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Vivarium heating help

This is a discussion on Vivarium heating help within the Vivarium, Terrarium & Enclosure Discussion forums, part of the General Topics category; Hello all, This is my first post here, and I have a few questions about heating my vivarium. First off, ...

  1. #1
    Kyle
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    Default Vivarium heating help

    Hello all,

    This is my first post here, and I have a few questions about heating my vivarium. First off, the vivarium in question is an Exoterra 18" x 18" x 12" (aka small low) enclosure, and houses my lone pet Franz, a tomato frog. I have been playing around with my vivarium trying to get things just right (from what I have heard, 80% humidity and 85 degrees Fahrenheit), and things have been difficult to say the least. So far, this is what the tank looks like:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I ended up installing a Mistking basic kit to provide humidity, and swapped out the screen top for one fashioned out of an acrylic pane from Home Depot. I wish that I had taken the time to make one out of glass, because the acrylic does warp under the heat. Thankfully, it does not seem to be warping enough that it will not still maintain the humidity.

    The room the tank is in is around 72 degrees normally, which from what I have read is not ideal for tomato frogs. My initial scheme was to purchase a Zoomed lamp stand and hang the lights above the tank, which which increase the spread of the light while decreasing intensity and delivering roughly the same amount of heat to the tank. You can see the dual dome fixture at the top of the picture: one of the bulbs is a red CFL found at Home Depot, and the other is a Zoomed 75 W daylight basking lamp. Indeed, the bulb does its job of delivering heat to the system.

    With the light, the temperature hovers around 81 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity is about 87%. The humidity is a bit high for my tastes, especially because of the fogging it creates on the sides of the tank. Otherwise, the conditions are fine. The problem, however, is that the light seems to be scorching my plants. The acrylic gets quite hot over the plants, and I suspect this is causing the scorching as the plants are so close to the top thanks to the 12" tank height. I have tried attaching a heat pad to the side of the tank and just using a CFL for light, but it does not change the overall temperature of the tank, plus my frog just burrows himself into the substrate right next to the pad, making it hard for me to enjoy him.

    Any ideas on how I might be able to remedy this? I have thought about making an open-top glass box and setting it on the inside rim of the top of the tank to increase the overall height and the distance of the lamp from the plants, but I'm not sure. Also, I cannot seem to post the pictures in the post text area itself, and they are attached to the post instead.

    I'm really kind of stuck here, and I would really appreciate any advice so I may around making more, expensive mistakes.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Vivarium heating help-img_0104-1-.jpg   Vivarium heating help-img_0103-1-.jpg   Vivarium heating help-img_0105-1-.jpg  

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    () kimix is offline
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    Default Re: Vivarium heating help

    Hey there,
    I'll take a stab at this since there has been no replies yet.

    Firstly I want to say that when you see an "ideal" temperature and humidity range to keep in mind that nature does not do exact temperatures and humidity at all times, so there is nothing wrong with variation, and I personally prefer night time drops on all my animals, just like occurs in nature.

    Also, most keepers prefer to have a warm and cool side to a tank, so the animal can choose its comfort zone. With the type of setup you have going now, it sounds like there is no cooler zone.

    If this was my tank, here is what I would try, Below the light bulb I would cut a circle out of the plexi glass, you could glue screen over the hole to keep an intact lid. The hole will allow some of the excess humidity to escape, and should let you drop down to a 60 watt bulb since there will be less plastic to block the heat entering the tank. Since you have a misting system, I don't forsee a massive loss in humidity, and again, keep in mind fluctuations are fine. And since your tank is still mostly sealed I think the heat will still keep in well.

    If you put the hole in the center of the lid, you will have more humidity loss since the whole is closer to all edges of the tank, if you put the hole in one corner, it should keep the humidity a bit higher. You would need to experiment to see how moving the light to one corner would affect the over all temp. Moving the light to one corner may also allow you to move it away from your plants and reduce the burning. And also may give your frog a slightly warmer area vs. the rest of the tank.

    The other factor you would need to play with is the size of the hole. You could start with a small hole, see how it affects your numbers, and then expend the size of the hole if its not working out

    An opposite way to go would be keep your current lights mounted where they are now, and drill some small holes in the lid to allow some excess humidity to escape. Small holes probably wont lose to much heat, but will again give you a bit of a release of humidity. Again, it would be trial and error to figure out how many holes you need. Start with only a few and increase as needed. But this wont do anything to help the plant problem.

    Hopefully some of that will give you some ideas! Good Luck.

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    Kyle
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    Default Re: Vivarium heating help

    Quote Originally Posted by kimix View Post
    Hey there,
    I'll take a stab at this since there has been no replies yet.

    Firstly I want to say that when you see an "ideal" temperature and humidity range to keep in mind that nature does not do exact temperatures and humidity at all times, so there is nothing wrong with variation, and I personally prefer night time drops on all my animals, just like occurs in nature.

    Also, most keepers prefer to have a warm and cool side to a tank, so the animal can choose its comfort zone. With the type of setup you have going now, it sounds like there is no cooler zone.

    If this was my tank, here is what I would try, Below the light bulb I would cut a circle out of the plexi glass, you could glue screen over the hole to keep an intact lid. The hole will allow some of the excess humidity to escape, and should let you drop down to a 60 watt bulb since there will be less plastic to block the heat entering the tank. Since you have a misting system, I don't forsee a massive loss in humidity, and again, keep in mind fluctuations are fine. And since your tank is still mostly sealed I think the heat will still keep in well.

    If you put the hole in the center of the lid, you will have more humidity loss since the whole is closer to all edges of the tank, if you put the hole in one corner, it should keep the humidity a bit higher. You would need to experiment to see how moving the light to one corner would affect the over all temp. Moving the light to one corner may also allow you to move it away from your plants and reduce the burning. And also may give your frog a slightly warmer area vs. the rest of the tank.

    The other factor you would need to play with is the size of the hole. You could start with a small hole, see how it affects your numbers, and then expend the size of the hole if its not working out

    An opposite way to go would be keep your current lights mounted where they are now, and drill some small holes in the lid to allow some excess humidity to escape. Small holes probably wont lose to much heat, but will again give you a bit of a release of humidity. Again, it would be trial and error to figure out how many holes you need. Start with only a few and increase as needed. But this wont do anything to help the plant problem.

    Hopefully some of that will give you some ideas! Good Luck.
    Cool, thanks for the help! I probably will try drilling some holes in the lid to regulate the humidity, and also to let some more light in. I was thinking about possibly switching to a florescent tube fixture of some type, to spread the light over a greater area and not make it too hot in one spot and burn the plants. Unfortunately, the plants reach all around the tank, so there really isn't any escaping them being under the light.

    Do you think there might be a better alternative lighting source to light and heat the tank? If the light could just heat up the tank five degrees or so and I left the heat pad in there, it would provide my animal some ability to choose its comfort zone, right?

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