Re: Vivarium beginner, need advice
Probably $300 - $400 in supplies - silicone, spray foam, suitable soil (not just any old soil), clay balls, screen layer, plants, two cork rounds. I spent more on the plants than I needed to however - a LOT more - but I didn't know which ones were safe so I just bought them from a specialized supplier. Next time, now that I know a bit more, I'll go to a greenhouse. I'll have to heavily rinse the soil, but it'll still be worth it. I would have saved probably $60 easily by doing that. For soil and background dirt, I think it's important to get the proper stuff rather than going cheap. There are a few places online that ship it (I got some at Josh's Frogs).
For time, that's a hard one to estimate! I didn't really keep track. I put about an hour or two into it here and there over the course of a few weeks (especially at the beginning, every layer needed a few days to fully cure, so it went together very slowly but steadily). In some ways it was a great project because of the drying time, so I couldn't rush it and let's be honest, I didn't have huge blocks of time for something like this anyway, hah!
I love how it turned out in the end, and I love watching Roo climb throughout it. He loves the logs for sleeping in - in fact, I decided that one log in particular would be his "safe" log where I would never disturb him no matter what. Every now and then he goes on a streak of sleeping exclusively in that log so I just let him be. He doesn't make much use of the magnetic ledge I bought, and so far none of my plants are as good for climbing as the one big plastic plant that came from his old home, but I'm hoping eventually that will change.
I also worked hard at making a foam-and-silicone built-in plant pot partway up one corner, with a drainage pipe and everything, but I can't seem to keep the soil up there moist enough to sustain any of the usual plants. I was hoping to pot some kind of ivy to drape down, but instead I'll just have to hope for things to grow up from the bottom. The upper half of the tank dries out a lot quicker than I expected, so I think all my plants will have to be solidly rooted in the lower half, and they can climb to the upper half. Despite this, the measured humidity levels seem right on track for a crested gecko, which is the most important part.
Anyway, good luck, it's a fun and rewarding project!
-- 1 bearded dragon
-- 1 leopard gecko
-- 1 crested gecko