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ReBuild of my 18x18x18 Thread
Howdy Howdy!

This is a progressing rebuild of my 18x18x18 for my pair of copperhead Fantastica. I had a few issues with the last vivarium that caused me to gut the tank, but now my pair gets a brand spankin' new home and I have fun building it! This build isn't anything super fancy, but if anybody has any questions on what I've done (or suggestions), please feel free to chime in. I'll try to give a small rundown on everything I do...

Now let's get started!!

First off...the vivarium itself! It is a 18x18x18 ExoTerra. I used a bleach solution to sanitize the tank. I also exposed the tank to 90 degree+ heat for around a week to kill off any unwanted pests. I also put a small bead of silicone around the inside bottom of the tank...just to be sure that no water will ever leak from it! Here it is as of now!
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-A little note. If your tank has a bunch of grime or silicone on the sides...the best way I've found to remove that is with a flat razor blade. It makes things quick and easy, but you do need to be careful as the blades are VERY sharp!!!

Next step is to lay it all out. I got a fantastic ghostwood branch and cork flat from a sponsor here! I lay the cork out where I wanted it and positioned the branch. Now, to keep the branch up where I want it without it falling, I typically use duct tape (but I didn't have any on hand) used some electrical tape! It worked well actually.
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After everything was where I wanted it, I used Great Stuff for my background. I've seen other methods, but this is my favorite so far. It applies easy and you can just carve it out. It WILL shrink back up, so make sure you fill in all the gaps down the road before adding your frogs! Here is what it looks like for somebody that has never seen it. You can find it anywhere from Walmart to Lowes.
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I used the Great stuff to spray on the background. This stuff will expand quite a bit, so be easy the first go around. You may need more than one can. After I was done, I will get a second can tomorrow and run some more around the ghostwood to help further secure it (as it is pretty heavy!) and run some up the sides a bit. Here is a photo right after I was done spraying and a photo 24 hrs later. You can see how much it expanded!
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And a view from the side. The branch needs a bit more support around the base...which I plan to tackle tomorrow!
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As you can see in some of the other photos, I kept my glass top and vents on. I did not decide to make new ones, but building either is rather simple. For the glass lid, you can run to either Lowes, Ace, or any business that cuts glass to get a glass top made. Be sure if you are adding a vent that you leave room for it when cutting your glass!

The vents I used are made from screen rails, plastic screen corners, rubber screen spline, and no-see-um mesh. There are a few tutorials out there that tell you exactly how to make them. I will not be going into detail on that, but if you need the link and cannot find it...let me know! It takes no time at all and I believe ventilation is important to have on all vivariums! Here is a shot of my screen vent:
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Up next: Finish Great Stuff, carving, and then comes the silicone/peat moss! Stay Tuned!! Smile
Fine Spot Leucs, Bakhuis, Variabilis, Varadero, Fantastica, Green Sirensis
Another busy day in the books. Here is the rundown!

Where did I leave off? Carving, yes! You can choose to either carve out the Great Stuff on the background or leave it be and just silicone over it. I personally don't carve out much (maybe I'm just lazy?). Here are some tools below that I use to carve with. Needle Nose and regular pliers for ripping out chunks of great stuff. Straight Razor blade for simple to complex cuts. I also have a window glass cutter, which I find is helpful with precise cuts.
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A neat trick to do when you are carving (especially if you plant to have thumbnail species) is to stick film canisters directly into the background! This is done either by sharping a PVC pipe the same diameter as the film canister, driving it into your background a little ways, then using out the great stuff in the middle. You can also use a precise cutting tool to carve the diameter of the canister, then using pliers, rip the great stuff out until you have a flush canister mounted in the background. Hopefully this makes SOME is a neat little trick and my thumbs appreciate it! Here are a few shots of the hole and the hole filled with a film canister.
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My carving is complete! Nothing fancy about that!!!
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On to the next step, which is covering the background. There are many methods to use when covering a background. Some include Tite Bond and Silicone. I will be using Silicone, because that is what I am used to using. Benefits to either would be Tite Bond does not have a horrible odor, but cure time can be longer. Silicone has the worst smell ever, but cure time can be less.

For the silicone method, I will be using GE 1 Silicone. There is GE 2 Silicone, I would not use it. Too many "if's and's and but's" for me. GE 1 is safer to use in my opinion. Here is a photo of the silicone I will be using if you are new to this. I've found it at Lowes.
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Now, first off I removed all the shavings from the background prior to starting and you will need gloves (multiple pairs) and a silicone/caulk gun. You want to spread the silicone around the background thick and I recommend doing sections at a time. I find this easier to manage. After the silicone is layed out, it should look like this:
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After you have this look, I take my hand and smear it all over the background. Heavy is good. Now, DO NOT stick your head into the tank or huff it may look up to see dancing unicorns and rainbows. It stinks! I then take a handful of Peat Moss (I'll include a photo of the stuff I use) and heavily sprinkle it over the siliconed background. Do this section by section until the background is covered. I find that pressing the peat moss forcefully into the background helps as well. These photos give you an idea on what it looks like. You may need to do this 2-3 more times after you clean up the excess peat, as you can miss holes! Just take dabs of silicone and spot treat if needed!
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I am now in the waiting phase! You need to wait until the silicone cures before going on. I've found a fan blowing on the tank helps speed up the process. Also, there must be silicone smell.

Next steps: Cleaning up tank, spot treat, waiting for curing....then moving onto drainage layer, substrate, and plants!!! Getting close!!!

Thanks for looking.
Fine Spot Leucs, Bakhuis, Variabilis, Varadero, Fantastica, Green Sirensis
Looking good Brian...awesome build thread !

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
Nice stuff.
For future reference , if you want to be able to slide film cans in and out of a Great Stuff wall, just embed PVC into the wall with a 1-1/4 ID and any time you find eggs or wish to clean the can you just slide out the old and slide in the new. The fit is quite good .
Darts with parasites are analogous to mixed tanks, there are no known benefits to the frogs with either.

If tone is more important to you than content, you are at the wrong place.

My new email address is: and new phone number is 773 577 3476
Thanks Phil and Rich! Good tip. I never thought about actually embedding the PVC in the background, but that would work pretty well.
Fine Spot Leucs, Bakhuis, Variabilis, Varadero, Fantastica, Green Sirensis
This is probably be the last update for a few days as I'm done spot treating my background and it is currently getting aired out to eliminate the fumes and to cure the silicone. I thought I'd go into detail and make some homemade ABG type mix!

This is how I make it. There is a TON of different recipes out there. Here is a rough rundown on what I use:

1 Part Peat Moss
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1 Part Cowboy Brand Charcoal
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1 Part Coco Husk
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1 Part Premium Sphagnum Moss
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2 Part Tree Fern Fiber
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This isn't a exact science, but after I add everything in a bucket, I add water and mix thoroughly. It should end up looking something like this:
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After it is made, I usually cover it up and let it sit until I use it after the background cures. You also want to attempt to drain all the water out of the bottom before leaving it to sit. If you don't, you can destroy your mix. I've also added springs to the mix after making it...
Fine Spot Leucs, Bakhuis, Variabilis, Varadero, Fantastica, Green Sirensis
Alright! Time to finish off this build!!! Smile

Silicone has had time to cure and no smell can be found. It is time to move on, but first, I made a tube so I can easily discard water on the bottom as I will not be drilling these tanks. Very simple and I've found this to be a time saver!

First, I got a 2" diameter PVC pipe and cut it about 2" high. After that, I saw a few notches into the bottom so water can flow a little bit better. I slapped on a PVC lid and we are in business. I'll attach a few photos, but it was very easy to make.
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Next steps will be drainage layer, substrate into the viv, and the finished vivarium!!! Smile
Fine Spot Leucs, Bakhuis, Variabilis, Varadero, Fantastica, Green Sirensis
So moving on from where I left last...we are ready for the drainage layer!!!

There are a few different options. I will be using Growstones. I've used them over hydroton in my past couple builds and I love it! Much cheaper than hydroton/LECA and much turn leads to a lighter vivarium. I found a large bag at my local hydroponics store and this is what it looks like.
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First off before putting your Growstones into your tank, I take the PVC pipe device and set it in the tank near the front. Much easier to do this now. Then, you want to rinse the growstones off in water to remove debris and dust. I would then dump the stones in the vivarium, filling it roughly 2" high. I'd suggest filling the stones around the PVC pipe first, then filling the rest of the tank. Here are a few shots.
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Next, the substrate barrier. I use a window screen you can find at Lowe's. It comes in a huge roll, so you will have plenty for additional builds. What I've found to be easy, is to roll out the screen on top of the tank, generously cut around the tank, then place the screen into the tank. This gives you lots of playroom, but not TOO much! Cram it into the back under the Great Stuff background as much as possible. This is what the product looks like and what your viv should look like when done!
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Time to go back to the PVC Pipe Smile You need to cut a + pattern over the pipe. After that, you take the corners and tuck it around the pipe. You now have access to your pipe when you need to drain!
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Time for substrate! Remember when I made some custom ABG? Time to put it to use. Take handfulls and lay directly onto the screen. You want to make sure you cram it into the under parts of the background and fill any small holes or gaps best you can. I usually put around 2"+ of substrate. It is really starting to take shape!!
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PLANTS!!! I've sterilized all my plants before using them and strongly suggest doing so. You can find exact methods on this forum, but I use a 10% bleach solution on my plants to kill off any and all baddies. After the bath, you should rinse and stick them to grow elsewhere for a week or so.

Here it is after being planted. I may be a little "plant happy", but the Fants will really appreciate an overgrown viv. I'm not sure of all the species, but looks good so far and about done!!!
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This is when you add your leaf litter. Putting thick leaf litter is not only helpful for springs and isos, but will provide your frogs with extra hides. Very beneficial for any vivarium!

Who's ready for the finished vivarium?!?! Scroll down!!!
Fine Spot Leucs, Bakhuis, Variabilis, Varadero, Fantastica, Green Sirensis
The finished vivarium!! Ta-Da!!!

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I am really happy how it turned out! I added the leaf litter, film cans, and some other wood accents "devil ears" in the substrate. I will be adding springs and isos today or tomorrow to populate the vivarium. You should let your vivarium grow in for atleast a week before adding any frogs. This gives you time to monitor the tank for any issues such as great stuff peeling from a certain spot or a particular plant is dying and needs removed/replaced. This is MUCH easier to do in a empty me....I know Wink

Thanks for following and watching my build. Hopefully some of the newer members learned a thing or two and anybody can create a beautiful vivarium with a little work! Smile I will update this sometime next week when my Fants are introduced.
Fine Spot Leucs, Bakhuis, Variabilis, Varadero, Fantastica, Green Sirensis
Very nice design! I used a similar layout w branches for my CV Fants and it seems to be ideal for them. Not sure how strong your lights are, but I use those cryptos and like em, however I found the pink fades unless they are closer to the light.
Scott - North Dallas
Thanks Scott. That is good to hear about the branch layout.

I've had a few cryptos before, but they don't stay "as pink" as when I first put them in. Using a simple 6500K tube.
Fine Spot Leucs, Bakhuis, Variabilis, Varadero, Fantastica, Green Sirensis
So my Fants are ready to go into their new home today! I introduced them and they have been exploring ever since. Here are a few shots!

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Fine Spot Leucs, Bakhuis, Variabilis, Varadero, Fantastica, Green Sirensis

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