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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
ITS FINALLY FINISHED lol its taken about a month but i have finally finished my custom background build. This build was for my female full pinner Crested Gecko, charlie. I can say she absolutely loves it :)

So lets kick off.


First you need an exo terra - make sure its clean and dry.


Then plan where you want the background to be, i recommend the back and half the sides. When you have the location in mind make a "canvass" using a sealant/silicon. It has to be black trust me on this you will find out why later. make sure it is 100% solvent free and 100% waterproof. Now "paint your canvass"



Make sure you leave this to dry for a full 24 hours!
When dry start placing your decoration. Take your time over this and make sure everything is where you want it to be.



When everything is in place secure it down using Expanding Foam. Theres no requirements on this just go to your local DIY store and get some :) i do recommend trying to find a good one rather than own brands you will have to pay more and try and get one with a gun its a hell of a lot easier to apply.




Next after its all dry, you need to trim back the foam. Its up to you how you want to sculpt your masterpiece. I just made it look a little tidier, trimming to the tops/left and right hand sides.




Now comes the really hard part well tedious part lol - after you have trimmed your background we need to cover it. The best substrate to use is eco earth or plantation soil or coco fibre substrate. I used eco earth the ones that come in bricks. IT MUST BE DRY DO NOT SOAK IT. what you have to do is grate it like so - it takes a while so make sure your laptop is in front of you with a good tv show i watched two episodes of Supernatural haha have fun



To apply the now grated soil, use your bog standard PVA glue again make sure its 100% waterproof, i used wicks own brand pva glue. Now i did try other glues like gorilla glue, silicon etc but i had problems with all so trust me on this use the PVA lol



if you miss some then wait for what you have down to dry and go back over the missed parts - dont rush it take your time.
After mine was fully dry i decided to add some sphagnum moss, again i used PVA to apply.



Now back to why i said to use black sealant when you create your canvass. Its because if you didn't then you would see all the expanding foam you applied and it looks ugly!! with the canvass in place you can see it looks nice/better than lots of expanding foam lol and it gives a nice definition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Now we are on the home straight. Next you need to add 1 to 2 inches of hydroballs for drainage, and then place a mesh covering on top of that to separate the balls from the soil.



Then add your soil/substrate. Again i used eco earth this time soaked in water for 30 mins. when you done this you are ready to plant! Make sure they are all gecko friendly plants! and that you have cleaned the plants before hand to remove any pesticides or fertilisers that might be present. Just wash the whole plant with warm soapy water and rinse well!!! I used ficus benjamini, cheese plants, some pothos, all of these can be found at your local garden centre.







Lastly i added a springtail culture i bought a 15l culture and added have of this to the exo. leaving the other half to re populate. I then bought some sheet moss and layed this over the top of the substrate. mainly to keep humidity at a nice level and so that charlie doesnt get fine substrate particles stuck on her pads. and it looks really nice as well!

and thats a wrap! i hope you enjoyed this build thread and it gives you some inspiration. If you have any questions than feel free to post below i will answer as many as i can.
 

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That's a wonderful setup, excellent work! :D How is the ecoearth/pva glue standing up to all the heat and water in the setup?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
That's a wonderful setup, excellent work! :D How is the ecoearth/pva glue standing up to all the heat and water in the setup?
well its been two days now, and from what ive seen its been fine. ive misted in totally what 6 - 7 times total and it all seems to be a-ok lol
 

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Looking Good :)

Looking awesome Michael! Going to make a few similar to this for the shop :) My crested geckos, and day Geckos will be thanking you !!!

Well done

Luke
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Looking awesome Michael! Going to make a few similar to this for the shop :) My crested geckos, and day Geckos will be thanking you !!!

Well done

Luke
Cheers dude, yeah its really satisfying when finished :) and it looks awesome if i dont say so myself haha. It is great fun, frustrating in parts but definitely worth it and yes your geckos will love it :)
 

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Looks awesome.:2thumb:
 

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Looks good! I was wary of the expanding foam technique as a few have seen made that way the foam has taken up most of the space in the vivarium but yours looks really good! Just enough for some good definition without being too much! :thumbup:

Sent from my HTC Sensation Z710e using Tapatalk 2
 

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Looks good. :2thumb:

Why may I ask do you recommend using PVA as apposed to gorilla glue? I haven't used PVA for a job like this but GG works wonders, dries ultra tough and will most definitely withstand any moisture pretty much forever whereas I'd imagine PVA might deteriorate over time?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Looking awesome :)
it certainly does !! mini rainforest in a jar lol

Looks awesome.:2thumb:
cheers man, i love it

Looks good! I was wary of the expanding foam technique as a few have seen made that way the foam has taken up most of the space in the vivarium but yours looks really good! Just enough for some good definition without being too much! :thumbup:

Sent from my HTC Sensation Z710e using Tapatalk 2
thanks :) yeah it will expand massively but thats why you should trim it and sculpt it ;)

Looks good. :2thumb:

Why may I ask do you recommend using PVA as apposed to gorilla glue? I haven't used PVA for a job like this but GG works wonders, dries ultra tough and will most definitely withstand any moisture pretty much forever whereas I'd imagine PVA might deteriorate over time?
Again thanks :) i think its really personal preference. i found with the GG it expanded a lot and where it expanded it made loads of "glue bubbles" which pushed off all the loose soil while it was curing so i was left with bubbles of nothing lol and it was super hard to cut out as it was rock solid glue. the other reason was it said to spray with water to help cure stronger which makes sense but the soil needs to be dry in order to stick and not be wet. in the end i tried multiple ways and PVA seems to do the job perfectly well. The exo gets misted 2/3 times a day and i haven't had any problems yet *touch wood*
 

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mroberts531;11159496 [COLOR=Green said:
Again thanks :) i think its really personal preference. i found with the GG it expanded a lot and where it expanded it made loads of "glue bubbles" which pushed off all the loose soil while it was curing so i was left with bubbles of nothing lol and it was super hard to cut out as it was rock solid glue. the other reason was it said to spray with water to help cure stronger which makes sense but the soil needs to be dry in order to stick and not be wet. in the end i tried multiple ways and PVA seems to do the job perfectly well. The exo gets misted 2/3 times a day and i haven't had any problems yet *touch wood* [/COLOR]
Don't get me wrong, whatever works best for you! Tip for the future though, you have to keep pushing the substrate back down in to the GG for about an hour, then it won't bubble up as you've described and the substrate will be embedded in to it, it does dry rock hard like you said.
 

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Wow I must say it looks great,love the live planting all your effort has paid off.Can I just ask.....how do you clean it all?? my cresties poop everywhere and can be really messy eaters to do a good deep clean takes me forever.
 

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One of the joys of a fully natural viv is there is no need to do a deep clean as such!

The wee bugs, spring tails, wood lice, worms, giant millipedes etc will eat up all the waste matter and it will help feed the plants too :2thumb:

Just need to spot clean occasionally and change earth about the 2 year mark...
 

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it certainly does !! mini rainforest in a jar lol



cheers man, i love it



thanks :) yeah it will expand massively but thats why you should trim it and sculpt it ;)



Again thanks :) i think its really personal preference. i found with the GG it expanded a lot and where it expanded it made loads of "glue bubbles" which pushed off all the loose soil while it was curing so i was left with bubbles of nothing lol and it was super hard to cut out as it was rock solid glue. the other reason was it said to spray with water to help cure stronger which makes sense but the soil needs to be dry in order to stick and not be wet. in the end i tried multiple ways and PVA seems to do the job perfectly well. The exo gets misted 2/3 times a day and i haven't had any problems yet *touch wood*
The only problem with PVA is in a month or so it will peal away from the glass. I hope yours doesnt but it normally does im afraid.

As for the GG, the reason why you had bubbles in yours is because you didnt apply pressure. You ed to apply pressure, with wet soil and push the bubbles out if not the soil will be push off.

Jay
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Don't get me wrong, whatever works best for you! Tip for the future though, you have to keep pushing the substrate back down in to the GG for about an hour, then it won't bubble up as you've described and the substrate will be embedded in to it, it does dry rock hard like you said.
Yeah i totally realise that now lol - i might give it another shot with another build im doing :)

Wow I must say it looks great,love the live planting all your effort has paid off.Can I just ask.....how do you clean it all?? my cresties poop everywhere and can be really messy eaters to do a good deep clean takes me forever.
I have live culture in there which is my main cleaning medium, they keep the whole exo in great condition, they break down all the faeces, provide nutrients for the soil and plants, keeps the plants clean etc they are awesome its like a mini eco system in there, i only clean the glass when they decide to spunk/poo down it lol and give the bamboo a wipe on occasion but thats all ineed to do as the sprintails and woodlice take care of the rest :)

One of the joys of a fully natural viv is there is no need to do a deep clean as such!

The wee bugs, spring tails, wood lice, worms, giant millipedes etc will eat up all the waste matter and it will help feed the plants too :2thumb:

Just need to spot clean occasionally and change earth about the 2 year mark...
exactly ! ;)

The only problem with PVA is in a month or so it will peal away from the glass. I hope yours doesnt but it normally does im afraid.

As for the GG, the reason why you had bubbles in yours is because you didnt apply pressure. You ed to apply pressure, with wet soil and push the bubbles out if not the soil will be push off.

Jay
i have silcon canvas layer on the glass followed by expanding foam followed by the pva - so i wont lose any of it. the only thing the pva is holding up is the soil on the expanding foam.

yeah im gunna give the GG another shot i sort of over looked the whole pressure.
 

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This looks really good, need to improve my crestie's home with something like this!
 

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My son is desperate for a crestie/gargoyle, and I think i'm going to be using your build as my bible. It looks so natural and I like building viv's for my future projects. Never done an arboreal setup before so wish me luck, lol. Thank for this :)
 

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Haha I kept coming back to this thread to build mine too and I think mine came out really nice. Especially to say it was my first ever live planted and very first arboreal setup!

Bret.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
This looks really good, need to improve my crestie's home with something like this!
They are great fun to do and look amazing when finished

My son is desperate for a crestie/gargoyle, and I think i'm going to be using your build as my bible. It looks so natural and I like building viv's for my future projects. Never done an arboreal setup before so wish me luck, lol. Thank for this :)
If you need any help just holla ;)

Haha I kept coming back to this thread to build mine too and I think mine came out really nice. Especially to say it was my first ever live planted and very first arboreal setup!

Bret.
Bret, yours came out really well too and glad i could help :)
 
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