My turtle vivarium: - Page 3 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #31 of 39 (permalink) Old 06-12-2007, 01:27 AM
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I had a few leaks in my walls, just on the rear support walls, I was really questioning whether or not this needs to me watertight. I thought about just drilling some holes in the acrylic and then the water would be able to cycle through, yet I concluded that wouldn't really do anything unless I wanted to put a powerhead or something over there....and I don't. So watertight it is.

Picked up another tube of silicone and away we go.

and by the way, you should get that bbq site back up, I had a online kitchen video,, but my server crashed and I lost everything, which is a bummer.

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post #32 of 39 (permalink) Old 06-13-2007, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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Mine are absolutely not water tight. The coconut fiber and other substrate materials I used don't seem to be bothered by it or filter out into the water. The plants seem to grow just great in the swampy substrate.

The BBQ site is running again as of last month.
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post #33 of 39 (permalink) Old 07-03-2007, 10:33 PM
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Nice set up. I like it a lot. I had a RES as a kid, was a great pet. Currently, I have a leopard tortoise, much less messy than the water variety... I love water turtles, but Don't particularly want the work.

Actually, the size law is a federal law passed in the 70's to prevent spread of salmonella. No turtle or tortoise under four inches in size may be sold other than for educational purposes. (o.k., my Hermes was under 4", but he did visit my math classroom, and it's not illegal to buy them, just to sell them at that size). This law came about when there were tons of RES (and other turtles) in tiny bowls in dime stores, and they were tiny. There were tons of salmonella concerns about it (water turtles are worse than tortoises cause they poo in the water and spread the salmonella around more, but all reptiles carry some salmonella risk, just like all cows and people have e-coli in their guts). I wish the law had been passed for the sake of the turtles (tiny turtles living six months in a bowl only to die a horrid death is not good).

I usually only carry tortoises or mostly land turtles at my store. I don't like the mess of the water turtles, and no one wants to house them properly--20 long tanks, no lighting etc. SIGH. I also get tons of people wanting dime sized or quarter sized turtles. I explain the law and they are pissed. they say I had a turtle that lived six months as a kid, it did great. Uh huh, try sixty years for a life span....

There are many tourist traps and other places that sell small turtles, but they are usually shut down fairly quickly. I call the authorities on any I find out about around here... it's just a horrid predicament for the turtles, even if the law is only about salmonella, if it can save a few turtles, all the better.

now, someone recently came in and bought a huge 75g set up for her turtle, and all the works, and a great big cannister filter and tons of great lighting. Basically asked me to go through with her, and recommend the best of the best products for her turtle. That was awesome. Not only did I make a great sale, but I also knew an animal was being well cared for. Those kinds of customers make me really happy!

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post #34 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-09-2009, 06:20 PM Thread Starter
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Bumping this old thread because I have just started construction on a sequel to this vivarium!

I moved to a new apartment this past summer. The tank was impossible to move with the land area intact, and the silicone holding the land area retaining walls in place had started to give out anyway. I chose to remove the landmass entirely, and ever since my turtle has been stuck with a barren tank containing only a 'floating turtle dock' for land. Needless to say he has been giving me the dirty eye ever since.

You can see above where the plastic had begun to separate, and how the cork paneling was falling apart. For those wondering, the cork lasted about three years fully submerged before it began to disintegrate.

Version 2
I have been planning the second coming of this tank since around November. My primary goal is to correct a flaw with the original design: the land mass wasted a lot of swimming space. By creating a wall, I had a land area that was as deep as the water, roughly 14 inches. This is far more soil depth than the plants needed for rooting, and wasted a lot of space that could have been used for swimming.

As shown above, the big change to the design is to move to a shelf for the land, rather than a full wall. This will open up a lot of space under the landmass for swimming area, and provide a nice dark underwater cave for the turtle to sit in when he should feel so inclined. The shelf will be supported by two log columns.

Aside from this change, I am preserving the main layout: a lowered "beach" that will be slightly below the waterline, making it easy for the turtle to climb out. This will be filled with gravel and rocks, and have some focused light for sunning. A few inches up from that will be the primary landmass, which will be filled with soil and planted. As before, the front of the landmass will be covered with cork, and this time I will also be covering the back wall of the tank. I'm hoping some climbing plants and moss can utilize this as a growing surface.

I built the first prototype out of acrylic, and quickly realized that it was unable to span the distance between the two columns without bowing. Unable to source a thicker plastic locally, I talked to my father about using wood (he is a boatbuilder and lobsterman in Maine). He said that I could easily expect several years of structural integrity using wood, so I moved ahead with that.

The platform was constructed out of three pieces of pine: the shelf bottom, front, and a divider between beach and land areas. I used stainless steel wood screws and Gorilla Glue to attach the pieces, and then sealed the seams with silicone.

Next I cut some cork panels, and attached those to the front of the shelf with finishing nails and Gorilla Glue. I left an angle where the land and beach join, to help disguise the transition. You can see above the finished shelf sitting on the log columns.

Tonight I intend to borrow a small tank from a friend as a temporary space for the turtle, so I can drain his tank and mount the shelf. I have some new coconut fiber for the land, but still need to source some gravel and rocks for the beach.

If you'd like to follow a long, I'm publishing information on my Aquarium blog (I also use this for my reef tank, so expect a bunch of mixed information), and I will update this thread as I go!
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post #35 of 39 (permalink) Old 07-23-2009, 05:31 PM
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I would love to see your final results! A friend gave me 4 turtles (little RES, 2 inch long) that one of his clients gave to him (hes a vet, the owner of the RES didnt want them anymore).

They gave me a "turtle home" which is barely enough right now, so Im thinking about building a nice terrarium with natural plants, and keeping just 2 turtles (4 is too much of a mess and they are growing under my care).

Any ideas about the tank size? I was thinking on dividing the "land" section from the water section with a glass divider, and planting some house plants on the back, using driftwood ramps for the Res to climb.

What kind of bulbs do you use for them?
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post #36 of 39 (permalink) Old 07-23-2009, 06:09 PM
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Really nice results! Hopefully that pine wont rot.

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post #37 of 39 (permalink) Old 07-23-2009, 07:15 PM
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Very inspiring!

I was trying to make a viv / paludarium like this for my Crested Gecko (they're temperate rainforest dwellers so I figured the water would keep the humidity up while adding a neat aspect to the tank. I had trouble getting it all water tight but now I'm wondering if I even need to, perhaps I will try again! In fact, I like the idea of supporting the land mass above and allowing the water to be under....perhaps i just need to look into a different style!

You've inspired me to try again I think!

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post #38 of 39 (permalink) Old 08-31-2009, 09:33 PM
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This is awesome. I know this is 2 years ago, are you in still in the Boston area?
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post #39 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 07:42 AM
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I like it, but the turtle is going to outgrow that tank really fast.
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