Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Poison Dart Frog Habitat.

I told you guys some time ago that I would be creating a poison dart frog (or tropical tree frog) habitat. I thought I would update you with my progress. I'll be using the tag "PDF" for these posts so just click on this one, or any others that follow, and click "PDF," and it will show you all of the posts I made for the habitat.

What I purchased to make my vivarium:

1 x 20 G Tall glass aquarium
1 x black hood and fluorescent light
1 x brick of plantation soil (soil and coco fiber)
2 x bricks of Coco fiber
3 x GE Silicone II (black)*
3 x cans Great Stuff foam insulator
1 x roll of 3 ft x 4 ft plastic window screen
1 x egg crate louver (the cube plastic piece that goes over drop ceiling lights)
2 bags of 1/2" PVC couplers
3 x pieces of Malaysian driftwood
1 x 10 lbs bag clay unscented (el cheapo) kitty litter (to be used as a substrate)
1 x length of black plastic flexible tubing

What I could not purchase for this:
A great deal of patience
Creativity to create the habitat
Common sense for tubing, etc.

What I did first was I cleaned the inside and outside of the aquarium and dried it. Because I'll be using yellow Great Stuff as the background for the inside, I coated one back of the aquarium (inside) with the GE Silicone II black. Don't forget to buy a caulk gun and wear rubber gloves. *By the way, GE Silicone II with Bio Seal is the same formula as the original GE Silicone II. Bio Seal is in the original version as well. You might read a lot of forums that say don't use with Bio Seal. However, if you call GE, they will compare both "formulas" with you and tell you they both have the same ingredient of Bio Seal.

I also coated about 4 inches out from the back on either side of the aquarium so that when the Great Stuff expands, it is still hidden by the Silicone. I let that dry for a couple of days just to be sure. I then used my plastic egg crate and started creating a design in my head for the bottom.

I chose to do a "false bottom vivarium." What it is, the actual soil, etc. will be raised off the bottom of the vivarium. In the bottom of the vivarium will be the water return for the pond and water feature and also act as water that the plants can wick and use. I'll get into what a false bottom is a little later.

I decided I would want a piece of wood coming out of the Great Stuff wall with water running down it into a pond. NOTE: PDFs are NOT aquatic frogs. You should have rocks or a branch in your water in your tank for your frogs to be able to climb out of the water if they fall in. Sounds funny, I know, but if you look at a PDF or tree frog's feet, you'll notice they are not webbed.

I created a simple design with a pond in the middle and with "land" going behind it so the frogs can get from one side to the other. I may try to find an arched piece of ghostwood or Malaysian driftwood (both good water woods), to go over the pond for the froggies.

I digress. I cut out my egg crate (tedious work) with the help of a ruler to make sure that everything would fit. I used GE Silicone II to adhere the 1/2" couplers vertically on the bottom of the tank and measured them so that the egg crate would be secure. I then put GE Silicone II on the top of them and laid the egg crate in place.

It is now curing in my room for awhile. I won't continue with the project for several more days, but I am still designing the tubing behind the wall to run the actual pump tubing down so it's easy to maintain. I will put black flexible tubing against the back of the aquarium and cover it up with great stuff so that I can run the power cord and the pump tubing down them to keep them covered in the aquarium.


Think about this. Think about how heavy a 20 G tall glass aquarium weighs. Now think of how much it would weigh with water-saturated gravel in the bottom + substrate + soil + plants.

When you have a false bottom, it raises the gravel or clay substrate off the bottom and allows a cleaner environment.

I have pictures I will post soon of the progress.

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