it never gets above 78 degrees. If needed, I can reduce the amount of bulbs down to two to assist in cooling or lowering the light levels to be comfortable to the inhabitants.


I think I've decided to use CoCo Fiber for my background (link: http://tinyurl.com/dzbmg). I'll probably use driftwood peices to create the texture on the back that I was looking for. Does anyone have any experience with this stuff?
 

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Welcome aboard Chiablo!


There's an excellent tutorial on the Black Jungle website on how to create a tank using driftwood in the coco/foam background.

Also, as I'm sure you're seeing as you read some of the many posts here that there's been lots of good advice and questions raised about the same topic.

-Dave
 
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