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Thread: 55 gallon Vivarium project

  1. #1
    Eric and Stitch
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    Default 55 gallon Vivarium project

    So my imagination ran away with me last night and I want to make a Grand father clock Vivarium. It will consist of a base/storage cabinet that the 20" W x 13" D x 48" T tank will sit on. on top will be a clock cabinet housing my Hygrotherm humidity and temp controller, humidifier, light source and a real clock.

    I want to make this a convertible; land with small pond and false bottom and water fall down the back wall to a pond, the conversion is a majority of the land mass is removed and the waterfall output gets connected to a rain tube making this a Rain chamber with a flooded river bottom.

    What I'm looking for is advice on a few things. I almost forgot, this will house Red Eyed Tree Frogs. and if other threads or how-to's exist just point me in the right direction.

    How best to control temperature. should I use an aquarium heater in the false bottom to control the water temp? or Cord heaters in the back wall or substrate?

    how do I construct the back wall with a full length waterfall that will also be growable for moss or vines?

    What Broad leaf climbing vines would be good for Red eyes?

    What kind of false bottom and substrate construction should I use? keep in mind I want it to be easy flow so that I can have a tank drain to a waterfall pump on the opposite side of the tank from the pond. prevent stagnant water.

    after I'm all set up, what is required for continued care and cleaning?

    anything else I've missed and need or should consider please advise me as if a complete novice.

    I already have 3 Red Eyes in 2 ten gallon "artificial' terrariums, so advice to chose a different starter frog is moot and wasn't listened to by my girlfriend.

    Thanks for any advice.
    Tyler

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  3. #2
    Moderator deranged chipmunk's Avatar
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    That's a pretty ambitious build, i like it a 4 foot water feature is going to take a massive pump. You will need a pump with a minimum of a 6 foot head height to get up that 4 feet, a pump for a pond fountain will work, but you will have a lot of pressure behind it, so expect to add in multiple places to adjust your flow.

    Ideally, a sketch or plan may be helpful due to there are various construction techniques you can use to build this.

    As far as broad, sturdy climbing plants, you can't go wrong with any of the pothos varieties, philodendrons will also work very well.
    1.0.0 Oophaga Pumilio 'Black Jeans'
    0.0.10 Phyllobates Vittatus
    0.0.3 Phyllobates Terribilis 'Mint'
    0.0.3 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Patricia'
    0.0.5 Dendrobates Leucomelas
    0.0.2 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Powder Blue'
    0.0.2 Ranitomeya Variabilis 'southern'
    0.0.3 Epipedobates Anthonyi 'zarayunga'
    1.2.0 Phyllobates bicolor
    0.0.3 Dendrobates tinctorius 'azureus'
    0.0.1 Avicularia Avicularia
    0.0.1 Gramastola porteri
    0.2.0 Canines
    1.0.0 Tabby/Maine Coon Mix
    2.1.0 Genetics Experiments
    0.1.0 Bed Bully

  4. #3
    Eric and Stitch
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    So I started my project.
    But first the back story
    Name:  eric-and-stitch-albums-grand-father-clock-picture45258-inspiration.jpg
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    This thing makes noise at night, every fifteen minutes. although it is pleasant sounding, it also advertises how long my insomnia is lasting causing more stress to fall asleep, and more insomnia.

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    My trio of these make noise every night too, but it isn't regular to advertise the time, and makes me smile to know I have healthy active frogs.

    My dream was planted to build this
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    (my girlfriend is the artist, not me. she also technically owns the frogs but that doesn't stop my obsession with them)

    The key element of this idea is a 48 inch tall Terrarium. They aren't readily available in glass so I would have to build it.

    As most of you know, the Petco Tank sale is on for $1 per gallon, up to 55 gallons, I wish the 75 gallon was involved because the dimensions of the 75 would have made this much easier. the sale lasts until January 19 according to my local store manager.
    So I was able to acquire my Base tank.
    Attachment 45264
    Dog didn't come with the tank. boy would that be a sale.

    With as much modifying I was planning on doing I looked at the cost of buying the glass and building from scratch, it would have been about the same price as buying the 55g aquarium at regular price.

    So I started voiding the warranty on the tank by removing the plastic frames. Using a putty knife to cut the silicone and a utility knife to cut the plastic(easier to cut than I was expecting) I removed the black frame. once I did this I realized that the frame is for assembly and ascetics only, they don't do much structurally. Well they may be needed if you actually use them as aquariums.

    Once the frame is removed, these things are still really tough and hold together really well. I was worried about the glass breaking from the forces required to tear the silicone.
    But in two steps you can remove any panel.

    Step one
    Attachment 45265
    Remove the silicone that fills the corner by scraping the glass with a putty knife or painter's window scraping blade that is held flat to the glass.

    Step two
    Attachment 45266
    use an extremely thin piece of steel to cut the silicone between the two pieces of glass. I tried a Razor blade, but that is .022 inches thick. too thick for this. Luckily I work in a shop and had a feeler gauge with various thicknesses of steel. I found I would have to start the cut with a .003 inch feeler which is as stiff as paper so I had to kind of saw it in. Then I was able to switch to a .007 Feeler that was strong enough to hold on both sides and just push through.

    once you have done that on all sides, you should have your glass free.

    I had to remove the front and sides of the aquarium. the Front needed to be cut to allow for the creation of a door and lower front screen vent.
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    Name:  eric-and-stitch-albums-grand-father-clock-picture45238-two-panels-removed.jpg
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    I only removed one end of the aquarium at a time so the the back was supported, as I wasn't planning on cutting the seam, and I only removed the end that was to become the bottom because I wanted to drill a hole in the bottom for a sump tank. Housing the pump, water heater, and filter. More work now, but it means I wont need to fish hoses or power lines down the back of my tank if a pump or anything else fails.

    Once I have my glass panels removed I took them to a glass shop to be cut, drilled, and edges ground.

    Now started reassembly.
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    It was so convenient that Petco sells this too, it is wicked strong and only takes one entire tube to reassemble my tank.

    I placed the bottom by applying the silicone to the edges of the glass then putting it in place, I tried using clamps to hold things together but it wouldn't stay straight an I just ended up taping it with two inch 3M masking tape.
    Name:  eric-and-stitch-albums-grand-father-clock-picture45242-bottom-place.jpg
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    This silicone will set up fairly fast and scrapes off with a razor blade fairly easily.

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    All glass siliconed together, I did have to buy another piece of glass the same size as the aquarium's bottom to form my terrarium's right side.

    I could have left the thing alone and added a door to the side of the terrarium, but cleaning my 10 gallon vertical conversion is deep enough, I wanted easy access. Which means my girl friend wanted the easy access and I enjoy home cooked meals.
    Name:  eric-and-stitch-albums-grand-father-clock-picture45254-false-bottom-drain-my-55-vertical-convers.jpg
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    here you can see the Drain hole I had drilled in the bottom. the glass shop also ground out a little of the front bottom glass after they cut it to make room for the hinges I decided to use for the door. I failed to mention my plans for a screen at the bottom. It pays to be very specific if you ask someone to work on your project. I'll end up filling the gap with silicone and covering it with something on the finished product.

    Name:  eric-and-stitch-albums-grand-father-clock-picture45259-almost-done-conversion.jpg
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    Here is the finished 55 gallon vertical conversion minus door (getting re-cut to accommodate the screen vent)

    There are some little things to do yet such as the latch or magnet for the door and building a screen top, but structurally the conversion is done.

    I think I'll let it alone for a few days to set up and cure while I build a base cabinet for this to sit on.

    But here is a preview of what the inside may become.
    Name:  eric-and-stitch-albums-grand-father-clock-picture45261-possible-interior-two-trees-3-1-2-foot-wa.jpg
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    I was planning on only one "tree" in the middle with a waterfall that falls part way to a wall mounted pool then drains through in wall tubing to a pool on the other side of the tree, then overfills and waterfalls the rest of the way to a little creek.

    but the lady's plan is simpler one waterfall, two trees. zero tubing or wires inside the terrarium.

    Any comments suggestions or questions are welcomed. once I finish this I plan to write up my complete how-to which was started here
    http://www.frogforum.net/vivarium-te...nce-guide.html

    Yay

  5. #4
    Moderator deranged chipmunk's Avatar
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    Looks good so far. Since i'm a hardcore aquarium guy, i'm curious to see the sump setup.
    1.0.0 Oophaga Pumilio 'Black Jeans'
    0.0.10 Phyllobates Vittatus
    0.0.3 Phyllobates Terribilis 'Mint'
    0.0.3 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Patricia'
    0.0.5 Dendrobates Leucomelas
    0.0.2 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Powder Blue'
    0.0.2 Ranitomeya Variabilis 'southern'
    0.0.3 Epipedobates Anthonyi 'zarayunga'
    1.2.0 Phyllobates bicolor
    0.0.3 Dendrobates tinctorius 'azureus'
    0.0.1 Avicularia Avicularia
    0.0.1 Gramastola porteri
    0.2.0 Canines
    1.0.0 Tabby/Maine Coon Mix
    2.1.0 Genetics Experiments
    0.1.0 Bed Bully

  6. #5
    100+ Post Member IrishRonin's Avatar
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    I really like this build, I love turning regulatie house holding items into terrariums. In the past over done a China cabnet, and a few coffee tables. I also have an old console tv in my garage that's in the works. Keep us updated can't wait to see more.

  7. #6
    arielgasca420
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    I am excited to see how this turns out and learn a few things from this progressive build.
    I did want to add that maybe it would be cool to have pothos coming from the top of the enclosure to hang down on one side and a Sansevieria trifasciata on the bottom to grow up on the other side? just a thought since sansevieria get aa good height for an enclosure.

  8. #7
    100+ Post Member IrishRonin's Avatar
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    Man looking at my post makes me think I need to have some one look at my auto spelling. It's all over the place!

  9. #8
    Eric and Stitch
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    Update. A little behind the project. Last weekend the girlfriend and I both had Saturday and Sunday off so we built the base cabinet that this whole system will sit on. I also put the bottom screen in under the door and fit the door in place. I then removed the door as I have no stop or latch for the door yet. I don't know how well picture uploads work via smart phone so I'll add photos in the next post if it works.

  10. #9
    Eric and Stitch
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    So time for an update with pictures as my last 'photo post' didnt work.

    Name:  eric-and-stitch-albums-grand-father-clock-picture46832-location-cabinet-base.jpg
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    This is the location i plan on keeping this big thing, maybe move it to the other wall where the other terrarium in this picture currently. This also shows the base we made about a month ago, the door we ordered for it will be in next week. then stain and finish before mounting. The door will help hide the clutter.

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    and here it shows the back siliconed and my 'trees' in location but not attached yet. they are constructed of Egg crate tied together with forest tile cork backgrounds attached to the crate.

    I plan on having one 3inch pot at the top of each tree(pothos like plants), one in the cork round branch mid tree on the left(something colorful and perky) and one attached to the underside of the egg crate where it attaches to the right tree(Big green leaves), along the back wall between the trees I want vines to climb up. I want to grow something from the ground near the front corner of the tank maybe bamboo, even though that isnt really Central American but something the frogs can climb besides glass. My water feature will flow down the back, right of center onto the "branch" I'm building that will have a small pool/soaking area, then free fall off the corner of that to the bottom where there will be a small stream to the edge of the tank. the back wall will not be as foamed and textured for moss growth as I believed before. we will instead be attaching blue-green glass pebbles to the back wall above the branches, I still want to foam, add a pot, and moss the wall under the branches.

    Would that be adequate vegetation? how much would should I have for something this size?

  11. #10
    Eric and Stitch
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    One more question I failed to post, What gph is a nice steady stream of water about 2 inches wide just flowing down a wall? I know how to calculate to account for head pressure of four feet, Or should I just have a valved 'y' and dump excess flow behind one of my trees back to the false bottom?

  12. #11
    Eric and Stitch
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    Name:  eric-and-stitch-albums-grand-father-clock-picture46867-2013-02-02-17-28-15-748.jpg
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    So I siliconed in the trees and a couple pots, then did the bulk of the foaming, I'm electing not to foam the entire back since we have other ways of adding character.

    Name:  eric-and-stitch-albums-grand-father-clock-picture46868-2013-02-02-17-28-41-346.jpg
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    here you can see detail of the bottom half, I added a half pot near the base of the left tree under the Branch dish as well as a pot in the joint of the branch to the tree.

    Name:  eric-and-stitch-albums-grand-father-clock-picture46871-2013-02-02-17-29-10-136.jpg
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    Here is detail of the top, the two pots atop each tree are evident as well as a third I added against my girlfriend's design wishes. You can also see the shallow dish I am molding out of foam for the water to flow into, pool and free fall out of. the glass pebbles illustrate the intended flow path of the water along the wall, we are are thinking of spreading the pebbles around the rest of the background with moss growing between them. brings me to my question for Bill.

    Would I be able to securely silicone these glass jewels over the titebond method you describe? or should I attach them straight to the back wall then paint between them? and is the Titebond grow-able for mosses?

  13. #12
    Member Timbo's Avatar
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    thats a supper fun Idea dude

  14. #13
    Eric and Stitch
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    Been a while since I've updated, and I accomplished a few things;
    water path is figured out
    first couple of coats of titebond on the background.
    Gena's decorative stones are placed
    the base and clock house wood projects are complete.
    Name:  eric-and-stitch-albums-grand-father-clock-picture47742-assembled-pieces-just-few-finishing-touch.jpg
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    Still need to;
    install the uv and heat lamps,
    Last couple coats of titebond,
    figure out waterfall pool,
    Install false bottom,
    pot the plants,
    .......

    list gets long.
    as long as I make progress i'm happy and my froggies will be eventually too.

  15. #14
    Super Moderator Heatheranne's Avatar
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    Default 55 gallon Vivarium project

    This is so pretty! And I love the glass beads in it. Very nice touch. I'll be interested to see how the waterproofing holds. Looking great!
    https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203589094112277&id=1363241107&set =a.1434844115446.2055312.1363241107&source=11&ref= bookmark

  16. #15
    Moderator deranged chipmunk's Avatar
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    that is one of the coolest custom build i have seen. nice job!! i was kind of wondering though, are you worried about weight on the bottom? i mean, in most aquatic tanks, the bottom is tempered, but you are using a side panel from the 55 as the bottom, right? and it's drilled? that's a lot of stress on weakened glass.
    1.0.0 Oophaga Pumilio 'Black Jeans'
    0.0.10 Phyllobates Vittatus
    0.0.3 Phyllobates Terribilis 'Mint'
    0.0.3 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Patricia'
    0.0.5 Dendrobates Leucomelas
    0.0.2 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Powder Blue'
    0.0.2 Ranitomeya Variabilis 'southern'
    0.0.3 Epipedobates Anthonyi 'zarayunga'
    1.2.0 Phyllobates bicolor
    0.0.3 Dendrobates tinctorius 'azureus'
    0.0.1 Avicularia Avicularia
    0.0.1 Gramastola porteri
    0.2.0 Canines
    1.0.0 Tabby/Maine Coon Mix
    2.1.0 Genetics Experiments
    0.1.0 Bed Bully

  17. #16
    Eric and Stitch
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    Quote Originally Posted by deranged chipmunk View Post
    that is one of the coolest custom build i have seen. nice job!! i was kind of wondering though, are you worried about weight on the bottom? i mean, in most aquatic tanks, the bottom is tempered, but you are using a side panel from the 55 as the bottom, right? and it's drilled? that's a lot of stress on weakened glass.
    You are right that it is a side panel and drilled. But it is 1/4 inch (strong) and I'm only putting <5 gallons in it. How much weight do the sides on 10 gallon tanks take and how thick are they? But I may putt a sheet of something under it if I'm too scared.

  18. #17
    Moderator deranged chipmunk's Avatar
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    Very true, but 1/4" is the thinnest they use. I have an old school 55 that has 3/8" glass. That would have been perfect. Keep in mind, that a side panel resists outward force, but the bottom pane has the weight of everything above it on it. That includes the false bottom and everything on top of it. It should be plenty strong. I wasn't second guessing you or trying to scare you, it was just something that caught my eye and i was curious about.
    1.0.0 Oophaga Pumilio 'Black Jeans'
    0.0.10 Phyllobates Vittatus
    0.0.3 Phyllobates Terribilis 'Mint'
    0.0.3 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Patricia'
    0.0.5 Dendrobates Leucomelas
    0.0.2 Dendrobates Tinctorius 'Powder Blue'
    0.0.2 Ranitomeya Variabilis 'southern'
    0.0.3 Epipedobates Anthonyi 'zarayunga'
    1.2.0 Phyllobates bicolor
    0.0.3 Dendrobates tinctorius 'azureus'
    0.0.1 Avicularia Avicularia
    0.0.1 Gramastola porteri
    0.2.0 Canines
    1.0.0 Tabby/Maine Coon Mix
    2.1.0 Genetics Experiments
    0.1.0 Bed Bully

  19. #18
    Eric and Stitch
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    Not much has changed visually, I will be putting the last coating of titebond on today and assembling the whole thing tonight.

    My questions. Now are in relation to how to light this tall structure? 18 inch bulb limit. (2 or3 bulbs) what bulbs? I was planning on ex-terra 2.0 and a 5.0. How much heat? I was planning on using one or two of those ceramic coil lights for overhead infrared heating hooked to a thermostat.

    Anybody have an opinion on the ex-terra light cycle unit? Is it worth it or do the frogs do fine with out the dusk/dawn it offers? My understanding of tube lights is that there is no 'dim' just 'not quite full power'
    Any opinions will be awesome.

  20. #19
    J Teezy
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    talk to Todd at Lightyourreptiles.com about your lighting. He knows his stuff and could point you in the right direction

  21. This member thanks J Teezy for this post:


  22. #20
    Eric and Stitch
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    Default Re: 55 gallon Vivarium project

    Quote Originally Posted by J Teezy View Post
    talk to Todd at Lightyourreptiles.com about your lighting. He knows his stuff and could point you in the right direction
    I'll look him up. Thanks.

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