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Old 10-19-2013, 06:04 AM   #16
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The water section was originally planned so that it could be removed for cleaning. The reality of manuvering the whole thing out just cant work. So i will have to keep the main tub in the tank and plan on cleaning it out completely only once every month or so. I have a removeable section so that I can siphon all the water out and replace it weekly but I can only reach part of the tub for scrubbing. I have the tub sealed on all points and screened off from anything getting in. NO crickets are gonna make it in there and drown. If any drown in the main pool they will be easily spotted and removed. I have a duetto 100 filtering the water with 2 bags of charcol followed by 200ml of seachum for the organics. Should be some pretty darn clean water, especially if I do a 100% WC each week. Any thoughts on that plan??

Substrate is still up in the air but I am definately going to use the exo terra hardening clay. Probably soil capped with fine sand for the plant pots. I have tried to have no major source of impaction (for adult leos at least) however as in any real life biotope tank, the chance for impaction is elevated. I hope I dont offend any gecko fanatics. I am up for sugesstions as long as they will keep the natural look of the tank.

wondering about temperature as well. I hope the ceramic heater + light fixture + heat-tape heated cave + insane amounts of insulation surrounding 3 full sides of the enclosure will = a nice thermal gradient of 90 on the hot, left side and 75 on the moist cool side.

Also thinking about adding 2 laptop fans for air circulation. One drawing air in (somewhere in the hot side of the tank) and the other taking air out (moist side of tank). any thoughts?? I was thinking of running them on a timer.

Lastly, has anyone seen some nice naturalistic vivs for leos? If so, please post some inspiration for this build......... it is really dragging on and I am getting frustrated with it. I started to rush some things and already made some mis guided cuts on the BG..........ahhhh

As always, thanks for reading!

Last edited by Learner; 11-16-2013 at 09:22 PM.. Reason: gr
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Old 10-19-2013, 01:04 PM   #17
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" I still have to try and find some lizards!!!!"


That came out great besides Leos there are lots other ground dwelling geckos which would thrive in that .
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Old 10-31-2013, 04:27 PM   #18
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Updates? Really nice project.
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Old 11-03-2013, 05:37 AM   #19
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cowfish, thanks so much!! i am rescaping my amazon tank so i had to put the leo tank on hold for a bit i have some pics coming of the progress................ thanks for keeping up with the build!! waiting for some heat tape and supplies for the last cave to be built. this has been the most challenging build i have ever done, i really hope it turns out.
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Old 11-13-2013, 04:06 AM   #20
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heres a full tank shot of my progress. still more work than i can imagine. any comments on how i can make it better thus far? the transitions are still stickin out like a sore thumb but not for long! there are 10 different panels / pieces in there are right now, only 4 left to make.
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Old 11-13-2013, 04:28 PM   #21
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...any comments on how i can make it better thus far?
I think it would look much better in my living room
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Old 11-13-2013, 06:14 PM   #22
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I know its a little late now, but I strongly suggest you rethink your water section. Fresh water is vital. my reptiles rarely drink two day old water. Out of my 17 years of keeping and breeding reptiles I have never once seen any of my reptiles drink 4 day old water. Filtered or not I would be worried about bacteria buildup. When one of the leos poops in the water area the whole water system will have to be sterilized. Unlike most fish, reptiles are susceptible to water-born protozoan parasites such as amoeba, which can cause bloody diarrhoea & death very quickly. They are very prevalent in closed bodies of water with a high organic load.

Another concern I have is humidity. Leos love humid hides, but the rest of the enclosure needs to be relatively dry. Prolonged exposure to higher humidity will start to create health problems, such as bacterial infections(scale rot) r.i's and so on.

I would not use computer fans, they kill your thermal gradient. Remember reptiles can thrive in air quality that will kill a human. As long as you have a some venting I would not worry about.

I hope this helps you a little bit, and I wish you nothing but success with your project.

Regards, Patrick
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Old 11-14-2013, 06:56 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowfish007 View Post
I think it would look much better in my living room
thanks cowfish, man thats a beast of a tank for a living room........would soak up too much of mine and sure make my wife ornery!

Last edited by Learner; 12-02-2013 at 05:13 AM.. Reason: room
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Old 11-14-2013, 07:40 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by caliherp View Post
I know its a little late now, but I strongly suggest you rethink your water section. Fresh water is vital. my reptiles rarely drink two day old water. Out of my 17 years of keeping and breeding reptiles I have never once seen any of my reptiles drink 4 day old water. Filtered or not I would be worried about bacteria buildup. When one of the leos poops in the water area the whole water system will have to be sterilized. Unlike most fish, reptiles are susceptible to water-born protozoan parasites such as amoeba, which can cause bloody diarrhoea & death very quickly. They are very prevalent in closed bodies of water with a high organic load.

Another concern I have is humidity. Leos love humid hides, but the rest of the enclosure needs to be relatively dry. Prolonged exposure to higher humidity will start to create health problems, such as bacterial infections(scale rot) r.i's and so on.

I would not use computer fans, they kill your thermal gradient. Remember reptiles can thrive in air quality that will kill a human. As long as you have a some venting I would not worry about.

I hope this helps you a little bit, and I wish you nothing but success with your project.

Regards, Patrick
Patrick thanks for the great advice. Its never too late for modifications that make it better! I appreciate you taking the time to help. I too thought about and toggled over the water section a bunch. I planned on doing 100% WC each week but I can go every 3 days if necessary. I have a lot of help. Sanitizing will be more difficult because of the build parameters. If the leos will not become well trained and use the substrate as a toilet; and instead like to use the gently gurggling spring to have their morning movement, I may be in some trouble! lol. I think I can provide and maintain some good RO water for them to drink. But if I cannot, the design was such that I can easily drain the water section and insert a small, hand carved, rock bowl in its place. That I can easily change daily like most people prefer. Sure would be a shame as that section took some serious time and thought to make. It happens when you try and stretch your builds to be as naturalistic as possible. Wont be the first time I have had to make changes.

I have some nifty new gadgets in the science dept this year to test in all my tanks. Data on all dissolved gases, chem analysis, humidity and temp gradients, along with extensive microfauna studies. If there is a decent population of protazoa in any of my tanks, I will find out. I have a small army of students who are getting quite adept at using the compound light microscopes. A plankton sieve has been working quite well. Anyways, I'll give it a try.

Thermal gradient not easily maintained with fans..........good to know. They work great in my tropical biotopes but this desert thing is quite new for me. What about just one above the water section (assuming it works) to pull out moisture? The tank is 6 feet long......hopefully that will make it possible to maintain a nice dry spot for them. I guess we'll know soon enough.

Thanks again for the advice!

JD

Last edited by Learner; 11-14-2013 at 07:52 AM.. Reason: gr
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Old 11-14-2013, 03:51 PM   #25
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I would put the fan above the water with the flow of air being brought up and out of the tank. Then, ensure your basking area is as far from the water as possible to reduce evaporation. This should combat issues with high humidity.
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Old 11-14-2013, 04:02 PM   #26
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Quote:
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Patrick thanks for the great advice. Its never too late for modifications that make it better! I appreciate you taking the time to help. I too thought about and toggled over the water section a bunch. I planned on doing 100% WC each week but I can go every 3 days if necessary. I have a lot of help. Sanitizing will be more difficult because of the build parameters. If the leos will not become well trained and use the substrate as a toilet; and instead like to use the gently gurggling spring to have their morning movement, I may be in some trouble! lol. I think I can provide and maintain some good RO water for them to drink. But if I cannot, the design was such that I can easily drain the water section and insert a small, hand carved, rock bowl in its place. That I can easily change daily like most people prefer. Sure would be a shame as that section took some serious time and thought to make. It happens when you try and stretch your builds to be as naturalistic as possible. Wont be the first time I have had to make changes.

I have some nifty new gadgets in the science dept this year to test in all my tanks. Data on all dissolved gases, chem analysis, humidity and temp gradients, along with extensive microfauna studies. If there is a decent population of protazoa in any of my tanks, I will find out. I have a small army of students who are getting quite adept at using the compound light microscopes. A plankton sieve has been working quite well. Anyways, I'll give it a try.

Thermal gradient not easily maintained with fans..........good to know. They work great in my tropical biotopes but this desert thing is quite new for me. What about just one above the water section (assuming it works) to pull out moisture? The tank is 6 feet long......hopefully that will make it possible to maintain a nice dry spot for them. I guess we'll know soon enough.

Thanks again for the advice!

JD

You can always just section the water area off so they cant get to it, and use a small water dish that you can remove and hide easily. I forgot to address your feeding concerns in my last post. For the past 6 years I have been feeding my leopards meal worms exclusively. Some people don't feed them for fear of impaction, and rightfully so. To prevent impaction I feed a larger amount of small mealworms to my adults. There exoskeletons are not as defined as adults there fore they digest more readily. When I was breeding my leopards I did a little experiment. I started one hatchling on crickets and another on mealworms. Both dusted with calcium powder.(I use Repashy line of nutrients and I sware by them just incase you wanted to know) Although that wasn't nowhere near a good enough sample size to draw up anything conclusive, I still had the same growth rate.

I didn't realize how large this enclosure is. Your going to have to spend a good amount of time figuring out the parameters of this enclosure. Be ready to adjust things to suit your needs. Ill try to help you with problems that may arise to the best of my ability. You can always test a small computer fan over the water section to see if it will pull out the moisture. Although im not 100% sure how it will effect the humidity. I would avoid placing a heating element near the water section to reduce humidity.

How many leopards do you plant on putting in here? Im sure you are well aware of this but you need at least one hide per gecko. I would make at least two hides per gecko to give them more options. You will have to test the temperature in ech hide to make sure thy reach optimum temperature. I would also construct them so you can easly remove the animal(s) for maintenance.

Your going to do live plants correct? Have you figured out a substrate for them? I think I may have a link to plants that are\not toxic to leopards. Remember leopard geckos love to dig so be ready for them to mix up the soil. This goes without saying stay away from soil with any ferts or things of that nature. If your going to toss succulents in there I have a mass amount I can hook you up with if you want to go that route.

I have seen very few desert vivarium's built. So there is little info on the internet about them. One thing you need to thing about is drainage. I feel you should devise away to drain water from the soil just incase you over water. maybe a airline tube berried in the substrate about every foot so you can suck out excess water as well as water the plants without drenching the top layer of substrate. As it would most definitely increase the humidity.

Im late for work so I have to stop here. I will finish my thoughts today when I have time. Feel free to p.m me for any reason if you feel the need to. My inbox is always open. Hope you have a nice day.

Regards, Patrck
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Old 11-14-2013, 09:30 PM   #27
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Another thing I keep on forgetting to add is that most leopard gecko's among a large amount of geckos will pick one spot in there enclosure to defecate in. It makes cleanup a breeze. I sold almost all my leopard geckos around 5 years ago, I only kept my first that I have had for eight years now. Sence day one she has chose one corner to defecate in and has never gone outside of her toilet area.
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Old 11-15-2013, 04:09 AM   #28
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Cali,
More good info and some food for thought......always appreciated.

First: No heating element over the water. the hot area of the tank will be over 5 feet from the water section.

Live plants for sure: lots of them in there. They each have they're own carved section into the background. I planned each one to have a drainage that will empty nicely for evaporation. Succulents and sedge grasses of the mideast will dominate the tank. I have been collecting them and acclimating them for months now. Thanks for the offer on the plants, I may take you up on it.

Your right that there is very little literature out there on desert vivs. A few really nice ones but nothing I can seem to find with a lot of info on leos. I completely understand the implications and dangers of this naturalistic viv. I am trying to get as much of them covered as possible.

Not sure how many leos I am gonna put in there or how I am even gonna get a hold of them. Alaska is not known for its leo breeders. Any ideas would be much appreciated. I was thinking 1 male and 2-3 females.

Ok huge issue with the "easy" access to leos once they are inside the hides. Some will be easy to get at while others are not. I have one very large cave that is rigged with LED black lights and heat tape to ensure a good, dry, and warm hide. It can hold several adult leos at one time. There are also 6 other caves built into the rock hillsides. They are all plenty large enough for an adult leo to hide. I have temp probes in all major caves to determine temp gradients. There are also 5 ledge caves that will adequately hide an adult leo. They are not fully enclosed "caves" but with some foliage and well placed rocks, they will also offer great hiding spots. Thats a total of 12 good hiding spots for the leos................. 3 hides per gecko if i go with 4 leos.

more to come and thanks for staying with this one

JD
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Old 11-15-2013, 04:10 AM   #29
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I would put the fan above the water with the flow of air being brought up and out of the tank. Then, ensure your basking area is as far from the water as possible to reduce evaporation. This should combat issues with high humidity.
good idea! thats my plan
thanks
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Old 12-02-2013, 05:05 AM   #30
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I got the water section up and running this weekend along with some of the finsihing work on the big cave. I set some of the arid tillies and various plants on the running spring jsut to start getting an idea of what it may look like. I think i am going to have a tough time making this viv look super natural since most of the tank is foam and not substrate. time will tell i guess.
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