Another Waterfall Vivarium Build

Discussion in 'Vivarium General' started by MT-ED, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Just picked up the tank for my first expedition into Dart Frog keeping. It's a 24" X 12" "Extra High", in other words 24 " tall. I had a hole drilled in the bottom for a half-inch bulkhead fitting. This will allow drainage of excess water from under the soil base. Also got a 90 gph Aquascape pump to run the planned water-fall leading into a small pool area.

    Mocked up the pump and piping this afternoon. The pump will sit in a closed chamber. Water will enter via the black filtration sponge (this still needs to be cut down in size). The waterfall and water area will be separated from the land area by sections of glass siliconed in place, lined with smooth black pebbles from the hobby section at Dollarama (buy there, not Michaels). These will be held in place by black silicon. I'm probably getting smaller black polished stones from Kim's Nature to graduate the pebble sizes down to black aquarium gravel in the bottom of the water area. This will stop the land area getting over-saturated by direct contact with the water. I intend to build a lid to the filter chamber for ease of servicing the pump. It will be disguised like the land area and just lift off.

    This will be a fairly stretched out build schedule. Here's a couple of photos to show what I've done today. I am going to mock up the glass pieces over the weekend in cardboard so a friend can cut the component pieces for me. Next stage will be siliconing in all the glass pieces, running beads on all joins and then water-tightness testing once cured. IMG_8915 (Copy).JPG IMG_8914 (Copy).JPG
     
  2. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Mock up of the waterfall, pool area and pump/filter chamber in cardboard. It all looks very geometric and hard at present, but will be softened up with other decor as the build progresses. The pool will be quite shallow as gravel will bring the floor level up. The glass will be 3.25 inches high. Height was really determined by the depth needed to keep the small pump submerged.

    IMG_8920 (Copy).JPG IMG_8921 (Copy).JPG IMG_8922 (Copy).JPG


    A friend is going to cut the glass pieces for me. Hopefully, I will get them this week.
     
  3. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Cardboard has become glass. Suddenly realized that my plan would separate each piece of land from one another, so I cut the corners off the waterfall sides to create a crossover for water at the base of the waterfall. Noe excess water under the soil can be drained from the single bulkhead fitting. Tomorrow, I will be doing a leak test and seeing how the water-flow is. The spillway will be filled with small stones to diffuse the water flow and direct it to the rear of the waterfall area. I'm trying to keep the water as quiet as possible. IMG_8974 (Copy).JPG IMG_8972 (Copy).JPG IMG_8973 (Copy).JPG

    Once everything is checked, I will start gluing black pebbles to the glass pieces to create the decorative effect I'm after. Once this is all finished, you won't see any glass at all.

    Martin.
     
  4. Drew

    Drew Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,756
    Likes Received:
    772
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Burlington
    Interesting.looking forward to the build

    Sent from my SM-G950W using Tapatalk
     
  5. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    DOH! Just did a water-leak test and found one at the very base of the waterfall. Bit more silicon required. Got a fan blowing into the tank now to finish drying it. Working on a tall tank like this that's only 12" across is a bit like decorating your hallway through the mail slot, so my silicon work is not as neat as I can usually make it, Can't get the right angles with the big gun when inside the tank. This leak is going to require the old silicon blob on the fingertip method :)
     
  6. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Success! It holds water!

    IMG_8977 (Copy).JPG


    Next logical thing was to test the pump system and waterfall. Now if you watch this video, you'll swear the thing is powered by an Ocean Cruise Ship engine. The camera microphone and the bare aquarium amplify the sound to a ridiculous degree. In actual fact, the pump is barely audible. After this test run, I filled the spillway with small pebbles. These diffuse the flow and quieten the flow considerably. That is with the pump on max flow too. I can dial it back if required.

    Can't get the vid to load here, so here's a Facebook link..........

    Next job, the arty stuff sticking pebbles to the glass :)


    Martin.
     
  7. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Next stage............ IMG_8978 (Copy).JPG IMG_8980 (Copy).JPG IMG_8984 (Copy).JPG IMG_8985 (Copy).JPG


    Building the glass walls of the waterfall system, plus sticking on the stones has used up a 300ml tube of Black silicon. It looks a whole lot different to the bare glass now. I had to do it in 3 stages.........back, then each side separately, placing the tank so the siliconing was going on on the downside. This is because the larger pebbles are quite heavy. I am going to leave the whole thing a couple of weeks now to allow the silicon to fully cure.

    I put the pump and filter sponge in place so you can see the filtration layout. The space in the pump chamber will be filled with ceramic rings for additional biological filtration. Once the silicone has had its curing time, I will fill the system and do a functionality test. I'm hoping for no splashing outside the limits of the glass walls.

    You may note that the stones on the sides of the main water area do not go all the way to the tank base. This is because black gravel will form a slope down from back to front with pebbles mixed in to stabilize the slope. These do not need to be glued in place and would only add unnecessary weight to the tank itself. Other stones will be added to the edges of the glass to disguise them once the black expanding foam background is added then carved. The waterfall supply pipe will be set into the background.

    Next gathering expedition will be getting the branches and roots I need for my plan. A lot will be set into the background as it is applied.

    Martin.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  8. mystah

    mystah Legendary Member

    Messages:
    1,568
    Likes Received:
    191
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Oakville, Ontario
    looking great Martin can't wait to see next steps
     
  9. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Added a mesh panel on the filter intake. IMG_8988 (Copy).JPG Martin.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018
  10. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Completed filter chamber, Coarse foam intake sponge, ceramic media. Made the lid for the chamber. It is a black silicon kitchen trivet, which is very strong, but flexible. I cut it to size, cut a hole for the power cable and then slit it so it can be opened to fit and remove around the pipe and cable. I will silicon some stones and substrate media to it to disguise it.

    IMG_9042 (Copy).JPG IMG_9043 (Copy).JPG IMG_9044 (Copy).JPG

    Martin.
     
  11. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    I live in a hi-rise that sits beside a deep ravine with a river at the bottom. I went out and found masses of old, old deadfall, all stripped of bark. The pieces have numerous holes bored in them which should provide ideal plant locations. The largest piece is split longitudally and is hollow. I widened the split and will fill the aperture with substrate so I can plant ferns directly in the branch. Here are some photos of the layout. Much of the design is screwed together as a single unit by stainless steel screws. Net style 2" plant pots are positioned where they will go when I spray the background. I then photographed the layout so that i have a visual guide of where to place the pots as I spray. The rectangular net box on the left is a strainer that will cover the bulkhead fitting that forms the bottom drain. It will be siliconed in place once the bulkhead is fitted. It will prevent clay balls going into the drain.

    IMG_9226 (Copy).JPG IMG_9228 (Copy).JPG IMG_9233 (Copy).JPG

    Martin.
     
  12. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Right, next stage. Sprayed in the background panel by panel. Actually taken a long while because I got hit with a serious back-ache part way through the process. Finally got it done yesterday. Now all the wood is locked in place by foam. Spent time today trimming excess areas and cutting a trough for the waterfall pump power cable to run up the right-hand wall. It's a press-fit in there and you can't see it from the front. Waterfall supply pipe is now locked in by the background. All the slotted plant pots are locked in place (marked P).

    IMG_9236 (Copy).JPG

    You can see little bits of residual paper towel that I stuffed them with.

    Here you can see the cable run for the pump.


    IMG_9237 (Copy).JPG IMG_9238 (Copy).JPG

    The area with stars is completely hollow and I will be planting ferns in it.


    IMG_9239 (Copy).JPG
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  13. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Just ordered a 24" Reptisun LED light unit, a Mistking Basic kit, plus an extra double misting unit and some extra fittings from Northern Gecko in Toronto. I looked at cheaper lighting options, but these didn't pass my Wife's aesthetic requirements, so a (much) more expensive, but quality option was chosen.
     
  14. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Just finished putting the soil layer on the tank background. Did the ends the last couple of days, which came out great. I'll hopefully post some pics tomorrow.
     
  15. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Right, this tank is finally starting to look like something organic. The expanding foam is covered by Zoo Med Reptisoil with some added Coir fibre. I let it get so dry that it was producing fine dust. Emptied the bag into a large tote and stood it out on my balcony while the sun was out, turning a few times a day. I used the same Home Builder High Temperature black 100% Silicone. This is certified NSF 51 food-safe.
    Following online recommendations I slathered it on at about cup-cake icing level working an area approximately no more than 4" by 6", then pouring on a layer of the dry soil mix and patting down.After letting set for around 24 hours, I vacuumed out the excess soil. I got a very good adhesion all over the background with only a couple of high spots where I didn't put so much Silicone.

    2 tips worthy of note..........

    1) I've heard of people using bristle brushes, toothbrushes or whatever to spread the Silicone. I bought two Silicone basting brushes from Dollarama. I kept one for brushing excess dirt between the area applications and the other for Silicone spreading. When finishing each panel (allowing 24 hours to dry), I was able to clean the spreading brush of most of the Silicone so it could be used for the next panel the following day.

    2) Wear medical gloves when doing this job AND when handling the soil. Not sure if this is a Reptisoil thing or general, but when dead dry, there are minute splinters in the soil which will get in your hands and sting like hell. They are so small, they are hard to see and pull with tweezers. WEAR GLOVES! While drying, I stirred the Reptisoil by hand and never had an issue until it became completely dry.

    Next thing I need to do is purchase our choice of cabinet this will stand on from IKEA. After putting it together, I can start modifications to it. Number one will be cutting a hole in the top of it to accommodate the bottom-drain bulkhead fitting and drain hose. Once I know how big it is inside, I will buy a small plastic tote to act as the Mist King reservoir and get that plumbed up.

    Photos show the current status. First photo by the Zoo Med LED lighting, second by flash.

    Martin.
     

    Attached Files:

  16. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Next stage of my 24" XH build. Spent an interesting and entertaining few hours at JT Custom Acrylics with Jon, the owner on Friday. With my initial design and input, he built these end pieces for the Vivarium lid. Holes are all laser cut. Each panel is a mirror image of the other and provides a fixed mount for the extractor fans and MistKing misting heads.

    Still some details to finalize. The fan units will sandwich No See Um mesh and a circle of mesh will cover the 2" dia intake holes. Jon suggested I sort the mesh out and bring the panels back. He will then make an acrylic bezel to hold the intake mesh, plus cut cable access holes as needed. The whole idea is to seal the top against bug escape as far as is possible, but allow good airflow. The fans will be on a timer sequenced to provide ventilation that coordinates a little after the MistKing timing.

    IMG_9321 (Copy).JPG IMG_9322 (Copy).JPG IMG_9325 (Copy).JPG

    A one-piece sheet of acrylic will bridge the gap between the two end units. It will rest on the tank surround lip at front and rear, plus rest on the glued on support that spans the tank. End panels are a tight fit in the frame lip.............Anybody needing custom built acrylic work who lives near Toronto, Canada should check out JT Custom Acrylics. Jon builds just about anything that can be made in Acrylics (he's even done work for The Weeknd). He does a lot of Aquarium work for display and retail and is actively wishing to get into the Dart Frog Vivarium side of the business.

    http://jtcustomacrylics.com/

    Martin.
     
  17. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Finally got my Terrarium up and running. Still a lot of jobs to do. I just planted it over the last 3 days. Still have to get 4 Bromeliads for the 4 vacant built in pots on the background. While I am still planting, I keep dropping soil into the water, so I am not setting up the black gravel and pebbles in there until I finish making a mess. I will syphon out the soil particles and clean it out before decorating the area. effective water depth will be a lot less once the gravel is in. I planted Babies Tears 3 days ago and they already look like they have been planted for quite a while.
    The waterfall is trickling nicely. Turned the pump right down as I was getting some splashes going outside the water chamber and the level was dropping over a few hours. It's now stable.

    Few hiccups getting the Mistking going..........my misinterpretation of the Seconds timer instructions, rectified by watching an online video...........Lights are on a digital timer and the computer fans will be also. Just need to get a 12V transformer and wire them in. I will add a thermometer and hygrometer in time, then start playing with the Mistking and the fans to give a stable environment.

    Not intending to get frogs for quite a while. I want the plants to get grown in and also add leaf-litter, spring-tails and Isopods once the plants are established.......... Electrics are at the top of the cabinet. Everything runs off a Belkin surge-protector. I built a box to hold excess cabling and transformers. That is open at the back for air-flow. Just one power cable exits to the wall outlet. Cabinet is still cluttered with bits and pieces. It will be tidied up in due course..............Need to go back to JT Custom Acrylics to get Jon to cut an access hole in one of the Acrylic end pieces of the lid for the water-pump cable, then make the central lid piece.



    IMG_9327 (Copy).JPG IMG_9328 (Copy).JPG IMG_9329 (Copy).JPG

    Martin.
     
  18. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Visited with fellow Canadart member Ron Jung today and bought some lovely young Bromeliads from him. Didn't waste any time in getting them into the built-in pots waiting in the background.
    They have really taken the Terrarium up a notch with their lovely colours. Can't wait for more stuff to get established and start to fill in. The ferns and mosses are all growing steadily, as are the various plantings of Babies Tears.
    Also added a couple of Airplants earlier in the week which are looking very happy. Sure they are getting better misting than they did in a wooden box in the shop :)

    IMG_9330 (Copy).JPG IMG_9333 (Copy).JPG IMG_9334 (Copy).JPG IMG_9337 (Copy).JPG
     
  19. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Spent another enjoyable piece of today at JT Custom Acrylics ( http://jtcustomacrylics.com/ ) in Toronto's west-end. Jon did the final parts for my design for my terrarium lid. The central part of the lid fits between the previously made end pieces so precisely it literally snaps into position. One of the primary objectives was to keep the lid Spring-tail, Fruit-fly, etc proof. I took a neat little handle with me for Jon to fit to allow easy removal of the lid, but Jon came up with a better and neater idea, the neat little clear handle you see in the pictures.

    The clear-bodied extractor fans came from China (ultra-cheap) and have built-in blue LEDs. These are unobtrusive when on, but allow me to know they are working as the fans are silent in operation. I have them timed to come on a few times a day and they give good air circulation. Very pleased with how the design has come to fruition and highly pleased to have found Jon's business. His work is absolutely of the highest quality and I can highly recommend him to anyone wanting anything done in acrylics. He does a lot of work for Reef-keepers and companies selling Coral frags.

    Martin.

    IMG_9346 (Copy).JPG IMG_9340 (Copy).JPG IMG_9342 (Copy).JPG IMG_9345 (Copy).JPG
     
  20. MT-ED

    MT-ED Member

    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Pleasing day yesterday. I finally added a Zoomed digital combined Thermometer/Hygrometer to the Terrarium and found that my misting and extractor fan system is giving me a humidity around 99% for much of the time, dropping to 79% when the fans are running for their 5 minute periods. Once they switch off, it rises up again quite quickly. Temperature is around 75F to 80F. It's very hot here right now and we have the A/C going. Also added a double misting head to replace the single at the right side. The single was leaving part of one end wall fairly dry. Much better now with the double head. Also added willow oak leaf-litter and a small culture of Springtails. I will be getting Isopods next week when the supplier gets a new shipment. My wife is itching to see frogs in this setup, but I keep saying, "Patience". It's growing in quite nicely. The Brom on the right has thrown out a whole bunch of roots. Pretty good considering it was only put in place on June 16th.

    Martin.

    IMG_9512 (Copy).JPG
     

Social Sharing