Featured Vivarium
Dean James
 
     The Vivarium was constructed out of a mixture of glass and Perspex (a rigid clear plastic).

     The back panel is one full piece of Perspex, 120 cm long by 90 cm high, The sides are glass 40 cm wide, The front is made up of 5 pieces of glass, the front door section runs on a track system, and can be fully opened in either direction or even removed. This section is rested against 2 siliconed pieces of glass  which in turn are siliconed to the 2 angled corner pieces. The base is a piece of Perspex cut to shape, that is oblong with the front two corners cut away, this allows the tank to be deeper at the center than at the sides, which allows for either full frontal or side view into the viv. A section of glass is then glued inside the front to hold the water area. Internally the tank is split into land and water, the divide being irregular to again give a contrast with the sides and front of the tank.

     A hole is drilled through the base in two places each side of the divide, the front hole allows the stream to empty into a sump, and the water is then pumped back up to the  rear wall from the sump via a pipe that passes through the second hole and up through the tank.

     The stream is set into one corner, and is constructed out of glass supported on "legs" and drops at 1/2 inch intervals until it reaches the front. section where it drops 2 full inches over stones and fills the pool area.

     In the pool it passes through the gravel substrate, into the sump via a network of undergravel filter plates, (as used in fish keeping) a sort of grid that clips together to cover the bottom of the pool.

     To stop it all draining away, a yogurt pot cut half way down (3 inches) and the top section glued to the base and a clay flower pot placed over this; this allows for at least three inches of water to be retained in the pool at any one time with the excess draining out through the open ended yogurt pot into the sump.

     A submersible heater is kept in the pool, and comes on if the temp drops below 70°F the whole shed is artificially heated to 75°F.

     Any sun that reaches the roof area pushes the temps up higher in the upper reaches of the set up, allowing cooler air to be draw in through the gap at the sides of the door. (approx. 5 mm) and out through the mesh above the waterfall set into the roof  another piece of Perspex sheet.

     The whole tank has been set up about 3 months, but the frogs where added only three weeks ago, from the smaller holding tanks.

Pros and Cons:

     On the plus side the frogs love it, and climb over the waterfall and tree roots with gusto; they utilize the higher reaches if they need warmth, but most of the time is spent among the plants on the bottom. These are planted into pure peat, no potting compost etc., on a bed of broken up polystyrene.  I used peat for two reasons, it is low in nutrients, so plant growth wouldn't be to swift, and it is virtually sterile, as the acidity in inhibits bacterial growth. It looks good and is an instant impact tank, if the frogs aren't on view it is still interesting to watch.

     On the minus side, I used too much plastic, and this wasn't strong enough on the base, so it now leaks.  The choice is now to completely strip out of the base area and re-siliconing the whole bottom (as it appears to have cracked around the exit points for the stream) or to build another tank and use this one for lizards-- which I think I will go with, if the repairs prove unsatisfactory.

     I hope this spurs any one on to having a go, it is very easy, but remember to use a stronger base than I did. 


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