Starting a Vivarium

If you are new to the hobby, then this is an excellent starting place. ALL questions are good questions here!
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cablemandan
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Starting a Vivarium

Postby cablemandan » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:34 am

New to the site, but I've been reading off and on about this for a few years. Building my habitat got put on hold by life, now i'm gearing up to finish it. I have a few questions that i have seen alot of different opinions on, so I need to be set straight.

I am doing sealed foam background with a misting system of my own design in a 30L. I plan to use 2" of clay pellets for dranaige, but not sure about substrate so far.. Some say ground coco husk is fine, some say add things to it or use something else entirely. I want to go with coco husk since thats how i'm building the background. There are no nutrients in it however and i want to start my plants and get it all established before I purchase my animals(and thier home-made fertilizer). I see some folks say liquid nutrient diluted is ok, some say no.

Any suggestions would be great, I will be siliconing this weekend and want to start planning my plant/deco purchases.

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Philsuma
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Re: Getting Established

Postby Philsuma » Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:02 am

There is no need for any plant fertilizer....ever. I've never heard of anyone using it. Frog poop and related things are all the natural ferilizer your plants should need.

I would not use 100% coco husk. It retains too much water and gets sopping wet as well as compacted. You want the substrate to be "airy" and have lots of spaces to provide aerobic activity for microfauna (tiny bugs) that the frogs eat. Microfauna also acts as janitors - helping to remove dead plant material and frog waste as well. Your use of Leca or Hydroton (clay balls) is good because they definately provide the required spaces between the balls so that microfauna can grow. I use a combination of Leca and ABG, myself.

"ABG" with is an acronym for a substrate composition started by someone that worked in the Atlanta Botanical Garden.


The recipe for ABG mix is:

2 parts fine fir bark
2 parts fine tree fern fibre
2 parts milled sphagnum moss
1 part fine charcoal
1 part peat moss

ABG is superiour to 100% coco husk. It's lighter and will create more air pockets and places for microfauna to live and breed. It won't get as waterlogged either and will be better for plants.

and lastly....don't forget 2 layers of leaf litter - Magnolia and Smaller live oak leaves in some places on top of the ABG. That will complete your "microfauna haven".

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cablemandan
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Re: Getting Established

Postby cablemandan » Thu Apr 21, 2011 8:52 pm

Sound advice, because I will have the misters running probably 4 times per day for 15-30 mins. It's probably going to get pretty wet. I'll cross that bridge and adjust it when i fire it all up.

As for the items mentioned for making the ABG, are those readily available at the local nursery, or do I go find it all online?
My plan to use coco fiber on the background is still ok tho correct? I see alot of people doing that with no ill effects.

One more quick one. Lighting. I have a 24' and an 18' set up from my aquarium's that aren't in use. What are the best full spectrum bulbs I can get to best suit the plants? My tank is a hex front, i turned around and made the background in. so the lentghs work ou really good to just put them both on top. is that over kill if i just do 1 good 24'?
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Re: Getting Established

Postby Philsuma » Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:07 pm

Local Greenhouse and specialty plant stores may have all the ingrediants but you can also order them all online from one source like this Orchid Business:

http://www.orchidweb.com/default.aspx

Yes. Coco Fiber on top of the black silicon-ed background sticks fine and is serviceable. A lot of time and effort into elaborate backgrounds are often unwarranted due to plant growth obscuring most details of the background anyway.

The big recent hobby breakthroughs are Clay or 100% organic backgrounds. Something to think about , maybe for your second vivarium.

I'm not the best lighting person....2400 K is what most people use. T5 high output (T5-HO) is the new big thing in lighting, although many people are trying out LED's especially since they throw off so little heat.

You should really experiment as what kind and amount of light you will need. Lights are only for plants anyway. Frogs don't "use" them per se. The main thing is that you don't want excess heat generated by lighting resting directly on top of the glass top of the vivarium. I try for a gap of 2-4" inches always, and usually direct an outside small clip fan to blow the length of the bulb and fixture, so that heat is dissipated.

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cablemandan
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Re: Getting Established

Postby cablemandan » Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:12 pm

All good stuff. I will have gobs more questions as I go, but I am going easy so they will come in waves. Thanks a bunch =D
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Re: Getting Established

Postby Philsuma » Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:17 pm

Fire away. That's the beauty of these well run Forums...questions get answered really quick.

That said, I would encourage you to use the search "button" near the top of this page and try to find an existing thread with a very similar topic question:

Substrate
Lighting
Ponds
Misting

And then just tack your question onto the end of that existing thread. It's a little more "clean" that way, and it puts all related stuff together. If you can't find a suitable thread or have a similar problem....not worries. Making a new thread is ok too.

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Re: Getting Established

Postby dendroworks » Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:52 pm

cablemandan wrote:Sound advice, because I will have the misters running probably 4 times per day for 15-30 mins. It's probably going to get pretty wet. I'll cross that bridge and adjust it when i fire it all up.


Do you mean 15 - 30 secs? As 15 - 30 mins four times a day will drown your viv!

Regards
M&G

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cablemandan
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Re: Getting Established

Postby cablemandan » Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:43 pm

lol well I guess I did. At least I do now. I thought with good drainage that should be good. Change in plans!

Short intervals. *check*

4 times a day good? more or less? I was going to use a timer system, but now I will re-think to a switch system and work out a timer deal later for extended leaves from home.

And thats why I'm in here asking questions ;)
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Re: Getting Established

Postby Philsuma » Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:59 pm

With an automatic system....you are going to have to play that by ear as well - like the lighting. You're just going to have to try it 4 or so times a day for starters. Like Marcus said, more than a minute of mist will actually add up to quite a bit of water. You'll just have to see how well your false bottom handles it, as well.

What brand name of Misting system are you thinking of using ?

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Re: Getting Established

Postby dendroworks » Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:59 pm

My vivs get two, three or four times a day misting events depending on species - some like it wetter than others. Mistking does a package that should suit, complete with seconds timer which is def worth considering.

Regards
M&G

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cablemandan
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Re: Getting Established

Postby cablemandan » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:44 am

I'll look into that. I'm a bit comitted to what has already been done though so it can be worked through. This tank began construction 6 years ago, only very recently have I been able to start to complete it. This one is going slow even now that I am able to do it, but the next one will be much easier ( and less moving parts + more ease of use ) simply from reading posts here and the advice of the experienced. Kudos.

I'll keep reading and posting and put together a pic show. Began taking pics when construction resumed.
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cablemandan
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Re: Getting Established

Postby cablemandan » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:37 am

One other thing.

Plant Selection.

Do CB frogs care about plants from thier habitat or has that been bred out? I dont want to spam plants in my viv only to find out the frogs freak. I am still up in the air about what frogs (leaning towards a pair of Cobalts) to get, but plants are still my first buy. If consideration is needed as far as plants to locale then I need to choose the frogs first.
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cablemandan
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Re: Getting Established

Postby cablemandan » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:42 am

dendroworks wrote:My vivs get two, three or four times a day misting events depending on species - some like it wetter than others. Mistking does a package that should suit, complete with seconds timer which is def worth considering.

Regards
M&G


That solves that.. thanks a bunch.. here or gone the mist goes on =D
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Philsuma
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Re: Getting Established

Postby Philsuma » Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:47 am

cablemandan wrote:One other thing.

Plant Selection.

Do CB frogs care about plants from thier habitat or has that been bred out? I dont want to spam plants in my viv only to find out the frogs freak. I am still up in the air about what frogs (leaning towards a pair of Cobalts) to get, but plants are still my first buy. If consideration is needed as far as plants to locale then I need to choose the frogs first.



Frogs do not care what type of plants are in the viv with them. All dart frogs can be perfectly happy with SE Asia Pothos, if need be.

That said, it is always cooler to try to match up a plant Biotope from South or Central America, depending on the species, but for you first viv....I wouldn't sweat it .Go with sturdy "Terrarium friendly" plants from a local greenhouse or from a member or sponsor here on Dart Den.

The only thing I would avoid is....plastic plants. They don't hold, or help with humidty and a lot of Frogs actually....don't seem to like them.

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cablemandan
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Re: Starting a Vivarium

Postby cablemandan » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:47 pm

Not a chance I am putting in all this effort to drop plastic plants in there. Blasphemy! Heh, thanks I wasn't sure if it would matter or not. I knew some folks that bred RETF's and they couldn't get things going until they put rubber plants in the habitat, so they seem a bit plant specific. The plants also had to be placed hanging over the water. Once they got this right the frogs went crazy breeding. Thanks again =D
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cablemandan
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Re: Starting a Vivarium

Postby cablemandan » Wed Apr 27, 2011 1:48 am

I have everything for my substrate and will be finishing the background up shortly, but do you have any links or something to what leaf litter to use? can I just grab some outside? do I need to treat it if I do?

If I need to buy it I will, but if folks use whats readily available outdoors then I'm all about that ;)

Thanks for the ABG mixture, I couldn't locate tree fern fibre, but I found everything else at one garden shop. He asked his supplier about it, and niether of them new what I was talking about(nor did I, I read it on the internet lol). So I will opt for 1 extra part fir bark with the recipe, it shouldn't be that different. Hope to be planting by next week. (did I mention I hate GS and will use it very sparingly from now on? heh) it only seems like great stuff
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Philsuma
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Re: Starting a Vivarium

Postby Philsuma » Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:03 am

Here's a related thread:

post17348.html#p17348

I personally buy all my leaf litter. If you collect it locally, you need to be sure to boil it.

Magnolia leaves and Live oak leaves are the preferred leaves due to their durability.

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cablemandan
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Re: Starting a Vivarium

Postby cablemandan » Sat Apr 30, 2011 4:58 am

All that work, elaborate set up. *crack* While was dumping coffee grounds after silicone I cracked the back piece of glass. I put water in it and ran just in case I could still use it, no go. So I went and bought a 20h for cheap. Picked up some clay, and off to the races I had a viv built in 4 hours with my kids help. Back to basics but it is great and soooo much easier than what I was building.

I can salvage the tank, but will have to peel out all the GS and silicone. bleh. I think I am done and sold on organic unless this creates me a problem.

All ready for the seattle herp show tomorrow =D mostly going to meet vendors I can't buy anything atm but taking the family cuz the kids are into it now too after helping me rez the viv after the *whoopsie*. Some local froggers are sure to be on hand. Plus its always fun to show the rainbow boa's to the wifey ;)
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Re: Starting a Vivarium

Postby Philsuma » Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:38 am

Yow !

That sucks, when you either drop or bump one and it cracks. Happens to us all, at some point.

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cablemandan
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Re: Starting a Vivarium

Postby cablemandan » Wed May 04, 2011 1:12 am

Well it's not as elaborate as some of the great tanks I see here, but it was a great learning experience ( and the way I should have started out). Learned some do's and don't and feel pretty confident about my next project. I'll be getting some residents for it on friday :)
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I will add more plants as I go. Being newb, I want to make sure I can keep an eye on things so nothing goes wrong.
The condensation on the glass blocks the view enough as it is. I need to find a remedy for this, so I will try the clip fan idea.

Ignore the date stamp, it was today. Wifey has no idea how to work her camera lol
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