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Thread: Naturalistic Vivarium- Great Stuff "How To"... LOTS of pics

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    Default Naturalistic Vivarium- Great Stuff "How To"... LOTS of pics

    Alright guys, be prepared for the longest post EVER!!! Lol.

    This is meant to be a "How To" guide for making naturalistic vivariums with "Great Stuff" background. This specific enclosure was made for pygmy chameleons, but a few changes here and there (plantwise, branchwise, etc.) and it can be used for cresties. Decorative items can be substituted for other "terrarium safe" items. (Just because I like to use cork for the background, doesn't mean you have to!)

    ALWAYS remember to use proper safety procedures. Wear gloves, protective eyewear, and if you are clumsy... please, PLEASE have a non-clumsy person operate any kind of "tricky" machinery! (Do NOT circular saw off your fingers, foot, ear, whatever and blame me!!!)

    Let's get started! Be ready for TONS of pics... descriptions are UNDER the photographs.

    Supplies needed-
    Enclosure (at least 10 gallons, I used a 39 gallon here)
    "Great Stuff" Window and Door Foam (Blue Can)
    GE Silicone II in Black for Doors and Windows (without mold/mildew resistance)
    Silicone Gun
    Plaster spatula or other "spreading tool" for silicone (Can also use foam paint brushes)
    Razor Blade
    Decorations (Plants, wood, cork, whatever)
    Lots of Coco Fiber
    Peat Planters
    Face Mask
    Gloves

    --DAY ONE--

    Step 1:

    After gathering your supplies, cut your cork hollow in half to be able to place it flat on the back of your enclosure. Use proper protective gear.

    Step 2:

    Use a razor blade to remove any unwanted stickers.

    Step 3:

    Thoroughly scrub your enclosure.

    Step 4:

    Liberally squirt silicone onto the sides of the enclosure...

    Step 5:

    Spread silicone 4-5" up the sides of the enclosure and make sure to spread it on thick. (Wear gloves and face mask for this... I was a dork and didn't wear gloves.) This will prevent people from seeing the Great Stuff Background when everything is dry. If you don't do this, you'll see yellow foam when looking at the side of the enclosure... NOT pretty.

    Step 6:

    Place your cork, wood, etc. where you want it. Juggle the items around until you find a position that works. TIP: For a natural-looking terrarium, don't line stuff up perfectly.

    Step 7:

    Spread silcone onto the back of your decorative background items.

    Step 8:

    Stick it in the same spot you originally positioned it.
    Last edited by Crested Lady; 04-09-2007 at 04:55 PM. Reason: Clarification of Supplies
    ~Sarah~
    www.CrestedLady.com

    "This is your life, are you who you want to be?" -Switchfoot

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    Step 9:

    Make sure you are wearing gloves (You should already have them on from the silicone) and a face mask. Shake the "Great Stuff" Can for one minute and start applying.

    Step 10:

    Finish applying all-over "Great Stuff". (Make sure to have enough or you'll have to run to the store again!) I used 3 cans on this enclosure. You can make ledges, caves... all kinds of stuff.

    Step 11:

    Place peat planters into the still wet "Great Stuff" where you want your "falling" plants to eventually be.

    Step 12:

    "Great Stuff" around your planters.

    Step 13:

    After finishing with the planters... leave it to dry overnight.


    --DAY TWO--

    Step 14:

    After the "Great Stuff" has been allowed to dry overnight, trim off excess with a razor blade. If you did large blobs of "Great Stuff" background for a cave, you can carve it out with a razor blade or knife now.

    Step 15:

    Start spreading liberal amounts of silicone over the "Great Stuff" in "patches".

    Step 16:

    Start spreading with a plaster spatula or foam brush.

    Step 17:

    You can also use your (gloved) fingers for "tight" areas.

    Step 18:

    Start sticking DRIED coco-fiber to the background. Repeat steps 15-18 until all of the "Great Stuff" has been coated. Allow to dry for 24-48 hours.
    ~Sarah~
    www.CrestedLady.com

    "This is your life, are you who you want to be?" -Switchfoot

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    --DAY 3 or 4-- (depending on the time it takes for silicone to dry.)

    Step 19:

    After silicone is dry, add substrate to the bottom of the tank. (I used Coco-fiber here, but there are many options.) This is also when you want to use a razor blade to remove any excess silicone poking out from the sides if you're doing an enclosure with "solid" sides. (My enclosure had a screen partition so I skipped this step.)

    Step 20:

    Rinse off your plants if you are using live. Don't forget to gently wash the leaves.

    Step 21:

    Plant your "Bottom" plants.

    Step 22:

    Start planting your "Top" or "Falling" plants. Use coco-fiber to pack them in place.

    Step 23:

    Spray everything down and... voila! You've got a naturalistic vivarium.
    Last edited by Crested Lady; 02-18-2006 at 12:40 PM.
    ~Sarah~
    www.CrestedLady.com

    "This is your life, are you who you want to be?" -Switchfoot

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    Awesome naturalistic vivarium... I like how you gave very clear discription about each step.

    I ahve one question though... How do you clean the "CRESTED MESS" on the plants and on the background. When I say mess I am talking about fecal matter and urine. I am just curious about this part. All of my cresteds are very messy individuals. Also none of this creates fumes that will hurt them?
    Visit us at www.thegeckostop.com
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    NICE ! ! I like that tank alot. And im sure the geckos do as well.

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    Thats a terrific naturalistic vivarium! Great job!!!!!
    (`'...(`'. \\Megan// .')...')
    0.1 Rhacodactylus ciliatus (Greta)
    http://s38.photobucket.com/albums/e144/gecko_newbie/

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    The leaves of the plants can be gently wiped down to clean them. The background, once dry is also very easy to clean as long as you don't rub the heck out of it.

    Do not add animals until the silicone is completely dry. (ie- you can't smell any fumes.) After that, it's safe to add them.
    ~Sarah~
    www.CrestedLady.com

    "This is your life, are you who you want to be?" -Switchfoot

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    Cool, very helpful post, well I'm off to build me a vivarium now. I just got my cork bark and a nice Oceanic tank with screen sides.
    Derek Dunlop
    DDReptiles
    www.DDReptiles.net
    Croc's Rule- Steve Irwin

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    Great sequence of pics. The vivarium looks great. Then the hard part, you just gotta figure out what geckos to put in it! LOL

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    Was this one of the vivariums that was initialy made for your frogs? Do you have any cresteds in one of the naturauls yet?

    I might have a project now this weekend!!
    Last edited by Gecko Stop; 02-18-2006 at 02:08 AM.
    Visit us at www.thegeckostop.com
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