Setting my Vivarium - Reptile Forums

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Old 21-07-2011, 11:05 PM
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Default Setting my Vivarium

Hi, I'm in the process of setting up my Leopard Gecko Viv and I thought this would be a good place to get help and advice. Firstly, I have been to 5 different pet stores and all of them have told me different things! For example: one person sold me a 100w red bulb to place on one side of the tank for heat and light instead of a heat mat and then another told me this was wrong etc..
I have purchased a Exo terra Vivarium with the measurements 24"x17.5"x17.5"
Would you say this is a suitable size for 1 gecko?
I have also purchased a uvb light to sit on top of the viv (so I can see them at night when they come out at night). I have then got a heat-mat placed on one side of the viv with a hide and damp moss inside for shedding. for a substrate I have calci-sand (I do know the risks and am considering changing it). on the cold side of the vivarium I have another hide and have the water and food dishes (i will dust the food in calcium before i give them to the gecko). I then have some plants, rock ornaments and a rock background which came with the viv. My heat mat is connected to a microclimate - ministat on/off thermostat. People have told me to use a dimming thermostat instead and others not to use one at all (If I didnt use one, how would control the temperature?) I have set the thermostat to around 30 degrees but my thermometer is telling me 31!
PLEASE HELP ME! It would really help if someone just set the record straight with me and gave me step by step what to do and how to set it up, how to get the temperature right.... Thanks.

here is a picture of my viv at the moment:
http://i1085.photobucket.com/albums/.../DSCF05561.jpg

Picture of the thermostat:
http://i1085.photobucket.com/albums/.../DSCF05611.jpg

Picture of the humid hide with thermometer sensor by rock(heat mat is underneath sand):
http://i1085.photobucket.com/albums/.../DSCF05621.jpg

Picture of thermometer reading:
http://i1085.photobucket.com/albums/.../DSCF05571.jpg
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 21-07-2011, 11:34 PM
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Well you've addressed the calcium sand so I'll leave that one alone, other than to say that I don't use it, I don't find it the risk worth it. I use vinyl tiles but for aesthetics you could use slate cut down the right sizes.

Hot end temperature at 31c is fine, mine is at 31/32c. Mat stat on a heat mat is perfect. Cool end, about 24/25c I have mine at, a good drop in temperature but not enough to be actually cold. I never rely on the numbers on the thermostats. Initially I set it to max, let it warm up the right temperature monitored via my digital thermometers then when it's at the right temperature, turn the dial back til it just clicks off. I then monitor the cycles for a good few hours closely and micro adjust as needed.

You don't need a heat bulb, it's really not needed for Leo's, general consensus is that they need belly heat from below rather than basking heat from above. It makes sense since they are nocturnal/crepuscular, the heat of the sun during the day will warm up the rocks, this will dissipate during the evening/night and this is the heat Leo's take advantage of.

Hides hot and cool, with addition of moist hide. Water bowl, small dish (milk bottle top) with calcium in it available at all times changed every couple of days.

I question the UV on the basis that you want it for viewing which is fine, although my boy tends to only come out when it's darker, therefore having a good light is counter-productive to that. I do have a normal energy saver bulb in his viv but that's purely to give him a day and night cycle so he knows when to sleep and when to come out. There is benefit to having UV available for your Leo, they like a bit of UV exposure it's beneficial for them, but having the UV outside of glass will mean that most of that lovely UV goodness won't pass through the glass. So if you have the UV for that reason be wary of positioning. For viewing, I'm a smoker and I have nice disposable lighters that feature a nice blue LED light in the bottom end of them like a torch, I just use that when I want to see what he's up to and he's perfectly fine with that.

Dusting food, there's 2 supplements; Calcium and a multivit with Vit D3. I use Calcium and Nutrobal. He has food every night so I rotate every night which I use (there are other regimes but I prefer this one for reason's outside of this thread for now).

Ummm I'm tired so I'll cut it down there, not sure if I've missed anything but I'm sure SleepyD, Jools or someone else will pop up if needed.

Oh and one last thing, I know you have the vivarium already, but for arid species I prefer wooden viv's as do a lot of people. They hold heat better and more stable than glass ones and with no humidity to control, there's no issue with the wood rotting away.
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Old 21-07-2011, 11:39 PM
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I'd firstly say that the viv is plenty size for one gecko, looks like you got a couple of hides there.
I wouldn't be to worried about a UV light, some people say that it helps Leo's but I've never used them and if I want to see my animals at night I'd rather use a blue bulb or red bulb.

When I set my viv up I personally like more than 2 hides, not including the moist hide. I generally would try combine the hides to allow the leos to climb over them. I'd additionally have 2 hides in the warm end and one in the cool end. That way the leo can decide where they want to be.
I don't use plants my self, preferring rocks or bark for climbing on / hiding.

If your unsure on viv's then there's plenty of care sheets on the site that can easily be viewed.
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Old 21-07-2011, 11:57 PM
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thanks for your replies. My cool side is around 23/24 and hot side 30/31... but I'm still not sure about the thermostats? once i get it to my desired temperature, how do I maintain it? do I just leave it like that? do i turn the heat mat off in the night and when will the gecko go into the cool hide?
Thanks
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Old 21-07-2011, 11:58 PM
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thanks for your replies. My cool side is around 23/24 and hot side 30/31... but I'm still not sure about the thermostats? once i get it to my desired temperature, how do I maintain it? do I just leave it like that? do i turn the heat mat off in the night and when will the gecko go into the cool hide?
Thanks
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Old 22-07-2011, 12:07 AM
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Just set up your thermostat in accordance to your thermometer, trust that rather than the dials on the thermostat is the general rule. As I say, I set mine to hit the temperature I want (going by a thermometer) then turn the dial back til it clicks off. That way when it hits that temp again it should do it automatically. I then spend a few hours monitoring the cycles....watching when it turns back on or off and seeing what temperature my digital thermometer is at at those times. Then I micro adjust as needed so that it sits around the 31/32c mark.

After I'm happy with that, I just keep an eye on things, glance at the thermometer as I walk past, have a look when I'm checking on what he's doing, the usual stuff just take a quick look at what the thermometer is reading. If it's showing something massively different to what you expect then you start the whole monitoring process again.

And leave it on 24/7, keep that temperature running at that mark, no need for night time drops.
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Old 22-07-2011, 12:15 AM
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You only need to adjust your thermostat while you are setting up the viv. Once the thermometer is telling you that the floor of the warm side of the viv is the right temperature you then leave it alone. The thermostat will turn power on and off to the mat so that the temperature only fluctuates by a few degrees. It can take a bit of trial and error initially but once the thermostat is correctly adjusted (ignore the "degrees" on the stat dial - they are just a guide - go by your thermometer reading) then you just leave it. A mat stat is fine BTW. A dimmer stat would be useless - they usually have a minimum loading of 40W, most heatmats are far lower than this. The sand (which I have to say I won't use myself) is rather too deep to allow the heat from the mat through properly.

The UV light will not be suitable for night viewing (as it replicates the sun) and if it is any more than a 5%UVb then it could be detrimental to your Leo for daytime too - especially if you get an albino. A red or blue low wattage or LED bulb is far better for night viewing.

I leave my heatmats on 24/7 and the majority of Leo keepers do too.

Your Leo will use the cool hide if it decides it need to cool down. I provide at least 3 hides for my Leos - a warm / dry hide, a cool / dry hide and a moist hide in the middle of the viv. The way you have your moist hide I'm afraid it will very quickly dry out as it is over the heatmat area and there is no bottom to it. This would also raise the humidity in the viv. Far better to use that hide as a dry hide and make a moist hide using a cricket tub or margarine tub with a hole cut into the side.

Hope this helps
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Old 22-07-2011, 12:19 AM
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I knew it wouldn't be long before one or the other popped up
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Old 22-07-2011, 12:21 AM
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ahhh, i see... i didn't really understand how the on/off thermostat worked. So, i set it to the temp i want then turn the dial on the thermostat back and when the temperature in the viv drops it turns back on and heats it back up again? is that right?
thanks so much for your help!
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Old 22-07-2011, 12:31 AM
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Yup got it in one...

Turn it to max, let it warm up to the desired temperature via monitoring your thermometer. When it gets there, turn the dial back til it just clicks off. This is the off point...

Now the cycles will start, when the probe gets a couple of degrees under your set temperature it'll click the mat back on, when it reaches the point where you dialed it back to it'll click off. Thus maintaining a fairly consistent temperature. That's where I just watch it closely for a couple of hours worth of cycles to ensure it's not fluctuating madly.

After that it's just a glance every now and then as you're passing, spot cleaning, feeding...etc etc to make sure it's not gone crazy.
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Last edited by McToons; 22-07-2011 at 12:35 AM..
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