Will this enclosure work? opinions and critiques please

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I have two 20 gal. tall aquariums with two round holes near the bottom of the back (freebies from a pet store that went out of business and the holes had been for plumbing when it held fish). I'm already planning to make one a vertical conversion for a gargoyle gecko and i did a practice 10 gal. vertical with a screen top that I'm using to grow some vivarium plants.

my idea is to turn the other 20 gal. on its front so the holes are on the top and put a door on the front (previously the top) to make it easier to access. the dimensions would then be 24" wide, 12" tall, 16" deep with two ventilation holes near the back about 1 3/4" in diameter covered with screen/weed barrier.

with a GS/cork background and substrate/LECA base layer sloping uphill from front to back would it be tall enough for a pair of azureus? would the two ventilation holes be sufficient to allow me to take the front door all the way to the top so the front height would be about a 9"/3" door/substrate barrier split?

also while I'm asking questions, what plants would stay small/horizontal enough for a tank like that? and can i keep fruit fly cultures inside a cabinet where they don't get light? i assume isopods and springtails would be fine in the dark, but i haven't seen anything regarding a dark/light cycle for cultures.

thanks in advance. diagrams of my plan to follow.
"normal" orientation... planned orientation:

[Image: 6245227730_13354685df.jpg]
20horizontal 1 by rhino43grr, on Flickr

planned front view (ignore door hinge/handle location, not sure how i'm going to do the door yet):

[Image: 6244710057_7b69ac1875.jpg]
20 horizontal 2 by rhino43grr, on Flickr

planned side view:

[Image: 6244712389_a5c85ee47a.jpg]
20 horizontal 3 by rhino43grr, on Flickr

would this work?
wow...best diagram evah !

hmmm...sure it WOULD work, but you're gonna have a deep flat tank right ? That's going to be way less than ideal for not only watching and enjoying the frogs (they may travel to the back of the viv and not be seen) but chiefly, it's going to be a PITA to service and maintain - cut plants and clean.

Why not buy a proper tank at the bi-annual Petsmart and petco sales for 1 dollar per gallon ?


"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
thanks for your input. i suppose some more background information would help also...

regardless of tank size i would have to convert it to open in the front because the tank will be sitting on a countertop below the first shelf of a built-in bookshelf in my office.

i would prefer to re-purpose the tanks i have currently before i spend anything on new tanks since my wife was already mad enough at me for getting free aquariums to take up space in the garage/office.

i assume the maintenance/viewing concerns stem from the tank's height, but to get any real increase in height for a front-opening conversion i would have to get at least a 30 gal. breeder, which would only be 12" deep laid on its front (so maybe 10" of useable depth with a background installed) and $30 more than the free tank.

my thinking regarding the main concerns you expressed: it would only be slightly deeper than it is tall when the background is factored in, and it would offer the same viewable height as a top-access 20L or 10 gal. for maintenance purposes, the height might be a hindrance (i'll be testing out how cramped it is working in a tank this size when i do the background for the vertical conversion) but i'm hoping careful plant selection and a good microfauna population can limit the amount of in-tank maintenance to a minimum.

all convenience/aesthetic issues aside, is a ground surface area of 24"x~12" and a useable height of ~9" suitable for an adult pair of azureus? if not, in all likelihood i'll be converting both 20 gal. tanks vertically for geckos and biding my time on dart frogs until a great deal on a more suitable tank comes up.
I see. In that case....go for it. Develop your strategy and make it happen. The only bad thing that may happen, is that you may become disillusioned with it - and just make another viv.

But can odd size vivariums be viable - sure why not ? It's all a matter of personal preference.

P.S...you need to be aware of lights causing too much heat, in such a shallow tank. That's about the only caution...


"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
would it be better/easier to make it a vertical conversion instead and get leucs instead of azureus?
Leucs and azureus are both best suited to a "terrestrial" vivarium. All larger "heavy bodied" frogs, in general, spend more time lower than they climb. All dart frogs may climb, especially when young and "roost" at night (probably to avoid predation).

The main issue with a shallow or low tank, would be the chance of the lighting fixtures making it too hot. In any enclosure, a gradient of both temperature and humidity is a welcome function for dart frogs. That's why small vivariums don't "work" as well as larger ones.


"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
I would also suggest looking into sliding doors. Way better than any hinged doors i have used or seen
i decided to scrap the 20 gallon idea. i'm going to pick up a 40 breeder on saturday and try to figure out whether to make it a front-opening horizontal tank, make it vertical or leave it in its designed orientation. any suggestions?
40 gallon "fish tank" breeder size tanks make very good horizontal enclosures. Some people try to make verts out of them, but I would think it would be hard to plant and light, at that depth.

Enclosure design and configuration are always dependant upon your target species. There are basically an even amount of dart frogs who would do 'better' in a horizontal and some that would gain from a vert.


"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
for either leucomelas or azureus, is it worth the trouble of making it into a front-opening horizontal tank, or would i be better off leaving it a top-opening horizontal?
Those species are both considered "terrestrial". They may climb a bit and sleep up high, especially when young, but overall, they benefit(utilize) more from the horizontal space.

A front opening vivarium is just so much easier to service and clean, over a top opening. That said, if there are species that you need to be careful of with top openings, it's thumbnails and pumilio - both that can shoot out or test the top areas near the lid. That's another reason the front opening is so useful. Preventing random escapes when you are servicing the tank. You will not have those species, which can be a little more skittish are hard to catch should they bolt, than leucs or tincs (azureus).

Finally, a 40 gallon breeder glass top from a pet store is probably going to cost less than purchasing a 40 gallon vert kit and definitely less hassle than trying to make one.


"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

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