Heating/Lighting 30g terrarium for anole

angelwaltzNovember 24, 2006


I have searched through the posts, but unfortunately it seems that even though there have been many questions like mine, they are all for slightly different circumstances. So I am hoping no one will be upset by my post. I do need some help so I will give detailed explanations of my situation and see if anyone can help me out.

I currently have a 30gallon regular aquarium that I have set up as a terrarium. I do not have any creatures in there, but will obtain an green bahaman anole I am taking second-hand from a friend.

I have been working on this setup for almost three months due to continuing problems and budget.

Here's the basic setup of my tank. I built a rock wall going the width of the tank about 8 inches from the right wall. This separates the land from the pond with mesh and sphagnum moss. The land is made up of jungle bed. I currently have plants that have been in there since the initial setup. They are growing very well. They could be better, but they are tall and beautiful. As a ground cover I am using creeping ficus. I will have some tropical moss soon as well. In the pond, I have one of those waterfalls that come with the carbon filters. Outside of the water is a log of wood and slate rocks. The water comes up about 3-4 inches. There is no room for thermostat in the water. I wanted to make sure nothing could drown in there, plus I don't feel comfortable knowing that water can evaporate very quickly when all you have is a few inches square of it.

I had two extra fish hoods for 10gallon tanks so I used those over the tank for the first two months, spread out a little to cover the tank. They both took regular 18" flourescent strip lights, 15w each.

I got a zoomed combo hood. I do not recommend this to anyone. I returned it almost immediately. First, they don't have multiple cables for day/night timing. I know there's another combo brand out there with multiple cables but I haven't tried it. I used a 60w incandescent over the pond portion and in about an hour, the grass growing out of the water was burnt to a crisp. I figured this meant I couldn't use such bright incandescents.

Anyway, as I'm working on a budget, I had to mail it back and wait about two weeks for the refund so I could get something else. I had done a lot of testing of temps/humidity levels. I'm not concerned with the humidity towards the top, cuz I know the anole will go up and down as he'll see fit, and there will always be plenty of humidity at the bottom. However, I need to get the temperature at the top to get in the high eighties (I concluded this after reading through MANY anole caresheets).

I figured, since two smaller flourescents brought the temperature to 81 degrees, that perhaps I should just get a 30" double strip light fixture. I went ahead and ordered that with two reptisuns 5.0. The hottest I could get it once I received these lights was 82 degrees! I guess this must be due to surface area dimensions I wasn't considering before. I figured 30w came in at 81, so 40w must sure raise it up a few extra degrees. But no...only one degree. Not good enough.

I got a clamp lamp with a 75w bulb. This clamp lamp was 8 and 1/2" in diameter with a dimmer. Unfortunately, the top of the tank isn't wide enough for the fluorescent fixture AND the clamp lamp. I fixed it so that the clamp lamp was on the right side, the pond size with considerably less plants. I used the dimmer to raise and lower the temp until I got a good 88 degrees going. I was talking to a friend when suddenly I heard a loud sound. I went running to the terrarium to find the side glass cracked! Luckily, the crack goes from the top middle of the tank and goes down only about halfway toward the outside. It's well enough above the water.

I just can't believe this! I'm going to have to silicone the crack because I just can't transfer everything...I mean, I could...but I don't want to. I'd have to rebuild the rock wall and the let the plants reacclimate after such great root growth.

I just don't know what my next move should be. I was considering purchasing two clamp lamps that are only 5 and 1/2" in diameter, and sitting these in front of the fluorescent fixture. On top of the tank.

I am currently using a glass top, not a screen.

Also, the color of the reptisuns 5.0 doesn't seem to be bright enough. I was also considering using only one instead of two and just use a regular fluoresecent and only 1 reptisun.

Anyway, I would really appreciate any help I could get. Please keep in mind that I am on an extreme budget. I know this hobby is pricey and you shouldn't get into it unless you can afford it...but I love it so I just try and take my time...hence the three months setting up a 30 gallon setup.

I'm just sorry for my friend, cuz it's always a different excuse as to why I can't take the anole yet...but I refuse to put a creature in a setup that is not perfect. True, I could have just done a simple setup...but I love the looks of a fully planted tank...and if I can't have a setup that I find pleasing and beautiful and that its inhabitants aren't comfortable in, it's just not worth it. Sure, I'll have a nasty crack, but hopefully I'll be able to hide it a little with plants...inside and out.

Okay...well, thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and offering any help/advice you could give.


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Its all trial and error! LOL! I know thats not the answer you were looking for but its the truth, you learn as you go, the great thing is that your doing research, thatll get you very far in this hobby, I had a Bahama anole in my set up for about two years, then it died, dont know why but it did, it used to go up into the hood for(which, after trial and error, turned out to be a good sorce of heat)then come down when it need to cool off, I tried to "anole proof" everything but it seems that they go where they want! LOL! I rigged a system of fans that would blow air through the light fixture to cool it, and pull warm air down into the set up to keep the upper part warm, about 88 degrees at the top and cooler as you go down to the bottom, about 78 degrees near the all water bottom, so he was fine, even saw him swimming, thats right, swimming around in the water! not swimming frantically for his life, swimming and diving, even sometimes gripping underwater roots and holding on a bit till it was time to go up for air! not typical behavior! anyways Im here in the forum almost daily, so if you come up with anything let me know =)

    Bookmark   November 24, 2006 at 9:36PM
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Thanks for your response iliketerrariums... You're right...it is all trial and error. It just sucks that it's mostly error. :) Sorry about your anole. I know it's never any fun to have a creature die. I have been into aquariums and aquatic plant for about two years now. I went to the atlanta botanical gardens one day and saw the possibilities with tropical plants inside an enclosure with dart frogs. Me being obsessed with naturalistic setups, I just had to try it. However, frogs are a lot easier than other reptiles/amphibians. For my frog setup I only use reptisuns 2.0...and that keeps them nice and warm and the plants happy...so it worked out. But the color radiant of the reptisuns 2.0 is very different from the 5.0s.

A brief update on my setup:

I have siliconed the inside and outside of the cracks. I also shoved some lichens against the inside where all the silicone was. That way I don't have to see that crack...ever. It's kinda big, so a bit of an eyesore. I also went to petco and got two clamp lamps that are 5 and 1/2 inch in diameter. The fit almost perfectly behind the fluorescent fixture. Yay! Finally, something good. I got two 75w bulbs, one daylight, one black nightlight. I then went to home depot and bought two plug in lamp dimmers. I tested temperatures and dimmed until I got desirable temperatures. DIMMERS! Ten bucks at home depot...that's the best freaking idea. I got the temps to 85 degrees, and the glass isn't even scorching so I can continue to use the glass top instead of screen...which means good humidity. Which means...I think I'm ready.

Here's crossing my fingers that nothing else goes wrong.

Now, what I need a little more help on is figuring out what type of bulbs to put in my double fluorescent fixture. Right now I have a Reptisun 5.0 and a GE Sunshine (5000K). I couldn't find a bulb that was 6500K at home depot or walmart that was 24". I saw a GE Daylight that was 6500K but they were only carrying it in 48". Will that 5000K bulb work okay, or should I expect to see my plants withering away? Should I continue searching for a bulb with 6500K?

Thanks again for any responses and advice...I'm so glad I found this place. It's far more jam-packed with information than actual sites specializing in only terrariums and reptiles. Go figure...


    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 4:26PM
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Im glad to hear its going your way for a change =) Id go with the 5000k for now and see how it works, if it does well then you dont have to change it out for the 6400k, just give it time and see how it goes with the 5000k =) I have a tall tank with 4 6400ks, two daylights and two actinic blues, I use the blues mainly at night, they simulate the moon light quite well, they work out very well for my plants but do burn the upper plants, I am going to try a new set up (plant wise) to see if I can get some high light heat and drought tolerant plants up in the higher areas, and keep the others in the middle and bottom sections as they are doing fine =)

    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 11:52PM
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