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Cork trunk build

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gex23    7

After a long hiatus from frogging, with SPS reefing and high tech planted aquariums in between, i've decided to revisit the froggy side of life.


Equipment list :




24*18*24 Exo Terra




ATI Sunpower 6 x 24w T5HO dimmable




Rainforest Vivs misting system w/ 2 single nozzles and 25 litre RO resovoir




Hydroleca drainage w/ABG substrate layer and leaflitter


Background / decor


Treefern / cork background with cork 'tree stump'




DIY polycarbonate lid with 1" vent and 40mm fan w/fan controller


Treefern background (will be cut up to make space to silicone the cork trunk)


26853755568_f3b1322341_b.jpg20180310_111330 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


First test fit :


25853934377_fb6e94f4e4_b.jpg20180310_110059 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


40682380182_f0e4c90c3a_b.jpg20180310_110110 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


40015015374_fe7dd5d015_b.jpg20180310_110415 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


38914985400_aab1236909_b.jpg20180310_110426 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


Drainage (may remove the cap and replace with cork round)


40725090531_5a15c82f10_b.jpg20180310_110639 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


38914956980_fd47fb248a_b.jpg20180310_110705 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


Well stocked with Superfly I think! :


26853766508_9496942c9f_b.jpg20180310_110803 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


Misting pump / reservoir :


39830127825_16b1ee00bd_b.jpg20180310_110734 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


More to follow.

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gex23    7

I'll continue to post for my own future reference if nothing else.


So my cat helpfully decided to deconstruct the modded lid I used - so I upgraded to 10mm twinwall polycarbonate. 


This has a lower thermal heat loss than glass, but the flipside is a lower percentage of light transmission. From the datasheets i've gathered it goes (approximate figures) :


8mm low iron glass (optiwhite) - 90%

8mm float glass - 85%

10mm twinwall polycarbonate - 80%


Not bad, and coupled with the fact the ATI is pretty overkill for this tank anyway (usually used on SPS / LPS reef tanks), it should see some decent PAR numbers at all heights in the tank.


38964679580_5ce62d33f5_b.jpg20180312_173528 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


5 x 75mm vents, wrapped in fly mesh to improve external circulation and decrease moisture buildup on the front:


25904019197_09cb19d1a3_b.jpg20180312_173150 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


Back to the light - bought preowned from a reefer with a selection of 10 / 12 and 15k bulbs producing a very blue light not pleasing on the eye for its new purpose :


26853798308_828c45fc0e_b.jpg20180310_110613 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr




Replaced with the following :


40065373664_6d856fc7e5_b.jpg20180312_100308 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


So that's :


6500k x 3

4000k x 1

3000k x 1

2700k x 1


Which looks like this :


40065346404_219a97ce6f_b.jpg20180312_103613 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


40774863431_82fcdc2ea5_b.jpg20180312_103620 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr


Also cut out 3 x 16mm holes for misting nozzles.


Tomorrow will see me siliconing the treefern panels to the back of the tank - any ideas of I can silicone the cork stump onto the treefern to keep it secure and upright?

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gex23    7

After much swearing, covering every conceivable surface in black silicone and lifting - here is the initial hardscape :

25932673177_33642013f4_b.jpg20180314_095022 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

40762171662_c50ff6d318_b.jpg20180314_095513 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

25932643937_fb0a973be5_b.jpg20180314_095537 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

The costs are rapidly mounting up as ever, and i've stockpiled enough materials and equipment to start my own shop :rolleyes:

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gex23    7

Continuing the build, I decided to cover the left hand side to prevent my Burmese kitten taking too much interest in the inhabitants.

Originally I bought some exo terra treefern panels along with the treefern from a local supplier - the quality difference is stark - the exo is the lighter variant, thin and general poor quality, too late as it's siliconed in place :(. 

I continued this theme with breaking up the remaining treefern and some cork to create a mosaic, while leaving a 1 inch gap in between which will be infilled with sphagnum moss. I'm still not happy with the bare glass left at the sides, so i've ordered some more dark tree fern panels to finish the job.

My jobs list

- Recut and redrill another lid, as the initial misting nozzle placement was too central and would have left 30%ish of the tank dry (i've also ordered 2 more misting nozzles, to increase coverage).
- Drill an 8mm hole on the rear glass panel towards the bottom and fit the mistking bulkhead (for drainage water runoff)
- Drainage layer - I purchased hydroleca drainage medium but am considering using an eggcrate setup for weightsaving.
- Mix substrate to simulate Atlanata Botanical Gardens substrate
- Start practicing with fly cultures, i'll stick with just melanogasters / turkish gliders.
- Plumb in misting system.
- Order parts for internal fan circulation, so far that comprises : 50mm brushless fans x 2, PC fan controller, 3 pin extension cables and power supply.
- Silicone Manzanita in place to finish off hardscape
- Order and install heatpad into cabinet to stabilise temps in there for optimum isopod / fly production.

Here, I think, is the finished hardscape (bar the treefern panels on the sides) :

40821536132_f44c2b4169_b.jpg20180317_171208 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

40154084154_d76ee696f3_b.jpg20180317_171346 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

40154099194_7f7eb01621_b.jpg20180317_171230 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

To be continued :)

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kroot    243

Looking good so far. Can't wait to see some green in it down the line. How is the light through the poly carb roof?

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gex23    7
On 23/03/2018 at 10:18, kroot said:

Looking good so far. Can't wait to see some green in it down the line. How is the light through the poly carb roof?

I can't say i'm disappointed with the light transmission so far, also acts as a diffuser so the light isn't so stark for the frogs.

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gex23    7

It's been a little while since my last update, in no small part due to work but also things going wrong (and continuing to!)

Since the last update i've managed the following :

- Drilled bulkhead for Mistking 'value bulkhead' - this is only 6mm tubing but it does the job of draining the excess water from the drainage layer. Ryan from MK quoted me the wrong drill bit size, so had to wait for the correct one to arrive before proceeding. Once drilled and fitted I leak tested it, and found it was leaking badly even with an extra O ring on the outer glass. So I had to smear it in silicone and fingers crossed this seems to be holding up :

26392244837_9de702d04e_b.jpg20180405_140912 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

40367965325_cdd4a3619d_b.jpg20180405_140916 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

- False bottoms constructed, these cover approx 80% of the floor, to reduce weight. Finished around the edges and centre with expanded clay balls, topped with rigid plastic mesh and topped finally with horticultural fleece

27390557628_de00e107fc_b.jpg20180405_131043 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

41263971971_c04582dc91_b.jpg20180405_131445 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

- ABG substrate mix created (using sphagnum moss, tree fern granules, carbon granules, fine orchid bark and peat moss)

39454740910_af3e9a8fa6_b.jpg20180405_141057 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

- Topped with a thin later of oak leaves (I need a much thicker layer, prefereably a variety including magnolia and cattapa leaves)

41220232042_10e96e694c_b.jpg20180405_141206 by 
DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

- Also plumbed in the misting system and drainage, all pretty tidy underneath the vivarium :

40549879364_a92eaed99f_b.jpg20180405_143354 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

The hollow cork tubes i'm thinking of filling with fine orchid bark to prevent the frogs from entering and acting as a large refugium for the isopods (shoutout to Pumilio for this idea)

Other things on the to do list :

- Hide the fan in cork to create a relatively hidden internal air circulation solution - this will be powered by a 2A PSU at set intervals during the day

- Add ventilation at the read of the lid

- Try and work out why both fans on my ATI sunpower unit have stopped working:(

- Plant!

- Decide what LED solution to go for, either a self build CREE solution, a couple of Kessil A160 Amazon suns or some GU10 track lighting (want a hybrid solution so when summer comes around the temperatures from the T5 can be eliminated)

- Also debating on wether to re-add the manzanita branches or leave them out for a 'cleaner' look?

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gex23    7
On 06/04/2018 at 10:03, Nick said:

great job so far whats going in there?

Either a pair of pumilios (Isla Colons, Red frog beach, blue jeans) or one of a number of Ranitomeya (Variabilis, Vanzolinii, Amazonica, Imitator) - however, unless I go to dartfrog.co.uk or run the risk of collecting from Hamm it seems thumbnails are pretty the on the ground in the UK (Pums being none existent)

On 16/04/2018 at 08:51, kroot said:

Puts mine to shame. Great build.

Cheers mate, i'm sure the photos must make mine look better than it is :lol:


Any chance of a photo of yours?


A few updates :


- Added a Lucky Reptile seconds timer - this is set @ 09:30, 13:30 and 18:00 running 20 seconds per time.

- Condensation is proving a real problem on the front viewing glass, having felt like the 2cm ventilation strip wasn't enough (with the no see um insect mesh impeding any flow that does occur), i've cut in a much larger vent centrally, approx 6 - 7cm in width).

- Added active ventilation, a 50mm fan sits on top of the front vent. This is on a timer set to 30 minutes after the misting schedule, running for 1 minute per time.

- Increased the depth of ABG mix

- Springtail and white tropical woodlice colonies are booming, added some of each to the tank in order to get established - any other isopods recommended? (grey / orange woodlice, different spring tails)

Will be ordering plants from RIch @ rainforestvivs soon, plan on planting bromeliads just on the main cork branch, with several climbers marcgravia, ficus montana etc and several species of orchids framing them - maybe some mosses on the manzanita.

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gex23    7

So my attempt at ventilation :


26717936177_baf3e6ccd9_b.jpg20180420_153748 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

But the end result....

40875202444_99d94ec444_b.jpg20180420_153756 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

41586164721_cee15904d0_b.jpg20180420_153918 by DEAF N1NJA, on Flickr

I can only think of a few reasons that i'm struggling with something seemingly so simple :

- The mesh covering the vents is too fine and allowing minimal air through.
- 'New glass' - i've seen that the glass tends to 'clear' after a while when it builds up a bacterial surface (though still not truly clear)
- No internal circulation

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