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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-18-2019, 06:04 AM Thread Starter
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The Woods Vivarium

Hey Guys! I wanted to make a thread about my upcoming build for my American Toads and others. It's still a secret because I don't want to spoil all the surprises but I have a huge update! If you followed Frog Week on the forum then you already know the names of my two American toads going in this setup Ace and Pious.

The Woods is being constructed little by little...

The Woods will shock you guys with the future plans for this enclosure and the ecosystem that will live inside of it.

Ace and Pious are patiently awaiting the 125 gallon to be completed so they can get out of quarantine! Both toads are doing great and there is a lot to be excited about for them.

I will explain more of the specs of the enclosure. At least what I want to reveal so far. This is a prototype "Smart" Enclosure with some neat tricks being attempted. Amazon's Alexa will control many features from the wifi. I will have smart devices and smart plugs to accomplish this incredible feat. Alexa will control the fogger whenever it turns on every day. She will control a small secondary UVB and UVA light to help the inhabitants get D3 if they sit under this specific light. Alexa will control the sounds of the room! Birds chirping, thunderstorms, mating calls, etc Alexa will control it all! This is to help stimulate the amphibians because sound can be very important for amphibians. The sound will be from speakers and one of my devices that will play either the night, day, or weather that is desired. One more thing she will control is a digital picture frame. This will show pictures of the tank, the name, what's in it and will shuffle through a few pictures. This also plays sounds so it will rotate with the device controlling the speakers. So I can have one device for the day noises and one for the night and Alexa will control all of it!

Other notable mentions are other smart devices not controlled by Alexa. A humidifier will be running for stability and I will be able to see from my phone and even adjust the humidity if I need to. Next year I will be purchasing a smart air conditioning unit to control as well from my phone the temperature for day and night cycles. This is all leading up to how I'm going to be able to see these devices and see if Alexa is doing her job. A security camera will be in front of the 125 gallon stall times and will monitor the enclosure and the various hygrometers that will be displayed for me to see the reading in the room and in the tank. That is not the only reason why I purchased a security camera. This camera will go inside the enclosure for action shots and will directly record footage of the animals eating from inside of the 125 gallon! So Ace or Pious could come right up and jump on the security camera. It will bring an added dimension of angles for me to shoot from. I'm very excited for the camera! It's called The Woods Action Cam!

Other devices include the MicMol Aqua Air LED Light Fixture making a return to light the enclosure primarily. The Monsoon returns as the Exo Terra Monsoon Multi will mist the enclosure on its own. It will be setup to run on its built in timer. I decided to go with the monsoon multi because it seems to work better with power outages and my area has too many power outages to use the mistking. I'm happy with the Monsoon Multi or else I wouldn't have chosen it! This is a great misting system and I'm very excited to have it. I have experience with the exo terra misters. I owned the monsoon rs400 when I was first starting out and that lasted me many years. Another device and most importantly is the mini fridge. The mini fridge will have all of the Native species inside of it come this winter and will hibernate all of them into the next spring with the attempt and hope of breeding them. Along with breeding them it creates a longer lifespan for the animals in hibernation. So this is actually very essential to do if you want to keep your amphibians around as long as possible.

I will be getting better technology to film this enclosure so probably around the time I'm ready to release the first episode I will already have the technology needed. There are so many things I could go over but for now I'm happy with leaving you with the specs of the tank. You will have to check back to learn more about the future of the 125 gallon.

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-22-2019, 04:01 AM
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Originally Posted by PA Woods Vivariums View Post
Hey Guys! I wanted to make a thread about my upcoming build for my American Toads and others. It's still a secret because I don't want to spoil all the surprises but I have a huge update! If you followed Frog Week on the forum then you already know the names of my two American toads going in this setup Ace and Pious.

The Woods is being constructed little by little...

The Woods will shock you guys with the future plans for this enclosure and the ecosystem that will live inside of it.

Ace and Pious are patiently awaiting the 125 gallon to be completed so they can get out of quarantine! Both toads are doing great and there is a lot to be excited about for them.

I will explain more of the specs of the enclosure. At least what I want to reveal so far. This is a prototype "Smart" Enclosure with some neat tricks being attempted. Amazon's Alexa will control many features from the wifi. I will have smart devices and smart plugs to accomplish this incredible feat. Alexa will control the fogger whenever it turns on every day. She will control a small secondary UVB and UVA light to help the inhabitants get D3 if they sit under this specific light. Alexa will control the sounds of the room! Birds chirping, thunderstorms, mating calls, etc Alexa will control it all! This is to help stimulate the amphibians because sound can be very important for amphibians. The sound will be from speakers and one of my devices that will play either the night, day, or weather that is desired. One more thing she will control is a digital picture frame. This will show pictures of the tank, the name, what's in it and will shuffle through a few pictures. This also plays sounds so it will rotate with the device controlling the speakers. So I can have one device for the day noises and one for the night and Alexa will control all of it!

Other notable mentions are other smart devices not controlled by Alexa. A humidifier will be running for stability and I will be able to see from my phone and even adjust the humidity if I need to. Next year I will be purchasing a smart air conditioning unit to control as well from my phone the temperature for day and night cycles. This is all leading up to how I'm going to be able to see these devices and see if Alexa is doing her job. A security camera will be in front of the 125 gallon stall times and will monitor the enclosure and the various hygrometers that will be displayed for me to see the reading in the room and in the tank. That is not the only reason why I purchased a security camera. This camera will go inside the enclosure for action shots and will directly record footage of the animals eating from inside of the 125 gallon! So Ace or Pious could come right up and jump on the security camera. It will bring an added dimension of angles for me to shoot from. I'm very excited for the camera! It's called The Woods Action Cam!

Other devices include the MicMol Aqua Air LED Light Fixture making a return to light the enclosure primarily. The Monsoon returns as the Exo Terra Monsoon Multi will mist the enclosure on its own. It will be setup to run on its built in timer. I decided to go with the monsoon multi because it seems to work better with power outages and my area has too many power outages to use the mistking. I'm happy with the Monsoon Multi or else I wouldn't have chosen it! This is a great misting system and I'm very excited to have it. I have experience with the exo terra misters. I owned the monsoon rs400 when I was first starting out and that lasted me many years. Another device and most importantly is the mini fridge. The mini fridge will have all of the Native species inside of it come this winter and will hibernate all of them into the next spring with the attempt and hope of breeding them. Along with breeding them it creates a longer lifespan for the animals in hibernation. So this is actually very essential to do if you want to keep your amphibians around as long as possible.

I will be getting better technology to film this enclosure so probably around the time I'm ready to release the first episode I will already have the technology needed. There are so many things I could go over but for now I'm happy with leaving you with the specs of the tank. You will have to check back to learn more about the future of the 125 gallon.

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Oh man this looks lovely!


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 07:49 AM Thread Starter
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The ecosystem of the upcoming project "The Woods"

In this update I'll talk about plant life, soil, feeders and the climate.

First up the plant life...
This is going to be very interesting. I have my go to plants back, some risky attempts, and some hopefuls as well. The main plants are the Autumn Brilliance Fern and Pachysandra. Pachysandra is a ground cover like an ivy. It gets tall and spreads with runners. Both work very well in vivariums. Those are my favorite go to plants. As for the hopeful plants it's I believe an Asparagus Fern more like ivy and Black Eye Susan. I'm hoping both will work out and will add more variety to the enclosure. One risky plant are actually scallions. They aren't toxic if feeders eat the scallions and the toads eat the feeders. I am not overwhelming the tank with them because it could cause a very strong smell. The smell right now is not very strong it's very manageable but if there are any problems I will definitely remove the scallions. There is one more plant that I am taking a risk on but I will not reveal that at this time you will have to wait for this spoiler to be revealed unless it dies beforehand.

The soil and important parts...
I am using ABG mix and Zoo med repti soil for my base and primary soils. They contain things like sand, sphagnum peat moss and coco husk as well as charcoal. I have heard wonderful things about ABG mix and I have been very successful raising perennials in the Zoo med repti soil. In this year's update I am going to add a layer of moss to cover the majority of the enclosure and then add leaf litter over top of sections of the enclosure. The moss can create humidity and the leaf litter will break down and feed my clean up crew and make the soil more bioactive. I have sand and Exo Terra bio drain before my soil I'm hoping to create a barrier to keep my soil dry. The moss will help to hydrate the animals and plants. It will create a very interesting look for the enclosure.

Feeders...
This is one of the most interesting parts of this enclosure. I want to make sure that I create an artificial seasonal changing feeder menu for my toads. Accomplishing this can be difficult but I have around 12 feeders that I'm hoping to incorporate during different seasons that I will be creating. I will include all of the feeders whenever the enclosure is finished and I can create the actual thread for it. I will explain one of the most ambitious ideas that I am going to try.

I am going to attempt to capture wild crickets and grasshoppers and potentially a species of wild isopod, and then culture them and hopefully breed generations to remove any parasites or problems the original insects had. While there can be serious issues collecting wild insects with parasites and pesticides and other things the wild feeder program for my animals will not be included for a very long time many generations after the wild caught insects pass.

I would really like to incorporate different insects to use and not only would this put my project over the edge but it would also give me a chance to show the importance of native insects and their rule in the wild. As I said this is a very ambitious idea and I could do the same thing with different captive crickets but I am hoping to accomplish something very unique. Nobody has grasshoppers and nobody can sell grasshoppers so the only way to use them is to catch them yourself in the states.

I think that the addition of grasshoppers and hopefully some wild insects will increase the diet of my animals. I have many other reasons for what I want to attempt reading these three specific insects.

Climate...
the climate is something I'm very very excited about and I have high hopes to accomplish something that may not have ever been done publicly. My goal is to in the winter have hibernation and then after the hibernation process I want to attempt to recreate the nearly exact environment of the area in Pennsylvania these animals were found in. I want to have as close to the proper temperature, humidity, dew point and possibly the UVB exposure for these animals. I want to have highs and lows just like a regular day and night cycle would.

That means having shorter days to longer days back to shorter days right before hibernation. I will be trying to recreate rain storms (especially in the spring) to hopefully induce breeding from inside the 125 gallon. I also want to have foggy days, thunderstorms and even droughts! All of these things happen in the wild and I don't want to cause any harm to the animals I just want to give a safe artificial representation of the most that I can to help my animals understand what time of the year it is.

With rotating feeder insects and having changing seasons with more or less lighting and having weather conditions I'm really hoping for a breakthrough keeping my animals this way. Whenever the enclosure is done I will have even more specifics on the climate the feeders and much more. This is just to get you excited about this project. Hopefully it will have real life ecological success as well as captive care and education hopefully raising the bar for keeping these native animals in a newer and innovative way.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-31-2019, 05:58 AM Thread Starter
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Ace and Pious finally went home...

This is an update on the 125 gallon"The Woods" Vivarium inspired by Western PA. The tank isn't finished but it's enough to have inhabitants at least toads. So I figured Ace and Pious have been through so much that before hibernation they deserve a chance to go home. They are officially out of quarantine. Since December and January Ace and Pious haven't been home and after a near death battle with nematodes they appear well enough to go home. Most of the devices aren't up yet but that's okay. They don't need them to survive. The plants have been settled in and the water feature settled in so it was time for the toads to as well. They aren't going to be alone, but I'm not going to ruin the surprise for anyone.

One thing that's working is the security cam. Or I should say "The Woods Action Cam" which is the name of the camera. Ace wasn't sure what to make of the camera so she lunged at the lens. Pious tried digging to hide under it. I'm very happy to get different shots from the action Cam for future videos. One great feature is the night vision. Can you spot Ace in pics below?

Some bad news for the Gray Army though. So tonight Babe the Gray Tree Frog had another prolapse. This could be from too many crickets or the nematodes again. I got the prolapse to go back in but now a plan of action needs to be taken. Hopefully we can figure this out and get the problem fixed. If the nematodes are back and attacking the Grays then they all have to be dewormed again and soonish because October or November they will be hibernating. Same for the toads. Ace, Pious and Wellsboro who I have no update on because he's doing well all have to make it to the finish line. If they can hibernate without getting the nematodes I can focus on the grays and once they are done hibernate them and then finish the parasites off that are after the exotic animals.

It might be a difficult road ahead but hopefully the toads can remain healthy until hibernation. Hopefully the grays can be dealt with and fixed ASAP.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-31-2019, 06:05 AM
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Nice! I love how they are checking out the cam in the tank. So cute!
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 02:13 AM Thread Starter
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Tonight is light up night and introducing the inhabitants of "The Woods"

Tonight is light up night! The Monsoon Multi, Evergreen Pet Supplies Fogger and Mini Fridge were all turned on. When I say light up night I mean for the mini fridge specifically but hey I also got two other devices up too!

Now the plants over the winter will have what they need to flourish! Ace and Pious will also have rain and fog now!

I'm not even going to keep you waiting because everyone has been waiting all summer to find out who will live in the 125 gallon. Obviously Ace and Pious are already living inside so you know of two. They are not alone however...

I want to make clear that I did not have intentions of keeping this animal with the toads but I was convinced when I heard zoos had been doing this with success I was considering it. Then it's up to the toads if this will work or not. So I was surprised to know that 0 toads ate this animal but it's an intermediate at least setup to keep these two together. Humidity isn't necessarily a problem with a big water area and mist and fog. Temperature isn't necessarily either because I have highs and lows. Toxins being mixed were a worry but I was told from two herpetologists that it's only if the animal is threatened meaning any amphibian secretes toxins meaning if stressed, but not through sharing the same water. Plus water changes are a necessity. Like I said I had to test my toads to see what would be their reaction to the other animals. Ace more so than Pious. Ace struck the animal to taste and see what it was, then she looked like she got a nasty taste and left it alone. So Ace would not attack because toads and frogs learn from toxin and pain not to eat something so one attempt is all it takes and the toads learn. So all is well. So to clear that out of the way I can now tell you who will be living with Ace and Pious this and next year.

The original plan was wood frogs but I opted out for many reasons. They have a higher probability to have diseases the toads don't and they need cooler temps my toads did. My toads were caught in a valley just below the mountain so they actually do like upper 70s for highs like 73-77 will be good. This is suitable for another.

A pair of Gray Tree Frogs. Bane who lived with them last year will join them again and a new face the female Melania. Melania doesn't have many pictures but she's fierce and will challenge Ace and Pious to become the alpha in the ecosystem. Female grays get to a very decent size and Melania and Bane are the largest two grays I own. But it's mainly because of the tolerance the toads have for them this can work.

For instance this won't work with Wellsboro because he is too aggressive he might not taste the gray tree frog he might try to grab and eat. So he will not live with anything else except the offspring of Ace and Pious that will be his mate.

So it is set that Ace, Pious, Bane and Melania will live in The Woods. This enclosure is different from any other. You see a dominant animal in all the others, but in the 125 gallon all the animals will be competing and it will be a wild journey to show all four of them as they endure the artificial climate that the 125 gallon The Woods will replicate.

No videos this year will be of The Woods because it needs to be 100% finished with healthy animals and all devices and plants. So only pictures until spring. Bane is in quarantine recovering.

As I said it's an intermediate project and not able to be accomplished with every toad and tree frog but because of the size and accessories of this enclosure as well as the vet and my experience and knowledge of both, it can be done. I never thought both could be kept together and I persuaded others from it and I admit I was wrong with thinking it could not happen but after being educated more on the pairing I feel pretty confident about this. It will be the only tank featuring both species.

I kept them together last year but I was not aware of what I am now so things should be much smoother.

What do you think of The Woods?


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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-21-2019, 07:58 AM Thread Starter
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Melania enters The Woods...

Tonight Melania the female Gray Tree Frog was placed in her home. She joined Ace and Pious inside the large 125 gallon. I turned the fogger on a little bit for her, turned the misting system on and let her get settled in. She was confused because all she had ever known was being in a small quarantine enclosure, and now she probably can't believe the room she has! She had to come face to face with the top predator in The Woods, Ace! It set up for almost a scary moment because Ace came out and immediately stared at Melania to see if I put more food in. Melania was still for a minute and then Ace lost interest and Melania looked around on the floor. Then Pious came out from the other side of the enclosure. He watched her too but did not associate her as food. Neither toad lunged at her.

Ace looked confused because she only knows I put food in for them (for her) and she didn't see any food so she thought something was up. She hopped around a good bit looked at Melania a little bit followed her then ignored her and hasn't looked at her since. So far so good. Ace is hungry so to anyone reading saying it's only a matter of time don't be so sure. She is putting on weight for hibernation and she will snap at Pious the male toad if he gets too close. So for Ace to be reserved while being a bottomless pit for a stomach may indeed prove what I was educated on to be true. Melania tastes noxious!

Ace was tested a while ago with Bane and she went to him snapped out her tongue then tried wiping it off. She made a disgusted face and she basically got to taste his toxin. Toads and frogs store pain and toxic and other experiences so Ace must have remembered that the Grays are toxic. Nothing else that entered The Woods lasted more then 20 seconds. I actually know this because I have a camera I played back and she was deviating the prey. So something would definitely be up. Let's hope Ace know Melania is not prey and peace continues. We will see how feeding goes tomorrow if Melania will even come out. I suspect she will come out in a few days after she settles in.

This was a huge step forward and now Melania can begin the hibernation protocol! These pictures will be up on on my animals Facebook page later on in albums but I'll share them here so you see some of the best pictures and scenes from tonight!

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-12-2019, 08:40 AM Thread Starter
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Some good and bad news...

I got Bane's stool sample back and he was positive with the parasites again. It's frustrating to know they are still alive and trying to kill the animals of the PA Woods Community. The inhabitants of The Woods have gotten it the worst for some time now and the nematodes aren't going to give up it appears. Neither am I. The worst part of finding them is that it could mean Bane passed it to all the other grays. Guess where Melania is now. She's with the toads. In the 125 gallon. So this might mean some bad news. Do I think Melania has the parasite? I do. I'm not 100% sure and even if I am at this point it's just going to mean she has to move out and join Bane and Christian in the quarantine enclosure.

It's going to sound backwards but the Gray Army will actually be 100% dewormed and safer in the quarantine enclosure then the 125 gallon. So they will be hibernating after Wellsboro a member of the Frog Forests. I want to ensure everyone who hibernates is clean and parasite free so I am able to wipe it out in the other animals once they sleep. Finally Ace and Pious will move into the quarantine enclosure when it's their turn to prepare to hibernate. Even though they are in the blast zone of the parasite right now they might be the most protected being the last to be dewormed and then hibernate.

While this is a difficult battle my strategy as unorthodox as it is may be the only way to ensure victory. I will make sure to give an update on the status of Ace and Pious and the Gray Army soon.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-21-2019, 06:57 AM Thread Starter
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Some coming and some going...

If you just checked out my other thread or if you have been following me on various places you would know that I have been talkin about my gray tree frogs and now how they are going to live in their own setup. due to the reason of these tree frogs having the parasites still and also the 125 gallon looks more terrestrial than it does welcoming for an arboreal species it just makes sense that the two would be separated. The 125 gallon animals are going to be joined together with Wellsboro and the unnamed female toad. This will be the first time all four of the toads will live together. It is going to make for a very interesting set up watching how Ace and Wellsboro or going to interact. The last time they were together they were battling to figure out who was going to be the alpha. with them both completely healthy we could be seeing a very interesting battle of the toads.

I'm not going to give away all the details of what I'm going to do with the toads but I just felt it was a very important comment to make about the separation between the toads and the Gray Army.

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