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Mission impossible: A planted leachianus vivarium

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  • Mission impossible: A planted leachianus vivarium

    As a condition for dropping quite a pretty penny on my leachianus geckos I dedicated myself to making their habitat as pretty as possible while still keeping the interests of the critter in mind.
    I started my little journey here by using my immense google fu to locate others who had planted leachie vivariums. Google wasn't very helpful and what few threads I could find ended with people scrapping the live plants as the leachies would stomp and poop them to all hell.

    Then I had an idea. Why don't I email and call different vivarium builders and folks that have had success in the past? What I found was that there are folks out there with GT leachies that have had them planted for years!

    What I've learned from my phone calls is this:
    Leachies will make tissue paper out of just about any plant unless it's enormous. Leachies will also poop a tank to all hell without a community of isopods and springtails to clean up. However leachies tend to avoid being "low" to the ground in the cage. Plants established below their "comfort" area should survive okay. I also intend to keep only 50% coverage of the top with glass and use a monsoon connected to a hygrometer to keep humidity up while hopefully avoiding wetness that can cause infection. If I still can't avoid wetness I'll put some PC fans up top for ventilation.

    Given that information I'm going to try to establish some ferns and mosses as low as I can. I then will try to keep one large central cork hollow in the center and to help the leachie move in I intend to let him keep a lot of his old furniture mounted higher up in the enclosure. I also will try to put cross branches and fake vines higher up to keep the plants safe.

    So far I've surrounded the walls with cork bark and even built some hollows into the walls. I may stuff these with sphagnum and/or great stuff. Don't know how I feel about non removable cork tubes on the wall.

    Progress so far. Ran out of silicone to finish other sides. In hindsight I should've used titebond 3 but its' already almost done. Final size should be similar to what Steve at leapin leachies uses even though this enclosure is 18*18*24
    Last edited by specialmias; 08-25-2014, 03:14 PM.

  • #2
    This looks fantastic so far! Very interested to see how this turns out
    My vivariums!


    • #3
      This center cork is taking up A LOT of space. but the way I've seen most vivariums done involves "forcing" the leachie to home in one big center cork to prevent it from wandering out to the plants. However, the dang thing is so tall that unless I trim it light will blast through the top. I may have to figure out a way to make a "plug" for the tube top using good stuff and sphagnum or some other idea. I may run another cork branch across the top to create upper level complexity, maybe a fake vine too. It's going to filter the living crap out of the light below though. However, with the amount of cork I have it should be easy to make a "canopy" for the leachie to play in.


      • #4
        Man, this looks like it is going to be awesome! I want to do a planted viv for my leachie as well. Definitely keep us posted on the progress. Right now I got some time to plan, s/he is only about 3-4 inches long.


        • #5
          Awesome tank, it's going to be great!!!


          • #6
            Looking good so far!
            1.0.0 R. auriculatus - Quinn
            1.0.0 C. ciliatus - Good Hank
            1.0.0 Mutt - Waldo
            1.2.0 Cats - Oliver, Dharia and Chloe


            • #7
              Finally siliconed in... Almost 3 tubes of silicone, this is getting pricey!

              Tested for leaks:

              and all the furniture inside. The cork bark tubes I filled with great stuff then siliconed off the edges. The holes on the side I siliconed and added sphagnum. It'll probably come off over time but looks nice for now!


              • #8
                Spectacular! I love it, I'm sure the leachie will, too!
                1.0.0 R. auriculatus - Quinn
                1.0.0 C. ciliatus - Good Hank
                1.0.0 Mutt - Waldo
                1.2.0 Cats - Oliver, Dharia and Chloe


                • #9
                  For the sake of helping others I'm compiling a list of what I have heard anecdotally work with leachies along with the number of people who have had success with these plants long term.

                  1) Monstera - 5 people (I've seen Monstera Deliciosa used here and a few others didn't mention which they have. These require HUGE enclosures 24 inch base, 24 inches tall minimum )
                  2) Snake plant/sansevieria - 4 people. (most common gecko plant, damn near indestructable)
                  3) Pothos- 4 people (Mixed results, if leachies get near the main roots they destroy it.
                  4) Boston fern - 2 people
                  5) Korean rock fern - 2 people
                  6) Selaginella plana - 1 person
                  7) Rabbits foot fern - 1 person
                  8) ET fern/ Grub fern - 1 person.
                  9) Birdsnest Ferns- 2 people mentioned these in passing as being leachie proof but didn't mention the species they had

                  What I have on order right now are two lemon button ferns, two rabbits foot ferns, 2 korean rock ferns and two Selaginella plana. I'm over planting for the room I have in there because I'm expecting to see some plants killed off by our buddy here.

                  Some interesting tidbits:
                  Exo terra did a trip to pine island and took some pictures for us:

                  This is where cresties were found:

                  Did you notice it!? Birds nest ferns are found in that natural habitat!

                  Also now taking bets on which plants the leachie will destroy first.... I figure even if it's all destroyed this enclosure will still look pretty nice:
                  I had to move a lot of cork bark around because even though I had hoped to make a top "area" for the leachie to hide I noticed I was quickly running out of light at the bottom. I would only get a slight trickle of light if I kept the bark crossing up top that way. In essence... I should've gotten a bigger or taller tank or both! I figure the inside now is only about 15 gallons of space! In order to conserve said space I find it would be easier in the future to use upright bark tubes with side entrances standing around in the enclosure like trees.
                  Last edited by specialmias; 09-03-2014, 06:44 PM.


                  • #10
                    This looks awesome so far! Can't wait to see it planted! You should also consider some fast growing vining plants (wandering jew, peperomia species, pilea "creeping charlie") as these all are very flexible and could probably stand up to a fair amount of abuse. And the grow fast, so even if parts get destroyed you will always have some left
                    My vivariums


                    • #11
                      So I got some VERY small plants from black jungle. However, I think this'll work out as I can train the selaginella along the sides along with the ET fern and the two rock ferns on the sides.
                      I'm trying to keep roots along the wall so they don't get torn up. I put the birds nest fern in the center as I expect it to get pretty large. I think as this grows the idea is that the big back area has removable cork rounds that are sturdily set so he wont knock it over and all the dark crevasses are relatively far from the plants . What's going to be a pain is remembering to do this every time so he doesn't get disoriented and figuring out good placement for a food/water bowl in the back. I'm getting my isopods and rabbit foots ferns soon and I do want to mount them as epiphytes but with a leachie I see trouble with that. I also am concerned about competition for light in this enclosure if I put epiphytes on the sides. With all the cork and the tight space I needed to setup for the leachie there isn't much room for mucking around with the upper portion and letting light in.


                      • #12
                        Lookin' sharp!!!


                        • #13
                          Now to humidity, my other concern.
                          a single 20 second misting with my exo terra monsoon with the plants I have now allows the tank to be COMPLETELY dry above the leaf litter yet over 75% humidity at all times. Keeping the top of the exo terra with only one side of it replaced with screen was the right choice I'm seeing. That leaf litter does wonders for the humidity while keeping the actual tank itself quite dry. Thus reducing those nightmare scenarios where a poor leachie dies from sitting in water and filth for too long leading to infection. If this keeps up just having the bioactive substrate and leaf litter alone at first glance appears far healthier than the constant paper towel switches. I also expect to have more air flow than the usual case where I keep my leachies in tubs with very low airflow to keep humidity up. Don't know if that's better or worse for them but given how some people use screen cages in high humidity areas it certainly can't hurt.

                          I tried using my crested to "test" how sturdy all the cork bark was and well... at 50 grams his jumping downed the tower of cork bark! I need to find some secure yet removable way to keep that cork bark stacked on top of each other without it tumbling down.

                          I restacked everything and this time I used bamboo sticks from home depot and cork branches to make bars to secure the cork to the background. I still think this half and half design is the way to go. I just think a much taller container is needed 24 inch tall won't cut it when substrate is added. I'm also trying to get that moss to grow if I can. It'd be great if it grew onto the cork but I think thus enclosure may dry too fast.

                          I also am trying to get two ferns to grow right in front of the door to shade it. I hope enough plants will survive to make the front of the vivarium heavily planted and and shaded making the enclosure seem "safe" as all three sides are covered.
                          Last edited by specialmias; 09-07-2014, 09:41 PM.