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Thread: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

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    Founder John's Avatar
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    Default 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    This is based on Shawn Harrington's great guide over at Dendroboard, with some modifications. I use Dane Thaanum's (of Junglebox) approach at the top of the big glass door to keep the fruit flies in, rather than Shawn's V-channel. Junglebox sells conversion kits so you don't have to make them yourself, though I make my own because I don't like the size of the vents that Dane sells (they're too wide in my opinion). I encourage you to read Shawn's guide while looking at these photos.

    Here's the bare 10 gallon terrarium (Aqueon Brand). I find that there is a molding imperfection in all of these, so you're better keeping the "label" end at the top, in order for the door to fit completely flush with the rim.



    In the next photo, the ghost wood (purchased from Blackjungle) was siliconed into position and some aquarium silicone was spread on the glass where the foam was to be sprayed, in order to give it better purchase. The terrarium was then left for 48 hours to allow the silicone to cure, and then Handi-foam (a brand of spray foam meant for ponds and aquariums - available from Drs Foster's Smith) was sprayed around it to make a 3D surface onto which to silicone background material. It's not very easy to see but in the upper left, the foam protrudes quite significantly forward - I did this so I could carve a "shelf" there. The foam was also used to seal gaps around and behind the wood, so frogs can't get trapped. The foam was allowed 4 or 5 days for a crude cure. Some people use "Great Stuff" insulating foam, but this is an unpleasant yellow colour and tends to expand more than Handi-foam, in my experience. Being yellow, if your covering isn't done well (see later) then it's easier to see the gaps.



    After curing for a few days, I then carve the foam into the shape I am going for. I use a sharp narrow knife and a razor blade (handy for removing excess silicone and mistakes too). Some of the foam inside is still gooey, even after 5 days curing. Therefore I pierce the foam with a toothpick in several places, to aid curing, and then the terrarium is left for another week.



    One thing I should mention is that I've siliconed two pieces of "off-cuts" of the ghost wood so that they make little holders for the two bromeliads I'm going to place in the terrarium.

    In the next photo I've used GE II brown silicone (window and door), spread on the background, and then peat moss, coconut husk and a little coconut fibre, all mixed together, is pressed into place in the silicone. I've let it cure for a week and then cleaned up - a large cheap paintbrush is useful for removing excess materials, and a razor blade removes the excess silicone from the glass.



    The small glass panel is siliconed into place at the bottom and left for a few days, then a layer of LECA is added for drainage, then some fibre glass mesh, over which is placed coconut husk and then Atlanta Botanical Garden's soil recipe (ABG MIX). This is then covered with Live Oak leaves ("Live Oak" is a species of tree in the US), springtails are added, and then the terrarium is planted. It will take a few months for the terrarium to "grow in".



    I usually cut the glass myself - it's 1/4" (0.635 cm) thick plate glass. In this case I got it and the big door panel cut at my local hardware shop - the cuts are free there, I just have to pay for the glass. The hinge is the "Extruded Aquarium Hinge" that Dane of Junglebox uses. The vent is made from Aluminium screen materials from hardware stores. The mesh is "No-see-um" netting and prevents fruit fly escapes. Where the top of the door meets the vent, a piece of acrylic the width of the terrarium as been attached to the vent screen with screws. There is a single door catch at the top - some people use two, and I have as well in the past.

    Here are three vertical 10 gallon terrariums. The two on the left are 5 months "grown-in". The one on the right is the one discussed in this thread. The white objects are film canisters for the Imitator Dart Frogs to deposit tadpoles, eggs, and to hide.



    The two terrariums on the left don't usually have that much condensation - they had been misted before this photo.
    Last edited by John; July 10th, 2011 at 03:40 PM.
    Founder of Frogforum.net (2008) and Caudata.org (2001)

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  4. #2
    Kurt
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    Very good.

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    100+ Post Member Ebony's Avatar
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    Wow

  6. #4
    Paul Rust
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    That's very good John. Thanks for some more ideas. I love the background work.

  7. #5
    Tropicok
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    Nevermind my other post about the conversion kit. I read this very clear instruction post after.....thanks.

  8. #6
    scribbles
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    Wow, very nice.

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    Founder John's Avatar
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    The three terrariums shown earlier in this thread, but now at the end of July:



    All three terrariums have a breeding pair of Imitating Dart Frogs, Ranitomeya imitator, formerly known as Dendrobates imitator.
    The left terrarium houses a newly matured pair of the "Standard Intermedius" race.
    The center terrarium houses a very prolific breeding pair of the "Tarapoto" race.
    The right terrarium houses a breeding pair of the "Varadero" race (aka "Jeberos").
    Founder of Frogforum.net (2008) and Caudata.org (2001)

  10. #8
    Jace
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    Amazing, John. Thanks for sharing the process and explaining it in detail.

  11. #9
    mikebannon
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    wooow!!! there awsome!

  12. #10
    noob
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    i want to do this so bad but i would have no idea where to start a step by step video would be amazing im going to get all the items needed to do this i got it from that link you put up im going to do it with a 20 gallen tank for im going to get a whites tree frog the only thing that i dont undersand and would not feel good with are making the screens and false bottoms.

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    Founder John's Avatar
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    I'm not sure it would be good for a White's Tree Frog because those frogs require significant ventilation - the conversion I've shown here is geared towards dart frogs because they don't require much (actually, almost no) ventilation.
    Founder of Frogforum.net (2008) and Caudata.org (2001)

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    100+ Post Member JimO's Avatar
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    That is great John. Thanks for sharing it. I'm getting ready to put a 20-gal vert together for my new pair of pumilio cristobals (my first pums - I'm so excited). I've used Gorilla glue rather than silicon to attached the fiber material to the backing. Is there a reason you prefer silicon? Most of my vivs have fern panel backing so I'm new with the great stuff method. The Gorilla glue expanded a little so I had to press more fiber into it before it fully cured, but it seemed to do the job.
    I used to think that I had to understand in order to believe, then I realized that I must believe in order to understand - Augustine

  15. #13
    byrdviper
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    Those look great. The construction seems like it goes fairly quickly also.Is the ventilation screen made from a standard screen framing material or something else?

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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    Quote Originally Posted by JimO View Post
    Is there a reason you prefer silicon?
    That's an interesting question. I'm actually trying to get away from the expanding foam + silicone method. It takes a long time for the foam to cure and there's controversy over whether or not GE Silicone II is safe or not. The anecdotal evidence and my own experience is that yes it is safe. However, my next background is going to be clay (yep, the kitty litter method). I've already got pure sodium bentonite kitty litter for it. It's cheap and very quick. You just can't let it dry out completely or it will crack.

    Quote Originally Posted by byrdviper View Post
    Those look great. The construction seems like it goes fairly quickly also.Is the ventilation screen made from a standard screen framing material or something else?
    If you mean the actual mesh, that's not standard screen - it's no-see-um mesh sold by camping stores. Nothing can get through it.
    Founder of Frogforum.net (2008) and Caudata.org (2001)

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    100+ Post Member JimO's Avatar
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    Quote Originally Posted by John View Post
    That's an interesting question. I'm actually trying to get away from the expanding foam + silicone method. It takes a long time for the foam to cure and there's controversy over whether or not GE Silicone II is safe or not. The anecdotal evidence and my own experience is that yes it is safe. However, my next background is going to be clay (yep, the kitty litter method). I've already got pure sodium bentonite kitty litter for it. It's cheap and very quick. You just can't let it dry out completely or it will crack.
    I'm actually considering foam for the upper half and clay for the lower half where it will stay moist. I don't have a misting system and I just know that I'll forget and let it dry out up near the lights.
    I used to think that I had to understand in order to believe, then I realized that I must believe in order to understand - Augustine

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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    Awe..... If only my hands didnt mess up what I touch. D; Id make my own. Chances are ID somehow get it wrong. :P I got a question for you john or any vertical tank keepers or any plant keepers in fact

    1)How do you feed the plants in a vertical tank if the plants are on the walls covered with cocofiber linen???? I saw a set up like this a while ago and Iam very curious how one feeds a plant that is on a wall.

    Also whats that black thing you were putting on?
    As well if you wanted to make a nice rim job. Like I went to dendroboards for a sec to look at their terrariums and one person had this terrarium that won a prize. It had wooden rims and it looked like how the exo terras make theirs in that sort of sense. How do you do something like that? Because wood gets damaged easily by water or pretty much alot of things. Also if I wanted to paint the rims green would that look bad? Or like if I wanted to paint little designs on the rim?
    I got some vertical tank ideas but somewhat afraid to do them so my question is.... How hard is it to do one ? And how stable are they?

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    Founder John's Avatar
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    Quote Originally Posted by Deku View Post
    1)How do you feed the plants in a vertical tank if the plants are on the walls covered with cocofiber linen????
    You usually don't feed them. Most of the plants suitable for these positions are epiphytic - they live off the ground and get their nutrients from the air and water that gets onto them. They can also get nutrients from things like frog poop breaking down.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deku View Post
    Also whats that black thing you were putting on?
    Read the post again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deku View Post
    It had wooden rims and it looked like how the exo terras make theirs in that sort of sense. How do you do something like that?
    I'm not sure what you're talking about but it sounds like some kind of DIY woodwork - not my area of expertise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deku View Post
    Because wood gets damaged easily by water or pretty much alot of things. Also if I wanted to paint the rims green would that look bad? Or like if I wanted to paint little designs on the rim?
    As long as you use non-toxic paints.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deku View Post
    I got some vertical tank ideas but somewhat afraid to do them so my question is.... How hard is it to do one ? And how stable are they?
    I feel like your post was a direct stream of thought post. How hard is it? It's not hard, but what might be hard to you may be easier for me. Just try it.
    Founder of Frogforum.net (2008) and Caudata.org (2001)

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    vasco94
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    My god , your terrariums , are amazing
    Congrats

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    100+ Post Member Tom Highum's Avatar
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    Hello John great job they look beautiful but i have a few questions:
    1. No-See-Um mesh, do you know if that could be obtainable on the internet?
    2. Could you list what kind of plants you used and where you got them?
    3. Will the Ghost Wood rot in any way?
    Thanks
    Tom

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    Founder John's Avatar
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    Default Re: 10 gallon vertical dartfrog terrarium construction

    1: Camping stores sell it. I believe you can get it from amazon.com too
    2: Plants, that's an awesome question. There are various bromeliads, most of which are small kinds of Neoregelia. I use Aechmea gamosepala (spelling?). Of the other plants, there are Fittonia (the leaves with the white markings), Ficus pumila, and various aroids including Pothos. I have also added Dischidia "Million Hearts" to the terrariums since the last photo. Most of my plants, with the exception of Pothos and Dischidia, came from other hobbyists or Black Jungle. I have also started buying bromeliads from Michael's Bromeliads in Florida (they have a web site). Pothos and Dischidia came from Home Depot or Walmart.
    3: The Ghost wood holds up for a very long time. Mine shows no signs of degradation after a year.
    Founder of Frogforum.net (2008) and Caudata.org (2001)

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