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  Topic Review (Newest First)
04-03-2013 07:42 AM
Soup12 I like it, but the turtle is going to outgrow that tank really fast.
08-31-2009 09:33 PM
Down_Shift This is awesome. I know this is 2 years ago, are you in still in the Boston area?
07-23-2009 07:15 PM
Karackle 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!
07-23-2009 06:09 PM
CL Really nice results! Hopefully that pine wont rot.
07-23-2009 05:31 PM
blackandyellow 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?
03-09-2009 06:20 PM
natx 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!
07-03-2007 10:33 PM
FireFly_1976 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!

06-13-2007 02:32 PM
natx 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.
06-12-2007 01:27 AM
boasist sweet.

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.
06-08-2007 09:05 PM
natx Lower section has 3 inches of course gravel and then the coconut/soil mixture, and then its top with two inches of the same gravel thats in the tank. The top layer keeps it from being knocked into the water. I don't know how it effects water quality, but I don't really care either since nothing is growing in it.

Having the soil there lets me grow that one plant in the corner. I think its the 'mondo grass' crap they sell at pet stores that isn't really aquatic. Its taken off like crazy growing emersed in that spot though, I can see the roots going all the way to the bottom of the tank.
06-04-2007 02:27 AM
boasist nice, I'll check on these parts this week, hopefully be able to get this in for a weekend project next week.

In your lower section, is that just built up with rocks, or did you use your coconut/soil mixture there as well. Did this effect your tank water at all?

I see that frog moss is dirt cheap really, so I'll see if I can find it locally to check its style.
06-04-2007 02:23 AM
natx I've had it setup for just a little over a year. The cork bark base holds up qute well, but the turtle likes to claw on it to pull himself up on to the land. He's pulled off quite a few chunks of various sizes, and in a few spots if you look close you can see the cork panel sans-bark. It still looks good though. I imagine you'd probably want to drain, dry and replace the panels every 2, 2.5 years or so in a permenant setup. As is, I'll probably end up moving to a bigger tank before its even an issue.

I basically made two enclosed sections, one slightly lower than the primary land area, so it serves as sort of a 'step', and also provides an area with about two inches of water and a basking stone. He likes to sit there, still sort of in the water but mostly dry and basking.
06-03-2007 11:39 PM
boasist cool, nice to have a some likeness here.

How has that bark been holding up? You have had the tank for how long now?

Edit - I see you ordered from herp supplies. Good thing, as I have been in touch with them extensively awaiting the arrival of the zilla combo dome. A setup like this is very nice, and I really would like to recreate your basking area in some fashion, I'm thinking more of a bow style in one of the corners. With a similar rock staircase.
06-03-2007 11:00 PM
natx I took a few new shots. The lighting on this tank (and my living room in general) makes it pretty hard to photograph: there is intense light in a very small space from the compact fluorescent fixture on the plants, and then little to nothing in the water space, since I'm not trying to grow and plants in there. I aimed his basking light as best I could into the water to help out, but these probably aren't much more useful than what you've already seen on my site.

Room shot:

Looking in:

Full tank:

Some crazy random house plant thats been growing like mad:

The lawn area, freshly trimmed:

Again, not terribly helpful in terms of figuring out layout or anything. I'm starting to plan a new, larger tank that will be less devoted to the land area and more open for swimming. I've got a few ideas around using the cork bark again to keep it natural looking, but I'm looking forward to seeing how your project progresses in regards to aquatic plants.
05-31-2007 12:58 AM
boasist agreed, on all counts, great setup. How are things now that the tank has been broken in?

EDIT - whoops! I liked this setup so much I went to the thread again and didn't even notice I had already posted.....Congrats again!!!
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