Need to Pick Your Brains on a Water Feature for a Terrarium
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:12 PM   #1
Wy Renegade
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Need to Pick Your Brains on a Water Feature for a Terrarium


So, in my horticulture and landscaping class, one of the projects that we do is related to interiorscaping. I have students come up with a design for on of my terrariums, and then I select the best one or ones and we build it. For example, last year in the spring, we did this in a 10 gallon tank;



This fall, the students designed a subtropical terrarium;


In the past, I've always avoided water features, because I wasn't sure how to do them on this small of scale. However, I've been learning , and so when they proposed on this year I said ok. We built it out of foam and covered it with epoxy then added sand and rock to give it a more natural look;


Here's what it looks like in the tank;


and we've got some "arrow-leaf" type plants to plant around it.

Now I know that this isn't perfect, and we're limited in our plant selection this time of year to Home Depot and WalMart, so not a lot of choices. Unfortunately, I got in a hurry and didn't get enough epoxy down before adding the sand, so it leaks. So for the final project for the course, I've proposed to the students that they rebuild it. However, I would like to upscale it. I want to add a hose and pump to create water movement and perhaps a sonic fogger to keep humidity in the terrarium up as well. At some point I'd like to add anoles to the terrarium again.

Upscaling it means that it needs to be deeper on one end, with a structure built in to cover up the pump and fogger. We're looking at a total length of about 18", a width of 9", and a maximum depth of about 4.5".

I'm open to suggestions on alternative materials to use to create the thing, although it can't be too complicated. Suggestions on how to get a watertight seal. And suggestions on pumps or anything else you can come up with LOL.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:46 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wy Renegade View Post
So, in my horticulture and landscaping class, one of the projects that we do is related to interiorscaping. I have students come up with a design for on of my terrariums, and then I select the best one or ones and we build it. For example, last year in the spring, we did this in a 10 gallon tank;



This fall, the students designed a subtropical terrarium;


In the past, I've always avoided water features, because I wasn't sure how to do them on this small of scale. However, I've been learning , and so when they proposed on this year I said ok. We built it out of foam and covered it with epoxy then added sand and rock to give it a more natural look;


Here's what it looks like in the tank;


and we've got some "arrow-leaf" type plants to plant around it.

Now I know that this isn't perfect, and we're limited in our plant selection this time of year to Home Depot and WalMart, so not a lot of choices. Unfortunately, I got in a hurry and didn't get enough epoxy down before adding the sand, so it leaks. So for the final project for the course, I've proposed to the students that they rebuild it. However, I would like to upscale it. I want to add a hose and pump to create water movement and perhaps a sonic fogger to keep humidity in the terrarium up as well. At some point I'd like to add anoles to the terrarium again.

Upscaling it means that it needs to be deeper on one end, with a structure built in to cover up the pump and fogger. We're looking at a total length of about 18", a width of 9", and a maximum depth of about 4.5".

I'm open to suggestions on alternative materials to use to create the thing, although it can't be too complicated. Suggestions on how to get a watertight seal. And suggestions on pumps or anything else you can come up with LOL.
For simplicity, how about doing it like a dart frog tank. Large media drainage layer, substrate on top. Small boxed in section for the pump. I can source you a pump, no problem. (Call it a donation ). I can get more in depth tonight. Or you can go with a simplistic false bottom, like my mantella tank.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:47 PM   #3
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Btw.....i love the carnivores in the first tank. Awesome job by your students!!
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:54 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Fishies_in_Philly View Post
For simplicity, how about doing it like a dart frog tank. Large media drainage layer, substrate on top. Small boxed in section for the pump. I can source you a pump, no problem. (Call it a donation ). I can get more in depth tonight. Or you can go with a simplistic false bottom, like my mantella tank.
Well, my problem here is that I'm not totally sure the terrarium itself is waterproof. This a four foot by two foot terrarium with plastic bottom. It contains probes, wires, and a heat pad of some sort, which likely shouldn't be completely submerged in water.

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Btw.....i love the carnivores in the first tank. Awesome job by your students!!
They did do a nice job didn't they? I probably should take an updated picture, it looks much different now then it did then. Partially the result of a little judicial tampering by the instructor .
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:01 PM   #5
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I think you would pretty much have to go with some sort of false-bottom type set up. Regardless of how careful you are, water is probably going to end up outside of it's intended place at some point (especially if you put critters in there).

A false bottom allows it to drain out and return to the main reservoir.

I've heard warnings about not putting ultrasonic foggers directly in terrariums if you have critters, apparently some people have reported their critters crawling in/on them and getting injured/killed.

A pretty common thing a lot of people do is find one with a circular opening, and fix some pipe to it, and route the pipe into the terrarium/vivarium/paludarium.

check out dendroboard, they do a lot of this type of stuff.

And yeah, the carnivorous plant one is quite nice.
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:20 PM   #6
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Well, my problem here is that I'm not totally sure the terrarium itself is waterproof. This a four foot by two foot terrarium with plastic bottom. It contains probes, wires, and a heat pad of some sort, which likely shouldn't be completely submersed
Well, then it's a no brainer. Tupperware containers. I'll expound later. Or, build a'mini tank' out of plexi for a portion of the tank.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lochaber View Post
I think you would pretty much have to go with some sort of false-bottom type set up. Regardless of how careful you are, water is probably going to end up outside of it's intended place at some point (especially if you put critters in there).

A false bottom allows it to drain out and return to the main reservoir.

I've heard warnings about not putting ultrasonic foggers directly in terrariums if you have critters, apparently some people have reported their critters crawling in/on them and getting injured/killed.

A pretty common thing a lot of people do is find one with a circular opening, and fix some pipe to it, and route the pipe into the terrarium/vivarium/paludarium.

check out dendroboard, they do a lot of this type of stuff.

And yeah, the carnivorous plant one is quite nice.
I do expect that some water may get out, but keep in mind this is a planted terrarium. Some water isn't going to be an issue - I just don't think I can turn the entire thing into a submersed set-up. Thanks for the input on the fogger, so it either needs to be caged to prevent critters from getting to it or I need to use a different source.

I have done some looking at dendroboard, but they are usually using a waterproof container of some sort, with a false bottom to collect any water loss. I need something self contained. If you are aware of any threads that do something similar, I'd appreciate a PM .

I do appreciate the thoughts and input, as well as the compliment. I'll pass it along.

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Well, then it's a no brainer. Tupperware containers. I'll expound later. Or, build a'mini tank' out of plexi for a portion of the tank.
I'll look forward to seeing what you come up with. I've used tupperware and plastic containers in the past, but they always look fake, I'm hoping for something that can give me more of a natural look.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:11 PM   #8
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They did do a nice job didn't they? I probably should take an updated picture, it looks much different now then it did then. Partially the result of a little judicial tampering by the instructor .
yes they did. i would love to see an updated pic, if it's not too much trouble

and you do know the difference between an instructor and a teacher, right?
a teacher washes his hand after he goes to the bathroom, an instructor washes his hand BEFORE....LOL

sorry, that's an old one from a few friends of mine who were mechanics (like me) but are now instructors at tech schools.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:19 PM   #9
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Nice! I'll have to remember that one. I try and grab a picture and get it up tomorrow.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:20 PM   #10
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ok, here's what i am thinking. get yourself a nice sized tupperware tub. however big you want your water section to be. i would actually look for one that about a third of the tank. trim it's height to your desired height and you can build your false bottom in that. kind of like i said using plexi to make a mini tank inside the tank. something like this:

sorry for the dirty stuff, it's my not so ready for prime time carnivorous tank....lol
i hope you can get where i'm coming from on this. once it's trimmed, you can literally plant the sucker and it will go away. and your water feature and be framed out by branches and mosses so it doesn't look as geometric. i hope that makes sense. the most important thing is that you trim the sealing lip off the top, then it becomes a small open tank in the tank. otherwise, i have no freaking clue how to make a water feature in a tank that can't have water in it.....LOL
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:47 PM   #11
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Just a thought - haven't tried myself - if you don't want the plastic container to look so geometric - it might warp if after cutting the top rim off put it in a microwave. I know that a peanut butter jar gets all distorted from warming water in it in a microwave.

Looking forward to what you and your students create.
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:01 PM   #12
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That is a bloody brilliant idea!!
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:03 PM   #13
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Good idea. I've been considering/wondering if I exposed it to controlled heat, say like with a heat gun, if I could kind of control the warpage and mold it into the shape I desire? Then I could add foam and maybe try the titebond method to make the foam look more natural on the edge/outside and add sand and rock to the bottom.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:32 PM   #14
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Might work - I think that I'm going to try this to for the salamander's new tank. I was thinking of carving out some great stuff black pond to make the stream I don't think that I'll get it too look the way I want - a shallow dish that has been "heat curved" might do the trick.
Good luck with your build.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:38 PM   #15
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Thanks, you too!
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