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Thread: Totally new to this. Trying to do it right.

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    Default Totally new to this. Trying to do it right.

    Hi everyone... I am totally new to this hobby.

    I was a nano-reef enthusiast, but fish have lost their luster with me. I have broken down and sold my aquarium supplies, and hope to enter the world of lizard keeping.

    Recently went to an exotic pet store near me, and instantly fell in love with Leopard Geckos, until I saw a Crested Gecko. They had babies for around ~$80. So I have been doing my research for about the last two weeks, and am slowly saving to get all of the right equipment the first time around.

    I might do a tank build thread for fun or something, but I have some questions before I take too much of a leap.

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    First I bought the terrarium. The pet store suggested a 12" x 12" x 18" Exo Terra or Zoomed. Research is saying that that is perfect for a Juvie, but an 18" footprint is best for 1 to 2 adults. So I sprung for an Exo Terra 18" x 18" x 24" terrarium. This is as far as I have gotten.

    Here come the questions:

    1. I plan on doing live plants. How difficult is this? I plan on springing for some quality substrate. Ideally some vines in the back and ferns in the front. Will there be any issue with too much/not enough humidity? Are there recommendations? Will 2 26watt CFLs for plant growth in the 18" Zoomed or Exoterra hood be enough?

    2. I live in Pennsylvania. My house is a constant 65 degrees in the winter and doesn't go over 80 in the summer because I have central air. Is this ideal for Cresties? Will the lighting heat the tank too much?

    3. I assume there are different color morphs. Are there any that are exceptionally beautiful?

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    I will have more questions. Thanks all!

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    For a baby never house in an exo Terra unless it's one of those tiny ones even then i find glas cages to expenaive. Use a 6-15qt container or large kritter keeper with paper towel. The best substrate I've found is organic peat moss. There are many posts here about those so just look around. The best temperature is between 70-80, any hung below 65 starts getting too cold for them and can be very harmful so use a low wattage house bulb in the winter to keep it warm. Yes there are some very amazing crested morphs out there. My personal favorites are extreme harlequins, tri colors, and the XXX line here on pangea. But of course those are 300-800$ also when those morphs have pinstriping I go crazy lol. Anyway, best to look around his forum on all the different subjects and such. Crested geckos are amazing animals and are very rewarding and fun to keep. Best of luck!
    Sam
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    Don't worry... although I said the local exotic pet store has babies, I intend to buy an adult or two.

    I can also just turn my heat up in the winter to 68 if temperature is a problem. I'm sure there are other ways. I am mostly concerned about using a low wattage bulb for heat, because the heat would be needed at night, and they are nocturnal.

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    You should check out the caging and terrarium sub-forum for ideas on planting, soil, lights etc. Going bio-active is fun and addicting.

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    1. - I don't think that planted tanks (vivariums) are that difficult, and they are very visually pleasing. I think that live plants are the way to go when possible. If you're going to do live plants, you should get some spring tails and isopods (rolly pollies) to add to the soil. These little guys are completely harmless and serve the purpose of cleaning up gecko waste. This way, you never need to clean the tank or change the substrate! And it doesn't get stinky if you set it up correctly, it smells like a rainforest.
    - Quality substrate: straight peat moss or coco fiber is not going to do the job long term. It will compact and won't be able to support plants and microfauna. The best viv substrate is Neherp or ABG substrate. They are specifically made for this use and last years. (The links discuss all about the substrates in depth)
    - Some good plants are pothos, snake plant, various ferns, peperomia, creeping fig, to name a few. There are many possibilities.
    - The plants will help with the humidity, but not drastically, and they won't lower it. Just make sure to mist once lightly in morning and once heavily at night and your humidity needs should be taken care of. You want the humidity to peak around 90% right after misting, and then drop to around 50% in a few hours. If the humidity is staying very high all day with no dry out period, then you should mist less heavily. if it's too dry you can partially cover the screen lid to retain humidity longer.
    - 2 26 watt CFLs are optimal lighting and will do exactly what you need for plant lighting.

    2. 65 is a little low but nothing to really worry about. The geckos just don't eat as much when they're cooler but it doesn't hurt them at all. Around 75 is optimal temp, but not very practical in winter months. The CFLs don't do much in the way of heat. They raise the temp about 3 degrees right underneath but that's it. I have the same wattage your planning on and measured the temps. So long as the temps don't go over 80, your in the safe range.

    Some websites to look at:
    About vivs
    http://www.neherpetoculture.com/vivariumconstruction101
    http://www.neherpetoculture.com/vivariumconstruction102
    All about crestie care
    http://www.moonvalleyreptiles.com/crested-geckos
    http://jbscresties.com/basiccare.html

    You should esp give the vivarium websites a read, they are extremely informative. Good luck with your cresties and hope this helps! :-)

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    Extremely useful information Ollie. I appreciate the input on the temperature and lighting, as those are my biggest concerns.

    I'm assuming a Vivarium is a Terrarium with plants? the NEHerp website is the one that I'm most likely doing business with in regards to substrates and plants.

    Here's another question...

    Will the Geckos eat the spring tails? Honestly, wouldn't be bad for a nice snack if I were a Gecko.

    I'm having trouble not just buying all of this fun stuff right now... I have the money, but I wanted to get ahead on a few bills

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    Some eat the spring tails and some just completely ignore them all depends on the gecko
    Sam
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    Springtails are tiny, like smaller than a grain of rice tiny, but mine has snacked on isopods. I've noticed that my springtails are mainly under the leaf litter or the baby's tears I planted for ground cover. I will occasionally see them on the background or in the pots I have in the background to eat any mold that's forming around the plants in the pots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zemike View Post
    Extremely useful information Ollie. I appreciate the input on the temperature and lighting, as those are my biggest concerns.

    I'm assuming a Vivarium is a Terrarium with plants? the NEHerp website is the one that I'm most likely doing business with in regards to substrates and plants.

    Here's another question...

    Will the Geckos eat the spring tails? Honestly, wouldn't be bad for a nice snack if I were a Gecko.

    I'm having trouble not just buying all of this fun stuff right now... I have the money, but I wanted to get ahead on a few bills
    I'm glad I could help! Yep, a vivarium is simply a tank with plants and bio active substrate. I was very pleased with Neherp, they pretty much had everything I needed for my vivarium. Spring tails are tiny. Like this ( - ) big. They are tip of pencil point thin and slightly elongated. The gecko will not even notice them and for the most part the stay hidden under the moist leaf litter. LOL, I know what you mean about wanting to get everything already! I always get SO excited/impatient when planning a viv!

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    Next question, as I am getting a little pumped up and might binge purchase my substrate and plants soon.

    I see NEHerp sells glass panels to cover the top of the terrarium. I have an Exoterra 18" and the entire top is screen. Will I be able to manage the humidity easily with a full screen top, or should I cover 50% or more with the glass?

    I'm fine misting daily, but if the vapor is just going out the top, I guess that could be an issue.

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