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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

I'm pretty to new to setting up vivariums and I'd like to get some advise from you "veterans" out there. :help:

A bit about my set up (photo-1)(photo-2)(photo-3):

The vivarium has a drainage layer composed of medium sized pebbles and charcoal. I am planning to place an Exo Terra Bio Drain Mesh in between the drainage layer and the substrate layer to separate them.

The vivarium is in an area that gets no direct sunlight. At the moment the temperature ranges from 20-25 degrees centigrade with around 60%-85% humidity.
When I introduced the plants, I was not able to do the proper processing of the plants so I've been observing the vivarium for the past two weeks and have not observed any abnormalities.

I am finding that one of the plants is not doing so well, I believe it is due to the lack of nutrients in the substrate, and possibly because the beetle loves burrowing under it.
I have read that vivarium plants need around 12 hours of light so I will begin doing this, the light I have doesn't really affect the temperature of the vivarium too much. The light I have has a 6700K colour temperature and I am anticipating that's all I will need to sustain plant life in the vivarium.

I will be doing a complete overhaul of my set-up and starting fresh.

To improve my set-up further, I believe I need to replace the substrate with one that can support plant life as well. I will also be getting woodlice as the vivarium's "clean-up crew" so they can feed on decomposing matter whilst providing extra nutrients to the substrate. They will also help aerate the soil further to ensure it stays healthy for both flaura and fauna. I'd also look into introducing sterile leaf litter (mixture of dried leaves that I'd boil for an hour to sterilize) that can add some nutrients to the substrate once they break down. The care guide for the beetles I want say that they like coco-peat substrate.
Keeping in mind introducing substrate that needs to be sterile, I am planning to buy some materials to mix my own substrate from my local gardening shop. I can't get access to orchid bark or tree fern fiber so I can't make my own ABG mix so I was thinking of replacing that component with an organic peat moss but I'm afraid it might break down too quickly.
The mix I'm planning will be (all unfertilised):

For extra nutrition for all plants, I will also be adding small portions of organic liquid fertilizer once every two weeks to my mister.

I will be putting small plants with small root systems (similar to the plant you have to the right of the beetle in "photo-1") as well as potentially some moss and leaf litter to be on top of the substrate layer. Majority of the plants I want to introduce will be epiphytes, this is so that the plants will not be disturbed by the beetle's burrowing habits.
I'm planning to get potentially bromeliads, ferns and maybe a vine or two. I will be mounting the epiphytes on an Exo Terra foam background and on the piece of mopani drift wood that I currently have. I will also spray small doses of organic liquid fertiliser on the epiphytes to ensure they get nutrition.

In terms of maintenance, once this is all set up, I'm anticipating it'll simply involve:
  • Daily misting of the vivarium
  • Trimming plants
  • Introducing more leaf litter
  • Adding food for the beetles and potentially adding small amounts of extra food for the woodlice
  • Syphoning water from the drainage layer if it starts to get too close to the substrate layer
  • Occasionally spraying small doses of liquid fertiliser onto the plants

Aside from that, once I have this set-up I am not anticipating any large overhauls unless problems arise.

What I am planning is to transfer my rainbow stag beetle into a temporary enclosure for 1-2 months to let my vivarium cycle letting the plants and woodlice acclimate.

Please let me know what you think and any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

With a bit of luck and lots of help from experienced vivarium builders, I'll be able to post the progress of my vivarium build here. :hihi:

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