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My vivariums....

OK, I'm one seriously jazzed newb!!

I went looking for the right tank to set up a good vivarium habitat based on a lot of info I've gotten from this site and I found the PERFECT tank at an awesome price! One of the local pet stores had a 25 gallon screen topped tank with a pre-cut 1 & 1/2" drainage hole with plastic plug about 1" from the bottom on the left backside of the tank. At first glance I thought it was perfect, but expected it would cost at least $60 to $80. I expected this price based on the fact that the other store I'd just left wanted about $45 for a basic 20 gallon with screen top lid that was not even designed for holding water. I was SHOCKED when I saw the price tag... only $34.95!!!

I've never even been able to FIND a pre-drilled tank like this, and any time I've asked about having a glass tank drilled for plumbing at a glass shop I've been told that they'd charge a rediculous price and not even garauntee that they could do it without breaking the tank!!

So... they had 2 and I bought them both!! Big Grin

I'm planning to do the PVC / egg crate / gravel / soil (false bottom) as repeatedly described on this site, but I am thinking of skipping the gravel layer, as I don't really see the point in the added weight when I'll already have quite a bit of area for drained water by using 2.5" black PVC pipe sections to support the egg crate. The soil I got for the project is all natural, no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and contains coconut fiber already, which I've read is good to have mixed into the substrate. I bought a cheap 18" light fixture and a light tube that is designed for plants, so as best as I can tell, I'm ready to go!

I'm still looking for the right stuff to do the background though, and have not settled on what types of plants I'll get yet, but I'll post pics as I build these setups, and I would greatly appriciate you more experienced folks giving me a heads up if you notice that I'm planning something that is a bad idea at some point.

Construction begins tomorrow on the first one! Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin

What a deal! Prob. priced wrong, but thats good for you! :lol:
As for not using rocks in the bottom you might want to use something. The rock works like a filter. I have used bio-balls in one of my tanks that had a running water fall in it to act as a natural filter. The tank until the bottom broke out when moving it, had layers in it (charcoal, bio-balls, soil) the water fall and a little pond was always clean, I think because of the layers of stuff filtering it.
I haven't seen any tanks that did not have something under the soil to help hold it in place as the water runs through it. Keep us posted on you new project and welcome to the frog crazy clan.

Thanks for the advice, but due to a limited budget I'm not going to have waterfalls or open water areas that need filtering for some time yet. I'll just be watering the tank by hand and syphoning the waste water about once a week or so to be disposed of. At some later date I'm thinking I'll plumb the hole in the back of the tank with a powerhead to recycle the water into a misting line or drip wall, but nothing that elaborate for now. I know it will require some tearing down of the setups to plumb them later, but as they are essentially only going to be elaborate flower pots for some time to come, I figure it's no big deal. I'm not sure if I catch your meaning in regard to having "...something under the soil to help hold it in place as the water runs through it." but I figured a triple layer of screen would allow the drainage without losing soil into the real bottom of the tank where the drainage water will sit. Is that what you mean?

Ok, I gave it some additional thought and made some amendments to my design ideas...

I put a RIO 50 power head in the back left corner and put a pipe in for pumping the water up to about 10" high where it will overflow down a rock waterfall.

I'm thinking along the lines of laying down some thin plastic to channel the waterfall like a miniature stream to the far side of the tank where it will either go into the soil itself, OR into a miniature pond liner also made with plastic. I bought some natural looking aquarium gravel to hold down the plastic liner for the stream and pond (and hide it). Along this line of thought I took your advice, and in my effort to limit weight I purchased some aquarium filter floss and put it in the bottom of the tank, mostly around the powerhead to prevent loose substrate from getting in and jamming the impellor. This should keep the water in the flow clean and clear as well as seriously limiting how often I need to change out the water reserviour.

I bought the coconut fiber background which I intend to silicone to the back pane of the tank and get some creepers of some type to grow on, as well as some live mosses.

Ok... questions:

1) I assume the plastic from a black heavy duty trash bag would work for channeling/containing the stream and pond, assuming I don't use anything impregnated with air fresheners or something of that sort, right?

2) As for the lights, I've got 2 18" 15W flourescent fixtures with tubes designed for plants. I was only planning to use one of hem on this tank, but can use both if needed. Any opinions would be GREATLY appriciated on this matter. (At a later date I intend to upgrade to a much better light system which I currently have in storage out of state and can't get to for another month or two.)

3) Any recommendations for the background plan I mentioned, or any other aspects that might pose a problem in your opinions?

Thanks for all the help! Big Grin

You dont need to filter your open water, just plant your tank and they will filter the water for you as long as you dont put to many frogs in the tank.

Good luck with the viv,


Ans to some of the questions
I have never used the filter floss before, I have used Bio-balls. The bio balls over time get better at filtering the water because of natural good bacteria that forms on them. The bio-balls where under the false bottom of the tank, so as the water moved from one side of the tank to the other it had to go thru the bio-balls.

The screen should work just fine use some corse material on it so that the soil is not in direct contact to clog it up. Test what works out side of the tank, put some soil on the screen and then wet it and see how well it flows through.

My waterfall was just like yours in the corner of the tank. I had a false bottom tank and didnt use anything around the pump. I used black plastic bag, I belive it was a trash bag for the creek and then filled it with aquarium gravel.

Coconut panels are great for back grounds some people have just used silicone to attach it. I have never used it myself. Great for planting things on.

For lights I only used the one that in the top for my tank it was a full spectrum light. the plants need it more than the frogs. I also had a repitle night light that I would turn on from time to time at night to see the frogs.
I wish I had pics to post but the ones I had were on a hard drive that crashed and right now I dont have any frogs because of a move. But some are in the works.

One thing that most people forget to tell you is before you get your frogs start getting the fly's going. Make sure you have a few going nothing is worse than having a culture crash and not being able to feed your frogs.
Eds Fly Meat is a great place to get food used them for years and never had a problem at all.

Thanks for all the advice. Glad to hear that trash bag plastic won't be a problem for the stream.

Two major factors I'm looking at are 1) avoiding getting dirt under the false bottom where it could clog my pump, and 2) the weight of the final product since we will be moving a few hundred miles North in a couple months. I don't want to have to dissassemble the whole thing to move it. If I can just drain the sump and carry it out to the truck without tearing it apart that would make life a TON easier. It's only about a 4 or 5 hour ride so I don't thing that should harm the plants, and I don't plan to put frogs in it until we're settled into our new home, estimating 2-4 months from now at the very least.

As for the filter floss, it's mostly to keep dirt out of the pump. I'd not thought of the screen becoming clogged though and I'm thankful that you mentioned it. Can anyone recommend a very light weight, inexpensive material to lay down over the screening before puting in the soil?

To be on the safe side with the plastic bag I would send a email to a good breeder (check the links page) and make sure. This was a few years ago that I did it but I was on a tight budget too at the time so I would have used what I had around the house. There are new products that you can use to make waterfalls and creek in tanks. sells a product that is for making waterfalls and other stuctures. It would be easier to make it with that and wire mess then what I did with stacking rocks and liners and more rocks. If I was going to do one today, I would give this stuff a try. Maybe you can even carve up foam and then cover it with the stuff. Maybe some one in the forum has used it and will pipe in about it or maybe there is some past post in here. I have been checking into all the new stuff since your post and have found a lot of new ways of doing things.

I forgot you said you would be moving the tanks. I tried to move a tank just across town a broke out the bottom of it when I hit a bump. It was a 30 gal show tank and boy was I pissed when it happened. I replace the glass and resealed the tank and used it with out any problems. You might want to contact some of the viv makers that take their tanks to shows and see how they pack them so they don't break. My tank was very heavy I should have known better but live and learn.

I transported frogs from Cleveland to Southern California I broke down the tanks and gave away the plants to local guys that I knew and took the frogs put them in a plastic container with wet paper towels and tried to keep them warm and took them on the plane with me. It was really funny when security wanted to see what I had in the box that had the containers.
The hard part was having the food in California. Luckily a local pet store sold flys and Eds fly meat sent an order to the house ahead of time for me. So if you get your frogs you can move them with some care and planing.

Yah, the weight of the completed setup is my biggest concern right now. Being that it will be no more than a plant tank for the next several months, and I'm on a VERY limited budget ($150- $200 from tank to plants) I'm looking to cut corners on expense at every opportunity, but not at the risk of poisoning the completed project of course. I'm in to it for about $120 so far, not counting the $50 I got in store credit at a local pet store for trading in a few of my tarantulas. Here's where I'm at so far in construction. The blue plastic is to keep dirt from getting in to the pump area and I'll hide it with the waterfall. After the silicone cures from installing that barrier tomorrow I'll add the soil and start building the waterfall itself, the river, and the pond area. Once those are complete I should be able to start adding the accents and live plants. I can't wait to get to that point so it starts looking like something! Big Grin

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Looking good so far.

If you look a the post for Waterfall const. there are two good links for Ideas.

That step-by-step from blackjungle is really kewl. I think when I can do a larger tank I'll try that method using the wood and foam for the background, but they didn't really have a "waterfall" in that one. I like the drop wall effect, but for a tank as small as mine it just doesn't seem like it would work out.

Anyhow, I still need to get some more rock to finish my waterfall tomorrow. For now I'm just stacking it and before I get frogs or anything I'll replace the aterfall with one I'll make out of that mortar. I've tested the pump and the flow is just right for the effect I wanted, and I've finished everything else and planted the tank tonight. I'm not sure if I went overboard or not on the plants... I found a number of low light plants that I was told (and have read about some of them here) will fair well in the environment I've set up. Here's a pic of the planted tank.

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Looks really good. The one thing you will notice after awhile you will have to cut back the plants. Let us know when you add the frogs.

Do you know what frogs you are going to put in it yet?

It will be several months before I get frogs, but I'm still on the fence between auratus and tincs.

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