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Old 17-06-2013, 02:00 PM
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Default Natural Live Viv Build for Phelsuma sp.

Hi all, this is my first live viv build which I'm doing to house a pair/ trio of a species of day gecko (phelsuma). (I'm not 100% set on the specific species yet, it'll depend on the availability at time of purchase.)

So here goes!
The blank canvas, a 24w X 18d X 24t exoterra:

Some supplies:

I'm going to put a thin layer of the black silicone on the back, 1/4 of the left side and 3/4 of the right side of the viv. I've got some black waterfall foam on the way which I'll apply then shape for my custom background. The two smaller pieces of wood and some plant pots will be held in place by the foam. (I'll upload some pics of the process.) The foam will then be covered in the brown silicone then I'll dump a load of fern fibre/soil mix on it. The airline and plant wire is going to be used to make some vines which I've seen done by another member on here. Credit will be given!

I've also got some seeds pods etc. from dartfrog (the almond leaves are from ebay):

I've got lights, heat, bulb and ballast, thermostat, soil ingredients, drainage material and a dual digital hygrometer and thermometer on the way.

Job for tomorrow; to apply the first layer of black silicone and start making the vines. And maybe start my profile for plants I'll use.

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Old 17-06-2013, 10:23 PM
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Exciting stuff!
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Old 18-06-2013, 07:21 PM
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Little update for today.

I added a layer of black silicone to the back, 1/4 of the left and 3/4's of the right side of the viv.
When its cured, I'll trim back the bottom, leaving a space of about 6" for the drainage and soil.

I know some people take their silicone right down to the base but I want to be able to see the layers, and I also don't want any stray tree fibre from the next stages getting stuck to it because it'll take ages to pick off!

Anyway, here's some pics of the silicone for all you pic-junkies.

Next step (for the weekend) is to apply the foam and stick a couple of bits of wood, dried fungus and plant pots in the back.
All go!

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Old 22-06-2013, 09:49 AM
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Looking good! Will be watching to see how it turns out!

Current Animals:
1.1 - BCI
0.0.1 - Amazon Tree Boa
0.1 - Asian Vine Snake
0.1.1 - Biak Green Tree Python
0.1 - Cape House Snake
1.1 - Green x Albino House Snake
0.1 - Albino Cape House Snake
0.1 - Brazilian Rainbow Boa
0.0.1 - Gopher Snake Het Albino
0.1 - Irian Jaya Carpet Python
1.0 - Panther Chameleon
0.1 - Yemen Chameleon
1.0 - Het T&E leopard Gecko
0.8 - Mourning Gecko
3.1 - Golden Mantella
0.1 - Dendrobates Auratus

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Old 22-06-2013, 05:21 PM
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Wee update for today.

I cut the silicone back yesterday, making it straighter, and 6" from the base.

Today was foam day. I'd never used any sort of expending foam before so I was a little apprehensive! But alas, it went smoothly.

You can see from the image below that more foam is needed. It ran out 3/4 of the way through the job! So i'll be behind on this build by around a week waiting for another tin to arrive!

The foam is holding the wood pieces really well though. The large piece resting on the cans isn't fixed in place by the foam but I added it because I wanted to see what it's going to look like.
A view of the right:

A view of the left, which will be the basking spot:

An aerial view:

I'm going to add a few more plant pots like these to the background when more foam arrives:

The pots are for small aquatic plants. I put some airline in the base for drainage of the pots. Since they're only small, I'll put small vines in the pots which don't require much root space.

When the next tin of foam arrives, I'll fill in the blank square on the back (there was a bottle there acting as support for the branch on the right. For the left pane and right pane, I'' use less foam and try to create features and root shapes there.
I'm undecided as to wether I should adhere my dried mushrooms to the back with the foam. What do you guys recon?

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Old 22-06-2013, 05:31 PM
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looks really good man, making me think of getting a nice big piece of wood, not just branches and cork. i'd use gg or silicone for the mushrooms, but see what everyone else thinks
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Old 23-06-2013, 12:57 AM
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I'd use barbeque skewers for the shrooms after you've finished the background, as they'll rot away and once they do you just pull the skewers out and you're left with small holes, as opposed to a blob of silicon, glue or bare foam.


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Old 29-06-2013, 04:14 PM
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Foaming all complete now.
I've carved some of the bigger patches. They stuck out too much in my opinion, especially around the pots.
Full view:
View of the right (two pots here):

View of the left (one pot here):

The patch of brown silicone on the left is what I'm going to do to all the carved sections. Where carved, the foam is bubbly and porous. To ensure the substrate will stick to the back properly, it needs a smoother surface, so by adding a layer of silicone to the carved patches first, it'll restore the smoothness.

The foam also lifted away slightly from the bottom. So I've siliconed some tubing in the gaps. I comtemplated foaming again but thought the expansion could cause further lift. Hopefully when the whole thing is siliconed no further lifting will occur.
Here's a shot of the pipe in place, covered in silicone:

I also tested the stuff I'll covering the foam with on the background. This is exoterra plantation soil. I used 1/4 of a block and 750ml of water. Not bad stuff. I'm going to add some moss and tree fern fibres to the mix too I think:

Next job will be to cover the rest of the carved spots in a thin silicone layer and also silicone down some of the vine shapes on the right that have lifted slightly.
Hopefully I can do it today/ tomorrow but it's dependant on when I can hold of some more latex gloves!

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Old 12-07-2013, 12:03 AM
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And the background is finally complete!
Took longer to do that expected but I'm in no rush so it's not an issue.
Anyway, I'm sure you're all wanting to see so, of course, I've taken some pics for y'all.

You can see in these next few that to composition for the covering on the right was altered. I added some moss to the mix for a different texture.

And with the doors closed:

The next task is to finish the vines.
I've also decided on the species I'll be getting. I'm going for a 1.2. phelsuma klemmeri.
I was going to get them in about a month from now but I'm going to wait until I get back to uni now. I'll also be waiting until I'm back there before I plant up. It will be much easier to move the viv as it is than full of substrate and plants! I'm picking my geckos up from Doncaster IHS on September 22nd so the viv will have plenty of time to mature and plants will have time to grow. (I go back on the 1st September).

So once the vines are done, thats pretty much it until I'm back at uni.

Left to buy:
- thermostat
- plants
- springtails, woodlice etc
- gecko food
- geckos!
(I'm sure there'll be something else but it's slipped my mind.

Hope you enjoy the photos!

SLAW, Ron Magpie and Rog like this.
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Old 13-07-2013, 11:43 PM
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Looks very nice
will u do a false bottom?

wanna see it finished
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live build , phelsuma

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