Montando um Vivarium - Projeto de construção
Produtos e Acessórios para Anfíbios.

Montando um Vivarium

The following is a step-by-step on how I constructed my vivarium. I hope these pictures will be of help to those of you thinking of setting up your own. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or suggestions.


Materials Used

- A length of PVC pipe
- Plastic egg crate (for diffusing flourescent lights)
- Fine nylon mesh
- Zip ties
- Cork bark
- Clay pellets
- Sphagnum moss + my own mix
- Rocks
- Driftwood


The False Bottom

I had decided that I wanted a false bottom. I wanted to have a water feature and have some good circulation going on beneath the surface. I am going to keep some Boraras and so having a submerged filter would be a good idea.

I'm going to create a slope with the false bottom. Let's start with the PVC piping. Saw them down to the desired length. Here, I had three different lengths - 2.5", 2" and 1.5". Make sure that the water level will be high enough to keep your filter fully submerged. I also drilled some holes in the piping so that water will flow through them and not remain stagnant. (Do not silicone anything in place until you are satisfied with the entire construction of the false bottom.)


Next, cut the egg crate to the desired shape. As you can see, there's an opening for a small pond as well as another compartment (in the left rear corner) to house the filter. The top can be opened and this will allow me to gain access to the filter for future maintenance.


Once I was satisfied with the floorplan, I siliconed some vertical pieces along the edges of the water area. This will serve to keep your substrate from falling into the water area. You'll notice that some of the vertical pieces are actually slanted to create a sloping bank. I proceeded to cover everything up with a layer of the nylon mesh. I used zip ties to hold the mesh in place. I did not cover up all the sides to the water area as I wanted the fish to be able to swim inside if they needed some privacy. I also stuck and covered vertical pieces at the front. You'll understand why I did this later.


The Background

I used cork bark to create the background. There were other alternatives, but I really loved the texture and irregularity of the cork bark. Cut to size and silicone to the back wall of the tank. Simple as that! I laid the tank on its back and weighed down the cork bark for the silicone to dry overnight.


Here's how it looked the following day. I had left the gap in the left corner to conceal wiring and the piping for the waterfall feature.


The Waterfall Construction

I couldn't find a suitably sized internal filter, so a small powerhead would have to do. I made a cover for the front of the waterfall piping by sticking loose pieces of cork bark together. A test fit looks good and the waterfall seems like it just might work.


This powerhead is good for 350L/H and has a switch to adjust the water flow from small-medium-full. The piping for the waterfall is actually a part I salvaged from an old sponge-filter. It's just the right size and has a right-angled spout for the waterfall. Some filter sponge there act as filter material and cultivate beneficial bacteria.


The Substrate

First lay about 1-1.5" of the clay pellets.( Hidro-Balls ) Make sure you wash them in some hot water before use. I found that they had a lot of clay dust on them. On top of this, I put down a layer of my own mix. This contains sphagnum moss and some other horticultural mix. I prepared this in a bucket with a bit of water to get everything soggy and easy to handle. Some people might lay another layer of mesh on top of the clay pellets to prevent the top substrate from settling downwards. I opted not to do this as my mix contains materials which drain water very well, and I didn't mind if it settled into the pellets. Here you'll see a clearer shot of the waterfall fixture.


Some tips for laying the substrate. Remember the vertical pieces of egg crate facing the front of the tank? If you have sharp eyes, you'll notice I stuffed some gravel in between them and the glass. This will help conceal the ugly sight of the PVC piping under the false bottom. I also put an inch of the substrate mix at the front, so we don't see the clay pellets. A great tip I learnt later on was to smear silicone over the vertical mesh and banks, then stick gravel or dried moss on them. I couldn't use this tip as I had already filled it up with water.



I'll be using some pieces of driftwood that I have laying around. The main feature piece looks like the trunk and roots of a tree. My friends used to call this piece "chicken foot". Go ahead and plant everything before filling it up with water. Pay extra attention to the edges of the water area. You'll want to totally carpet it with plants or your substrate will start floating into your water area when you fill it up.


The Waterfall: Scaping and Testing

I wanted to create a stream from the waterfall to the water area. I hadn't found the right rocks for it yet, so here I'm testing the placement and flow with a piece of plastic and some wood (as banks) to prevent my substrate from washing into the water area.


A closeup of the waterfall in action. I siliconed a few pieces of cork bark around the spout to conceal it better. The pieces below it serve to direct and spread the water flow. I'll place some moss to grow here and give it a more natural look.


The flow looks good, so time to create the rock scape for the base of the waterfall and stream. I used some granite rocks and played around with the placement, then siliconed them together after I was satisfied with the final look. Some moss over the rocks help to conceal the joints. The stream will look better once a bit of algae starts growing on the rocks. I might cement the rocks together if the silicone gives way.


Additional Water Spout

After running the system for a couple hours, I noticed the right side of the tank wasn't as moist as I wanted. The big driftwood was drying out. A trickle tap should be able to provide the amount of moisture needed. A T-splitter was used to redirect some of the output from the waterfall to the trickle tap.


I ran some small rubber tubing along the back wall to protrude out behind the driftwood.


A spout with adjustable flow works well here, as I'll be able to fine tune the amount of water I need. Right now, it trickles like a leaky tap, keeping the moss and wood damp. The moss should grow and hide the tap from view.


Top Cover

Almost there! To prevent too much moisture from evaporating and drying out the plants, we need a cover to keep the humidity in. I had previously used plastic food wrap as a temporary measure until I finally found some transparent acrylic in a storeroom.

The tank had a small inner ledge which would hold the acrylic in place, so all I had to do was measure and cut. I decided to split it into 2 pieces, and drilled holes mainly above the front panel. This ensures that the front glass would remain clear and not fog up and spoil my viewing pleasure. I also added knobs for easy handling.


Finished Vivarium!

A couple more plants will be added and some things shifted around, but all the hard work is done! For lighting, I use a 24W compact flourescent. Produtos e Acessórios para Anfíbios.