Rebuild - EntoCraig

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So I built a Vivarium about 3 months ago...

It was working great, but started to smell like anaerobic byproduct other gasses.

I added vents, fans and lowered the water with no avail.

After much hesitation, I decided it was time to tear it down and find the smell, and redo the vivarium correctly.

Here is the Original Build:

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After ripping out everything I found some wood that was being saturated by the water feature, buried under a pile of soil and wedged into some great stuff. The smell was horrid. the wood was unknown so I probably shouldn't have used it to start with...

I was not happy to tear down something that I felt was awesome, but I am looking forward to my rebuild.

Updates to come.
Pretty cool looking though....

Even after years and years and over 30 vivs, I still see things that should be done better, tweaks and mods. It's all just so much of a learning process. Not at all tedious IMO, either....more like fun with a little trial and error.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
Shame you tore it down.... but now you know what to do different... and knowing is half the battle.........
I know, It was painful, but I figured it was the right thing to do, rather then risk the health of the frogs I wanted to put into it. Im going to skip the water feature on this on and save the pump for the 65 gallon, where I have more room to do it right!

Right now the tank is empty and I am looking over some pics on the forum for a few ideas.
That was a really nice design, but judging from your Angel fish tank and other pics, I don't think you will have any problems coming up with a stellar replacement. I use mopani driftwood in my vivs and it seems to work good. I usually secure w silicon then use greatstuff pond foam (black) to form around it and make additional ledges and structure support. I then add some clay for added "bio" benefit.
Scott - North Dallas
thanks, yeah Im in the middle of deciding how to rebuild. I have some bark and several pieces of wood and rock...
I agree, that was a very nice design, Craig. I know we've all put together a decent vivarium and then said to ourselves, 'Self - I think something is amiss here....'. Will you be doing another horizontal build? I've seen your aquariums as well, and I know your frogs are gonna dig their new 'digs'.

Keep us posted on your progress, okay? Btw, I don't suppose you were able to identify the offensive wood, were you? I bet you tossed that s.o.b. as soon as you figured it to be the culprit. It's a learning experience for us as well as you, so the next time you build a tropical toilet, do let us know what stinks. Hmmm.....I could be asking for some sh!7 here, if I'm not careful Wink


Yeah i tossed it out. Funny thing is it was in an aquarium soaking about a year ago and it stuck then so I yanked it... Not sure why i decided to bury it under my viv...
Building it at a 'not-so-photo-friendly' spot in my Fish/Frog room, so pics of the construction will be limited to these...

Updates to come.

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Now, its time to wait for the plants to fill in and the silicone smell to disperse...

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Breeding Coconut goes in here Smile
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How long does it normally take before the silicon and GS smell go away? Its only been about a week, but I thought they would be gone by now?
Sometimes longer than ya think. Put a fan on it.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
Im worried I'll dry out the plants... Fan still OK? I can run it for as short as 15 minute intervals...
So the tank has sat for a week, and then has had a fan on it 15 minutes every hour for another week. Tank still smells like Great Stuff... As far as I can tell/smell the silicone smell is all gone.

When is it safe to put my little frogs in?
This is really a hard question to answer and that's why you're not seeing a lot of responses....

The "cover all bases / safe" answer is - If you still smell a strong chemical smell of any kind, do NOT place any frogs inside.

You may have used an odd or "off" brand. The actual product may have gone bad or failing while in packaging. You may have applied a buttload and it just won't dry/seal/cure. There's a whole lot of things that may be at work here.

This is why I am not a fan of inorganic backgrounds. I have used GS before, but just for a few vivs, not many. I much prefer treebark, cork or fern panel....even pressed ABG for smaller vivs.

This is one of those construction issues that is just hard to comment on, without being the builder or seeing the viv in person.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
Sorry missed the post. I have the flu now so not 100%.

I had similar issue while back. I removed the plants and let the viv sit in the garage for 2 weeks. I think the cause was the GS being too thick and not allowing enough dry time prior to coating the GS w silicon/coco fiber.

I would not rush adding frogs. The fumes may not kill a frog, but could stress it causing weak immune sys. If you are trying to time getting some frogs before weather change, I would setup a 10gal painted black on sides w cheap glass lid (duct tape back half of lid) and use as temp QT staging. Let you new viv cure and est plants and micro fauna for month or so. This also buys you time to work out any other kinks you discover w you redo.
Scott - North Dallas
REDO is not an apotion. this is the second redo I have done. The layers of GS and silicon were so small and minimal I just dont get how something could not have cured. I had fans on the tank for a week before even adding silicone and coco, then another week after that! I used GS brand and GE silicone.

UGH! (cuss words) Im just going to let it sit and see if it clears up. I'll add more fans, poke a bunch of holes and hope for the best. The smell isn't even that strong, but it is noticeable.

I could probably move one of the 3 frogs over and if I notice any issues, move him back to his temp home.

So I had a second opinion on the smell. He said he doesn't smell Great Stuff, but he does smell what I am referring to.

So I did a test. I sprays some GS on some paper and smelt it. Its not the same smell... I let is cure, and I made sure some didn't fully cure. Still, not the same smell. I guess I was assuming it was the GS and not something else.

I also read on the GS can that water misting helps cure GS. So at this point im positive its not the GS.

My only other option is it is the Silicone. I used GE 100% silicone. The typical vinegar smell is long gone, but another smell remains.

If I had more I would test it, but I'm currently out... I'm wondering if some of the silicon near the top is being heat up b the light and is causing some sort of smell to leach out. I know that when you heat up plastic or other materials they often have a smell to them...

Any other thoughts? Maybe this is not toxic.


I have some large 'maintenance holes' in the back corner of my tank. These are covered with colored needle point plastic mesh. These are also directly under my light, so they could be getting warm and releasing a smell. More testing when I get home tonight!

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