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40g Dart Dynasty, My First Vivarium

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So because of knm<>< and thier viv thread which brought up darts (which I've loved since I was a child but never considered owning).. I'm now going to try to make my first vivarium! Its going to take a while to get everything and put it all together but I hope to have it setup spring time or shortly after spring starts.

Before I started buying supplies I did a quick 'test vivarium' with aquatic plants to transition to emersed form.. so far so good (not prefect) so I'm leaning heavily towards setting up a vivarium only using plants that are aquatic but can grow emersed. Hoping to try ug, hc cuba, swords, and more! I hope to add 2-3 males and 1 female Dendrobates Azureus, they are just so stunning!

Here are some photos from the 10g 'test tank' plants, the are just on top of leftover clay media from aquaponics and I'm currently using a marineland led 6700k light on a 12 hour timer.
Plants tested include:
Anubais Nana var. Petite
Buce (sp unknown)
Creeping Jenny
Hydro sp. Japan
Hygro Corybosa
Ludwigia (sp unknown)
Pennywort
Riccia







I'll probably move the 20g long (shown above) and put the 40g in its place... though I'm also considering setting the tank up by the couch where we watch tv.. not sure yet. Will have a water feature.. as I need one coming from a aquarium background, hope to make a gentle waterfall (more like a trickle from the pumps power at 3' head) over driftwood which will guide the water down into a small pool. Going to use the more boring driftwood from the 20g and the dry one that are straight for the background.. probably fill in gaps with great stuff and either make a few tiny pools or planter baskets in there.. not sure yet. Lid will either be glass with hindges and some screened vent holes or mostly screen with lexan laid over top to keep the humidity in.

And now.. the huge supply list.....
Tank: Tetra 40g breeder ($40 at Petco $ per g sale-giftcard ($10)=$30)
Silicone: (redoing tank seams-if you've seen a tetra tank you'll know why) GE II door and window clear using leftover no cost (original $6)
Tank stand: DIY by husband- possibly pine, stained and urethaned ($?)
Lights: (not decided.. probably) 3x cfl 13 watt 6500k + 3x clamp on reflectors (scavenged from another tank, no $ (originally $30))
Lid: unsure ($??)
Background: Ghostwood (leftover/scavenged from other tank no $ (original $40 worth)
Background filler: Great stuff caps and cracks 16 oz ($4)
Substrate divider: Fibreglass screen $7g
Substrate (land): Atlanta Botanical Gardens mix (7g ($42-ouch))
Substrate (water): Black Diamond 'sand' or aquarium gravel (leftover (original $8 or 20))
False bottom: Egg crate (using leftover from another tank no $ (original $15))
False bottom supports: cut scrap pvc pipe no cost (original $?)
Bulk Head: 1/2" Bulkhead kit ($9)
Tubing: 7/8 od 5/8" id 10' clear tubing ($9) and reuse siphon tubing (under 1/2" od 6' long) ($?)
Sump: 10g (had-repurposed (original $10))
Sump media: Bio media leftover no $ (original $?) Foam/sponge media ($14) (still need to grab)
Pump: Aquatop pump 105 gph (got for cost of shipping $7 (original $35-had to buy with tank))
Heater: Eheim Jagar 75w heater (scavenged from aquarium no $ (original $23))
RO System: Aquatic Life 50gpd ($40)
Other:
8x10" glass sheets to convert 10g tank to sump x3 ($6)
1/2" Glass diamond drill bit ($12)
1/2" pvc ball valve ($6)
1/2" pvc female adaptor x2($3)
5/8" x 1/2" nylon barb x mip elbow x2 ($3)
1/2" 10" pvc pipe (4$)

STILL NEED TO FIND:
Temp and humidity sensor (DHT22)
Misting system (Mistking?? would rather not be in triple digits for $ though...)
Quiet fans for vents on lid
Raspberry PI program (and other components (ribbon cable etc)) to turn on/off misting, fan, heater, lights)

Happy to take input for the things in the "still need" section! Or anything from the upper list.. or something I may have missed! Have everything on there (excluding the "Still Need" section obviously) except the filter media foam as of today ^^

Damn that's a lot of stuff!! And I've not even gotten into the flora, micro fauna, or frogs and supplement/culture supplies yet x.x I don't even want to pull out the calculator to see how much $$ I'm throwing into this..

Photos of current sups acquired.












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That's a wild looking frog !
And nice to see you didn't get a tiny tank for this project.
Not knowing much of anything about a vivarium, do you need a misting system if
you have a cover/w high humidity in there ?
 

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Nice, looks like a good start and you picked great frogs. I set up a viv recently for 2 of the same frogs and they are great.

You know, it never once dawned on me to grow buce and riccia in it. I used the same ABG substrate and have sphagnum moss over that with some loose leaves. I wonder if I can just move some sphagnum and put riccia down in that area, may do a test run since you got me thinking :) I really want a nice green moss looking bottom versus the brown sphagnum.

Good luck with the tank! You may find you don't need a auto mister. My tank is holding humidity really well with 1-2 30 second sprays a day. I did not even need to put glass covers over the top mesh, my hood lights seem to be stopping enough circulation to keep it nice and humid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
That's a wild looking frog !
And nice to see you didn't get a tiny tank for this project.
Not knowing much of anything about a vivarium, do you need a misting system if
you have a cover/w high humidity in there ?
I wanted to go big since I wanted to use some big wood chunks.. Also with a water feature using a larger tank makes up for the space it will take up (though I'm not planting a huge exposed water area or paludarium).
As for the misting... Eh I can't give a straight answer, from reading I've seen several vivarium owners say they can go a month(s) without misting because thier vivarium has high humidity. But I've also read that it's good to get some ventilation both for the frogs and the plants (just like in an emersed setup-you did a little fresh air). Using an aquarium heater in the water resivoiur under the false bottom (detail tangent: vivarium sued either a gravel or clay media bottom that's 1/2 full of water, or egg crates (with PVC to support it) then screen then substrate- it's important to not have the substrate constantly saturated be we the false bottom) will generate heat and humidity. The trick is getting temp, humidity, and ventilation all balanced out so there is fresh air but enough humidity is staying in the tank... I'd love to find the magic balance so I don't have to mist but I'll most likely not manage that so I'll sadly have to get a misting system (the tank is too big to hand mist evenly). I'd rather over ventilate and compensate with misting the. Under vetilate which can hurt plants and frogs.

Nice, looks like a good start and you picked great frogs. I set up a viv recently for 2 of the same frogs and they are great.

You know, it never once dawned on me to grow buce and riccia in it. I used the same ABG substrate and have sphagnum moss over that with some loose leaves. I wonder if I can just move some sphagnum and put riccia down in that area, may do a test run since you got me thinking :) I really want a nice green moss looking bottom versus the brown sphagnum.

Good luck with the tank! You may find you don't need a auto mister. My tank is holding humidity really well with 1-2 30 second sprays a day. I did not even need to put glass covers over the top mesh, my hood lights seem to be stopping enough circulation to keep it nice and humid.


A well there you go! Are you just using a misting bottle or a (under $50) simple system? I'm not huge fan on a brown/dead/leafy looking bottom which is why I want to try a lot of riccia... I'll have to incorporate several hides and line of sight break up to compensate for less leaf litter. Please do try the Riccia! And be sure to share photos! It should transition fine. Sadly my lights won't cover the tank being circular reflectors so I'll probably need a bit more covering on my lid. What are you using for lights?
 

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I too am thinking about creating a Vivarium and have been looking
at this self priming RV pump ,$20 shipped.


It puts out 100psi,hook up a 12v wallwart,micro spray head,and a good
timer with multiple programs and I think it would make for an inexpensive
mister/waterer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I too am thinking about creating a Vivarium and have been looking
at this self priming RV pump ,$20 shipped.


It puts out 100psi,hook up a 12v wallwart,micro spray head,and a good
timer with multiple programs and I think it would make for an inexpensive
mister/waterer.
I'd not though to search for part to put together a mister myself, was going to go for a premade system but I'll research into it! If I can find good quality mix that will save me $ that's a nice plus (want quality but prefer under $100 for misting setup if possible).
 

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I just use a spray bottle for misting right now. I'm thinking of doing a fogger using a crane humidifier instead of a misting system.

This little 12x12x18 is my test model. I'm going to be getting an 18x18x24 soon and one day I'd like to get the 36x18x36 and go all out. I'm a fan of the front opening terrariums.

A crazy idea I've had lately is to transform the 75 into a paludarium like Learner's build here on TPT. If I do that, it wouldn't be until this summer at the earliest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I just use a spray bottle for misting right now. I'm thinking of doing a fogger using a crane humidifier instead of a misting system.

This little 12x12x18 is my test model. I'm going to be getting an 18x18x24 soon and one day I'd like to get the 36x18x36 and go all out. I'm a fan of the front opening terrariums.

A crazy idea I've had lately is to transform the 75 into a paludarium like Learner's build here on TPT. If I do that, it wouldn't be until this summer at the earliest.
Wow sounds like you have a lot of plans for non aquarium setups to come! Any idea what fauna your going to put in these upcoming tanks?
I'd looked into a fogger a little but not too deep... From reading on dendroboards it seems several say foggers raise humidity better than misters but doesn't water plants well so you'd have to hand mist ontop of that. I'd also read that frogs seem more incline to breed if you're not popping in the tank 1-3x a day to spritz plants (and having emersed aquatic plants I'd suspect I'd have to mist often). But I'd not look into pricing... I could consider a fogger and a cheaper mister for the plants would not have to be such a fine mist or done as often) more than the humidity (as fogger would cover that).




Thank you everyone for your input so far! Its giving me more ideas/options to look deeper into. Happy to keep hearing more ^^
 

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If you place your plants on the back wall with a drip system and near your water feature, you could get away without having to water manually. Then you could use the fogger for humidity.

Hmm, the frogs I was thinking about for the next build are the citranellas, but I have not seriously contemplated it yet. I like what you chose as well.

By the way, I'm glad I could inspire you in return for the inspiration you gave me with the riparium. Just one hobbyist helping another spend their money, lol!


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A well there you go! Are you just using a misting bottle or a (under $50) simple system? I'm not huge fan on a brown/dead/leafy looking bottom which is why I want to try a lot of riccia... I'll have to incorporate several hides and line of sight break up to compensate for less leaf litter. Please do try the Riccia! And be sure to share photos! It should transition fine. Sadly my lights won't cover the tank being circular reflectors so I'll probably need a bit more covering on my lid. What are you using for lights?
I'm using just a $15 pressurized misting bottle from Amazon. I just pump it, spray for 15-30 seconds depending on how much moisture is needed, but yeah I'm having no trouble keeping humidity up.

The tank is an exo-terra 18x18x18. I use their hood lights since they fit in the grooves on the top. It's such a nice fit that it really stops all air flow, well 95% I'd say. I can let the tank go for 2 days w/o a spraying and still be at 75% humidity. I didn't do a water feature since it was my first build and a small tank, but next time I will for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If you place your plants on the back wall with a drip system and near your water feature, you could get away without having to water manually. Then you could use the fogger for humidity.

Hmm, the frogs I was thinking about for the next build are the citranellas, but I have not seriously contemplated it yet. I like what you chose as well.

By the way, I'm glad I could inspire you in return for the inspiration you gave me with the riparium. Just one hobbyist helping another spend their money, lol!


Sent from my HTC One using Tapatalk
Yeh this forum is why I have 7 planted tanks (and 2 fauna-les picos) instead of just 1-2 tanks. To many awesome ideas to want to try!


That's why I want him to buy that pump set up,see if it works..lol
If get around to building one ,pretty sure I will use that anyhow.
HER, and you're horrible, trying to get me to test equipment for you before you buy!


cant wait to see this bad boy get up and running. the planning process is so much fun isnt it! you'll be seeing jungles in your dreams until it comes to fruition!

best of luck and do keep us all posted!
Yeh I enjoy planning out and setting up.. though things never go exactly as planned. case and point: ghostwood in 55g being permanently covered in fungus ruining the scapes appeal....Its really pissing me off. I'll be sure update as I continue forward with the prep and build.

I'm using just a $15 pressurized misting bottle from Amazon. I just pump it, spray for 15-30 seconds depending on how much moisture is needed, but yeah I'm having no trouble keeping humidity up.

The tank is an exo-terra 18x18x18. I use their hood lights since they fit in the grooves on the top. It's such a nice fit that it really stops all air flow, well 95% I'd say. I can let the tank go for 2 days w/o a spraying and still be at 75% humidity. I didn't do a water feature since it was my first build and a small tank, but next time I will for sure.
Ah kk, what do you use for the 5% of gap to keep fruitflies in (if you feed those?)



Amusingly I looked at reptile/amphibian brand specific misters on amazon.. lot lower rating than I expected (apparently leak issues, no pressure release except to open container-which can wear down the seal quality), and bad petroleum/plastic smell that never goes away and taints water smell.. not so critter safe).. may try looking at getting a new pump sprayer (like used for pesticides-but with nothing in it) at home depot as they're fairly cheap. My big concern with these would be getting too much pressure being enough to knock over frogs and rip plants loose, or too big a droplets so its more like a hose spray/downpour than a misting.

I ended up putting the plants back into the aquarium since I don't feel like continuing hand misting a few misc plants and am nowhere near ready to set up the 40g to put them in. When I do finally plant the tank I'd love to buy only emersed grown plants so I don't ahve to deal with the transitional stage.. wonder how much luck I'll have getting (most) everything from one seller? Seemed like a lot of people did emersed growth sales and now that I actually want that.. I'm only finding aquatic or mix that's mostly under water growth..go figure!
 

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Ah kk, what do you use for the 5% of gap to keep fruitflies in (if you feed those?)



Amusingly I looked at reptile/amphibian brand specific misters on amazon.. lot lower rating than I expected (apparently leak issues, no pressure release except to open container-which can wear down the seal quality), and bad petroleum/plastic smell that never goes away and taints water smell.. not so critter safe).. may try looking at getting a new pump sprayer (like used for pesticides-but with nothing in it) at home depot as they're fairly cheap. My big concern with these would be getting too much pressure being enough to knock over frogs and rip plants loose, or too big a droplets so its more like a hose spray/downpour than a misting.

I ended up putting the plants back into the aquarium since I don't feel like continuing hand misting a few misc plants and am nowhere near ready to set up the 40g to put them in. When I do finally plant the tank I'd love to buy only emersed grown plants so I don't ahve to deal with the transitional stage.. wonder how much luck I'll have getting (most) everything from one seller? Seemed like a lot of people did emersed growth sales and now that I actually want that.. I'm only finding aquatic or mix that's mostly under water growth..go figure!
What gap where on the tank? I haven't had any escaping fruit flies at all. There are small gaps where you run lines for sensors or misting systems in the tank, but I foamed all the way up to them and made small slits, so only the wires fit.

Not sure if we can link to amazon here, but I bought the below and it's great. Adjustable spray and the tightest setting is a super fine mist. Nothing knocks over and my azureus come flying out to get in the rain every time like clockwork. Great pump.

Solo 418 1-Liter One-Hand Pressure Sprayer

Check Josh's Frogs also, they have nice plants/plant packages. My took root super quick and have grown strong since. I have a wandering jew that started as like 5 nodes and in a month is like 6 vines that creep all 18 inches to the top of the tank in and out of my spiderwood.

Oh and the misters on amazon are terrible. I've also heard tons of reviews, either leak, don't spray enough, or just flat out stop working. Wasn't worth it for me. The Azureus do not need much circulation at all, so honestly if you give it a nice soaking and have the tank closed mostly, think 2/3 or more, then the humidity will stay high enough. I left mine 3 days over the Christmas holiday and came home to 60% humidity according to my probe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Question

A question for any dart frog owners with water features: Have you used sand or gravel? I'd love to use black diamond 'sand' but not sure if that will be harmful for the frogs (get stuck to skin dry out and cut them, or go in a nostril/eye/mouth and cause damage?)
Google likes to be useless when I search "vivarium sand" it decided aquarium=vivarium=terrariums and I get a bunch of aquarium photos or I get terrariums with sand (desert reptiles), or if I look for "dart frog sand" I just get dart photos...




What gap where on the tank? I haven't had any escaping fruit flies at all. There are small gaps where you run lines for sensors or misting systems in the tank, but I foamed all the way up to them and made small slits, so only the wires fit.

Not sure if we can link to amazon here, but I bought the below and it's great. Adjustable spray and the tightest setting is a super fine mist. Nothing knocks over and my azureus come flying out to get in the rain every time like clockwork. Great pump.

Solo 418 1-Liter One-Hand Pressure Sprayer

Check Josh's Frogs also, they have nice plants/plant packages. My took root super quick and have grown strong since. I have a wandering jew that started as like 5 nodes and in a month is like 6 vines that creep all 18 inches to the top of the tank in and out of my spiderwood.

Oh and the misters on amazon are terrible. I've also heard tons of reviews, either leak, don't spray enough, or just flat out stop working. Wasn't worth it for me. The Azureus do not need much circulation at all, so honestly if you give it a nice soaking and have the tank closed mostly, think 2/3 or more, then the humidity will stay high enough. I left mine 3 days over the Christmas holiday and came home to 60% humidity according to my probe.
Ah thanks for the clarification .

I believe you're able to link to amazon, just not [Ebay Link Removed] Looking at the reviews for that sprayer it seems several have issues with it not lasting more than a few months. How long have you been using it?
I've not been to happy with amazon purchases lately.. they seem to not give a crap about shutting down bad vendors or helping customers anymore... I generally use amazon more as a product search engine now then buy elsewhere... and don't get me started on being a Prime member (which costs.. hat $75 a year?) and still have to pay for 95% of the stuff they offer in their instant video section. [Censor] you amazon! I'm not paying $1-2 per an episode or $10+ for a movie! I can pay $84 a year for netflix and have NO addition charges! Sorry mini rant...

I'm going to stick with emersed aquatic plants for this tank, but if I get addicted and end up with another I will look into more traditional vivarium plants. I really like the look of the ficus oakleaf (ficus pumila 'quercifolia'). I have a little wandering jew left, as well as aluminum plant and fittonia albivenis I could pull from the riparium.... On a random riparium tangent.. Why do people sell Spathiphyllum "domino" (a marbled/variegated peace lily-works great on ripariums) as a "marbled sword" its not even in the same family as swords and non aquatic!
 

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Looks like fun. If you go more toward the terrestrial plant side check out www.blackjungleterrariumsupply.com/ for some choice plants and frogs.They aren't always cheap, but they have plant species that won't require constant pruning to stay in their place. Riccia is a good idea where it can stay wet. My favorite low mat is Selaginella, but they also sell some tropical mosses. Jewel Orchids are nice and not expensive. They also have info , mechanicals, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Mini update

Not much going on.. We will be doing some furniture moving soon and I'm waiting to see what will be going where and if we will continue to use the main living room for tv viewing or move with the couch from there to the family room.. Want to place the viv where we will get to enjoy it more and need to know how I'll orient scape (wood) and such based on the room it goes in.
I'm strongly considering the route of modified humidifier and am going to try to grab a cheap one (under $15) from walmart today. I'm also still looking for large but cheap filter foam/sponge. Sadly my lfs only carry brand specific foam which is small and costs more the humidifier I'm looking at x.x so will probably have to buy from ebay.
On another note I had a dream last night that I had 3 vivs, all 40g breeders put together to create a large scape look. Bottom left one sat like a normal aquarium, the one on the right was set so the 'top' was the front and the 'bottom' was a narrow side panel. The top left tank was above the bottom one and aimed to the original top was the front. They were pushed together (which realistically would make getting into the bottom one impossible) and had a flowing scape feel.. bottom left had a large water feature and let up into fake woof background (foam) mixed with real wood to look like a root base of a tree. The tall right tank use a huge piece(s) of driftwood to make a tree trunk and more roots. The top left was a tree branch off that trunk with a lot of foam used to make more of a raised platform and foe branches off the main branch... I think I'm thinking about vivariums too much if they're getting into my dreams now!
 

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Ha! I'd like to see your mod of the humidifier. I was going to do the same thing with a cane drop humidifier because the output is already a small cone shape and would be easy to transition to tubing. I know you will, but I'll say it anyway. Post pics!

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