Inherited DIY 20G Vivarium - WWYD?! - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-01-2016, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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Question Inherited DIY 20G Vivarium - WWYD?!

So, I inherited a 20g aquarium that was converted into a vertical vivarium - everything has been done to it, and, as you can see below, includes everything but the flora and fauna.

Seeing as I want to do Poison Dart Frogs or some other amphibians in it, I want to know what you all would do to clean it out and disinfect it. Currently, I have pulled out all the expanded clayballs, the substrate (which was a mix of charcoal pieces, potting soil, and I think coconut hair, or peat). The bottom was completely covered in the clay balls, then a layer of mesh to cover the tubes that lead to the bulkhead, more clay balls, then mesh again, then substrate. I plan on bringing in a portable vacuum to get the last of the dirt out of there.

The only things I could not pull out were the branches - they were siliconed or glued or somehow affixed to the glass.

At the top, there is a hole for what I assume would be a misting system. It looks like the vivarium uses a bulkhead for drainage. I'd like your thoughts on what to do for both systems. I'll be positioning this tank next to my aquarium in my classroom.

This is my first vivarium and I definitely want to do this the correct way. All guidance and ideas are certainly welcomed!!

Here's the link to my album: https://goo.gl/photos/4HkRp5K5QwjKRWBY6

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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"I can't tell you how many people say they were turned off from science because of a science teacher that completely sucked out all the inspiration and enthusiasm they had for the course." ~Neil deGrasse Tyson.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 05:34 PM
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Thats a tough one to answer. I'm not sure what I would do that wouldnt potentially damage the work thats been done.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 06:19 PM
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Thats a tough one to answer. I'm not sure what I would do that wouldnt potentially damage the work thats been done.
Agree with thedood. Although I don't keep Poison Dart Frogs, my goal would be to recreate a part of the frogs natural environment. More importantly: creating a self-sustaining, maintenance-free ecosystem with what you have inherited. From what I can see in your pictures, you have many possibilities and a nicely designed Vivarium to work with. I'm sure you have already done your homework, but if you don't get the answers you are seeking from this forum, you may want to check out a PDF specialty forum like Dendroboard

Another link that may be of interest vivarium design and construction - The World of Frogs
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 06:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you both for your replies. It is an interesting challenge, but one that I hope can be solved.

After doing some more reading, I think I'm going to go either with diluted Novasan or a 10% bleach solution. Since school will be out for the next two months, I can keep the tank open to air it out. Hopefully by the end of July it will be good to go for set up.

I'll also take your suggestion @wastewater - I'll go to Dendroboard tonight. Thanks!

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-03-2016, 06:38 PM
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There's really nothing that complex done to it currently. It's drilled for draining which is good. I'd rip the foam back out and start fresh with a design you like/want. You can either do a new foam back and cover it in fiber, or use cork flats and do a mosaic, you can fill gaps with sphagnum, just pack it tight and the cork won't go anywhere.

Use more hydroton for the false bottom and either buy an ABG mix or make your own, and fill it with that. Figure 3 inches of hydroton, planting screen over it, then ABG mix for substrate. Seed it with springtails and isopods, plant it and let it establish for a month or so. Once established and things are going good, throw some darts in it!
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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So update on the tank: I completely tore it down, but still need to get rid of some big pieces of silicon and foam. Need to plan what I want to install in the tank, and how I want to configure it. A part of me is also thinking of simply getting an actual terrarium and building it up... Grr. I honestly don't know what to do.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by TheGreenWizard View Post
So update on the tank: I completely tore it down, but still need to get rid of some big pieces of silicon and foam. Need to plan what I want to install in the tank, and how I want to configure it. A part of me is also thinking of simply getting an actual terrarium and building it up... Grr. I honestly don't know what to do.
You are definitely on the right track... planning on what you want to install, and how to go about configuring it.

Were you thinking about acquiring a new terrarium/vivarium and starting fresh ("a part of me is also thinking of simply getting an actual terrarium and building it up")? If so, that's a viable option... especially if you think your inherited set-up won't pan-out to be practicable, and starts becoming more of a money pit instead of an enjoyment factor. Keep us posted on your ideas and progress.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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Wastewater that's exactly what I meant - just got from scratch/new products. Personally I don't know if the frogs would like the vertical versus horizontal orientation. Thoughts on that?

Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 11:15 PM
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With frogs as I see it, it can often be more of a "space available' question than what the frogs will like. Unlike fish who do have differing ideas of how far off the bottom to hang out, frogs are pretty much stuck to something. Whether that something is down or out is not a big thing. But who knows what a frog likes??
given it is a new project and new learning experience, I would go with what is on hand and not do much for new equipment until I found out more. Given a choice, a bigger, longer area may only give the frog a way to hide better. For enjoyment that may be the wrong move. being small fellows, I would look at tucking in things like small "tree" shaped items for them to climb/rest on.
But then I fully admit that my tanks/terrariums rarely stay the same for log as they grow and change just as often as my mind. Perfect is not in my realm for long as there are always new ideas popping up that require a bit of tweaking of things.

Assuming this is partly to attract and maintain class interest, is it not going to be a lot more interesting if the watcher can expect to see something new/ changed frequently? A learning experience for both you and the students doesn't mean you can't let them know it is fine to try and fail as long as one keeps trying and learning.
Where I work, we tell ourselves it is okay to go to school on equipment but you don't really start learning until it goes wrong!
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 02:51 AM
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Personally I don't know if the frogs would like the vertical versus horizontal orientation. Thoughts on that? Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
I believe the most common answer to this question is usually: depends on what species of PDF's you are housing. Verticial orientation is thought to benefit arboreal species whom supposedly use/take full advantage of their vertical space (height of the tank) more than terrestrial species. I think PlantedRich nailed it with the mention of "space available" & "who knows what a frog likes?" I also liked the statement: "doesn't mean you can't let them know it is fine to try and fail as long as one keeps trying and learning."

As I have come to learn throughout the years: regardless of how much experience you have, how much you know or how much you think you know ~ there is someone out there that has more experience and knows a whole lot more than you. The PDF hobby is kind of like the planted tank hobby... different ways to do things (what works for me may not necessarily work for you), and many varying opinions (and some of those exchanges of opinion can get really gnarly in a hurry): e.g., mixing PDF species, vertical vs. horizontal, hard or impossible to keep, and the list goes on and on.

I kept 3 PDFs in a 20 gal. horizontal during the early 90's for about a year. Now-a-days my memory from 15 years ago is what I call 'a bit fuzzy' (even fuzzier from 25 years ago)... not sharp or crystal clear by any means (kind of like those song lyrics by Jerry Garcia: "what a long strange trip its been") so I'm not the best candidate for providing accurate information about PDFs. I do know that my set-up incorporated a lot of wood, vines, cork, bromeliads & orchids (as my plants of choice), and it had a false bottom covered with leaf litter seeded with springtails with no drainage.

Lost interest, and gave my frogs away (D. tinctorius). Was heavily into discus breeding during the 80's into the early 90's. Jack Wattley was importing a few frogs into the USA during his trips to South America in the early 90's, so I was able to acquire a trio from him. Knowledge, technology, and husbandry regarding PDFs has changed much in the past 25 years, so hopefully other members will chime in with some advice. One thing that may be worthy of consideration in regards to vertical set-ups: lighting (especially when getting into heights of 26" or above). Might involve some creative engineering.

Last edited by wastewater; 07-23-2016 at 01:31 PM. Reason: ...
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