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First Vivarium... need help

Before I do the "dumb" thing and just go out and buy an animal I don't know as much as I "should" about, I wanted to see if anyone could help me with some essentials for this hobby.

I have a 20 gallon tank, some eggcrate, pvc, and some wood. What type of substrate do PDFs need (or like)? Can I use some sort of gravel (like flourite or profile for plants)? I was thinking about using a powerhead and inverting the output upwards so it would pump water up to the surface of the high-end of my tank and let the water trickle down to the lower end. Is this not advisable? What type of plants SHOULD I use in this setup and are easy to start with? I have a glass top which I will need to fill in the back so the frogs cannot escape. I'm assuming I will need a heat lamp and some good lights to maintain temperature and humidity.

Sorry for the 1000 questions, but I read quite a few threads and information on websites about setting up a tank, but I haven't found too much about the details.

Thanks for any help in advance.

Hi Sardesign,

Welcome to the Den.

Your tank is a perfect size to work with. Since you have the eggcrate, you must already know about the false bottoms. I've used sphagnum moss , peat, orchid mix, or coco bedding for my substrate. I have a little bit of each in different spots for the different types of plants needs. Some roots like to be wetter than others. Than you can cover the bare spots with leaf litter, or live tropical pillow moss.
The powerhead/waterfall will be a plus for this type of setup, keeping the humidity up, and giving a visual pleasure.
For the top, what I did, is cut some 1/4 inch plywood to fit the gap where the plastic strip, on most store bought glass tops include, and cut this down the middle long ways. Then used half in front, and half in back of the glass top. I then drilled some holes along the wood strips, to allow a little air flow from front to back, and covered the holes with no-see-um netting to keep the fruitflies from escaping.
As far as plants go, there are hundreds of them. check out some of the distribs for ideas. Here are a couple of links with good descriptions to give you some ideas.

I don't think a heat lamp would be necessary, as long your room temps are comfortable, Most vivs run a little warmer from the heat from the lighting placed above them, then the room there kept in. not much, but usually a couple degrees. Its usually more of a problem to keep them cool enough in the summer. As far as the amount of light needed, That hat depends on the plants needs.
You want to plant it heavy, and let it grow out some. Use plenty of hides, and your frogs will feel much safer, and be more bold.
Hope this helps you out some, just keep doing your homework. There is a lot of great advice on here.

Good Luck!

hey rad3dad, awesome viv., feww questions...
what kinda log is that ?, I had one that wanted to mold and mildew cause it was always wet like that. Your water feature , how is it set up and what pump are you using, is it quiet enough ? Last Q... the fogger, what one are you using ? is it on a timer ? and is that your only source of misting ?
thank for the viewing, i really like the layout, i would like to emmulate it if you dont mind ? i have 4 already and a 29gal. sittin empty waiting for a great layout, think i found it, if you could answer these questions anyway.
thanks, tony.

I'd love to know as well. The water feature is great. In fact, I like the whole set up very much. It's amazing.

Thanks for the comps!

The log is one I had in a fish tank for a few years, not sure what kind of wood it is. I don't think it will last for very long, but seams to be holding up pretty good so far.

For the water feature, I am using a false bottom set up with a ramp going down in between the log and a piece of lace rock. I had a lot of cutting to do to get it to fit around the stump. The false bottom is several different pieces at different heights.
The rock curves to the front and was real thin in the middle of the curve at the top, so I used a screwdriver and chiseled out a hole big enough to fit some 1/2 in. tubbing through it. Behind the rock, I built the false bottom up high enough to be even with the top of the rock, and made a bottomless box with a removable top out of the egg crate. this is where I put the pump for the water fall. I forgot the name of the pump, found a link to it -

I heard these don't last long, but it has kind of a disposable price. I have had it running for over 6 months so far and still going strong. Its not noisy, all I hear is the trickle of the water from the fall (barely).

The fogger is an ultrasonic fogger from Walgreen's, that I rigged up to blow the mist in the tank. ... prod395405
The spout is removable, and I cut a gavel vac tube, I had laying around, to fit in place and routed the tubing to the top of the viv. I just turn it on by hand, but it could be set on a digital timmer.
I also use a hand sprayer to wash things down inside the viv.

I got rushed towards the end of the project because of approaching temps. and frogs needing to be shipped. I was going to make ( I am making) a slide in background. I will try to post pics of it later.

Keep us updated on your project, and feel free to ask any questions along the way.

thanks for all the tips, sounds kinda tedious as some of them can be.
obviously well worth it, i really like that design.
i'm interested to see your slip in bacground, i did one in a forty gallon corner tank, with a water feature, but the pump vibrated too much, so i pulled it out. not real happy with it over all, needs more plants and a better light, and maybe a whole new design, the frogs didnt seem to like it too much either, (their boldness disappeared after i put em in it.) i'll probably redo it soon, in a different style, so please post pics so i can pic your brain on that one too.
forgive me i'm fairly new to all this frog/viv. stuff. (6mo. into it. )
thanks again for your insight rad3dad.

Here's the background I'm working on.
[Image: DSC04122.JPG]

[Image: DSC04127.JPG]

I made it in two pieces so it will slide in better. I plan to remove the frogs for a couple of days, and silicone it to the back glass. Its the first time I've used the great stuff, and am pretty happy the way it turned out. I have tons of planting spots, and there will be several places for the frogs to hide out.

Hi Mike,
What was used as the template to form the background? I have not used Great Stuff before and am thinking of using it in a acrylic aquarium. Hence the need for a insertable background.
My experience with scratched acrylic leaves little to desire. I'm even careful using silicone on acrylic. I have yet to find an easy method for scraping the surface of acrylic with a razor blade to remove any substance.

Hey Todd,

I didn't really have a template to use.

I have another post about this background on another forum, that explains the whole adventure. I got a lot of advice on how to work with the GS, as this was my first time using it.

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