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Vivarium for Ambystoma opacum

This is a discussion on Vivarium for Ambystoma opacum within the Photos & Pictures of Enclosures, Vivaria, etc forums, part of the Vivaria, Enclosures & Product Reviews category; I believe I posted about this vivarium when I started the project, but it's been months since then. Now, the ...

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Old 17th February 2012   #1 (permalink)
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Default Vivarium for Ambystoma opacum

I believe I posted about this vivarium when I started the project, but it's been months since then. Now, the plants have settled in, somewhat. I've managed to keep a few mosses alive, and the 10 gallon now holds two marbled salamanders (Ambystoma opacum). Two photos are attached below. The poor quality is due to my phone's camera, I have no idea why it wouldn't focus.

All of the plants are native. The ones nearest the side with the temperature/humidity gauges are a ginger that grows near/along streams. The white tendrils in the top right corner belong to bulbs of wood sorrel that I'm hoping will survive (I haven't had any luck transplanting wood sorrel as of yet. Has anyone else tried?). There are two ferns towards the bottom of the photo. The one on the left is ebony spleenwort, a common species. It was the only one of the 4 or 5 that I transplanted that survived. The other fern I haven't identified, but it is also found alongside streams. Most of the moss is from an ephemeral pond.

I have a 15 watt full spectrum light that sits on top of the tank and is on a regular daylight schedule. The soil is a forest mixture from the pet store. I've seen worms moving through the dirt (escapees from meals), and I want to add other soil macrofauna once the temperatures outside increase. As for watering, I usually mist the tank really well every 2-3 days, and I pour a bit of water at the base of each of the plants. Excess water quickly drains through the drainage layer, and unfortunately, drips out of the bottom of the tank (it's an old 10 gallon that has a leak).
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Vivarium for Ambystoma opacum-2012-02-16-21.45.30.jpg   Vivarium for Ambystoma opacum-2012-02-16-21.45.50.jpg  
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Old 24th March 2012   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vivarium for Ambystoma opacum

That's an awesome tank! I have a marbled salamander as well. How do you keep things from rotting/molding? Do you just switch out the substrate and leaves a lot?
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Old 25th March 2012   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vivarium for Ambystoma opacum

Awesome setup, good work! I like using native plants in my tanks, too!
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Old 25th March 2012   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vivarium for Ambystoma opacum

[QUOTE=Lamb;325991]I've managed to keep a few mosses alive

The tank looks great! I like using natives in mine as well. I tried putting moss in mine but it didn't take...all it did was mold. However, my other tank the moss is doing fine.
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Old 29th March 2012   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vivarium for Ambystoma opacum

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Originally Posted by pehudson12 View Post
That's an awesome tank! I have a marbled salamander as well. How do you keep things from rotting/molding? Do you just switch out the substrate and leaves a lot?

In a viv, things are naturally going to cycle themselves. Rotting leaves isn't necessarily a bad thing, and the viv may undergo a molding phase, but that usually happens when cycling. It's basically a little patch of forest floor
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Old 29th March 2012   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vivarium for Ambystoma opacum

That is a nice vivaium. I have the same thing going on in my ensatina enclosure and my 50g custom tank that is used for various things. I use dead leaves as a top layer and sometimes I will throw in rotting log as mulch for the moss and ferns. I love spleenworts, but they have been eluding me recently, I will have to check the creek bed. I dont know where you live but if its in the pacific northwest I recommend oregon creeping moss :) it has fern like outcrops and survived rather well (not to mention great water retention and cover).
Anyway just wanted to add in, it looks very nice.
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Old 29th March 2012   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Vivarium for Ambystoma opacum

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Originally Posted by pehudson12 View Post
That's an awesome tank! I have a marbled salamander as well. How do you keep things from rotting/molding? Do you just switch out the substrate and leaves a lot?
Daedae is correct. Rotting things aren't necessarily bad for the tank's mini-ecosystem, provided that there isn't a huge imbalance somewhere and the "rot" takes over. I haven't had mold issues, and hope that too much mold doesn't crop up.

It's interesting to watch the plants grow over time. I still only have one ebony spleenwort, but it's sending out new rachises (the equivalent of leaves for a fern). Also, the other sp. of fern has really begun to establish itself (many more rachises). I transplanted 2 large bulbs of wood sorrel and they are doing well. I also planted some false-garlic bulbs that were flowering in late winter (their compadres are currently flowering). I think they might return next year, hopefully. I think I've probably occupied as much as the surface area of the dirt that I can in such a small tank, so I'm going to leave it alone unless things die-off and don't come back.

I have a 20 gallon square tank that I keep a young speckled kingsnake in. I've been considering planting her tank, since there is more area to work with, but haven't gotten around to it. I would also like to play around with some sort of automated watering system...I think there are a few DIY posts on the forum about that kind of thing somewhere.
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