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  1. #1
    Senior Member Sophomore indyana's Avatar
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    Default Crested Gecko Viv v. 2

    Since the DIY seal job on my acrylic vivarium started leaking, it's time for a rebuild in an 18x18x24 Exo Terra terrarium.

    A lot of the plants and substrate from the existing viv will be transferred over to keep the bioactive base going, but I decided that I wanted to redo the background and wood features. In the original build, the planters just didn't do well, probably because they were too far up and easily dehydrated. Luna, the crested gecko resident, never has used the cork branch crossbeams that I've seen, so those won't be included in the new build. The cork tube "log", however, is an absolute favorite sleeping place during the day. The new build will include a similar feature.

    I completed the first stage today of building the background wall outside the viv. The background will need to cure for a few days before I can glue it into the Exo Terra enclosure. Good project for a long weekend!

    Note: The techniques here are described in a tutorial by New England Herpetoculture. Some of the materials were part of one of their background kits, while others were purchased separately.

    Step 1: Spend hours obsessing over where to put each piece of cork... hehe
    The pieces you can see in the pictures are a forest tile background, one large cork round, two small modular planters (essentially cork round ends with a 45-degree angle cut into the back), and one larger modular planter. Not pictured is a large ghostwood branch that's going to run up through the cage, but I arranged everything together in the cage before deciding.
    The "log" is a large cork round. I just took a saw to one end of it to get it to sit at an angle against the wall.

    When I finally found an arrangement I liked, I traced each one with a marking pencil. On the two larger cork pieces, I put marks where I thought support screws were needed and drilled some guide holes. Then, screws with washes on them were fed into the back and up into the edges of the cork pieces. This is not as easy as it sounds. Two of my planned holes proved to be in bad locations (cork edge broke) and needed to be redrilled... ug. Whatever, eventually got the two larger pieces screwed down.

    Next, I ran a bead of clear silicone aquarium sealant around the edges of the pieces to add more support to the screws. The two smaller planters were just glued right down with silicone. As I worked, I smoothed the silicone into the edges with a gloved finger and then pressed NEHerp's background mix onto the exposed sealant (it's a fine mix of coco fiber, peat moss, wood, etc.). When everything was glued down, I also ran some random patterns across the background and coated in background mix as well.

    Last edited by indyana; 09-01-2017 at 09:23 PM.
    Rachel Gratis ~ Leopard gecko hobbyist, animal aficionado

  2. #2
    Senior Member Sophomore indyana's Avatar
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    Default Background installation

    The background had cured enough to be cleaned up and moved today. After vacuuming it off, I used silicone to attach it to the back wall of the Exo Terra. The background tile was a bit warped and didn't want to stay flat. That's why everything but the kitchen sink is piled in there! Also, the upper quadrant seemed a little bare, so I also tacked another chunk of cork onto it to make a little nub. It should be a good place to install an air plant.




    Just for fun, including a shot of the old vivarium that this is replacing. Sansevieria have grown in like crazy. O_o Need to trim those a bit before replanting in the new viv.

    Rachel Gratis ~ Leopard gecko hobbyist, animal aficionado

  3. #3
    Senior Member Sophomore indyana's Avatar
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    Default

    Whoops, even after a day under all that weight, there was still part of the middle of the forest tile that just wasn't sealed to the back of the tank. The gap was bugging me, so I ran a bead of silicone down either side of the panel and pressed it with background mix. That should provide some additional insurance and prevent anything from sneaking behind the tile (plants, custodians, whatever).

    Added back all the heavy stuff and will let it cure for the rest of the week until my new plants arrive. I ordered a few different varieties to supplement the Sansevieria and Tillandsia that I will move from the old viv.

    Rachel Gratis ~ Leopard gecko hobbyist, animal aficionado

  4. #4
    Senior Member Sophomore indyana's Avatar
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    It's the most exciting day... planting day!

    I did a lot of research on what plant species I wanted to add to my vivarium this time around and ordered plants from Amazon and NEHerp. They took a little while to get here, but I'm really excited to try to keep this vivarium maintained better than the last one.

    You can see the background all cleaned off inside the Exo Terra and ready to go.



    Next, it's time to put in the drainage layer (NEHerp LDL) and screen separator. Then, I positioned the large ghostwood piece to run through the cage.



    And, the most exciting part, substrate (NEHerp vivarium substrate v. 2) and plants!



    Species list:

    • Air plant x 2 (Tillandsia sp.) - back wall and top of ghostwood
    • Heart leaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens) - left top wall planter
    • Wax plant (Hoya carnosa 'Strawberries and Cream') - middle wall planter, and back left/middle floor
    • Rabbit's foot fern (Davallia fejeensis) - right bottom wall planter
    • Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) - left
    • Purple wandering jew (Tradescantia zebrina) - front middle
    • Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia argyreia) - front right


    The Tillandsia, Sansevieria, and Peperomia all came from Luna's old viv. I left a LOT of the Sansevieria out of the new one. It totally took over her old viv. O_o The Peperomia wasn't doing well, so hopefully I can figure out what's wrong and improve its condition in the new viv. Plants positioned using floral wire where necessary, and hot glue applied to air plants.

    Top layer after all the planting was done is mixed leaf litter of oak and magnolia, as well as a few accents: a slice of cork round, some Caro Caro tree pods, and magnolia seed pods.

    And now, complete pic spam...



    For this new viv, I traded in the two 23 W compact fluorescents in my Exo Terra Compact Top (Small) for two 13 W Jungle Dawn LED bulbs. The lighting is definitely brighter, and I hope this will help some of these bright light species do well.

    Now, this gets to acclimate for a month while Luna is put into a smaller quarantine cage (poor Luna!).
    Rachel Gratis ~ Leopard gecko hobbyist, animal aficionado

  5. #5
    Senior Member Sophomore indyana's Avatar
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    Some new custodians arrived from Ready Reptile Feeders yesterday. I had to restrain myself from ordering every species of isopod they sell... lol The species I settled on were Porcellio laevis (smooth isopods) and Porcellio scaber (gray sowbugs). Ash at RRF was really awesome and included a bonus starter of temperate springtails to help beef up my custodian population! Woot!

    So far, the plants in the vivarium are doing well and haven't died back much. I'm trying to be extra careful about misting and watering this time around. Fingers crossed!

    Rachel Gratis ~ Leopard gecko hobbyist, animal aficionado

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