Easy Awesome Vivarium Design

smashtoad

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Hi All,

Sorry if this post may ramble, but I have had a lot of coffee and am excited about the prospect of setting up a vivarium for Tylototriton kweichowensis...if I can ever find any babies, that is. Any help would be appreciated.

Anyway, the reason for my posting is that I think I have a suggestion that will benefit many of you that utilize siliconed-in glass dividers in the name of creating land / water areas for your newts. My suggestion is...dont do it. Here's why...

The Basics

All aquaria colonize nitrifying bacteria over time. The amount of bacteria depends on the amount of food for the bacteria, essentially. These bacteria turn ammonia (very toxic) from waste and uneaten food into nitrite (also very toxic) and then into nitrate (much less toxic)...we then remove nitrates with water changes and are aided by live plants as well. This is known simply as "biological" filtration.

The traditional undergravel filter, that looked to most of us like, uh...nothing, utilized the aquarium's gravel bed as a filter, circulating oxygenated water thoughout the gravel, which colonated nitrifiers. A lightly stocked tank could get by just fine on this type of filtration alone.

The Vivarium

When I went to set up a viv for my Phyllobates terribilus, I read all about how dudes were building these intricate false bottoms, and posting progression threads that were as varied as they were confusing. Not only this, the bottom several inches of the viv was EMPTY, when it could be used to colonize nitrifiers!

Instead of installing a glass barrier to flow, or using a false bottom, just use very small aquarium gravel (or pea gravel) to the desired depth (2 to 3 inches, roughly), then use big river stones to build your wall, securing them in the gravel floor. Then pile more gravel behind them. When you get to the top, put more big river stones down, and so on and so on. Sure, some gravel will slip through, but who cares. Eventually you will be able to fill to the desired height, and will have created a natural water / land barrier.

I know many of you will be concerned about gravel injestion, use long fiber sphagnum moss to cover the gravel on the land side, and pack it down tight. Then pack more a little looser, and then more looser. Eventually you will have enough to plant most viv plants in, and if you provide adequate cover, hopefully the newts will not feel the need to dig all the way to the gravel.

Water Quality

Here's the kicker...before you begin to fill the tank with gravel, on the land end, get a small aquarium circulation pump, and an appropriate length of tubing. Wrap the pump in black fiberglass screen, and then zip-tie the screen around the outflow tube and also around the pump cord. Then bury it with the tube going to the water end. This can be used to create water falls, bubbling brooks, whatever.

The point is this: The entire length of your vivarium's bottom will be turned into a big biological filter, with oxygenated water flowing through it freely. So why would you put in a piece of glass that is only going to restrict flow, causing the bottom of the gravel side to become stagnant, if not septic?

Below is a picture of my terribilis viv. This tank has no false bottom, just gravel and sphagnum, and a screen wrapped pump. The sphagnum has long since lived and died, being replaced by an awesome species of volunteer moss that has carpeted almost everything.

I believe this method of viv design would work awesome for the more terrestrial Tylototritons, and could be modified to suit the more aquatic species as well. The only drawback is that it may be difficult to use if you desire really deep water, like 8" or more. The taller your tank is, the more leeway you'll have in design.

It's all about moving water. Moving water is the key to viv health, in my opinion. That, and not overstocking the tank. That's why this method works so well for dart frogs.

Sorry about the crappy phone pics, but you get the idea. First pic is Oct08, when the tank was built, the second pic is today. I hope this post will help somone build for their animals a viv so beautiful that their wife won't mind it being in the living room!

P.S. An Oak canopy helps a lot when it comes to pleasing the wifey...ha








 

bichogrilo

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Truly cool looking vivarium, I am impressed.
 

maisy

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wow! beautiful! Love the bromeliads that you chose too!
 
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    Where'd you get that? Or is it just a combo from petsmart or something?
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    I’m pretty sure I got it at a Walmart.
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    I just looked it up to see if I can find it again. It’s actually a hyGROmeter and temperature. Which measures the dew point. Here is the difference between due point and humidity. https://www.weather.gov/arx/why_dewpoint_vs_humidityYou can calculate Th relative
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    the relative humidity using the dew point measurement.
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    Here is the product I purchased:
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    it has a stand. And I had a spare suction from my filter. So it’s on the wall of my Sal’s enclosure.
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    That’s a pic of it in the enclosure.
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  • MVM1991:
    Nice! Also, from what I can see you have an amazing setup! What species?
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    S. S. Gigliolli
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    Ooo nice!
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    Thank you! I tried to share the video but unsuccessful. You can see it on my IG story @jnerdx
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    Cool! I just have a tiger and a long tail, who we are trying to find as he ESCAPED INTO MY ROOM!
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    Hey y'all, recently my juvenile axolotl's tail has been floating and can swim down but his tail lifts to an angle and I believe that it is stressing him out. He gets in between his plants to balance himself and I am cleaning out the bottom of the tank with my baster. I believe I overfed him and he also may have eaten many air bubbles. He's been like this for nearly 1 1/2 days.
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    What would be the best thing to do ?
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    Hey, does anyone know if hot glue is fine to glue rocks together?
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    Should be. Hot glue is good when dry I believe, just don't let it get too hot and you should be good. Most super glues are good as well just watch out for flume warnings
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    Ok, thanks! I am going to glue together the shale I mentioned.
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    hello, I am currently tubbing my axolotl due to cycling the tank. I have read different answers on how many times to do a 100% water change a day when tubbing. Some say once and some say twice. I just want to actually ask and get answers for myself. Thank
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  • Murk:
    As often as you need to keep the water clean! Since you´re cycling, I assume you have a test kit. Just test a few times to see how long it takes for your ammonia to go up, and as soon as it does, change the water.
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    Yes,I have the master test kit. Thank you! So just test the water in the tub that my axolotl is in now to gauge off of for changing?
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    That´s the most accurate. Depends on the size of the tub etc. - you just want to make sure the water is always clean
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