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Discussion Starter #1
Hello All,

Next week finally my vivarium will arrive. But I think there is not a good drainage hole at the bottom. So because I don't have so much experience I don't want to drill a hole in the vivarium.
What are other options? I have seen people place those hydrophonic kley balls but what happens after a year or so if you use this? I gues at one moment it is all saturated and water keeps building up at the bottom, which we want to avoid I guess.

Another small question is it good to use first those kley balls, than use a nylon mesh followed by a layer of carbon and than the substrate for plants, or is the carbon not needed. I have seen several ways on youtube so I'm a bit confused on how to do it. Any opinion is welcome.

Grtz,

Ray
 

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Regardless of what enclosure you have/get you will need a false bottom. The term false bottom refers to an area below your substrate that allows for excess water to drain from your substrate and sit. Think of it as one of those plastic or terracotta pot saucers. There are multiple methods to setup a false bottom and I'll get into that.

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Method 1 - Inert Material

The clay balls you mention go by many names, but are not the only inert material that is used to create a false bottom. Basically any material that doesn't contain organics and preferably is light weight can be used in this area. Clay balls/hydroton/LECA, crushed lava rock, Akadama, or a coarse and non collapsible pond filter media. All of these work, but personally I don't like them. Not only do they take up volume that could be used by water, but they wick water back up into the substrate.

They can be used with a 2" layer topped with a substrate barrier and then ABG and work fine for many people.

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Method 2 - Raised False Bottom

Rather than stuffing media into the base of your enclosure, you can setup a raised false bottom with PVC couplers, eggcrate and a substrate barrier. This method allows you to retain a drainage layer without the displacement of media taking up space. IMHO this is the best method to go with as you have a larger reservoir available for drainage without the worry of wicking.

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Regardless of the method you choose you SHOULD install an access port to the false bottom in order to siphon out water. In most cases water will build up at the base over time. In the worst case scenario you have an automated misting system and the mister controller doesn't turn off the mister, your drainage layer will become more saturated and will need to be drained to prevent it from getting into your substrate or overflowing out of your enclosure.

In order to do this, you can use three PVC couplers or a PVC pipe cut to length that passes to the base of your enclosure and cap it with a PVC cap. This will allow you to fit in a small diameter piece of hose or airline tubing that you can create a manual siphon on and remove the water in the base. Keep in mind the part of the PVC coupler or pipe that gets siliconed to the base of your enclosure will need to have notches or grooves cut into it for water to pass into it.

Both methods are documented well on here as well as a handful of videos can be found on YouTube. Hope this helps!
 

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Hi Ray.

If you don't have a drainage, make a easy acces point or gutter where you can drain the water by hand. You can use a sponge or aquarium pump to drain it.

You simply don't want water to pile up a lot so you need to reduce your misting in the future that you don't have a lot of standing water.


I don't recommend the clay balls since they weight a lot and take up much space. Simply use pond mats, cheaper and more easy.

Check out my lastest build report how I setup up my tanks these days, it might help you and it's also budget friendly!

https://www.dendroboard.com/forum/showthread.php?t=357088
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks a lot guys this will help me a lot. I will check the report on building and will check YouTube a bit more as well.
 

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If you want to keep your vivarium experience free of bad smell and bad plant-eating fungus, please create a raised bed drainage.

All it takes is a light diffusing egg crate, some pices of pvc pipe, zipties and a drill to make holes for zipties.

Any reputable seller will sell you the rest of stuff to create this kind of drainage layet. @Hydrophyte used to sell a very neat pipe that would go through your substrate into the area below your raised bed. That would allow you to suck out the water when it gets full.
Here's a thread I created a few years ago. It might give you some pointers-

https://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/276449-planning-vivarium-under-my-live-wall.html
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi Ray.

If you don't have a drainage, make a easy acces point or gutter where you can drain the water by hand. You can use a sponge or aquarium pump to drain it.

You simply don't want water to pile up a lot so you need to reduce your misting in the future that you don't have a lot of standing water.


I don't recommend the clay balls since they weight a lot and take up much space. Simply use pond mats, cheaper and more easy.

Check out my lastest build report how I setup up my tanks these days, it might help you and it's also budget friendly!

https://www.dendroboard.com/forum/showthread.php?t=357088
Would a thicknes of 2cm for the pondfoam be enough, or better the 5cm. Im thinking to buy the 2cm and buy some extra so I can make some areas which are higher as the rest to create som dimension.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ohw and BTW I'll go for the pvc pipe method. I will glue a piece of pipe in the front corner. In the pipe i will drill some holes. So when needed I can sifon water out of the viv. Thanks for all the suggestions.
 

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I use 2x 2cm mats on top each other so 4cm is more than enough.

I also use excess pond mats and the gravel to create higher or lower areas, good thinking. 🙂
 
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I forgot to mention another reason I use 2x 2cm is that the weight of the wood and rock press the pondmats to a smaller size. I don't want to water to make contact with the wood or substrate, using a thicker layer prevents this.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Just to clarify you used 2 time 2cm thick onntop of eachother. And after that you used some excess to create some dimension?
 

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Yes, but not much tbh. Just some scraps
 

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So because I don't have so much experience I don't want to drill a hole in the vivarium.
There's really no reason to be bashful or hesitant about drilling glass. It's really easy to do and easy to learn. Cheap. Fast. What else would it take to get you to try it? Oh - buy a piece of glass at Lowe's for like 2 bucks and practice on that a couple times first. Seriously man - I can respect "I've got a ton of experience and I just prefer doing it my way, no bulkhead", but to hear "I've got like no experience with any of this, so I'm gonna default to the more-likely-to-cause-me-trouble route" drives me a litte nuts.

Method 1 - Inert Material

...Basically any material that doesn't contain organics and preferably is light weight can be used in this area. ... All of these work, but personally I don't like them. Not only do they take up volume that could be used by water, but they wick water back up into the substrate.
(Emphasis above is mine)
I disagree with both points if they are made from a hard-and-fast standpoint. I use Matala filter pad and have water always brimming right up to my bulkhead - that's where I like to keep it. My bulkheads are normally drilled about 2 cm below the bottom of my substrate (I put window screen atop the Matala, to keep my faux ABG substrate from falling down into the water). With that 2 cm air gap I have zero wicking up the dry Matala. So, no wicking, and plenty of water down there to help keep humidity up. (The Matala takes up almost no actual volume - it's all pore space, filled with water.)

I have used the LECA balls - still have them in some vivs - but have come to feel they are too heavy, especially in the bigger vivs (they are great in smaller ones). That's really why I prefer the Matala pond filter material.

LECA does wick a little distance. Not very far at all, but a little ways. Maybe 6-8 cm??? With just a 2 cm air gap I do suspect you'd get a soaking amount of wick. Yuck. Other granular materials (e.g. Turface, Utelite, etc) are probably the same way, but I haven't used them extensively, just in substrate mixes. They are quite heavy, so I use them sparingly.

Good luck! Do try drilling, at least on a test piece of glass. There's plenty of searchable discussions on how to do it (including "what bulkhead?" etc), here on DB. And videos on YouTube.
 

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There's really no reason to be bashful or hesitant about drilling glass. It's really easy to do and easy to learn. Cheap. Fast. What else would it take to get you to try it? Oh - buy a piece of glass at Lowe's for like 2 bucks and practice on that a couple times first. Seriously man - I can respect "I've got a ton of experience and I just prefer doing it my way, no bulkhead", but to hear "I've got like no experience with any of this, so I'm gonna default to the more-likely-to-cause-me-trouble route" drives me a litte nuts.



(Emphasis above is mine)
I disagree with both points if they are made from a hard-and-fast standpoint. I use Matala filter pad and have water always brimming right up to my bulkhead - that's where I like to keep it. My bulkheads are normally drilled about 2 cm below the bottom of my substrate (I put window screen atop the Matala, to keep my faux ABG substrate from falling down into the water). With that 2 cm air gap I have zero wicking up the dry Matala. So, no wicking, and plenty of water down there to help keep humidity up. (The Matala takes up almost no actual volume - it's all pore space, filled with water.)

I have used the LECA balls - still have them in some vivs - but have come to feel they are too heavy, especially in the bigger vivs (they are great in smaller ones). That's really why I prefer the Matala pond filter material.

LECA does wick a little distance. Not very far at all, but a little ways. Maybe 6-8 cm??? With just a 2 cm air gap I do suspect you'd get a soaking amount of wick. Yuck. Other granular materials (e.g. Turface, Utelite, etc) are probably the same way, but I haven't used them extensively, just in substrate mixes. They are quite heavy, so I use them sparingly.

Good luck! Do try drilling, at least on a test piece of glass. There's plenty of searchable discussions on how to do it (including "what bulkhead?" etc), here on DB. And videos on YouTube.
Two things here.

When it comes to drilling, I whole heartedly understand the apprehension about it when it comes to drilling an enclosure that's not a 100% DIY build. Keep in mind, to some people the thought of drilling and possibly cracking a pane on an enclosure that they spent hundreds on is terrifying. Not only that, then they get stuck with the question of "Well what do I do now?" As easy as drilling glass is, it does take a bit of practice so $10 of glass of the same thickness as your enclosure glass to test on is worth it if you plan on doing it. Once you understand the process, what does and doesn't work, and whether you should go through the putty well with water method, run water over the glass method or go with a cutting oil method things go smoothly.

In the case of wicking, yes it does depend on the material being used. I personally have a distaste for LECA because of how much wicking I got. I've tried the ZooMed stuff, the Josh's Frogs stuff, and other kiln dried clay ball options on the market and wasn't a fan. Lot's of places will tell you that you need a minimum of 2" area below the substrate barrier and well, if you follow that method with LECA or other stone style materials you run the risk of wicking when they can wick up to 6cm which turns out to be just over 2.3". With that in mind I highly always advise anyone building to use the raised method, but at the end of the day pick your poison. If you're doing this for the first time, expect to learn. One method might be preferable to you down the line.

In the case of Matala not taking up space... Well physics is physics. If you have an area that holds X volume of water and you place in a solid item that takes up Y fraction of X's total volume, you will undoubtedly lose volume of what liquid can take up that space. As someone who likes to plan ahead, I like to make sure that I can have the most available volume available for drainage in case of an accident. Nothing is worse than swampy substrate and the issues that go on with it after it's been saturated for too long. Another thing with a porous material being used for drainage is that depending on your substrate barrier you will end up getting roots into that drainage material below. 90% of the time this isn't ever an issue, BUT if you ever try to remove a plant that is established, expect a mess trying to get it out and/or the results from any non removed root material breaking down.
 

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Glad I've been reading all the threads. I had been planning to use leca but all this talk about it wicking.... I suspect I'd be better off going another route, since I anticipate some hurdles keeping things from getting soggy anyway. Thanks for the input. (And I'm just about at the point where I would need to make that final decision....finally XD)
 

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If you're doing this for the first time, expect to learn.
Gospel truth right there. The right attitude helps it not hurt so bad. Ha ha. Don't be a perfectionist, and understand there's no such thing as "a natural". It's all learned skills. You need to do/build/make, and in doing so make (and recognize, and learn from) some mistakes (of commission and/or of omission). Then do/build/make some more. Keep learning, keep getting better, keep making mistakes (though hopefully fewer of them). Try a little of this and a little of that - you will see what materials and methods you like the most for working with, or that are most forgiving of your style and skills, or whatever.

Plus, always remember all this construction shit is just a means to an end - good animal husbandry. That should be the prime directive, the objective function. Some people get hung up on looks. So they aren't willing to deal with looking at a viv that's "just a six or a seven" - only a nine or a ten will do. Again - this is all learned (or paid-for, hired) skills. Over my life I have started with easier or cheaper materials and methods (e.g. Drylok), and after getting proficient with them, in some cases I have moved on to harder or more expensive stuff that either looks better or - more typically - performs better (given my biases and preferences), e.g. epoxy.

If you have an area that holds X volume of water and you place in a solid item that takes up Y fraction of X's total volume, you will undoubtedly lose volume of what liquid can take up that space.
Well, sure. But Matala is almost all pore space. It displaces almost no water.

I personally have a distaste for LECA because of how much wicking I got.
I absolutely agree. Most vivs aren't tall enough to allow the depth of above-water LECA required to get above its wick height. And, with bigger vivs that much LECA can be heavy. And not really that cheap either. My favorite use of LECA nowadays (the damn stuff is immortal - you either throw it away, or you keep it and reuse it) is in the bottom of potted plants - ones in pots with holes. I use a piece of screen to keep the LECA from rolling out of the pot holes.

Another thing with a porous material being used for drainage is that depending on your substrate barrier you will end up getting roots into that drainage material below. 90% of the time this isn't ever an issue, BUT if you ever try to remove a plant that is established, expect a mess trying to get it out and/or the results from any non removed root material breaking down.
I view the "roots get in there" more as a feature, less as a bug. Hey, sub-irrigated plants! The degree of root invasion varies a lot depending on what plant species. I've never been caused a problem by it. I have done some plant removals; Matala is stout and you can rip anything out of it.

Now, what can get damaged is the screen that goes between the dirt and the Matala. But even with eggcrate you've got screen. You've always got screen. And you've usually got roots. So the argument doesn't sell me. I'm not criticizing or anything, just trying to help the newb see there's differences in opinion, and that what's right for him can only be learned & decided by...him. Or her, or they - sorry OP for any pronoun-insensitivity issues. I'm old. Ha ha.

Good luck!
 

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Ah, lack of clarity on my end about roots and substrate based false bottoms. If the roots entangle or grab the false bottom and you're removing a stout plant, expect to pull up false bottom while removing a plant. With a raised floor if there is a mess you can siphon it out and not have nasty anaerobic processes going on.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
To be honest all coments here help me a lot and thats the reason i joined a forum . I want to learn to reach the goal that I would be able to create a vivarium me and the habitants enjoy. Im new here on this forum but most help is respectfull and with good intentions thats cool I like that. A newbie cant make it like someone who is allready for 20 years in this hobby that normal. But I know myself I'm a perfectionist so I want to make a vivarium like the same with someone who has 20 years experience.....that goal is maybe wrong, i dont know.
One thing I know is that I try to pen intesting dicussions and try to learn from it, take different opinions and apply them as far as I can and hopefully soon I will be able to share my viv and who knows I can even give advise to newcomers...... that would be awesome
 

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Just a type-by to post a link to Doug's excellent drilling tutorial: How to Drill your glass

I used to be scared of it, too, but after a few holes, you get the hang of it. The only thing that still troubles me is the garbage glass that I buy for tops sometimes if I don't go to Ace and get double strength. Thin glass and close to the edge are the things to be avoided. Just don't push hard with the drill and you will get it done without cracks. I am still 100% on tank drilling :)

Mark
 
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