Glass Chandelier to Vivarium Conversion.


New Member
Atlanta, GA
Hello all. I wanted to share a new project I'm starting on and was looking to pick the collective brain here for thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and concerns.
So, it starts with this.

A large, 1980's glass and brass chandelier! Got it for $25 at Goodwill. I want to turn this into a steampunk inspired, live planted vivarium for a Gargoyle Gecko.

Octagon profile, inside is just over 3 feet tall, and 15 inches wide. Total interior volume, 2.8945 cubic feet, or 21.6534 US Gallons. One of the upper rectangular panels is hinged for a door. My 3d rendering;

Here's what I've designed so far.

I already have the round table this will sit on.
First thing is to make a wooden base to hold the chandelier upright. 2x4s cut into "claws" at the proper angle to cradle the glass. They'll be lined with some thin craft foam.

To help take the weight (it is quite heavy) a frame of iron pipe around the chandelier that will allow it to "hang." While it would be easier, I don't want to just hang it from the ceiling or just the pipes because I don't want it swinging.

As I mentioned, I'm doing a steampunk design. Here's some of my inspiration.

This is from an amazing salt water aquarium build. You can find it here, Two New Glass Column Tank Projects

This one is from someone's frog tank. Really cool that the pipes connect to a humidifier to mist the tank. Found here. Industrial style vivarium - The Planted Tank Forum
So, my design originally called for a large pipe stack like the salt water tank.

I'm leaning a bit more towards the frog tank's design with thinner pipes twisting around like vines. I can still have a section of larger pipe or two to act as hides for the gecko. Just imagine a bunch of industrial pipes left to rust and decay, taken over by the jungle.
For lighting I'll have a bulb fixture and reflector mounted at the top. Most likely a grow bulb for the plants, or a halogen, depending on what heat output I get.

1. VENTILATION. This is perhaps my biggest concern with this project. With the bottom sealed, the chandelier is by no means airtight, but certainly needs more. It only has a very small gap around the door opening and then a few 1/4 inch holes in the top plate. My idea right now is to cut a hole in the top plate and put a small PC fan, pulling air out of the tank. Next I put pipes running through the bottom base to outside. Pipes will be covered in screen (to prevent insect escape) and act as an intake. Air will flow from the bottom of the tank, up and out the top. What do you guy's think? I think it may be enough, but have no experience with active ventilation systems in vivariums. My absolute worst case scenario is having to remove (i.e. break) one of the glass panels at the top and replacing it with screen. I fear removing a panel may affect structural integrity. Let me know what you all think or any other ideas.
2. LEAD POISONING. The metal Lead (Pb) is toxic to humans, plants, and animals, and used to be widely used in solders for joining metals. The brass frames around the glass have been soldered together. We've done a lot in recent years to reduce and eliminate lead in things such as children's toys, paints, and solders used in plumbing. That being said, I can't imagine the manufacturers were too concerned about children licking the inside of a hanging chandelier. While there are many forms of solder today that are lead free, I don't know what was used in mine, and I'm not sure how to test it. Anyone know the best way to identify lead solder? Finally, if it is lead, what should I do? Do you think caulking over with aquarium sealant will suffice?
3. SANITY. Am I insane for attempting this? Leave your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions below.


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