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My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

Posted by rodzuf Cincinnati OH (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 11, 04 at 21:11

Ok guys im new here, ive been lurking for a while and its now time to start the "master" plan. Really to be honest i'm going to be taking so much from one guy but customizing it to my needs. Please be critical and kind :P this is my going to be my second terr the first is a 9 gallon upright tank i made that has mostly tropical plants and a few air plants ...whatever there called. From what i read i think i have the high light ones which could explain why i havent had the best of luck with them. I plan to read alot about the diffrent species as I go im a avid "browser"/techie. My plan is to setup something like poison-frogs.nl has setup. I plan to use 1/2 half inch plywood.. already sanded..ie 7.65 sanded at Home depot. He measurements are 24inches wide by 4 feet tall. I plan on using these precut pieces of plywood on both sides and the back. The bottom will of course be the same but cut down to fit in. I plan on painting these with marine epoxy paint to water proof (dont know where to get that yet)I plan on putting it all togerther then epoxying it and siliconing it.......if needed I will use pondliner like poisen-frog did (do I need this?) I plan on using a glass divider at the bottom like he did as well as a one piece glass/wood door (prolly a piano hinge. I plan on expiremening with pvc piping, foam, and silka (or something like it since i live in cincy ohio) Im really intrested in this part as it looks like a great challange to get it realistic. I plan on using an airbrush to paint the finished product with acrlic paint and possibly sealing it with some kind of polyetherne( dont know what I will use to seal it as I dont know what is non toxic/waterproof and dries almost completly clear. One question I have as well is do you all think I will need to reinforce the 1.2 in plywood with someking of two by fours since this will be a free standing unit.(think poisen-frog.nl only freestanding. Most other things will be modeled after his. Any suggestion anyone.

Thanks for reading my long post I hope you all can help but before I go let me turn you on to another /exxpensive/obsesive hobby i currently have. You all may already be in to this but if no i think you will like it.

http://nano-reef.com

Thanks again

Rodney


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

reefcentral.com is a more friendly forum, and yes, I, at least, am already into nanos. I'm going to start one for just macro-algaes soon. I love all their shapes! And being more into plants than corals and fish, it's only natural.

Anyways, about your terrarium. Sounds pretty much like what I'm wanting to do, even with simiar dimentions! I would use the pond liner. Better safe than sorry! You don't want to build everything and set it up, including all your branches from PVC and whatnot, and then find out that the thing leaks and have to take it all apart and redo it! Will this be just for plants, or will you be putting animals of some kind in there? If so, their needs should be paramount. Plants are quite adaptable. Also, you don't mention how you will be lighting it. Where will it be? Will it get any natural sun? For something 4 feet tall you will probably require a metal halide. They are expensive, and put out a ton of heat, so you will need additional fans in the light hood, as well as venting. And what do you mean by free-standing? Will it be raised off the floor, or just sitting on it? We (on the forum) generally think that casters are a very good idea, if not a neccessity, for very large terrariums. Someday you will want to move it, and it will really suck if you have to lift and carry it! Will you have a 'pond' at the bottom, or just a false bottom? I think the piano hinge would work fine, provided it is strong enough. As for a non-toxic sealant, I have no idea. I've been trying to find one myself. and I know that people who paint plant pots use Thompson's Water Seal (spray on or paint on), and toxicity would be a problem with plants, so it must be safe. Also, there is a glue called Marine Goop. It is non-toxic, and dries clear (though rather shiny), so you could use that for gluing your stuff together (it's amazingly strong stuff) and/or for sealing your branches and stuff that you make and paint, though you would need a fair amount of it for that, and it's not the cheapest glue in the world. Not terribly expensive, but you wouldn't really want to end up needing more than 3 tubes. It's also highly toxic while it is un-cured, so make sure you're using it outside.

As for your air plants in your current terr., they are botanically known as tillandsias, and if they are the grey ones, than they need very high light indeed, and don't like humidity that much, either, so they're not the best choice for terrariums. How are you lighting your 9 gal. terr? Anyways, have fun building your terrarium, and make sure you post pics when you're done! =)


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

  • Posted by rodzuf Cincinnati OH (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 12, 04 at 8:43

Sahoyaref thanks for not flaming for calling them air plants I do know a little about bromiliedis and such basic care. I plan on lighting the tank with PC lighing if possible. I do plan on raising dendros in here not sure on what species I have had in the past some of the easier arutus and tinc species. My current nano is lighted by natuaral sun and by power compact lighting. Please explain what a paramount? is. I could use MH as I know many ways to build cheap units for about 100 or less dollars. When I say free standing it will have a base underneath for water once again similar to poisen-frogs. Not sure what caster are tho maybe you could eleborate for me (newbie). After thinking about it last nite I think I will definalty need a frame for this instead of just glueing the plywood togherther. Any suggestion for this I will prolly uses moreply wood on on the outside of the frame for asthetic reason. Im sure I will have some sort of pond like poisen-frogs or just a little steam. Not sure on that one...I sounds like i will want to stay away from tillandsias or be prepared to lose them.

Thanks for all the help
Rodney


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

  • Posted by rodzuf Cincinnati OH (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 12, 04 at 10:36

Oh and one more question on the poisen-frogs.nl he uses wires to heat the substrate. What kinda of heating method is this. Can I obtain it in the US?


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

"Their needs should be paramount." That means that the animals needs come first.

Casters are little wheels with a metal part, much like the way wheels are attached to bikes, for attaching it to whatever you need. You know those metal frame units for holding the TV and VCR back in grade school? They had casters (wheels) on them for moving them around. For such a large terrarium, you'd need some really heavy-duty ones, but they'd be easy to find at any hardware store, like Home Depot.

I'm not sure if you would require a frame, but don't just use glue to attach your plywood! Use nails or screws as well, as a safeguard. I think that a 2 x 4 or 2 x 2 frame around the outside would detract from the appearance of your tank, and you don't want an ugly tank when you're putting that much work into it! You could perhaps make it more attractive by covering the frame with some kind of moulding, like baseboards for houses, but I don't know how well that would work, not to mention being more expensive. And covering it with more plywood would just make the walls appear unneccessarily thick.

Definitely go with an MH light. 4' high is just too far for any fluorescent bulb to penetrate effectively. You would not be able to grow any plants well in the bottom 2 feet of your tank.

And no need to stay away from tillandsias entirely! The proper species are ideal terrarium inhabitants. Try T. cyanea, T. ionatha, or any of the other 'green leaved' ones. Black Jungle has a good selection and decent prices (for tillies), with good pics so that you know what you're getting. And don't worry about calling them 'air plants'! A lot of people do, and everyone will know what you are talking about. This is a friendly forum, and there's no need to flame anyone.

The soil-heating cable is readily available at any good garden centre or place that sells greenhouse equippment. Try Lee Valley. They ship anywhere in North America (though you may have a store near you as well), their products are of the highest quality, and the prices are good for what you're getting. I wouldn't use a soil-heating cable though. If you use heaters to heat your water, you should be just fine. The guy on poison-frogs uses the soil cable as more of a safe-guard, just in case his water heaters fail. And don't underestimate the amount of heat put out by a metal halide bulb! That alone will probably be sufficient to heat your tank. In fact, it will probably make it too hot, so you should have some cooling fans (computer fans work well) in your light hood, as well as a couple fans in your tank for air circulation. Besides, if anything ever goes wrong with your soil-heating cable, like it's making things too hot, then it's going to be very tough to get at it and remove it. You could just unplug it, but then you're left with this useless thing in your tank that was a big waste of money. Water heaters will be easy to get at if you put them in your water resovoir under your tank, and are easy to adjust. Make sure you get the submersible ones. Here they are made by Tronic. Probably the same brand in the states, available at pretty much any aquarium store.

You should keep a photojournal of how you build your tank! I would be very interested in knowing what kind of problems you encounter, since I will also be following the general method of poison-frogs.com when I build my large viv. One thing in particular that I wonder about is that it appears that he used staples to attach his pond liner to the inside of the tank. Wouldn't this create holes in the liner and therefore ruin it's effectiveness? There must be a better way. Perhaps only put the staples or nails on the outside of the tank. . . though that would be ugly unless you covered it with something.

Oh yeah, and you should also seriously consider staining and varnishing the outside of your plywood. Actually, stain both sides, because staining only one side can warp the wood. And the varnish on the outside will help to protect it against the inevitable water splashes, as well as being very attractive, like any well-made piece of furniture. =) Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Black Jungle


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

  • Posted by rodzuf Cincinnati OH (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 16, 04 at 8:58

Sahoyaref thanks again for the great suggestions I may have a few answeres for your question/comments. First off Casters will definatly be used. I plan on using a 2x2 frame all the way around the terrium I am going to use this as a heating duct to recirclulate air. I plan on buying plane routed 1/4 pannel and I will stain this for the exterior. I think this will maek ti look as nice a a big box can. Plus i imaagine people will be looking inside instead of outside :) Metal Halide sounds like the way to go I guess the only problem/question I see with them is the fact this will be in the tank and with the misters I can see a problem. I know from the halides i have im my fish tank if they get even one drop of water on them they explode and im not sure how that will work with the misters. I think i will just stick with the water heaters/ lights. I plan on keeping a journal when I get underway I plan on buying the wood to build the frame this weekend. I called Sherwen Williams and the 2 part epoxy paint they sell is 85$ dollars so I will have to sneak that buy my g/f. Heres what i thought about the stables he uses for the pvc liner Option one cover them with silicon or pvc liner glue option two is dont stable glue with something possibly pvc glue or liquid nails might work. Tell me what you think

Rodney


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

Liquid nails is a good idea! I've heard of people using that in terrariums before, now that you've jogged my memory. I believe it's non-toxic. Covering the staples with silicone is also a good idea.

I would advise having a glass cover to your terrarium, between the main tank and the bulb. This will help keep some of the heat from your halide bulb out of your tank, and protect the bulb from exploding. It also essential if you want to put any animals in your terr. You don't want them frying from getting too close to the bulb!

Wow, that epoxy paint is expensive! I hadn't looked at prices yet, so that's a little discouraging. Hmmmmm. . . sounds like the outside of your terr. will be very nice indeed. Routing always looks nice.


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

  • Posted by rodzuf Cincinnati OH (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 18, 04 at 13:37

Ok here is my debate should I put this lighting system in
http://www.marinedepot.com/md_viewItem.asp?idproduct=PF25PBD
Is this enough for 4.5 foot hight terrariums or is this overkill/too much heat

Is this a better solution
http://www.marinedepot.com/md_viewItem.asp?idproduct=CU01615

Are atinic anygood for terriums or not. Im thinking around 200 watts at 10,0000k is this sufficent?


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

Neither! The first one is a double-ended bulb, which are always more expensive than single-ended bulbs, and are not worth the extra expense. Keep in mind that you will need to replace the bulb every year! That will add up! And actually, it is probably not enough for a 4.5 foot high terrarium, unless you only want to grow low-light plants (though of course you could grow high-light plants near the bulb). I'll be using a 400 W on my future 5 foot high terr. don't bother with actinics, and if you can find bulbs that are 6500-6700K, that would be much better than 10000 K. 10000 K is intended for marine systems, and does have a bluish tint to it. It's not that bad, more white than blue, but it would skew the colours of any flowers slightly. Even 5000K, corrected with a single actinic T5 bulb to supplement the blue end of the spectrum, would appear more natural than 10,000K. And as for the second fixture, it appears to be merely a set of four fluo. tubes, which would not be at all sufficient.
You said earlier that you know how to hook up MH fixtures. Then why are you looking at ready-made stuff? It will be WAY more expensive than buying the individual parts and making it yourself! My husband is an electrician, and he has made many MH fixtures for his own tank and for friends. All you need are a ballast, ballast box, appropriate wire, the bulb, bulb fixture, a small reflector, a computer fan (which needn't be attached to the actual fixture, but should be near it, blowing the heat away), and the other little do-dads like merrets for attaching wires to each other. All of these supplies can be found cheaply (relatively) at an electrical wholesaler that sells to the public. If you know how to wire stuff yourself, or think you could figure it out or have an electrician friend or family member do it, then do that! Try asking on the Growing Under Lights forum. I'm sure that someone there could tell you what to do. And the guys at the wholesaler would also be able to help you. Just tell them what you are wanting to do, and they will make sure that your bulb, fixture, wire, and ballast are all compatible, and they could probably even tell you/show you how to wire it. They will also be able to sell you a bulb that is closer to the spectrum you want.


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

Rod,

The pond liner over the marine epoxy is definitely overkill. I have personally seen plywood aquariums (do a google search on "plywood aquarium") that were 10 years old without a leak. Plus, I have no clue how Liquid Nails would react with a PVC liner over time.

If you are doing a dart tank with a false bottom, you will probably only have standing water in the bottom 6 inches of the terrarium. Therefore, you could probably get away with only epoxying the plywood to just above the maximum height where you will have standing water. For the rest, you can use multiple coats of spar varnish to hold up to the high humidity. If you decide to do a drip wall or water feature, you might also want to consider painting that area with marine epoxy.

That is exactly how I built my dart tank: marine epoxy on the bottom and back, spar varnish on the top wood pieces. After almost two years (knock on plywood), no leaks and no signs of trouble. You can check out my construction of my tank at the link below.

Lights:

In my 2 x 2 x 2 foot terrarium, I have three 40 watt CF's. I can grow and bloom mini Cattleyas, Dendrobiums, and Oncidiums in that terrarium. I would bet money that two of those 96 watt CF units would put out enough light for you to grow a variety of plants: high light plants in the upper 1/2, and low light plants in the lower 1/2.

If you are going to raise darts in the terrarium, I would hesitate to use MH lamps due to the excessive heat. I know of some people who have tried it with no success. You even need to be careful about heat with Compact fluorescents. Besides, all of the MH fixtures I have seen gobble up a lot more electricity per lumen.

SA is right that you need to stay away from actinics. Bulbs in the 5000-6500K range are good daylight spectrum bulbs. Just remember that most plants you will be growing never really see straight unfiltered daylight. The jungle floor tends to be more yellow light due to much of the light being filtered through green leaves.

Here is a link that might be useful: Building a Plywood Terrarium


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

  • Posted by rodzuf Cincinnati OH (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 23, 04 at 9:50

Homer thanks for the link... I think I am going to stay away from the MH to be honest. I dont know what lights I am going to use yet. I plan on making a drip wall so I tink I will need marine epoxy on all sides of the walls.


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

Anybody consider one of these lights how would this work?
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=42225&item=4318441287&rd=1


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

  • Posted by GaWd z9/10 NorCal (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 31, 04 at 18:25

That would be a great light!

If you want to cook your plants, that is. Also, Sodium lights look awful, have terrible color rendering, and aren't particularly useful to growers. You'd be much better off with an MH setup like this: http://www.hydroponics.net/i/389604 But you still have the heat issue.

Try sticking to Fluorescent or Compact Fluorescent. You can get pretty good wattage and light output from both.

Sam


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

Compacts are way better than normal fluo's, unless you go with the T5's or VHOs (very high output). Even so, in such a deep tank, you'll have to stick to very low light plants on the bottom. Ferns would be a good choice. Anything variegated or red will loose it's colour and revert to green (unless the variegation is how the plant always is, not just a 'sport' that has been selectively bred, like with ivies). Still, it must work, because the guy at poison-frogs uses fluos for his set-up.


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

  • Posted by rodzuf Cincinnati OH (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 10, 04 at 13:38

Hey guys for my 4ft terrarium how would 2 or 3 of these work. (btw Sam found these thanks sam) Also what kind of balast do these take the only problem I see with them is that they are roughly 10 inches in length!


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

I can't see what you are referring to. I personally bought a case of 96 watt compact fluorescent ballasts that I am wiring up for a rack system. 10,000 lumens from one bulb (but that bulb is about $30 :?)! My friends and I are pretty stoked (yeah, I spread them around a bit--how can I use 10 ballasts all by my lonesome?), as we put together a light for about 1/2 what it cost from ahsupply! A few setups like that might be just what the doctor ordered in a 4 ft tall tank.

I'm going to try to mold my own parabolic reflector from mirrored acrylic to get the most out of the bulbs. It may be a while, but I'll get it done!


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

  • Posted by GaWd z9/10 NorCal (My Page) on
    Sat, Sep 11, 04 at 2:46

Homer,

I had settled on these bulbs: http://www.abcbulbs.com/Item.asp?ID=SL85-65K&my_ID=24450&afid=

But I don't think they're close to 10,000 lumens. WHat bulbs did you purchase, and from where for $30? THe above bulb is 3500 Lumens with an 8000 hour life-and they're like $25, so it's really close to your $30 lamp. I'd be interested in getting some 10,000 lumne bulbs for sure!

Sam


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

  • Posted by GaWd z9/10 NorCal (My Page) on
    Sun, Sep 12, 04 at 13:15

There seems to be a lot of churn on the forum lately...

Homer, what bulbs are you using?

Sam


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

The bulbs I use are 36" long tubes like the one pictured here:
http://www.hellolights.com/96wat6734jap.html

You can also find them at www.ahsupply.com. Mine are the Coralife brand, but similar or identical to the above.

It looks like I mis-spoke. I saw a site indicating that these get nearly 10,000 lumens, but everywhere else states that they produce around 8,100 - 8,600 lumens depending on type and light color.

The problem is that you have to have a ballast and endcap before you can use these bulbs. I put my ballast/endcap assembly together for around $30 . . . but they are really tough to come by for that price (like I said, I had to buy a case of ballasts). Anyway, sorry about the apparent exaggeration--but 8,100 lumens is still pretty high performance, IMHO.


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

  • Posted by GaWd z9/10 NorCal (My Page) on
    Mon, Sep 13, 04 at 9:59

Damn, I was hoping it was going to be an easy CFL solution like a self-ballasted spring bulb. It would cost well over $60 for one bulb in that situation.

I guess I'm going with my original plan and buying the bulb I mentioned earlier and enclosing it in my light hood.

THanks, Homer.

Sam


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

  • Posted by rodzuf Cincinnati OH (My Page) on
    Mon, Sep 13, 04 at 10:45

Yes sam that is the lights I thinking about using I just forgot to post the link.


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

  • Posted by GaWd z9/10 NorCal (My Page) on
    Mon, Sep 13, 04 at 14:06

The one I posted, or the one Homer posted?

I don't have the room or the money for the ones like Homer's using. So I'll use a 43W and an 86W CFL spring-type bulb tucked into a horticultural reflector. I think I can get pretty good results from that.

(not that I'm not getting good results right now, as a beginner, I'm on my second reblooming orchid and most are growing like weeds)

Sam


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RE: My To be Terrarium (long post but need help)

  • Posted by rodzuf Cincinnati OH (My Page) on
    Mon, Sep 13, 04 at 16:26

I was refering to the lights you (sam) suggested. I wouldnt mind getting the higher lumens but once again I am restricted to 24 inches wide. :( But I think if I could get two of these 85watters Three would definatly be better that may just be enough for what I am looking to do. Tho I wish I could find something a litte cheaper like a do it yourself system.


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