Poison dart frog build (pic heavy)

Discussion in 'Off Topic / Chit-Chat' started by gex23, 13 Mar 2018.

  1. gex23

    gex23 Member

    Thought i'd post this here as it may be of some interest to a few members (maybe) :)

    I shut down my planted tank a little while ago with the idea of getting back into the froggy side of life.

    My plan is to start with this build, with the idea of keeping either a pair of Oophaga Pumilio Basimentos, or Ranitomeya Variabilis Imitator and eventually progress to building multiple setups.

    Equipment list :


    24*18*24 Exo Terra


    ATI Sunpower 6 x 24w T5HO dimmable


    Rainforest Vivs misting system w/ 2 single nozzles and 25 litre RO
    reservoir, which will run for 60 seconds, 3 times a day in order to maintain humidity.


    Hydroleca drainage w/ABG substrate layer and leaflitter.

    ABG comprises of :

    Milled sphagnum moss, treefern (xaxim) granules, orchid bark (fine), peat moss, lumpwood charcoal.

    Background / decor

    Treefern / cork background with cork 'tree stump'


    DIY polycarbonate lid with vents covered in fly mesh (external air drawn in) and 40mm fan running on a fan controller (internal circulation).

    Treefern background (will be cut up to make space to silicone the cork trunk)

    [​IMG]20180310_111330 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    First test fit :

    [​IMG]20180310_110059 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    [​IMG]20180310_110110 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    [​IMG]20180310_110415 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    [​IMG]20180310_110426 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    Drainage (may remove the cap and replace with cork round)

    [​IMG]20180310_110639 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    [​IMG]20180310_110705 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    Fruit fly media (stocked for about a year I think!)

    [​IMG]20180310_110803 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    Misting pump / reservoir (will be using RO water) :

    [​IMG]20180310_110734 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    More to follow.
    zozo, Aqua360 and Gill like this.
  2. gex23

    gex23 Member

    So my cat helpfully decided to deconstruct the modded lid I used - so I upgraded to 10mm twinwall polycarbonate.

    This has a lower thermal heat loss than glass, but the flipside is a lower percentage of light transmission. From the datasheets i've gathered it goes (approximate figures) :

    8mm low iron glass (optiwhite) - 90%

    8mm float glass - 85%

    10mm twinwall polycarbonate - 80%

    Not bad, and coupled with the fact the ATI is pretty overkill for this tank anyway (usually used on SPS / LPS reef tanks), it should see some decent PAR numbers at all heights in the tank.

    [​IMG]20180312_173528 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    5 x 75mm vents, wrapped in fly mesh to improve external circulation and decrease moisture buildup on the front:

    [​IMG]20180312_173150 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    Back to the light - bought preowned from a reefer with a selection of 6/10/15k bulbs producing a very blue light not pleasing on the eye for its new purpose

    [​IMG]20180310_110613 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    Replaced with the following :

    [​IMG]20180312_100308 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    So that's :

    6500k x 3
    4000k x 1
    3000k x 1
    2700k x 1

    Which looks like this :

    [​IMG]20180312_103613 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    [​IMG]20180312_103620 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    Also cut out 3 x 16mm holes for misting nozzles.

    Tomorrow will see me siliconing the treefern panels to the back of the tank.
    zozo, three-fingers, Gill and 3 others like this.
  3. gex23

    gex23 Member

    Maple, Tim Harrison, mort and 2 others like this.
  4. foxfish

    foxfish Member

    You have some nice decor & some nice bit of kit, although I am not convinced the about twin wall.
    Have you seen it used before?
  5. Nigel95

    Nigel95 Member

    The Netherlands
    Nice poison dart frogs :thumbup:
  6. gex23

    gex23 Member

    I have on previous builds.

    I know of a former breeder that constructed the entire vivarium out of twinwall with no issues!

    Why do you ask?
  7. gex23

    gex23 Member

    Cheers :)
  8. foxfish

    foxfish Member

    Well apart from the light loss I wonder if damp air gets in the middle, if it will condensate between the layers?
    Also from my own experience, the plastic become opaque over time & restricts light even further.
    I started off using Perspex on my viv but it warped and went really opaque within a year, I use glass now.
    Of course I might be totally wrong o_O
  9. gex23

    gex23 Member

    Light loss is approx 10% less than optiwhite and 5% less than float glass looking at the manufacturers datasheets.

    PDFs don't need a lot of light they prefer diffused light, just the bromeliads will to retain colour plus orchids.

    The ATI sunpower keeps the T5s in a specific temp range to promote max lumens output, coupled with the best reflectors on the market. So in terms of light I'm really not concerned.

    The opaque issue may be a concern, however trying to get glass cut with so many holes in such a small dimension of glass proves tricky to impossible.

    There shouldn't be much moisture ingress as I'm siliconing all openings in the corrugated construction.

    Thanks for the input though, I appreciate it.
    foxfish likes this.
  10. gex23

    gex23 Member

    Continuing the build, I decided to cover the left hand side to prevent my Burmese kitten taking too much interest in the inhabitants.

    Originally I bought some exo terra treefern panels along with the treefern from a local supplier - the quality difference is stark - the exo is the lighter variant, thin and general poor quality, too late as it's siliconed in place :(.

    I continued this theme with breaking up the remaining treefern and some cork to create a mosaic, while leaving a 1 inch gap in between which will be infilled with sphagnum moss. I'm still not happy with the bare glass left at the sides, so i've ordered some more dark tree fern panels to finish the job.

    My jobs list

    - Recut and redrill another lid, as the initial misting nozzle placement was too central and would have left 30%ish of the tank dry (i've also ordered 2 more misting nozzles, to increase coverage).
    - Drill an 8mm hole on the rear glass panel towards the bottom and fit the mistking bulkhead (for drainage water runoff)
    - Drainage layer - I purchased hydroleca drainage medium but am considering using an eggcrate setup for weightsaving.
    - Mix substrate to simulate Atlanata Botanical Gardens substrate
    - Start practicing with fly cultures, i'll stick with just melanogasters / turkish gliders.
    - Plumb in misting system.
    - Order parts for internal fan circulation, so far that comprises : 50mm brushless fans x 2, PC fan controller, 3 pin extension cables and power supply.
    - Silicone Manzanita in place to finish off hardscape
    - Order and install heatpad into cabinet to stabilise temps in there for optimum isopod / fly production.

    Here, I think, is the finished hardscape (bar the treefern panels on the sides) :

    [​IMG]20180317_171208 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    [​IMG]20180317_171346 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    [​IMG]20180317_171230 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    To be continued :)
    Aron_Dip, Nelson, Konsa and 1 other person like this.
  11. gex23

    gex23 Member

    It's been a little while since my last update, in no small part due to work but also things going wrong (and continuing to!)

    Since the last update i've managed the following :

    - Drilled bulkhead for Mistking 'value bulkhead' - this is only 6mm tubing but it does the job of draining the excess water from the drainage layer. Ryan from MK quoted me the wrong drill bit size, so had to wait for the correct one to arrive before proceeding. Once drilled and fitted I leak tested it, and found it was leaking badly even with an extra O ring on the outer glass. So I had to smear it in silicone and fingers crossed this seems to be holding up :

    [​IMG]20180405_140912 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    [​IMG]20180405_140916 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    - False bottoms constructed, these cover approx 80% of the floor, to reduce weight. Finished around the edges and centre with expanded clay balls, topped with rigid plastic mesh and topped finally with horticultural fleece

    [​IMG]20180405_131043 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    [​IMG]20180405_131445 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    - ABG substrate mix created (using sphagnum moss, tree fern granules, carbon granules, fine orchid bark and peat moss)

    [​IMG]20180405_141057 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    - Topped with a thin later of oak leaves (I need a much thicker layer, prefereably a variety including magnolia and cattapa leaves)

    [​IMG]20180405_141206 by
    DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    - Also plumbed in the misting system and drainage, all pretty tidy underneath the vivarium :

    [​IMG]20180405_143354 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

    The hollow cork tubes i'm thinking of filling with fine orchid bark to prevent the frogs from entering and acting as a large refugium for the isopods (shoutout to Pumilio for this idea)

    Other things on the to do list :

    - Hide the fan in cork to create a relatively hidden internal air circulation solution - this will be powered by a 2A PSU at set intervals during the day

    - Add ventilation at the read of the lid

    - Try and work out why both fans on my ATI sunpower unit have stopped working:(

    - Plant!

    - Decide what LED solution to go for, either a self build CREE solution, a couple of Kessil A160 Amazon suns or some GU10 track lighting (want a hybrid solution so when summer comes around the temperatures from the T5 can be eliminated)

    - Also debating on wether to re-add the manzanita branches or leave them out for a 'cleaner' look?
    Gill, mort, zozo and 3 others like this.
  12. hogan53

    hogan53 Global Moderator Staff Member

    Hemel Hempstead
  13. gex23

    gex23 Member

    jayp, zozo, mort and 4 others like this.
  14. Aron_Dip

    Aron_Dip Member

    Walsall, West Midlands
    Looking great mate

    Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk
  15. gex23

    gex23 Member

    Cheers :)
  16. gex23

    gex23 Member

    A list of current plants :

    Scaphosepalum Rapax
    Restrepia Mohrii
    Maxillaria Pumilia
    Begonia Listada
    Elaphogossum Crinitum
    Pyrrosia Nummularifolia
    Marcgravia Sp.
    Neoregelia Memphisto
    Neoregelia Hawaii
    Neoregelia Hybrid
    Chrismas Moss
    Java Moss
    Flame Moss

    Plants on order :

    Pleurothallis Jantae
    Pleurothallis Luctuoasa
    Pleurothallis Tripterantha
    Peperomia Rotundifolia
    Peperomia Hope
    Microgramma Tecta
    Ficus Panama
    Neoregelia Fireball
    Neorgelia Red Waif
    Neoregelia Hybrid
    Aqua360, hogan53 and mort like this.
  17. Edvet

    Edvet Forum Moderator Staff Member

    Lelystad, Netherlands
    What do you plan to do with food? Buy/breed?
  18. gex23

    gex23 Member

    I've setup cultures of tropical springtails (Folsomia candida) and dwarf white woodlice (Trichornia tomentosa), these are booming and have seeded the tank with them.

    The springtails will not only be for the bioactive substrate to keep the substrate healthy and for breakdown of waste, the frogs will also eat these.

    I'll shortly be setting up cultures of Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies, these will be the staple diet.
    dw1305 likes this.
  19. gex23

    gex23 Member

    Robru, zozo, dw1305 and 3 others like this.
  20. foxfish

    foxfish Member

    You have put a lot of thought and effort into your enclosure (money too), I hope it all grows well for you.

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