I'm this instructable I'll be teaching you how to create a natural terrarium/vivarium setup which can be used for frogs, newts, lizards, or just as is with living plants.
Step 1: Materials
Here is a materials list.
(All these materials are from New Zealand so items may vary in different countries)
1. Spray foam (I used polyfilla different foams work differently
2. Coco fibre
3. Rocks & peebles
4. Silicone (what ever colour I used grey)
5. Clay balls (I bought mine from a gardening store but you can use zoomed hydro balls if in Us.
6. Mesh or a piece of filter sheet to seperate the soil from the clay substrate.
8. Sphagnum moss & decorative moss
9. Corrugated plastic
10. Last but not least a tank (I'm using an exo terra 30x30x45cm)
Step 2: Background Insert
Since this is a removable background I'll be using corrugated plastic to form the base.
First cut the plastic the back of your tank. For the pump reservoir cut some plastic and fold it into a right angle, then glue it with hot glue. One it sets cut some notches into the bottom of the plastic so the water can get through. Now glue this into the corner. Make sure you the pump you are using can pump the water to the height you want it to.
Now you can glue the rocks and accessories onto the plastic. I'm using a aqua one log as a planter.
Step 3: Foaming
Sorry I don't have any photos I was in a rush.
Basically just spray the foam around the rocks and planters Make sure there is some excess pipe hanging out so the foam doesn't expand over it, also stuff your planters with some paper towels so it doesn't get filled in with foam.
(Warning: some other tutorials may say stick you coco fibre straight onto the foam before it sets, this may work with great stuff foam but I used polyfilla and this method definitely doesn't work)
Step 4: Siliconing
After the foam has cured pick or cut off any pieces of foam that has expanded into places you didn't want it, this also gives the foam a natural look.
Now use a caulking gun to squeeze silicone all over the foam, now use rubber gloves to smear the silicone around until it cover all the foam, if you need to add more silicone do so until it is all covered.
Now get the coco fibre and sphagnum moss, the moss can be placed where ever and then pushed into the silicone, after you've positioned the moss grab handfuls of coco fibre and lay it on the silicone, now using clean gloves push it into the silicone making sure to cover all areas.
Now put the background outside or in a well ventilated area, leave it there for 72hrs or until the smell of silicone has gone.
(Refer to your silicone for curing time)
Step 5: Testing Pump
Once the silicone has cured tip the background up and tap off all the excess soil.
Now fill the base with water and plug the pump in, the reason for this is to test whether the pump is working.
Don't be alarmed if some of the coco fibre starts coming of where the water is flowing, this is just soil that isn't fully stuck to the silicone.
Step 6: Drainage Layer & Soil
For the drainage layer you don't have to use clay balls, I used them as they are light weight in comparison to gravel or stone.
First was off your clay balls and then place them in the tank.
Optional: you can also add a water section by using rocks to create a barrier, you can also put small peebles, stones or sand on the bottom of the water section.
Now trim the soil divider so that it fits the tank.
After the divider has been put in place get your soil and add it on top, it is important to have a deep soil layer in order to support plant life.
(Make sure that the soil is above the water line other wise you will drown out the land when you add the water)
Step 7: Plants & Water
Now you can start decorating your tank.
In mine used plants that aren't toxic to frogs, if you want your tank to be decorative and not house living creatures you can use any plants.
List of plants I used
- Java moss
- Decorative moss
- Ficus trees
- Creeping fig
- Sphagnum moss
First you need to spray ever part of the tank with water (if it is for a reptile or amphibian make sure to use water that has been
Now break the java moss into small amounts and position in the flow of water and in the water section at the front, eventually the moss will spread to some of the dry parts of the tank as long as it's base stays wet.
You can now plant your other plants like the bromeliads and ficus trees or what ever plant you are choosing to grow.
Now make sure you completely drench the with water this only needs to happen the first time because coco fibre holds a lot of water.
Once it is wet you can go ahead put the moss down. The reason I use decorative moss is because it prevents any creatures from being covered in soil and also helps to give the tank a nice green look.
Finally move your tank to where you want it to stay and fill it up with water, now turn on the pump and watch the water flow down the background
Step 8: Animals
I am going to be putting 7 juvenile green and golden bell frogs in this tank. It is a perfect size for the little frogs. Once they have grown I will put them in a larger tank.
You don't have to add animals but it always makes the tank look a lot better.