Setting up FBT tank...

lynette4263August 10, 2005

I'm going to use terra lite as the base, then a substrate divider, then I am using Jungle Bed as the substrate. I want permanently planted (as opposed to potted) plants. I plan to house 2-3 firebelly toads.

My question revolves around the water feature. I've been doing a lot of reading, but I STILL don't understand EXACTLY what is the best set-up for FBT's. A large shallow bowl that can be changed every day, OR building a pond into the design? If a pond is the answer, could somebody give this dunce CLEAR instructions on the best way to do this in a 10 gallon? Exactly how is the pond area created. And do I need a pump, a filter, etc? And if so, what kind?

Oh, one more question...I am going to use a flourescent hood over a screen (to prevent cricket escapes). Can I use the same kind of bulb I use in my planted fish tanks, a Hagen Flora-Glo? I don't plan to have exotic plants, just pothos and some other terrarium plants I bought at Petco.


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angelo_s(z6 NY)

First question to you is that do you want to spend time and money not alot of money to make it look very natural with a waterfall or a streanbed or do you want to do something that is fairly easy to construct and to take care of you havent been specific enough in your questions

If you want the easy way I would use a gravel substract for drainage. Pothos is very hardy I have one in my tank and it grows hydroponicly I just have the roots sitting in gravel and its growing quite long. You can slope the gravel making a shoreline and only have about 4" of water and just cover the land area with some moss It doesnt have to be live moss. I would also use some sort of filter in the tank and put a co-co hut or a cave my fbt are always hiding in there.

Any way tell me what you want to do and whats your bugget and I can come up with some really nice ideas.

Here is a link that might be useful: pics of my tank

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 8:31PM
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OMG!!! Your tank is AWESOME! WOW!!! Someday I hope to have a large tank like that! Not enough room in the ten gallon though, LOL.

To answer your question, I don't mind spending some money and a little work. I'm not interested in carving out foam, etc though, I'm just not talented enough to tackle that.

If it can be created out of rock, epoxy, and egg crate, I think I could tackle it.

I'm excited to start building, so fire away with any ideas you have. And thanks for answering my lighting question too.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 11:24PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

i would agree with angelo on the substrate.I fyou'r enot too particular in the plants Ther are many types of tropicals that easily convert to lithophytic, hydroponic or even epiphtic growth. Warm and humid is all that's required.
IME I've found the foam to be far easier to work with than real materials. For example I made a waterfall that is 24x25 ibches and is only 3 inches wide at the base. Does not tip nor release anything into the water. Weighs almost nothing and cost 5 bucks
As to talent it comes out of the can in puffs much like shaving cream and expands to form rounded shapes. If you apply small puffs in horizontal rows it will cling to the glass .Cures in around ten minutes so you can add another layer until the desired effcct.A little acrylic paint and will look like whatever you chose. Looks far better when the paint is just smearned on. Growth will soon cover most of it so a simple sheme is far better anyway.
Another thing is that it's smooth and has a little give something like erasers. You can add real materials to it before curing such as wood or rocks but I think they ruin the effect.
I can't imagine anything being easier.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 7:08AM
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angelo_s(z6 NY)

ok for a ten gallon If you want you can put a small waterfall mayby the exxo terra one they look really natural If you want you can buy the med one with the med one you can install a fogger into it just use disstilled water it gives the tank a nice looking fog effect. If space is really limmited you can buy another waterfall made by zoo med its ment to be put in the corner of the tank and I would buy black gravel for the pond area and put some dark cover river rocks to hold the shape of the pond together
see at first you dont want to do anything too permanet because you wil get more ideas through trial and error
another cool idea that I once did was put gravel at the botton or a false bottom and buy terrarium lawn. this is real grass seeds and in about 1-2 weeks you can have a nice lawn of grass just be sure to water it here is their link
also for the waterfalls here are some more links
this is the corner one from zoomed

here is the exo terra ones

these are just some links Ive never bought from these web sites I just thought I would share them with you to get a better idea to see what Im talking about

if your intersted in a filter I heard some good things about this one here is there link its called zoo med 501

if you like these products you can find them at petco or even petsmart I personnaly dont recomend these stors for love herps but for supplies they are not too bad

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 7:43PM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

Carving foam is really very easy, and you can get the look, size, shape, etc. you want without worrying about wood rotting or rocks shifting or falling as your FBTs hop around. You can either use Great Stuff, the foam in a can that gary wrote about, or buy a sheet of that smooth pink foam for insulating houses. The reason you want this kind of foam is that it is perfectly smooth, not made up of little balls that will fall off and make a huge mess as you're trying to carve your waterfeature. The individual sheets are not thick enough to make a pond with any real depth, so just cut the sheet up into pieces and stack them on top of each other until you reach the desired height. Use silicone to 'glue' them together. I used an Olfa knife to carve my waterfeatures, and it works great. When you're satisfied with the shape, just gob on black silicone and stick rocks or whatever else you want to it. You'll need a good, thick layer of silicone for this (make sure you smear it into any cracks so that you're sure of water-tightness, or your pond won't hold water), and black is MUCH less obtrusive than 'clear' (white) silicone after it's dry. However, if that's all too much work for you, just buy the Hagen one or some other brand that looks just as natural. Either way, if you want a natural-looking waterfeature, you will need a false bottom. Not only can you hide pumps, etc. in the false bottom, but it provides a greater amount of water, and thus the water will stay cleaner longer.

You don't NEED a filter for your waterfeature as long as you do regular water changes to remove all the poop and stuff that the frogs will do. And there is no EXACT PERFECT set-up for any animal. Everyone's tastes are different (some prefer a very sterile, easy to clean set-up), everyone's tank conditions will be a bit different, and even the frog's personalities are different. Some like water more, some like land more, etc. A pump to circulate the water is a very good idea, and will help discourage algae growth. Just get the smallest one you can find. I use a Rio 50. It comes with an adjustable flow attachment (ball valve), which is very good.

Oh, and BTW, pothos is a bad plant choice for a 10 gal. That thing will completely take over all land area (and probably the water area, too) in a month or two, and when you go to rip it out, you will take all the substrate with it, because it's roots will be everywhere. Not to mention that the large leaves aren't really to scale in a small tank. Try something like ficus pumila. It's invasive too, but with tiny leaves, still attractive, and easy to pull out and trim back. Even wandering jew would be better than pothos. English ivy is also bad.

Here's a pic of my waterfeature (dismantled now, since I sold my tank).

and another view:

And this is a pic of when my tank was first set up. I had a little pond on the left. Kept the pond structure, and will use it when I re-vamp my current 20 gal. terr.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 8:35PM
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Oh, I've seen pics of your tank before, and I love it! Sorry to hear it's dismantled! I love the oriental figurine.

In your tank, where did the streams of water go? They look like they just lead to the front of the glass. Was there a pond?

Where is a good place to buy terrarium plants?


    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 11:46PM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

The pond is kind of right at the base of the waterfall. It narrows into the stream. There's also a little pond by the Japanese guy, but I took that out when I re-did my tank. It was just stagnant water, and basically an algae culture. =) The stream goes to the front of the glass, and then just drops down into the false bottom. I originally tried sectioning off a part of the bottom of the tank to hold water, but water from the waterfall splashes everywhere, so the little resovoir underneath only allowed the waterfall and stream to run for a couple minutes before running dry. A false bottom is truly the way to go!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 2:31PM
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Oh, I still can't get over your pictures. Well, since I first posted this question three weeks ago, I've been hard at work. I ditched the ten gallon idea, and went with a 20H. Here is the result as of last night...

Nothing so fancy as yours, but I'm happy with it. Not bad for a first attempt. I'm giving all the plants and moss 2 weeks to take root before I add the toadies, who will most likely do some trampling.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2005 at 11:03AM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

I like it! The fern is really cute, and the variegated Dracaena sanderana (aka Lucky bamboo) looks really good in the water. Moss doesn't have roots though, it's not a true plant. What kind of moss is it? It looks a little yellow, so I hope it survives and grows for you. Make sure you keep it nice and moist while it's trying to grow.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 2:47AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I think it looks nice also!! I suppose the toads need swimming room?? Was going to suggest some Java fern or moss for the water area. They would love it.
Is that some type of shelf above the water?? How is that constructed??

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 4:25AM
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Well, the moss I bought off ebay. The auction stated "Types of moss may include one or a variety of Rock Cap, Hair Cap and Fern moss." The problem came when I set it in a window on a day the weathermen said it was SUPPOSED to be cloudy and went to work. But no, the sun shone bright, and the instructions that came with the moss said NOT to put it in the sun. A very small amount stayed green, but most of it turned brown. Had to use it, so I picked the best chunks I could find. The areas that stayed green seem to be doing well; I hope they will spread or something.

What appears to be a shelf...Well, I built the false bottom using egg crate, then couldn't figure a way to cover the egg crate so I put black plastic canvas over it. After the plants fill in and algae grows, etc, I'm hoping it won't be so noticeable.

Java moss is a great idea, I'll get some.

I also added a lot of duckweed that is taking off. I'll post more pics as it fills in, and after the toadies come home. :0)

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 1:40PM
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Hi, Im new to this site and have only built four vivs, so hears my little bit of advice! =) I used expanding foam for my back ground, the same as blackjungle used on their 4foot tank, but I also used the foam to make a pond and a wall that seperates the "land" from the water, so I have a water fall that emptys into a "pond" and the wall of the pond acts as a "beach" that slants up to the land side, which is a false bottom, the pond does not over flow due to two drainage pipes in the rear of the pond that drain the water strait through to the false bottom, it worked out pretty well, Ill try to add a link, hope it works! LOL! Im like the 12th down (A.Rosario) Please let me know what you guys think! =)

Here is a link that might be useful: wildsky

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 7:44PM
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sahoyaref(Alberta z3a)

I was also wondering what that black stuff was at the edge of the pond. It's not obtrusive or ugly, but java moss would be PERFECT for covering it up and making it look totally natural. I love java moss. Nothing else that I've found grows so nice and fast! Watch out for that duckweed though. It can be quite the pain in the butt once it gets going! And if you ever decide you're sick of it and want to take it all out. . . have fun. =) It will, however, outcompete algae in the water, so you shouldn't have a problem with that. Of course you're not supposed to have algae problems if you use RO water anyways (which I assume you're using, and if not, you should be), but I always used RO water and I still had algae. Whatever. . .

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 2:25AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

It is possible to make vertical panel with the plastic canvas and the Java fern will climb right up it. You'll find many "aquarium" type plants do better when allowed to emerge from the water.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 7:24AM
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