Mike welcome to plantedtank!
Very nice the both of them. The first one looks like a small chunk taken from the floor of the rain forest. Anything lucky enough to be living in there? Can you give some specifics on enclosure size and equipment. I'd love to attempt something like this one day but you say the submersed planted tank seems complex... from this side *this* looks complex.
Thanks for the comments, Mr JG, and thanks for the welcome. I'm always hoping to capture a bit of rainforest in every tank, but it's hard to make a really natural setting with most readily available materials.
I do have some animals in these tanks. Both contain O. pumilio
dart frogs (two different morphs/locatities) in the tanks. They are very interesting to keep and are somewhat arboreal, so they utilize much of the areas planted with epiphytes, like the bromeliads. These are unlike many other dart frogs, as the female remembers where she leaves each tadpole (usually in a plant with a leaf axil that can hold some water) and returns to it every few days to deposit a 'feeder' egg that is infertile and is the only food these tadpoles accept. This kind of reproductive behavior in dart frogs is called obligate egg feeding. Just a little trivia in case anyone ever asks..
These frogs are pretty small, about the size of a fingernail, so the tanks are modestly sized - the first tank is approximately a 20" cube and the second is 18w/18d/24"h. However, I'm learning that bigger is better when it comes to generating a naturalistic display. The kind of equipment I use in most tanks, in terms of electronics, is usually a freshwater compact florescent or standard flo, 6,500-6,700K is what most use, but I've used 10,000K in addition to 6,700K on the first tank and everything has grown all right. Sometimes a small sub pump is used for a water feature, but I don't make them often to avoid the loss of land area and the headache that making them tends to produce.
One thing I like to use in any tank that has plants sensitive to air movement, like many orchids, etc, is a small computer fan for internal circulation - internal because, unless the tank is very large, even a small fan exchanging tank air for the outside air will greatly reduce the humidity that is so important to the frogs and some plants. As you can see, I haven't perfected a method for concealing the fans yet. In any case the internal air movement prevents a lot of molds and such from germinating on and rotting the moist plants.
It's true, things are more or less complicated depending on where you're coming from. I didn't hop right into terrariums, it took a while to figure some things out. I grow some plants that aren't for beginners, but most of what I grow are epiphytes, so they don't need a lot of ferts and C02 has never been something to worry about either, so I see water filled tanks as requiring a good deal of research.
Here are some frog shots:
In the first tank (O. pumilio 'Isla Bastimentos')
Here is one almost fully developed in a small bromeliad
Poor shot, but this a neonate with mom
These are in the second tank (O. pumilio 'Cayo De Agua'):
A male is calling in this shot
Two males calling
Female transporting a tad