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Thread: Vivarium beginner, need advice

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Default Vivarium beginner, need advice

    I want to learn how to make the amazing living vivariums that I see pictures of. My long-term plan is to spend the winter creating one, and in the spring I want to get a crested gecko to live in it.

    I'm a fairly experienced gardener and we own other reptiles (leopard gecko and bearded dragon) so I feel this is a reasonable goal and I am crazy excited about the entire prospect. However, I'd rather not screw it up, especially when I want it to be a home for a little critter. I don't want to hurt the gecko or stress it out by having to move it to a temporary house while I "fix" the vivarium. I want to do it right the first time. I recognize that tweaking will probably be necessary, but I don't want to have to dismantle the entire thing and start over.

    I'm reading tons of tutorials on the internet, which is super helpful, but I'd really like to talk to someone personally about it, or attend a workshop or something. Is anyone experienced in this area who would be willing to chat with me about it? Or do you know any good resources in Edmonton? I'd love to hear from you!

    Thanks for thinking of me!

    Julie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Edmonton
    Posts
    2,123

    Default Re: Vivarium beginner, need advice

    Come to the expo lots of people with loads of knowledge to help you with this project.
    2 Corn snake, 3 Kingsnakes,1Normal Ball Python, 1 pastel Ball python,1 KSB, 1 Childrens Python, 1 African House snake,1 checkered Gartner snake, 1 Radiated Rat snake, 1 Coastal carpet python,1 uromasystx, 1Turners gecko
    3 Leopard Geckos, 1 Bearded Dragon, 2 dogs, 3 cats, 3 budgies and 2 Cockatiel

  3. #3
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    Sep 2008
    Location
    Edmonton, Southeast
    Posts
    1,202

    Default Re: Vivarium beginner, need advice

    As far as places to shop at in town, big als and ellerslie greenhouse and if you need drainage layer just buy clay hydropaunic substrate from T&T hydroponics.
    Last edited by REALEVIL1; 10-13-2016 at 08:50 AM.
    ERAS SUPPORTER SINCE 1995!
    Bryce & Gaby Pollock

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Edmonton, Southeast
    Posts
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    Default Re: Vivarium beginner, need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by tzulah View Post
    I want to learn how to make the amazing living vivariums that I see pictures of. My long-term plan is to spend the winter creating one, and in the spring I want to get a crested gecko to live in it.

    I'm a fairly experienced gardener and we own other reptiles (leopard gecko and bearded dragon) so I feel this is a reasonable goal and I am crazy excited about the entire prospect. However, I'd rather not screw it up, especially when I want it to be a home for a little critter. I don't want to hurt the gecko or stress it out by having to move it to a temporary house while I "fix" the vivarium. I want to do it right the first time. I recognize that tweaking will probably be necessary, but I don't want to have to dismantle the entire thing and start over.

    I'm reading tons of tutorials on the internet, which is super helpful, but I'd really like to talk to someone personally about it, or attend a workshop or something. Is anyone experienced in this area who would be willing to chat with me about it? Or do you know any good resources in Edmonton? I'd love to hear from you!

    Thanks for thinking of me!

    Julie


    @tzulah

    I am doing the same thing this winter.
    Have you thought of what you want to build and some specifics? Maybe i can help you out.
    ERAS SUPPORTER SINCE 1995!
    Bryce & Gaby Pollock

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    11

    Default Re: Vivarium beginner, need advice

    I am slowly getting more and more specific with my ideas. I have a tank, an Exo-terra 18x18x24tall front-opening tank. Second-hand, but in good shape. I just water-tested it overnight and no leaks. I have a new Monsoon mister to use with it too.

    Next I want to replace the top with half-glass, half-screen. I also need to get a hood light for it. Now that I am writing this out, I realize I'm going to have to figure out how the mister enters the tank, and I'm also going to need some kind of cabinet for everything to sit on. I also don't know whether I should plan on buying distilled water, or whether tap water will be ok?

    At the expo, I talked at length with the vivarium people there and bought a pile of materials, but I'm glad to know other places in town in case I need more - thanks!! I have the clay balls substrate, proper soil, and the jungle bark mix or something like that. It's the stuff I'll be using to make the background. I also have a handful of great little plants and moss (from the expo) that I am keeping alive in a temporary enclosure.

    I'm going to paint the back of the tank with brown silicone (I bought the stuff that was recommended to me for this purpose). Then I'm going to spray expanding foam (lightly) to create some background texture and interest, and maybe make a ledge or two, or a plant pot holder, or a food dish, or stuff like that. I am not sure yet if I'm going to keep this stuff along the back wall only, or branch some of it across the walls? Across the walls would be more fun for the gecko I think, but might look funny from the outside. I wonder if I could mix some bark with the silicone, so that it would look textured from the outside too, or if that would compromise the sticking strength?

    Also, I have a piece of cork round that I'm going to stick into the foam about halfway up, to act as a hide and climbing material. Then I'll carve the foam until I'm happy with it, and then paint the foam with more brown silicone, pressing the jungle bark into it as I go.

    For the bottom, I'll prepare a pop bottle (cut in half and perforated) to give access for easy water cleanout if needed. I'll stick that in, then layer my clay balls, landscape fabric, and soil. Then put in my plants, and maybe some leaf litter on top. I also have a second cork round that I'm going to place on the ground, and maybe fill with soil and plants. Then I'll get some isopods and springtails.

    If the plants grow in well, I might not need anything else, but I'm already thinking that I'll want one of those fake bendable moss vines to add some extra climbing area, and I'll probably want another hide somewhere. I don't think my one cork hide is going to be sufficient.

    Writing this out was helpful! I know each stage is going to take time but I'm patient and looking forward to it. Does it sound ok to you? Did I miss anything? What is your experience with some of the things I mentioned? I'm worried that my cork hide isn't going to be dark enough (it angles upwards somewhat, toward the light). I'm also wondering if I should have a heat source anywhere, and I'm wondering how to get moss to grow on the walls? Should I be planning mini planting holes all over the walls to hold moss nuggets?

    Julie
    _________________________________
    Julie
    -- 1 bearded dragon
    -- 1 leopard gecko
    -- 1 crested gecko

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Vivarium beginner, need advice

    I just remember about charcoal. I bought a vivarium soil mix that has charcoal already mixed in, so I wasn't going to add a layer of charcoal. I do have a tiny bag of charcoal that I will probably sprinkle in just to use it up - I think it goes on the landscape fabric, before the soil mix?
    _________________________________
    Julie
    -- 1 bearded dragon
    -- 1 leopard gecko
    -- 1 crested gecko

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Edmonton, AB
    Posts
    1,004

    Default Re: Vivarium beginner, need advice

    I have three Exo Terras running bioactive enclosures for their crested gecko owners. In my very dry house, I have a Mist King system set up to mist all enclosures twice a day, and that keeps the humidity quite high, so I'm not sure you need half glass for a crestie - they do like a small drop in humidity, they're not quite dart frogs.

    All three of my enclosures have a drainage layer (you can buy it from Amazon.ca for quite cheap), then screen, then various dirts. I used charcoal in the first homemade mix, Josh's Mix in the second (this contains charcoal too), and a plain coco soil for the third, no charcoal. Doesn't seem to be much different.

    Since you're setting up just one cage, I would suggest spending the extra money on Arcadia bulbs. There is a Canadian retailer and they will give you a good result, I think.

    As well, set up your plantings and let them grow in before adding the animal, if you can.
    --
    5
    .5.1 rosy boas, 0.2 leucistic Texas rat snakes, 1.0 blotched king snake, 1.0 eastern indigo snake, 1.0 corn snake
    , 1.0 ball python, 0.1 tri-color hognose snake, 0.1 red mountain rat snake, 1.1.1 crested geckos.
    --

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Bonnie doon, edmonton
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    80

    Default Re: Vivarium beginner, need advice

    Dont be scared of the snake; Its like a cat without fur and evil intentions

  9. #9
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    Sep 2016
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    Default Re: Vivarium beginner, need advice

    I agree - in the end that site was exactly what I used for step-by-step instructions, thank you mandingo! It's a fantastic resource. I've been meaning to post pictures of my setup but I keep getting distracted.

    Here's a bunch of progress photos:

    Attachment 14921 Attachment 14922 Attachment 14923 4-IMG_1956.JPG 5-1-IMG_1986.JPG
    _________________________________
    Julie
    -- 1 bearded dragon
    -- 1 leopard gecko
    -- 1 crested gecko

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Vivarium beginner, need advice

    And here are some more recent photos, with my new and first crested gecko! I was planning to get a female, but in the end I unexpectedly ended up with a male, which was kind of funny and totally appropriate for our family. His name is Roo.

    I put some of the plastic plants that were in Roo's old cage into the vivarium, to help him feel more comfortable during the transition. And I'm glad I did - he hid amongst those plastic plants almost exclusively for the first week! But once my vines have grown in a bit more I'll take them out.

    Oh, and while I thoroughly cleaned everything and anything before putting it in, I did learn throughout the process about properly sterilizing things for enclosures, particularly salvaged scenery from nature. I have sticks and branches in our other lizard enclosures that had not been properly sanitized (because I didn't know any better), so I panicked and pulled them out, and sterilized them according to a few lizard-scenery-building websites, sterilized the inside of the tanks and everything else that had been in it, and recreated their setups. I was feeling pretty good about everything right up until I went to take Roo's food dish out to clean and refill, and there was a SLUG in it. A SLUG. I suddenly realized that the leaf litter in his tank had been collected from outside, where I had carefully collected leaves from areas I knew were pesticide-free and the leaves were safe for a gecko. When I asked other vivarium keepers whether this was ok, they all agreed that it should be fine as long as I am careful about pesticides, which I was. But it never occurred to me that I would be introducing something like slugs! So far I continue to find slugs in the food dish (despite the dish being far up off the ground, I might add) but they don't seem to be problematic. Do you think Roo would eat them? And would that be ok?


    6-2-IMG_2399.JPG 7-1-IMG_2401.JPG 8-3-IMG_2408.JPG 1-Roo_firedup1.jpg
    _________________________________
    Julie
    -- 1 bearded dragon
    -- 1 leopard gecko
    -- 1 crested gecko

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