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Thread: 55g acrylic flat back hex Viv Build log.

  1. #1

    Default 55g acrylic flat back hex Viv Build log.

    Iíve had an itch to get a vivarium started , and I finally did! I got it (55 gallon flat back hex acrylic tank with the stand and light for $80.
    my wife said if I'm going to do it, she wants it to look good; so I ended up tearing everything out. So here we go!

    First album of pictures:

    So the owner had moved and the landlord kept it and it just sat there, with no lights on for 3 months, (luckily by a big window). This should give you an idea of the set up:

    Long story short: The original guy used so much foam it distorted the lid, I saved the ABG mix, some corkwood, & lots of vines (pathos and an unknown). One Brom (YAY), an unknown plant (see in this pic here:

    Remaining Equipment:
    The mesh bottom set up wasn't terrible but not what myself or the wife wanted, (I am debating using the mesh on top of my lava rock bottom.....). So I have lots of those short PVC pieces to.

    A large PVC pipe and pump with tubing that were sitting at the bottom. (pic of the exit point here: should I use this?)
    The aforementioned corkwood (here: and a couple coconut halves.

    So now it's cleanish, and still needs to be polished.

    Here's the plan:

    2 inches lava rock with a cover (I might partially crush it) then I might reuse this mesh ( OR I might use some weed barrier I have, or buy a different mesh (like window screen that most people use).
    Charcoal layer + existing ABG & extra
    Iíll then do a thin layer of crushed charcoal,
    Then Iíll use the ABG that was already in the tank, but Iíll supplement it with some eco earth coco fiber, oak leaves, and some organic promix potting soil. (because Iím pretty sure the depth wonít be 3-4 inches like iíd like)

    Hereís where Iím a little unsure. So I donít want the background to be super thick with foam, but I do think foam could be an okay option. So here are my thoughts.
    1. Thin, formed layer of GS Black Foam covered in eco earth coco, cork wood pieces, & some coco fiber panel pieces that i bought as a pot liner.
    2. Some areas of Coco fiber panels only with other areas of GS black foam Ďrocksí with cork coming out of both?
    I honestly donít know if thereís a benefit to JUST doing coco fiber pieces w/o the foam in any areas or if I should do varying depths of the foam. Iíd love some help here. Iíll include some cardboard pots in the background for vines, ferns, broms, etc.

    Also Iím thinking of creating some sort of ledges in the foam from either the foam or from putting in slate in the foam jutting out.

    Existing Pothos.
    A different strain of Pothos I have.
    The surviving Brom
    The other plants from that tank.
    A creeping fig vine I have in my riparium.
    Button Fern.
    I also have a rubber plant in my riparium Iím going to transfer over.
    Two umbrella plants
    A tillandseria
    Another fern.
    Possibly some aquatic plants I have, anubia nana, crypts, mini-swords, etc.
    Possibly a mini palm like thing i have growing as a bunch of stems that I got from menards.

    This is what I have planned so far. I look forward to questions & suggestions!
    More to come soon!

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    Iím currently restoring the acrylic (of course I did that after I made the background &#128580 but itís going well. I did the sanding with 1000, 2000, 2500 & now Iím buffing with a drill and microball with Novus solution. Iíve trimmed up the background foam, and Iíve added diy led strips to the t5 housing. I added a 3 foot grow light led and about 12 feet or so of 6500 k led strips. Also my diy humidifier fogger is most of the way finished, I bought the piece and I need to just test it. I have two small pc fans I need to install, and then I should be good to go with putting in the substrate.

    Should I re-use the window mesh the original owner used with eggcrate? I also have weedblocker I could use.

    So I already bought lava rock, natural charcoal, extra eco earth and jungle mix that I can add to the ABG the owner had. Anything else I should think about? I also have an over abundance of fall leaves.

    For the background I was going to use the eco earth I bought and/or the jungle mix on the foam (with silicone, obviously). Any suggestions?

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    sanding & buffing is done. Iíll polish again after silicone and background substrate is added. Hopefully Iíll have time to do it tonight.

  4. #4

    sanding & buffing is done. Iíll polish again after silicone and background substrate is added. Hopefully Iíll have time to do it tonight.

  5. #5



    After the holiday I was finally able to get everything set up. I ended up with 1.5 inches of lava rock, a small layer of charcoal, and then ABG with some jungle mix/eco earth mixed in. Total depth is about 5 inches. I did landscaping fabric between lava rock & charcoal and a mesh between charcoal and ABG, weíll see if that makes a difference.
    I then placed my plants and did some serious misting and organization.

    Plant list as follows:
    2x Umbrella Tree - Schefflera Arboricola
    Ruellia simplex katie
    Unknown Brom
    Unknown Ficus
    a bunch of Parlor Palms
    some small cuttings of pothos.
    Another vine plant that is unknown
    lemon button fern.
    Orther unknown fern
    Some sort of spotted dracaena?
    Some aquarium plants: Anubias mini, a couple dwarf sags, a java fern, some baby tears, and some java moss, and some ludwigia that had grown out of the top of my fish tank emersed.

    Current issues/questions:

    What should I do about the top? The acrylic is slightly warped on top, and using the glass pieces doesnít actually seal the top, also the small section on the back of the top isnít covered by this glass. Iím unsure what would be the best solution.

    **is there a top cover that is flexible enough to deal on a warped acrylic? I feel like I need to figure this out if I want to keep fauna in there.

    I have a whole ton of no see um mesh and Iím just not sure how best to attach it and I donít know if I should do that or something else.

    I also have a hygrometer probe in there that is constantly showing 99% even with the back vent open, is that normal that itís staying at 99% for about 18 hours. If I take it out it will drop to the same as room humidity, so I donít think itís broken, Iím just surprised it is retaining humidity that long.

    The two PC fans are working well to keep the glass clear, Iím really impressed actually. I misted it yesterday and sealed the entire top and it was still able to keep the walls mostly clear.

    Should I be misting daily even if the humidity is staying up? today I didnít because the humidity was up at 98% still after over 24 hours since last misting.

    Some (read, all) of the aquatic plants seem to be struggling with the transition to land. Should I be misting more often, even with 99% humidity?

    I hope the java moss survives, but Iím thinking I might need to buy some other mosses. Iím a little worried about shipping at this time of year though, so weíll see.

    Whole set up below. I hate where I have the ceramic heater, should I move it? What would work best? I learned the hard way not to place it on glass :/

  6. #6



    So currently equipment wise I am still running the CHE under the tank on a lamp that has a dimmer so itís running at about 33%?, and over the last week Iíve been seeing temps get up to 81 at the TOP of the tank and 76 at the bottom during the day, and then when the lights go off it will eventually drop to about ~70 throughout with maybe a 1 degree difference at the top. So I would theorize that with the water at the bottom itís increasing the overall temp in the soil and not creating too much of a hot or dry spot. Especially now that I turned it to <50%.

    Lighting: I still have the same set up with one addition.
    1. Solarmax T5HE (~20ish watts?) single bulb (I should likely replace it, unsure what the bulb is that original owner put in) with DIY strips of 6500K LEDS, totalling about 14 ft of 6500K SMD 2835 at 72 lumens/ft & 1meter 5050 SMD Full Spectrum Red Blue 4:1 Growing LED strip both attached to the rim of the solarmax light.
    2. I just added a cheap 42 watt 4000k LED shop light from Costco for extra, well distributed light
    3. A 20Ē aquarium grow light led, off eBay, brand:FOWLR, that Iíve had for years but is generally too blue, but I placed it in the middle of the 4000k bulb and it really balances out the more yellow color (not a great solution, but I already had it so....) pic of specs:

    4. I did have several PAR38 led spotlight bulbs Iíve had forever but I hated the look of them on top, thus the shop light.

    I put no see um mesh over the back vent and the bulk hole on the top right. The fan is still on the left being held up by the magnetic power head mount I have it taped to.

    The one on the right is now facing down through a hole I made in the GS foam background with a 30 degree pvc. I did this for the diy fogger made from my ultrasonic humidifier that has not been effective at all for some reason. Probably the distance needed to travel from below the tank?

    Either way, for humidity Iím just misting whenever my probe drops below 80%, usually every couple days. Iíve been trying to decide if I should keep those vents completely covered, or keep them open. Iíve been experimenting and I wonder if the humidity stays high enough long enough for my plants.

    Iíve placed java ferns, a small crypt a few other aquatic plants that have mostly dried up. The most recent chunks of java moss are still alive. Weíll see if they stay.

    tolumnia orchids
    Iíve added the pink tillandsia & the other tillandsia.
    The brom I have is starting to change color, but I havenít seen new leaves yet.
    The parlor palms are doing well.
    I added several small plantlets of pothos,
    the ruellia Ďkatieí I added is acclimating weíll to soil, (cutting off my riparium plant Iíve had for 4-5 years)
    I might add a couple smaller cuttings if this does well.
    The dwarf umbrella trees are doing really well also.
    The croton plantlet I put in hasnít lost its one remaining leaf, and it looks like itís budding a new one. So that is great.
    The lemon button fern died back some when I introduced it but I think itís finally growing back. Iím wondering if it isnít doing well in the planter in the foam...
    The ficus vine that was a riparium plant lost all its leaves and Iím not sure if it will survive. It was very slow growing as a riparium plant so who knows.
    Aforementioned aquarium plants & moss
    Emergent aquarium plant that I canít remember the name of it find. Itís like HC, hereís a pic:

    itís actually growing well and spreading as ground cover. Iíll likely add a lot more.
    Last is three unknown plants Iíd love an ID on. One I bought with the tank, second is a house plant I had put in my riparium, the third is I think a type of draecana? All of them are doing okay.

    One other new addition, it was in a flower pot this summer, and we brought it in the house and it has been doing fine. I moved it to the tank this weekend. I believe it is a begonia?

    Pics of unknown plants:



    Thatís it for now. Suggestions/questions appreciated

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