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Planted vivarium build for Chrysopelea paradisi [pic heavy]

Discussion in 'Vivariums and Terrariums' started by ArachnidSentinl, Apr 25, 2018.

  1. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

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    Part 1: Getting Started

    Recently I started a planted, bioactive vivarium build for a Chrysopelea paradisi (paradise flying snake). I'm only partially through the process at the moment, and it occurred to me that I might do a build thread. I know it's not for an invertebrate, but a lot of the processes involved are just as relevant when constructing a display viv for pretty much any exotic animal.

    After keeping some larger snakes (morelia, boa, etc.) requiring substantial enclosure footprints (no tubs, here), I decided to lean toward smaller (albeit more focused) projects in the future. My big carpet python passed away in January, and I sold the larger stack of melamine enclosures I had and purchased one Animal Plastics A10 enclosure for a then-undecided small, arboreal snake. The dimensions of this particular enclosure are 24(1/4)W x 23D x 35(3/4)H. AP is infamous for it's glacial lead times, so I expected a bit of a wait. For what it's worth, I was the first to order this model with some additional features (sliding glass doors and top vent), so it lengthened the wait a bit. Four months later, it finally arrived:

    [​IMG]

    It was like Christmas! I couldn't resist, and (figuratively) skipped down to the basement with my flat-packed enclosure in tow. My frustration with the wait was immediately forgotten, as the craftsmanship was absolutely superb. Instructions were clear, hardware provided, and with the help of a cordless drill I effortlessly assembled the enclosure in no time.

    [​IMG]

    One of the (many, many) reasons I decided on a PVC enclosure was a close-call I had with my previous melamine enclosure stack and a CHE mounted in a ceramic fixture (kaboom!). For both safety and feasibility reasons, I opted to install a radiant heat panel in this build. I've seen some pretty harsh discussions online regarding RBI RHPs, so I opted to order one from Pro Products. I spoke with Bob via email and phone, and after discussing the parameters of the project, I decided on a Pro Heat model PH-3 (222 BTU/h, 65 watt, 12" x 18" x 1"):

    [​IMG]

    Despite not having plugged it in yet, this thing looks great! It's got that hard-to-describe heft of a quality, durable product. As a side note: Pro Products has some great customer service. Bob was very accommodating, even when the northeast was being pounded with repeated severe winter storms. I also ordered a Pro Mist PM-50D which I've yet to unbox or install (which I will, of course, touch on later).

    [​IMG]

    Because of the way the top screen is installed, the RHP covers about half of it. I knew this would be an issue ahead of time, but I wanted the additional ventilation available. Unfortunately, because of the way the screen is mounted inside the AP A10, the RHP does not sit 100% flush. I had to find some longer (3in) machine screws, and there's approximately a half inch gap between the back of the panel and the screen. This will be no problem for the snake and/or feeder lizards to get into, so I'm contemplating either inserting a piece of half inch PVC above it or filling the gap with fire-resistant Great Stuff. Thoughts?

    I drilled some small holes in the back for the power cord and the thermostat probe (a metal-tipped probe controlled by a Spyder Robotics Herpstat 2). I did a sloppy job for some reason, but it's unnoticeable from the front. I imagine I'll be drilling a third access hole for a hygrostat probe eventually, but I need to research the best location for this. On the front left corner, I installed one bulkhead for the Pro Mist. This will eventually utilize their PM-MNH, which is their micro-fine misting nozzle. I may install another nozzle, but I want to test the system first.

    [​IMG]

    After test-fitting all the peripheral accessories, I got to work on the foam background. I coated the inside with silicone. Like an idiot, I used GE II, but I don't suspect this will be much of an issue, as it will eventually be covered by Great Stuff, more silicone, and coco fiber/moss. Here's the initial coat. Note that I removed the bulkhead and RHP panel for the next step, I just got overeager here, haha.

    [​IMG]

    Next up, Part 2: Installing the Background!
     
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  2. viper69

    viper69 ArachnoGod Old Timer

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    Love reading through builds, how long was the wait from AP? Why did you go with Pro-Mist over Mist-King? Never heard a bad thing about Bob's panels though. Others carry them and no issues either.
     
  3. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    My Animal Plastics order took just over four months. I ordered early in January with the expectation of a "10-12 week" lead time that would hopefully see it delivered prior to NARBC Tinley Park in March (when I was expecting to pick up the snake). I started getting impatient in late March and noticed they had since updated their site and made available some new features. I checked in with them, discovered my enclosure hadn't even gone into production at that point, and used the opportunity to add the extra features to my order. They maintained that my order took a bit longer because they had to figure out how to best install sliding glass, etc. I don't necessarily buy that, and I was kind of annoyed. All is well that ends well, however, and I am extremely happy with the craftsmanship. Well worth the wait! I'll just have to factor it into my expectations in the future.

    I chose Pro Mist for no other reason than a frog-keeping friend of mine had expressed frustration with his Mist King...one of those buddy's-anecdote-over-beer things that twists your arm. I had also heard great things about Pro Products in general, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Bob was actually out of PM-50D pumps when I ordered, so he called me and sent me the next model up (PM-60D), too! I haven't actually plugged any of it in yet (lol), but so far I'm pretty impressed with the company.
     
  4. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    Part 2: Installing the Background

    With a thin layer of silicone applied to three sides (as primer for the foam), I started work on the background. I have made plenty of backgrounds before with extruded polystyrene and grout, but I had surprisingly never done one "frog style," with Great Stuff, silicone, and coco fiber. After some research, I purchased some Great Stuff Pond & Stone, which lays a delightfully dense, black foam that I found to be quite easy to work with. Not knowing what to expect (and at $10 a pop!), I only ordered three cans. As you can see from the images below, I had to source some regular Great Stuff locally. I've heard conflicting reports as to which is easiest to work with; in my limited experience with this project, I will say I significantly prefer the Pond & Stone variety.

    [​IMG]

    I included a small amount of cork in the background, as is customary. I wasn't sure how much to use, and despite dropping close to $100 on cork slabs at my LPS, I didn't get a lot of cork coverage. Nevertheless, it started to come together, and I think it looks all right. I'm particularly pleased with the flow of the wood from the left panel to the back panel.

    As a side note, I bought all my cork from Birds & Beasts in Crystal Lake, Illinois. If anyone in northwest Chicagoland is looking for a good source, they usually have some great pieces in stock!

    Additionally, you may have noticed I laid in some net pots in the background. I hit up my local hydroponics store, Big Grow, in Lake in the Hills, Illinois, and discovered tons of useful stuff. There I was able to get these net pots, a ginormous bag of loose coco fiber, and a hydroponics timer for my mist system (and if you stop by, check out their crazy plant setup in the back!).

    Once all the foam, cork, and net pots were laid and cured, I ended up with this:

    [​IMG]

    It's my understanding that it's best to carve away the smooth surface of the foam, and so using a x-acto knife, I started prepping the surface. Not having done this before, I wasn't sure how intricate I should be. I spent far too long on this step, I think, but I really enjoy this sort of thing, anyway.

    Great Stuff Pond & Stone is much easier to carve than its regular counterpart. I found the yellow foam to be infuriatingly varied in texture, where as I could expect a nice consistency from the pond variety.

    By the way, you may have noticed a light in this next pic. I ordered a Jungle Hobbies Advanced LED Lighting System for this build. I'll be expanding on this further in the future, but right now I'm using it as a work light, too, lol.

    [​IMG]

    After a few days of carving periodically between grad school and my new job, I decided to begin application of the coco fiber and a bit of sphagnum moss. Here is the result of that process, although not all of the excess has been removed at the stage. I'm quite happy with it overall, though the top area seems particularly plain. I suspect this will not be noticeable when filled with branches and foliage (fingers crossed!).

    [​IMG]

    The default style of vent in Animal Plastics enclosures is three diagonal slots cut into the back corners. I chose not to cover these up with foam, as the top vent will be largely covered with the RHP and lighting system. Again, I'm hoping this won't look that bad once the whole thing is planted.

    Next up: Part 3!
     
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  5. viper69

    viper69 ArachnoGod Old Timer

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    Interesting, what did you hear about Mist King?

    As for AP, on another forum I frequent, while everyone recommends AP generally, all say the same thing, expect a 4-6 month lead time. I call crap on what they told you as well hahah.

    You could have had Bob send the RHP to AP and they would have installed it for you.

    BTW, nice, nice images. Good detail etc, not something that looked like it was taken w/out thought let alone to see if in focus.
     
  6. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    I'll be honest with you, I can't even recall. Something about my friend's pump being unreliable, if I'm remembering correctly.

    The thought of AP installing the RHP hadn't occurred to me! It makes me wonder how they'd approach the recessed vent issue. Fortunately, the PVC drills nicely and it was easy to do myself. I did encounter an issue tonight, though, with remounting the RHP post-background installation. Despite trying to account for the background depth on the side, I'm probably going to have to scoot the RHP over and re-drill. Shouldn't be too much of an issue, but I hate to put more holes in this thing than I have to.
     
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  7. viper69

    viper69 ArachnoGod Old Timer

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    We snake people do RHP to AP all the time for them to install. Well not everyone, but many of us do that.

    I'm still not sure if I'm going to go with AP or someone else yet.
     
  8. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    Part 3: Installing the Background, continued...

    I manged to find time before work yesterday to squeeze in some build time. After a quick run to the local hardware store to stock up on silicone (I vastly underestimated the quantity required), I returned to my basement and began work on the back panel. Whether it's experience or some other variable, application of the coco fiber seemed to go more smoothly this time around (and more quickly). It's not quite dry yet (or trimmed, of course), but here's the result so far:

    [​IMG]

    It's nice to see things taking shape, but I'm a little disappointed with the cork layout on the back. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this is a learning process all around. Again, I suspect this will all come together aesthetically once planted.

    One issue I didn't foresee was the background on the left panel blocking the bulkhead for the mist system. I had tried to accommodate for this and thinned the foam as best as I could, but it ended up being a tad too tight. So, using a xacto, I chopped away a little nook to accommodate the nozzle assembly. I'll be covering this with coco fiber, of course, so between that and its hidden location, I don't think it'll ever be noticeable. Looks ugly at the moment, though...

    [​IMG]

    After covering the panel and letting it sit for a few hours, I vacuumed up the excess coco fiber and stood it on end to get a good look. It's starting to come together! :D The LEDs really make it pop, too!

    [​IMG]

    Next up, Part 4: Finishing the Background
     
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  9. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    I'm torn on future orders, myself. I'll reiterate how impressed I am with the product itself, and their customer service was pretty good, too. One just has to have either amazing foresight, patience, or both.
     
  10. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    Part 4: Finishing the Background (I think)

    Well. This background installation has been quite the learning opportunity. I just finished up with it (as far as I can tell) and I'm pleased with the result. Here's the play-by-play since the last episode!

    After vacuuming off the excess coco fiber on the other two panels, I flipped the enclosure on its right side and began working on that panel. Perhaps I was feeling a little overconfident after doing the last panel so well, but I got a bit sloppy. I was pretty heavy-handed with the silicone, and the difference was noticeable when it came time for it to cure. I had to let it sit for a bit longer.

    [​IMG]

    After allowing it to cure overnight, I tipped it back over and vacuumed up some of the excess coco fiber. It looked good overall, but there were definitely some wet spots, and there were numerous spots where the coco fiber had not fully adhered. Frustrated, I gave it additional time to cure before I moved to the next step. Finally, however, it was getting tantalizingly close to being "done."

    [​IMG]

    Here are some of those &$#^*@! see-through spots :banghead: For some I suppose it wouldn't be a big deal, but my various neuroses overtake me when I'm in the midst of such a creative project. It must be fixed!

    [​IMG]

    Frustrated with the see-through spots, I allowed that side some extra time to dry and focused my attention on the bulkhead area which I had previously prepped for silicone. I filled it in and covered with with coco fiber. Not bad looking, and it fit the bulkhead incredibly well! This was a small victory, but it ended the night on an encouraging note.

    [​IMG]

    This morning, fresh from a trip to SEWERfest, I returned to the basement to work on the viv. I was eager to tackle the problem spots, but realized I was completely out of silicone! An immediate trip to the hardware store was out of the question, as I had just opened a delicious beer. Thus, I tackled some other minor tasks while I savored the beverage.

    Firstly, I vacuumed out the enclosure again, collecting excess coco fiber that had fallen. I then reattached the RHP, mounting it further to the left to clear the background. I'm not a huge fan of the entirely white color, but set against the rest of the viv, I think it looks pretty good. I am a bit worried about how much of the top it covers, but I'm confident I can still get a nice gradient and maintain ventilation. It does block some light, but I don't think that's solvable without an internally mounted light source (or a smaller panel). I suppose I don't need it to be super bright in the top right corner, anyway.

    [​IMG]

    Normally I'd wait longer to do this, but I was curious to see how the nozzle assembly would fit the bulkhead, given that I had to carve out a space in the background. I kind of eye-balled the carving and I was pretty confident it would work. Thankfully, it fit like a glove! It actually hides the nozzle a bit, too, which is cool.

    [​IMG]

    With the nozzle mounted and my beverage experience complete, I ran to the hardware store to resupply.

    I had heard that correcting mistakes with this background technique can be challenging/annoying, and they weren't wrong. It was a struggle to apply the silicone without getting it everywhere, and it tends not to stick to the already-applied coco fiber. I managed to get it to work, and I added some moss to cover up the most egregious spots. Here's how it turned out:

    [​IMG]

    So far, so good! I'll let it cure for a few days, and then it's time to add drainage, soil, etc.
     
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  11. Dave Jay

    Dave Jay Arachnoknight Active Member

    It's an inspiring read!
    It's coming together well, it makes me feel lazy about never quite getting around to making backgrounds, I experimented with materials and made "rocks" but never actually made a background.
    Well done!
     
  12. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    Thank you! I've been wanting to do something like this for a long time. I've done a lot of smaller-scale stuff in the past, and this seemed like the natural progression of things. So keep doing what you're doing, and experiment!

    I've found the process to be quite fun and fulfilling, especially when you get to share it with other hobbyists. There can be some frustration, and something of this scale has cost me a lot of money, but it's well worth it and smaller projects would be much more manageable. I bet you could do one in a five or ten gallon tank with one can each of foam and silicone.
     
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  13. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    Part 5: Planting the Background

    The background is planted! After hauling this bad boy upstairs and setting it on the stand, I connected all the accessories and eagerly went about filling the background pots. Though my C. paradisi is of sleight build (maybe 18in at this point), she loves to vigorously climb whatever she can reach. I wanted robust, vine-like plants for the background...stuff that's tough as nails and, frankly, easy to care for.

    I settled on the following plant species. From left to right: Chlorophytum comosum (spider plant), Epipremnum aureum "neon" (neon pothos), Tradescantia zebrina (wandering jew), Chlorophytum comosum "variegatum" (variegated/common spider plant), Epipremnum aureum "neon," and Chlorophytum comosum "variegatum."

    [​IMG]

    Some close-up pics (apologies for the lapse in quality...my phone isn't always the best):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    All of this stuff is going to take a bit to grow in, of course. I plan to allow them to establish before adding the snake.

    The pothos and wandering jew were acquired at a local greenhouse, while the two varieties of spider plants were freely given to me by a rather pleasant employee at my local hydroponics store. Seeing as this is my second planted viv and first planted background, I wanted to keep things simple and predictably lush. No rare plants for me...yet. Anyway, super stoked to see how it fills in!

    I also added in the drainage layer and substrate this morning. I added two bags of hydroton acquired at my LPS. I couldn't do too deep a drainage layer, as the substrate damn for this enclosure is only about 4.5in (about equal to an ExoTerra).

    [​IMG]

    I bought some landscape fabric on Amazon and laid that down:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Then, I added the ABG...and didn't have enough! DOH! I bought a ton at NARBC, but I ended up using a lot in another planted setup prior to this (actually the temp setup for the snake at the moment). I managed to get a few inches of depth, but I'm definitely going to need more. I ordered four more gallons from Josh's Frogs, and I'm hoping that's satisfactory. I'd like to plant some larger ground plants (like a croton), so I might need to slope it up in the back. I assume that's what people do?

    [​IMG]

    So this is where I'm stuck at the moment, until my substrate arrives. I have yet to decide on a hardscape. I have several large cork tubes, but I'd like to utilize some small branches in here, as well. I looted some mostly-dead tree branches from a nursery dumpster (I asked!), but I have to do some research yet into the species to see if they'd be kosher to use. Otherwise, I'm headed to the All Animal Expo this Saturday, and I can probably pick up some cool-looking grapevine pieces.

    Looking forward: I have some tropical springtails for a clean-up crew, as well as a few potential isopod species I could add (either Porcellionides pruinosus "powder blue" or Porcellio ornatus; thoughts?). I've also considered adding a few adult millipedes (Trigoniulus corallinus, perhaps), though I have to do more research into this (e.g. risk to live plants). If anyone has an input on any of this, please let me know!

    Btw, environmental parameters for this tanks are as follows:
    Temperature, day cycle: 88F (8am-8pm, hotspot)
    Temperature, night cycle: 75F (8pm-8am)
    Humidity: TBD, but high!
    Light: 10 hours full light (6500k), 8 hours complete darkness, 6 hours ramping up/down​
     
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  14. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    Part 5.5: Redoing the Substrate Barrier

    Per the recommendation of someone on another forum, I pulled up the ABG mix and replaced the substrate barrier with screen. It's something I hadn't previously considered, and if I want better drainage, it's now or never!

    [​IMG]

    So far, so good. My additional substrate just arrived (literally as I posted this), so I should be able to plant soon. I'd like to get some nice branches first, though, and I'll hopefully be doing so at the animal expo this weekend.

    Are there any plants anyone would recommend? The more foliage, the better, and I wouldn't mind a dash of color. I have about 26 inches of vertical space, and the usable footprint is basically 20in x 20in square (minus any cork or branches).
     
  15. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    Part 6: Hardscape and Planting

    I went to the All Animal Expo this past Saturday to pick up some raw grape wood for perches. I lucked out; my vendor was there, and I got some pretty nice pieces for fairly cheap. They still had the bark on, so I think they'll really pop in this setup. Then, while walking my final lap around the show, I made eye contact with this beauty:

    [​IMG]

    Wow! That's a nice piece of cork! I thought it would make an excellent tree-trunk style corner piece for the viv, so I snatched it up. I can't decide whether it's too big or not, but I think it looks good, and it doubles as both a hide and a perch. It's hard to see, but it has a few small openings on the bottom, as well.

    After mixing up my Josh's Frogs ABG mix (phenomenal stuff, btw) and sloping it up in the enclosure, I did a test-fit of the cork:

    [​IMG]

    Not bad! I had to fine tune things a bit, but it makes for a nice focal point. I'm know my snake is going to love that trunk.

    I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what the heck to do with the grape wood pieces. I hadn't originally planned to run them horizontally, but I played around with things and discovered they all fit rather nicely (shockingly so). Most rest well enough on the various shelves of the background, but I secured each with 3in stainless steel screws through the enclosure wall and background. Feels solid and ended up looking quite natural, imho. The best part is that these perches provide not only a dynamic environment for the snake, but also a varied thermal gradient in the top levels, where she likes to be. I'm looking forward to a cool canopy look once some of these bushy plants and vines grow out a bit.

    [​IMG]

    I went to a local nursery this afternoon (a new one, actually, just to check it out) and walked a few laps, googling plants on my phone as I went. The vast majority were temperate shrubs and flowers, of course, but I did see some cool tropical stuff, like a gorgeous maurelli ensente (if only!). The only thing I walked away with was two Strobilanthes dyerianus "Persian Shield," which are absolutely breathtaking. This seems to be a larger, shrub-like plant, but some googling revealed it grows well in vivariums; I believe I will have enough space to house a few as long as I cut them back now and again.

    [​IMG]

    Here they are, planted at the base of the trunk:

    [​IMG]

    After planting everything, I laid down a nice layer of live oak leaves, with a dash of magnolia leaves for variety. I gave everything a generous mist, and here's the semi-final product (sorry for the poor image quality):

    [​IMG]

    I'm pleased with the result, and now I'm eagerly awaiting everything to grow out. It is pretty sparse at the moment, but I want to make sure I give everything room to spread. The pothos is starting to root, and I've already see substantial growth in the spider plants and wandering jew. The latter has actually doubled in size in less than a week, which is incredible given all three pieces were mere clippings with no roots! Give the shyness of my Chrysopelea, I need everything to fill out substantially before I can transfer her to the new digs.

    Also, one thing to note: I happened to swing by my local hydroponics store and I was given a clipping of "night blooming cereus," which is an epiphytic cactus. Has anyone had any experience with these? It creates a nice vine, and I don't think it would be dangerous, but I'm also not sure if it would thrive given the environmental parameters of this vivarium. Thoughts?

    Let me know what you think of the build so far! I still have yet to post about the stand build, installing the ProMist, the Jungle Hobbies LEDs, and (of course!) my snake. More content to follow!
     
  16. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    While the viv grows in, I thought I'd show off the stand I built. Now, I have to preface this with the caveat that I know next to nothing about building stuff with wood. Originally I was going to buy a 24x24 aquarium stand, but they were ridiculously expensive and I figured I could surely assemble a basic one for cheap. Plus, it was a learning experience and at the end of the day, I didn't need anything fancy. So I grabbed some 2x4s, a circular saw, and went to work!

    Here's the end result of that effort. Somehow it's actually level, though the bottom is somewhat out of square. Nevertheless, it's stable and durable, so...huzzah!

    [​IMG]

    Originally I was just going to leave it as raw wood, because truthfully no one was going to see it. All the rest of my furniture at the moment is dark, though, so in a moment of inspiration I got some ebony stain and went to town:

    [​IMG]

    After it dried, I added a layer of polyurethane. It sat empty for a few months while I awaited my Animal Plastics order, but when it arrived, everything fit shockingly well (again, shockingly because this was done on a whim with no skill)!

    After building and planting the viv, I realized that it would be convenient to add a small shelf underneath for the thermostat, etc. I accomplished this with two pieces of 1x6 and a wire shelf which I cut to size. Surprisingly solid!

    In the back, I mounted a power strip and the pump for the ProMist. For the moment, you can see my reservoir is simply a jug of distilled water, lol (planning on a 5 gallon bucket upgrade!). Also, ignore the rats nest of wires...this is something I will clean up once the build is finalized.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Attached to the power strip is a Titan Controls Apollo 7 digital timer, which allows for up to 8, 1-minute on/off settings. I originally thought a full minute of misting would be way too much, but it turns out it's just the opposite (the ventilation is actually far better than anticipated). I'm glad this is the case, though, so I didn't have to buy the higher-end, $90 model that does second intervals.
     
  17. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    I started a new job this week (promotion! woohoo!), which has really eaten into my build time (not-so-woohoo...). Fortunately, when I returned home today, my new ProMist PM-MNH nozzle was delivered. Drill, baby, drill!

    I only ordered one PM-MNH, but I decided I'd add another while I was at it. The only other nozzle I had was a default ProMist PM-BENR, which I don't like as much (mist isn't as fine). I'll order another and swap them out, but for the meantime:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So far, so good! Starting to see some good growth on the plants already, which is reassuring. I'm hoping the extra mist coverage will add a little oomph. I ordered a hygrostat probe for the Herpstat 2, so I'm looking forward to tinkering with that in the near future.
     
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  18. Nonnack

    Nonnack Arachnoknight

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    Nice work! This violet plant looks amazing.
    I like your stand. If you want to give it really nice and clean look, you can use acrylic silicone (choose the one that is good to paing) to cover bolts and gaps and paint it again. I have made stairs balustrade from wood and after this the look was much much better.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  19. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    I didn't think about that! To be honest, this was largely a low-budget, "no one's going to see this" sort of thing (it's in my bedroom at the moment), but after giving it a try, I now have plans in my head for stands for other viv projects. I'll keep the acrylic silicone thing in mind!
     
  20. ArachnidSentinl

    ArachnidSentinl Arachnoknight Arachnosupporter

    Part 7: Tragedy...and Updates

    You may have noticed the rather conspicuous absence of discussion about the resident snake. That was by design, because I wasn't sure of her prognosis when I got her two months ago. Imported Chrysopelea paradisi are notoriously fragile, and I'm sorry to say this was the case with the animal that I had obtained. Long story short, she passed away a few days ago.

    When I was gathering supplies for this project while I waited for AP to deliver the enclosure, I happened upon a female C. paradisi at NARBC Tinley Park. I figured I had to take the opportunity, and I brought home this beauty:

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    She was gorgeous, though she seemed a little dull in some spots. I chalked it up to an incomplete shed and a retained eye cap, and I figured this would be an easy fix with some good ol' fashioned humidity. I threw together a temporary viv with some heavy foliage, and she seemed to really love it! She was flighty (even "flew" out of the deli cup when I brought her home), but surprisingly sweet. I admittedly got pretty attached.

    Here she is, exploring one morning:

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    Definitely a looker, though my phone had difficulty capturing her fantastic color:

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    I let her settle in, and she seemed active and attentive. It was neat having such a visually attuned snake, and she'd watch me intently any time I was in the room.

    Unfortunately, I couldn't get her to eat. I first offered her a live green anole. No go. I did some research which suggested cohabitating them with several feeder lizards, so I introduced three small brown anoles for a while. She seemed to notice and pursue them at times, but never could nab one. Looking back, I think her vision was impaired from the retained eye cap (btw: it seemed like she tried to shed, but never did).

    She lost a little weight over the next two weeks and I was pretty concerned. I had removed the anoles, and one day I hand fed her a mourning gecko. Success! An expensive meal, but I was determined to set up a feeder colony of geckos if that's what it took. A week went by and I tried offering another gecko, but she wouldn't take it. I tried hand feeding anoles and pinkies, too. No go.

    About a week ago, she became noticeably lethargic. She slowed way down and became more terrestrial. I immediately tried to get her to an exotics vet, but the dozen area vets I called were all booked up (I actually tried doing a walk in somewhere, too, and was told she was "too exotic"). I had an appointment set with an exotics vet a few days later and I thought she'd make it, but I found her dead the next day. I'm told it's probably parasites. Who knows, but I'm bummed.

    And so, I'm a little discouraged about this whole project. Definitely not going to abandon it, though. I'm not sure whether I should try to find another C. paradisi or simply go with some other, easier small arboreal snake. Thoughts?

    On the lighter side of things:

    One of the small brown anoles escaped it's enclosure, and I saw it running around my room. I couldn't catch the cheeky little thing, and he disappeared behind some furniture. Confident my roommate would kill me, I tore the place apart and I was unable to find him...

    ...until the next day when I found him inside the big vivarium, sunning himself on the perch!!!

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    That gave me a good laugh and lifted my spirits a bit. I still have no idea how he got in, but I suspect he went through the hygrostat probe hole, which is currently empty. Clever little one! I'm letting him live in there for the time being.