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Enclosure Design suggestions needed please
#1
So I'm just about ready to start my first build. I've managed to snag a nice 42 gallon European bowfront that I plan to house around 5 luecs in. Does that number sound about right for this size tank?

I'm planning to do the exoterra monsoon automatic mister and plan on a great stuff background with the silicone/coco fiber mixture on top of that. I want to incorporate some cpu fans for circulation. I like waterfalls but I'm just not masochistic enough to torture myself with one so no water features although I do plan on employing the false bottom with large river rock arranged in front so the froggies have water access for depositing tadpoles. I can't remember the name of the poster but I got that idea from someone on here and really liked it so thanks for sharing. I'd like to hand raise at least some of the babies but I think it'd be best if there was a way to let nature take its course as it were if I don't want to pull eggs. I'm contemplating rigging up some sort of circulation pump in the front of the tank sort of buried in river rock just to give the water some movement. I don't want to deal with soggy substrate and leaks but stagnant water just doesn't sit well with me (might be the fish keeper in me). I do want to incorporate ledges in the background, I'm concerned about the tank dimensions. It's a little taller than I'd like and not as wide so I want to build out on the background to give the frogs more room to roam.

So the questions I have. First off any of ya'll see anything that is just glaringly wrong with this plan so far? Will great stuff stick to itself so I can build it up in layers or does it need to be applied all at once? And finally, how do I deal with installing misters and the CPU fans. I don't want to drill the back of this tank, I'm not sure what glass it is made of and I just don't have the skills to do it, I'd like to instead have the glass lid I'm having made for it drilled but how is the best way to go about deciding what size holes to put in or should I just use a small strip of screen behind the glass lid and install hardware through that? I'm thinking of having two fans, one to pull air in and another to pull it out so there is constant flow in the tank, I'm not too concerned with dropping the humidity with the fans since I'll have the automatic misters and I could probably rig a fogger of some sort up towards the front of the tank provided I could keep the froggies away from it. I plan to pick up a 36inch led light fixture from petsmart that's rated for fresh water plant growth, I think this will be sufficient lighting but what are ya'lls thoughts? Thanks for all the help, the search function has been most helpful for answering most of my questions but the hole sizes for hardware installation was something I needed to ask about, and the rest was just stuff I thought of as I was typing lol.
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#2
Harder to answer the really long posts....

Yes...great stuff sticks to itself and you can 'make' features out of it - layers, ect.

Misters and CPU fans....you're just going to have to buy them and take a long look at your build and hood / lid ect and decide for yourself. No cookie cutter answer can be had there.

5 Leucs in a enclosure that size seems ok. Females can scrap and eat eggs. 3.2 or 3.1 may be good ratios.

LED light seems fine. Again...as with any build....you're just gonna have to "jump in" and build it. Stand back, admire it and see if you like it or not.

Ventilation and holes are best placed near the front glass to help keep the front pane clear and visible.

Some thoughts.
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"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
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#3
Sorry about the long post, I'll try to be more concise in the future.

Thanks for the response. I was holding out hope that maybe someone had done something similar to what I'm trying to do in this sized tank and might be able to help with sizing but you are probably correct in that it will need to be a trial and error sort of process. I hate to admit it but I'm more used to the fish keeping hobby where unless you really want to be creative there tends to always be a step by step set of instructions to follow. This will be a good learning process for me and encourage me to improvise more.
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#4
No worries. Yeah...we are a little different from more established and 'normal' fish hobby. There is still a ton of trial-by-error and modification here. What doesn't work too well for one person, works much better for another. Interesting but at the same time, potentially frustrating. I remember ALL of my builds and how the methods and materials just kinda...evolved with each one.

Good luck and you'll do fine.
https://www.facebook.com/dartden/

https://twitter.com/DartDen


"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
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#5
It sounds like a great you're off to a great planning start... I'm just another newbie at frogs (and another long-time fish guy), but here are a few thoughts...

Re: The Exo-Terra Mister -- it seems like most people lean more towards the Mist King as being more expandable and less prone to problems; that may be because more people have the Mist King and the Exo had some problems when it was first released, but if you haven't bought it yet, you may want to have a look at the Mist King and weigh your options.

Re: Drilling holes -- some searching will probably turn up the proper size holes for the Exo-Terra mister; the Mist King value mister nozzles use 5/8" holes. I tend to do 3" strips of "no-see-um" screen (along with 1/4" plate glass) on my viv tops (I have high humidity indoors anyway), and have been playing with mounting misting nozzles on this by screwing down a narrow section of 1/4" plexiglass over the screen, gluing the screen to it, and drilling it for the nozzle (inspired by the Mist King "screen corners"), but I'm watching these real carefully for any signs of the plex warping and pulling the screen out of true (plex is notorious for warping in high humidity). Mounting nozzles and fans on the lid is fine, but you may want to check with the tank manufacturer whether the tank (or parts of the tank) are tempered glass (or google "tempered glass polarized sunglasses" for another way of determining), and if not, consider drilling and mounting a bulkhead fitting for a drain in your back glass. This will greatly ease your maintenance, particularly if you mist a lot.

Re: LED Fixture -- I'm not familiar with what Petsmart sells for this, but search the freshwater planted tank forums for other folks experiences; if it works for planted tanks, you'll be fine, but remember (particularly in lighting) the fish hobby is notorious for products that are "rated "overly optimistically by the manufacturer.
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#6
I have a similar background coming from the fish hobby and taking my first foray into darts earlier this year. Here are my opinions on a few topics:

Water circulation - agreed that this is the fishkeeper in us coming out Smile I had the same concern, but so far the still water in the false bottom has not been an issue for me. I did rough in PVC reservoirs in the substrate that can be used to house a pump and collection point for a small stream at some point. I currently use the collection point (a 4" PVC pipe with holes drilled in it siliconed to the bottom and filled with aquarium gravel) as my false bottom access for draining excess water about once a week. Maybe one of these days I'll move on the water feature, but not just yet. I have been warned to watch out for submersible pumps and clogs / ease of FB access, so I'd hesitate to bury something in the substrate that you don't have easy access to.

Air circulation was actually a lot of fun. I ended up experimenting heavily with this to control condensation. The tips I can provide based on my limited experiences are:

Monsoon - I own one of the 1.0 models and the timer recently failed. It sounds like the 2.0 models are better, but I'm torn. They look great (I like the smoked plastic reservoir better than a bucket sitting next to the viv) but the timer kind of stinks. There's a good review thread on them if you search for Monsoon. I ended up using an external timer on it and it's working relatively well, but if I were to do this again, I would consider a MistKing and hiding the reservoir in my stand.

Enjoy the build!
Jim from Austin --- Lorenzo keepers PM me about a US breeding program
lorenzo | nominant fants | highlands | summersi | bakhuis | azureus

http://www.oneillscrossing.com/dart-frogs
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#7
Thank you all for the suggestions. It has really helped solidify what I want to do with this tank. I think I am going to model my circulation on Grimm's build over on DB and use plastic cardboard to build air ducts and fan housing for the internal circulation and then foam around that.

I had heard mixed reviews about the monsoon system but like most of you mentioned had heard the 2.0 model fixed those issues. I'll continue to research it and look into the mistking systems. It's going to take me a month or so to get the tank built period so I have time to look into that. I went ahead and bought black silicone to put on the back and sides of the tank for the foam to stick too and bought two cans of GS, I'll probably need more but I need to do the duct work before I foam anyway. I'd post pics but I doubt any of you want to see an empty bowfront tank, you've seen one, you've seen them all. Once I start actually working on the interior I'll post pics up for everyone.

Thanks again.
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#8
qtrhorse89 Wrote:I had heard mixed reviews about the monsoon system but like most of you mentioned had heard the 2.0 model fixed those issues. I'll continue to research it and look into the mistking systems.

I received a Monsoon V.2 this past Christmas as a gift from my girlfriend...it malfunctioned before New Years. It would turn on and off every 30 seconds or so and had I not been around, I am certain it would have emptied the entire reservoir. I have since hooked it up to an external timer and have been more than happy with it since. I use it to mist 2 stand alone 18" exos in my living room that are about 4 feet apart. I feel that it is perfect for this setup but when the time comes to hook a system up to my racks...it's MistKing all the way.
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#9
Just a few thoughts...

Go with MistKing all the way. It's a quality product and you will find its expandability a plus when you start building more tanks ("But I don't plan on building any more tanks", your thinking...trust me on this one). I think the starter kit is around a hundred bucks. I wouldn't worry about a pump for circulation, take that time and energy and figure out the best way to install a drain. If you have a an open drain an inch up then the water is being flushed through the system every time the misters run. I have 20-something tanks and every one that doesn't have a drain is a regret. I know you are reticent to drill the glass, but (provided the panel you drill is NOT tempered, and usually only the bottom is) with a drill, a $10 drill bit, a $5 bulkhead, and just a bit of common sense it is much easier than you are anticipating. After you drill your first hole in glass you will be mad that vendors charge so much per hole.

Internal fans...I've tried them and they are more trouble than they are worth to me. They just tended to dry out my tanks. I might feel different if I had plants that relied on circulation. Just remember it's not absolutely necessary, but your plants may appreciate it.

As far as lighting goes, I would contact Todd at
http://www.lightyourreptiles.com/. He is super friendly, has great product and can suggest a setup that would go very well with what you already have. It seems like the industry is moving towards LED's and I'm suspect you will save money with him over going with an "aquatic" solution. Alternatively there is nothing wrong with good ole' florescents for a single setup like this, especially if you're trying to do it on the cheap.

Also, another mistake beginners tend to make is applying too much GS. One can will be more than enough for this tank. Over the years I've worked out a technique where I 1) determine first if I'm going to incorporate any planters in the background. 2) Purchase BLACK GS or equivalent (so much easier in the long run!). 3) Apply GS sparingly. Remember that every inch taken up by background is an inch less room for the frogs. You want to create interesting textures on the back wall, not just cover it with a uniform layer of GS. Leave spots with no GS, build up other spots around planters, Incorporate wood into it, try to create terracing. Don't be afraid to carve it all up after it dries. Look at other builds and if you see something you like, steal that idea. 4) Cover with Black 100% Silicone. I use GE, but as long as it's all silicone (NO LATEX) you should be fine. Do the back in halves or thirds before covering. You don't want the silicone to skin over. 5) I cover it with a mixture of coco chunks (not powder) and sphagnum moss (at a ratio of about 6 to 1) that ends up looking very natural...way better than powder. You will notice the GS poking through in some "holidays", but since you used Black foam it will look natural.

Anyways...for what it's worth.
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