Before setting up a live-planted vivarium...?

Mozess89

New Member
Messages
8
Location
Iowa, US
Hello all, I have looked through some of these posts for ideas for a new live tank for a crested gecko, but it seems that there are about as many opinions and ways of doing this as there are owners! This is going to be a family pet so I'm not looking for anything too exotic (read: expensive or hard to find haha) or difficult - I know that I am a beginner and I don't want to get in too deep too soon and end up with a bunch of dead plants or a sick gecko. Maybe in a few years I'd like to re-do it with a bit more finesse, but for now I'm just wanting to do it right.

My plan is: start with a layer of clay balls in the bottom of a ZooMed 18x18x24 tank, then a layer of mesh, then ecoearth. I would plant the plants (ficus tree, bromeliads, ferns?) in the ecoearth and cover the soil with cypress mulch or some other not-easily-swallowed substrate. Then add some hides, vines/branches, a ledge or two, a shallow water dish and food dish. Lighting would be a 25watt bulb for heat (if needed) and light during the day, and a fluorescent bulb for the plants. Plan to mist the tank in the evenings just enough to keep the substrate from drying out.

SO, does this sound alright? It just sounds fairly simple, I feel like it should be much more complicated not that I can't mess up simple just saying! Are there any plants that you would recommend for a beginner? Do I need anything else for the plants to thrive, special type of bulb, animal-friendly fertilizer, maybe skip the mulch so the gecko poo goes right to the plants? I'm also curious about microfauna - isopods, springtails, even small worms - I love the idea of a small ecosystem, and I get rollie-pollies (pill bugs) in my basement, can I use those guys safely or do I need to buy them somewhere? Do I have to "breed" them separately or just drop them in and let them do their thang?

Well, I think that's it. I'm excited to get this thing up ASAP but not at the expense of the gecko's well-being. Thanks in advance for your advice, once it's done I'll be sure to post pics!!
 

acpart

Geck-cessories
Staff member
Messages
11,526
Location
Somerville, MA
Generally it sounds good and not to complicated. Here are a few minor suggestions:
plants --you can't go wrong with pothos. It's hardy, grows quickly in a variety of conditions and looks nice.
Crested geckos do tend to kind of stomp on things, so anything fragile will probably not last. Also, I get one of those fake vines they sell at pet stores, twist it up and around so the plants have something to climb up and the gecko has something more solid than the plants to sit on.

Substrate: I'd recommend using something like sphagnum moss as the top layer to avoid possible ingestion of the cypress mulch. The gecko poo will make its way into the soil and fertilize the plants and the--

Isopods: I have used roly ploys from the great outdoors with no problem. Some people prefer to collect them and keep them separately until they've reproduced and then put the new generation (which hasn't been outdoors) in the cages, but I haven't had any trouble with using them directly. About 5 years ago I bought a container of white isopods and a container of orange isopods at a reptile show for about $10 each. I move some of them to each new enclosure I set up. Five years later, I still have descendants of the same isopods (primarily the white ones) in about 8 enclosures.

Aliza
 

Tongue Flicker

Hardcore Animal Lover
Messages
608
Location
Madina't Isa, Bahrain
you can also put a thin layer of pea-sized gravel/osmunda fiber/orchid bark on top of the mesh to prevent the ecoearth from falling and blocking the mesh as well as better soil air-flow..
 

Mozess89

New Member
Messages
8
Location
Iowa, US
Alright, just wanted to post a picture of the vivarium. I have a drainage layer, mesh, then EcoEarth on top. For plants there wasn't a lot of variety this time of year but I found a snake plant that i planted "in" a half-log hide and some different types of dracaena (magenta, florida beauty) that I liked plus one plant that I can't remember the name of (dracaena rikki? front left), excited for them to grow in. Also added a mopani branch, a fake vine, a small dish, and a half-log hide. Thinking about covering the EcoEarth with a layer of mulch and adding a perch of some sort (magnetic? IDK) on the upper right side. Now to find a couple of cresties! Let me know if anything doesn't look right, or if I'm missing something important. Thanks much all

Here it is. Don't mind the whitish spot on the glass, there was a sticker on it and I haven't got the sticky stuff off yet. Oh also added a handful of isopods today, yay!
DSC02219.jpg
 

acpart

Geck-cessories
Staff member
Messages
11,526
Location
Somerville, MA
Looks pretty good. The plants will grow in. Some will make it and some won't due to the lighting or other things (can't really figure out why some plants work and some don't, or some work for years and then don't).

Aliza
 

Emimee

New Member
Messages
28
Location
Northeast Texas
That enclosure looks really lovely! I've got some inspiration for the enclosure I'm working on now for a new gargoyle gecko! He's in a somewhat sparse but passible temporary enclosure until he's a little bigger, and I'm hoping to use that time to put together something reaaaally good looking for him.

Do roly polys require any care if added to a live-planted vivarium like this? Will they just sort of do their own thang with no problems? I found quite a lot of them in a pot yesterday in our garden when I uprooted an old cabbage that had gone bad, and planted some cucumber instead. Are there any other little creepy crawly critters that would do well in a vivarium like this one?
 
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