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Building An Arboreal Vivarium

Discussion in 'General Construction' started by ryanpb, Feb 24, 2008.

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  1. ryanpb

    ryanpb Elite Member

    In an attempt to force myself to finish the vivarium im working on im going to loosely document it here in one thread, that way when it is done not only will it maybe be able to give others hints and tips, regrets whathaveyou, but ill also appreciate the feedback from everyone.

    So i started with a 29 gallon critter keeper, the one with the full screen sliding lid on it, were i to do this again i would just use a regular glass aqaurium instead, but i got a good deal on this one. I will be flipping the tank on its side, so it will measure 2'5" high.

    I took the sliding lid off, and instead of buying window framing from the hardware store i cut the screen that came with it, creating a screen door that could slide independent of the glass door for more access to the vivarium, this way, in theory i'll be able to take out both the glass sliding door, and the screen sliding door, and have almost complete access from one side of the tank. Unless of course i get tired of trying to figure the sliding part out and just silicone it in.

    Im using the greatstuff and expanded coconut fiber method for the backround of the tank.
    I bought greatstuff foam: window and door, and bronze(brown) GE Silicone II.

    I opted to instead of buying the predryed coconut to use a brick i had around the house, simply drying it in an oven at 350 degrees, though if i did this again i may just buy the predryed coconut substrate, more expensive, but i dry the coco fiber in pans, and i think i spend more time doing that than working on the wall.

    after smearing the back of the tank with silicone, i let it dry and cure. After fully cured I sprayed the greatstuff foam, letting it cure fully before starting to add the cocu husk to the backround. So right now im about 65-70% finished there, and think i may have gone a bit overboard with the texture of the wall, i used two cans to cover the back of a 29, even though ive read two cans can finish a 55+, there are some very hard crevices im having problems getting the fiber into, i do like the effect of it being so textured, but were i to do this again i think i would look around for Handi Foam, just like greatstuff but black, it would just hide mistakes so much better.

    As of now this is the point im at, next will be locating a good glass cutter nearby for the glass for the door and trap on the bottom, or finding somewhere that sells plexiglass thick enough for groove it has to sit in.
    Then on to creataing the drainage for the bottom, im thinking LECA balls with window screening and a 50/50 mix of expanded coco husk, and organic potting soil for that.

    I did want a waterfall, one that would start near the top and cascade down, but decided against it, because everything would have to be concealed in the foam backround, and if anything were to go wrong id have to rip out part of the backround, maybe if i build another vertical viv ill find a better way of featuring one, but for now i've decided against it. I could always build the styfopor (i think thats the word) small tiered waterfall, but i think ill just be adding a dripping feature to the tank instead, i was thinking about getting tubing and having a container above with water so i could have quite a few spots dripping water off of one basin above the tank, probaly better than having like 4 drippers set up.

    So, any feedback, comments, all appreciated.
     

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  2. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    don't forget branches!
     
  3. ryanpb

    ryanpb Elite Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    ahh, of course, i was originally going to add some straight into the backround, but wasnt having the best luck with that, im thinking i'll silicone the branches straight to the glass, so they go horizontaly across the tank from right to left, should of just gotten adding them straight to the backround down, but i got impatient. im thinking about even running one vertically up the side of the foam, attached with silicone right to the bottom of the tank, with smaller branches coming off of it, like a small tree. Though everything now is going to be a bit more delayed, i burned my arm at work today, nothing horribly disfiguring, Second degree burns, but now my hand and part of my forearm are bandaged up, figure ill let it heal up a bit before i start playing with more silicone, hopefully i can start up again in a few days once all the open wounds have sealed up.
     
  4. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    yeah, in order to the the branches into the background, you have to somehow magically prop them up and great stuff around them and pray they sit in that position until cured.

    You could always carve a chunk out of the solidified GS and wedge a branch or two in.
     
  5. ryanpb

    ryanpb Elite Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    yeah, key words magically, lol, i could always buy another can of great stuff, and go with cutting out a chunk, sealing it in afterwords.
     
  6. kronik070

    kronik070 Elite Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    its looking really good!!!

    looks HUGE to me......and it is a critter keeper??? im confused lol
     
  7. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    looks 29 gallon to me.
     
  8. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    LOL! Its the aquarium with the built in sliding top!
    Not the little plastic critter keepers!
     
  9. ryanpb

    ryanpb Elite Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    Thanks kronik, Definitly not the plastic critter keeper, I think there marketed as Critter Cages, instead of aquariums, merlin hit it right on. And it is a 29 gallon, which on its side hits at about 2 1/2 feet tall, not quite as big as the 75 gallon vertical vivariums seen around, it does look a bit deceiving though. Its being built with tree frogs in mind, but before i start furnishing it i do have the option to change that. Probaly stick with frogs though.
     
  10. ryanpb

    ryanpb Elite Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    So between trying to get all the reptiles at the petstore i work at now squared away, and my other job, i managed to get a bit more done on my vivarium. So now its about time to get some plants for the tank. Im looking for relativly low matienence plants, and mind, this is only 2.5 ft tall, so they also probaly should not grow too large. (though im hoping it'll look like quite a little jungle in there) I have seemed to consistently hear pothos do well. Im planning on putting in 3-4 plants, i have two pots secured in the foam wall, and will put one or two on the tank floor. One problem i may have is that the plants that will go in the pots secured on the wall, will be somewhat limited as far as root size can go, the pots are about the size of a beer can, maybe a bit bigger.
    Anyone know how a yuca plant would do on the ground? I have a large yuca in my room as a decoration of sorts, and know where i can buy smaller, will it grow too big, or can i keep it trimmed back to stay small, i do like the idea of a sturdy plant that could also be used to sit on. Im going to google plants after im done posting here, but would appreciate any more tips and information. Thanks.
     

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  11. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    A true Yucca is a large desert plant. What you probably have in your room is a dracaena species which looks similar. However it will not take constatly damp soil and there is no way to trim it short of cutting the top completely off leaving you with a very unattractive stump!
     
  12. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    the only suggestion i would have it to go to home depot and search though their tropical houseplant section. If you could get a spider plant clipping, those would do great as well.
     
  13. fire2225ems

    fire2225ems Subscribed User Premium Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    If you really want the jungle type feeling try some sort of ivy or similar plant in the top pots, something that will spread out, up, and down...
     
  14. ryanpb

    ryanpb Elite Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    thanks, I was thinking about something like that, especially for the higher up pot, theres not a whole lot of vertical room on that one to grow, but at the same time i dont want to completly cover the backround, thanks for letting me know about the yucca merlin, bought it from the tropical plant section, and i did'nt even think about it, i saved the little care tags for all the plants i bought that day, but cant find them in my room (a jungle in its own right) I may also take a trip to a few plant specialty stores, homestead gardens, so on.
    Also, does Anyone know the difference between hydroton and Terra-Lite expanded clay for drainage?
     
  15. The JD

    The JD Elite Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    I believe they are the same thing.
     
  16. ryanpb

    ryanpb Elite Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    I'll probaly just order the Terra -lite, it seems cheaper, and they do look like they do the same job, (a bag of terra lite big enough to make a 1 1/2" to 2" layer in a 20 gallon tank is $9.99 plus shipping). Though the vivariums posponed a bit more, because i have to get my newest animal settled in before i work on a habitat for something i dont have yet.
     
  17. 904cresteds

    904cresteds Elite Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    i want one :( !lol that would be awsome for my adult cresties

    i have a wall covered with baby crestie racks lol i need to sell some >.>
     
  18. ryanpb

    ryanpb Elite Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    There actualy cheaper and easier to make then you'd think. The most expensive part was actualy just the glass tank.
     
  19. JMM

    JMM Elite Member

    Re: Building An Arboreal Vivarium...

    Ryan

    As regards the plants,you may also opt for the following:

    - bromeliads There are several sub-species with red or yellow flowers. I´m using a red B. vriesa in the naturalistic enclosure I built

    - ficus. If you want a "tree looking" plant, you may opt for ficus benjamina. Other kind of ficcus will fall down the vase, so you may use them on a higher spot of the vivarium

    - pothos (Epipremnum aureus). Almost impossible to kill it!

    Here are the three plants combined in my enclosure: http://www.herpcenter.com/general-construction/16943-looks-nice-i-think.html

    Others

    - Ceropegia
    - Guzmania lingulata
    - Fitonia


    p.s: Sorry for using the latin names, but I don´t know some of the English ones and this way you can google the names easily

    Hope this helps
     
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