First vivarium Build - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-02-2015, 04:00 AM Thread Starter
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First vivarium Build

So, I'm planning on building my first living vivarium, after many moons of research. I have an adult female white eyed crocodile skink (Tribolonotus novaeguinae), and have a male on order to arrive soon. While he is in quarantine, I plan on letting the viv settle up and grow in until they are ready to introduce to each other. I am hoping that they will breed, as my female is a regular egg-layer. So this viv would be purpose-built for them. Since I have zero interest in incubating eggs, and since Tribs actually give their eggs some rudimentary care and protection, I plan on letting them lay in-situ, and hopefully incubating in-situ as well. Several other croc skink keepers seem to have had some success this way and I hope to follow in their footsteps. Honestly, any breeding that occurs is secondary to their overall health and happiness.

Crocodile skinks are semi-arboreal, semi-fossorial, and semi-aquatic so I thing some really cool things could be done in a viv to support their varied lifestyle. My female seems to be particularly arboreal and aquatic, so I'm planning on incorporating a large pool, some running water, and plenty of interesting things to climb on. This species apparently tends to like high humidity (70-80%), and somewhat warm temps (basking spot of 30-32C, ambient 25-26C, cool side 23F). My girlie actually seems a bit stressed by the higher temps for basking in her current terrarium (she stops eating) so I actually keep it around 29-30C or so.

Purchased:

Terrarium: ExoTerra Medium Wide 24" x 18" x 18"
Lighting: ExoTerra Compact Top Medium, ZooMed Mini Deep Dome Combo
ExoTerra UVB150 13w (I like the light spectrum for plant growth)
ExoTerra UVB500 13w (I like the light spectrum for UV for the skinks)
ZooMed 25w Infrared Heat Bulb
Monitoring: Digital Probe Thermometer and Hydrometer
Filter/Pump: ExoTerra ReptiClear F150 (which I hope to retrofit for a waterfall/stream feature)
Drainage Layer: Hydroballs with Polyfibre substrate separator (not installed yet)

I know it's a lot of ET stuff, but I like how it all looks together!

Planned:

Substrate: Mix of sphagnum moss, coir, cypress mulch, ExoTerra Tree Fern substrate, clay aggregate and activated charcoal
Background: DIY GreatStuff background with water fall, cork bark, and twisty wood of some sort (java? mopani? manzanita?)
Plants: Every plant ever! No, I'm kidding. I'm still doing pant research. Probably some Tillandsias, small bromeliads, a small orchid (because I have a ton of them already), maybe some Pothos if everything else dies, maybe a ficus or a fern for texture, and tons of live moss if I can get it to grow because I love the stuff. I'd love to try those bioluminescent mushrooms, but I probably won't because I'm still convinced that they are toxic. I'm also love some Anubias, Cryptocoryne, and Java Moss for the water portion. I might even try my hand at growing the Anubias/Crypts as emergents. Maybe. We'll see.
Livestock: 1.1 T. novaeguinae New Guinea AKA muddy eyed AKA white eyed crocodile skink breeding pair
Small freshwater shrimps for the pond (feeders, as treats mostly)
Springtails and isopods (detrivores)

Last edited by MissLissa; 02-02-2015 at 04:32 AM. Reason: I have a terrible computer that posts things that aren't done yet!
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-02-2015, 04:17 AM
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Hope to see pix when finished. Well once you put the skink in as they are never "finished" I think.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-02-2015, 04:41 AM Thread Starter
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If any one has any suggestions, please feel free! Nothing is set in stone, and I'd love advice.

Here is the lady:
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-02-2015, 05:18 AM
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Oh but that is exotic looking...
And I'll bet so is the price of it...LOL...
But really what is it about 6-7" long ?
Crikets ?

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-02-2015, 06:08 AM Thread Starter
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I actually got her from my work (veterinary office specializing in exotics). Someone brought in their rainbow boa, and she was in the rubbermaid as a feeder (!!!). She had a lot of health problems when I got her, and was really emaciated, dehydrated and full of parasites. Several de-wormings, a round of Baytril, a couple calcium injections, and two months of force-feeding and she pulled through! The previous owner said he bought her for about $150 CDN. I paid a lot more than that in veterinary and support care lol. She is happy and healthy now. Croc skinks are notoriously delicate when first purchased, and also tend to carry very heavy parasite loads since they are almost without fail wild-caught, which is why I want to try and breed them. There is definitely no one in my area breeding them!

She flatly refuses to touch crickets. She is quite a fussy eater, in fact. She likes Phoenix worms (black soldier fly larvae), and mealworms but only if they are home-grown: she won't touch store-bought mealies. She also likes really fresh waxworms, earthworms, and like I said, shrimps. She also quite likes cat food which I use to mix her vitamins in and give once a week, since she won't eat her live food if they are dusted (picky!). I think the cat food is smelly enough that she can't tell her calcium and vitamin mix are in there :P

She is about the length of my hand- maybe 6.5"? She weighs about 45g.
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-02-2015, 08:06 PM
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Maybe she only likes gluten free crickets....
That should not be used as food,what were they thinking?
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-02-2015, 10:59 PM Thread Starter
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They were thinking they were bored of her- they complained that the hid all the time- and they couldn't get her to eat so they thought they'd feed her to their (also sick) Brazilian rainbow boa, which is actually an illegal species here. Brilliant people, obviously. I don't know why some people have pets! Well, their stupidity is my gain as now I have an egg-laying, healthy girl soon to have a sweet new love-nest and a boytoy to match!
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-03-2015, 03:24 AM
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very cool lizard.......is that a skull of her previous owner's aligator in the background? looks like it was hiding too much under the water so they just let the tank dry out!

cheers for showing such dedication to your croc!
you have a great start on the planning and im sure the viv will turn out great!

keep us all posted......i love the idea of trying to breed and hatch in the same tank
JD
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-16-2015, 04:04 AM Thread Starter
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Update!

So I went out today and purchased all the things I need for my DIY background and waterfall feature. Yeowch! $300 lighter, and covered in silicone from noes to toes, I have it kind of how I want it.

I went for a double tree idea, with a cork round tree created on the left side, and a java tree that I'm hoping will eventually look like a mangrove tree on the right. It's based on the mangrove forests found in the crocodile skink's native New Guinea.

Since crocodile skinks like to climb and have plenty of over-head cover, I stacked broken up cork rounds and twisted pieces of java wood to create "shelves" for them to climb up to, as well as making planting areas. Once the silicone is dried I'm going to layer Great Stuff foam on top, creating stable shelves on several levels for them.

The left hand side is my waterfall feature, which will run to the right in a small stream and empty into the pond area. I used corrugated plastic and silicone to create a "dam" area where the pump and filter will live, so I can service them if they break (which I am sure they won't since I took the precaution of doing so, but they definitely would have if I didn't). I siliconed broken pieces of cork rounds to hopefully camouflage the perfectly square shape. It doesn't show up in the photo, but there are plenty of small planting areas between the cork pieces.

The right side will be the pond area, with exposed pieces of java wood standing in for mangrove roots and river stones making the pond dam. Looking at the photo, I think I should have placed the waterfall on the left side behind the java tree, and had it run through the roots. However, this way I have a lot more shelving for the skinks, which they will probably prefer. So I guess utility will win over aesthetics.

Next Step:
Apply Great Stuff foam once initial silicone is dry, let that cure, and carve. I am not much of a sculptor, so we will have to see how that goes :P

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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-16-2015, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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Foamed in the pieces today with Great Stuff- so much fun! I liked the foam way better than the silicone. It's starting to look much better; I was worried for a while.

Next Step:
Let Great Stuff dry, then carve it into shapes I like better.

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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-18-2015, 03:20 PM
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Do you happen to have a Dremel with a sanding bit? I found that the easiest way to carve the foam--wear a mask though to avoid breathing it. And that is one cool skink!

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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-18-2015, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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Carved up the Great Stuff; starting to look much better!

Next Step:
Silicone and coir/Tree Fern application over the Great Stuff.



EDIT: I don't own a dremmel; I used my fingers to pinch bits off, and a very sharp Exacto knife A dremmel would have been much easier, and faster!
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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-18-2015, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
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Silicone and coir/Tree Fern substrate applied and dried. I added some sphagnum moss here and there to spots that didn't stick as well. I think it looks pretty good, for a first viv. I did trim the extra silicone off the sides; I ust took the photo before I did so :P

I also started building up the retaining wall with foam and river stones, which will separate the land sections from the water section. That will be trimmed down and shaped to look like stones and roots, then siliconed and small stones applied instead of coir.

Next Step:
Continue building up retaining wall, then carve.

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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-19-2015, 01:36 AM
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Looking good! Can you post a pic from directly above next time you're snapping photos? Thanks!

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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-21-2015, 06:47 PM
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looks fantastic........i really like how you have fingers of GS on the sides.....looks really cool. I also like the wood on the right with the twisted roots. this is gonna look awesome when it grows in! first build???? very obvious you did a lot of homework before starting this project

kudos
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