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Slices of rainforests

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Project by syble posted 01-24-2008 11:01 PM 2800 views 1 time favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Not sure if this truely counts as gardening or not, but it’s one of the ways i keep green in our long winters and my critters appreciate it! As some of you may already know from my avatar, I keep Dart frogs. It’s as additctive as pretty much any hobby I have or have had, and i get to combine all my hobbies into little rainforests! So heres what I do.

I start off with what ever size exoterra tank (they’re front opening which makes it easier to work with the frogs although any tank will work). I have a variety of sizes, smallest being a 12”x12”x18” tall , largest is a 24”x18”x18” long tank. The most time consuming task is creating the background. most new tanks come with a prefab styrafoam backing, it’s some odd yellowy brown and of a ock like look, which i suppose would be fine if you were to put a desert critter in there like a bearded dragon, but I’m going for a completely different look and i want plants up there. So I fabricate my own backgrounds, starting with a frame of egg crate i use a variety of pots (size and shape) to build the profile.
frame
Once I’ve got the basic layout, i then cover it in Great stuf foam which will then be carved to the desired shape. I’ve learned after a few tanks that by foaming then carving and foaming again, its alot easier to get your desired terraine. The time consuming bit is the cure time between all the steps. Once its foamed and carved it should look like this:
finished foam
the next step once everything is carved right is to get rid of that gawd awful cream colour and smooth foam texture, and get it to a more earthy state. This is accomplished by applying a coat of silicone (brown or black, non toxic), and pressing peat or coco fiber into it before it skins. This takes some practice. but once its done, and dried, you should be able to shake off the excess and be left with something like this:
finished peat
Then the last step is to install it in the tank and plant it up, which is also the best step and a quick one. due to cure times and all, it usually takes me about 5 days to get a background done, start to finish. As for the tank itself, I don’t bother with false bottoms or anything just a few inches of peat moss, and live mosses and/or leaf litter for a top dressing with liberal plants. This is what I ended up with for my first tank:
Finished product

Since the first planting I’ve altered some plants filled it in some, added additional plants, and made 3 others (still have 2 to do!). I’ve learned the hard way that some tropicals no mater how much you cater to them just refuse to live in that high of humidity with limited ai movement, where as others will take off. Trial and error is a fascinating process! So with out further adu, here are the 4 tanks and their inhabitants. It’s unfortunate that many of the pictures cannot acurately portray the lushness, new camera, I appoligize!

Tank 1 18”x18”x24” tall Exoterra
Tank1
houses 1 adult female azureus and 3 juviniles, I believe I may hve 2 pairs
mushroom
Bright
Tank 2
12”x12”x18” tall Exoterra

tank2
Houses an adult female costa rican green and black auratus and a pair of juviniles
Big Moma
young male
Young female Tank 3
24”x18”x18” Long Exoterra

tank3
houses 4 young auratus micro spot



Tank 4
24”x12”x12” long fish tank

tank4
Still looking for someone to live here.
Thanks for looking!
Sib ;)



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syble

126 posts in 3648 days

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tank terrarium frogs darts tropical indoor pets

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23 comments so far

View XploreOrganics's profile

XploreOrganics

1393 posts in 3720 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 01-25-2008 04:01 AM

Looks fabulous and fun to make. The frogs are beautiful too.

-- Xploreorganics, 5b Canada, LFD 06-20 http://colorfulcanary.blogspot.com/

View GrandmaT's profile

GrandmaT

5389 posts in 3719 days
hardiness zone 9

posted 01-25-2008 05:05 AM

Very imaginative … your frogs have quite a home.

-- "A beautiful garden is a work of heart" --

View Jason's profile

Jason

840 posts in 3695 days
hardiness zone 5

posted 01-25-2008 05:42 AM

What a great idea! Very creative, well done!

-- Living on the square...Metro Detroit

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14694 posts in 3841 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 01-25-2008 06:26 AM

Fascinating… this looks like a beautiful creation for a home, regardless of whether there are critters inside or not.
And would the same technique work outside, to make a place to put small potted plants?

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View syble's profile

syble

126 posts in 3648 days

posted 01-25-2008 07:46 AM

I cant see why it wouldn’t work. Egg crate is reasonably strong on its own, once it’s reinforced with greatstuff it becomes quite ridgid.
Thanks
Sib ;)

View nativeplantsrule's profile

nativeplantsrule

110 posts in 3679 days

posted 01-25-2008 08:10 AM

What a beautiful display and habitat. Where do you get your frogs? This is true gardening and conservation. Maybe you could breed the frogs and release them on a wonderful trip to South America. LOL>

-- wjl - 5a Indiana

View syble's profile

syble

126 posts in 3648 days

posted 01-25-2008 08:46 AM

I’ve gotten my frogs from 2 different breeders, one in toronto, and another in chatham. I hope once they all come of age to breed them myself, I love to watch the life cycle, i find it absolutely facinating!
Thanks
sib ;)

View gardenmentor's profile

gardenmentor

133 posts in 3648 days
hardiness zone 8

posted 01-25-2008 11:40 AM

very cool. thanks for sharing. I’m wondering…the foam stuff, is it available in spray? How bad is the off-gassing? and where do you find an exoterra tank? Do they come in multiple sizes?

-- GardenMentor, Seattle, WA, www.gardenmentors.com & www.gardenhelp.org

View syble's profile

syble

126 posts in 3648 days

posted 01-25-2008 01:19 PM

the foam (great stuff is the brand, it comes in 3 strenghts, i use big gap because its cheapest) is kind of a spray. It’s in a preasurized can, and spits it through a straw. The trick is steady hand and just getting some time in on it. I don’t find it to be too noxious at all you can smell it, but with a few windows cracked you’ll not even notice it, i find the silicone to be much worse. Once its totally cured its completely inert. Exoterra tanks can be found in most pet stores, pet smart for certain carries them. they come as small as 12” cubes to 24”cubes, I think they have a new set that are now 3’ or 4’ long but have never dealt with them or seen them. the largest I have are 18×18x24 long(I have the tall version also). There is also an equivalent tank so I am told made by zoomed? or something like that, the prices that i’ve seen from one seller (online) were very reasonale AND included shipping to anywhere in ontario!
Thanks
Sib ;)

View XploreOrganics's profile

XploreOrganics

1393 posts in 3720 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 01-25-2008 05:03 PM

Garden Mentor…If you are concerned about VOC’s (As am I) While sizing this up I figured it may work well with the Icynene spray foam. I would do it outside with a mask as the propellant may contain some gasses but Icynene contains no VOC’s once cured.

-- Xploreorganics, 5b Canada, LFD 06-20 http://colorfulcanary.blogspot.com/

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14694 posts in 3841 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 01-26-2008 04:35 AM

you must have a lot of fun setting these up and then watching them grow and watching the inhabitants!

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View GrandmaT's profile

GrandmaT

5389 posts in 3719 days
hardiness zone 9

posted 01-26-2008 08:01 AM

Gorgeous frogs … might be a silly question … but do you name your frogs? You do so much work creating a beautiful home for your “pets”; I can’t imagine you not getting attached to them; hence the possible naming.

-- "A beautiful garden is a work of heart" --

View syble's profile

syble

126 posts in 3648 days

posted 01-26-2008 08:27 AM

I find the entire process enjoyable. I like to cater to them as much as possible to make them feel as at home as possible. Some do have names, they’re not overly creative, and heavily descriptive. The azureus are Orriginal, Bright, Dark and Small spot. The only other one that has a name is the adult female CR green and black auratus, Big moma, because when she roomed with the azureus for a while, she was the biggest and rulled the jungle. The rest are too young to really have anything unique come about, atleast for me. I wouldn’t be surprized if they all end up named eventually hehe.
Thanks
Sib ;)

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14694 posts in 3841 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 01-27-2008 05:02 AM

I was going to ask that same thing

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View GrandmaT's profile

GrandmaT

5389 posts in 3719 days
hardiness zone 9

posted 01-27-2008 06:02 AM

I LOVE that you have named your frogs!!!! :-)

-- "A beautiful garden is a work of heart" --

View gardenmentor's profile

gardenmentor

133 posts in 3648 days
hardiness zone 8

posted 01-30-2008 10:37 AM

Syble what do the frogs eat? Do you feed them or does the ecosystem you built feed them?

-- GardenMentor, Seattle, WA, www.gardenmentors.com & www.gardenhelp.org

View syble's profile

syble

126 posts in 3648 days

posted 01-30-2008 01:08 PM

I culture flightless fruit flies for them. Fortunately with comercial mediums and improved home made recipies there is no smell! They can be fed a wide verriety of small critters (pin head crickets, flour beetles, ect). There is an eco-system in there complete with springtails that can sustain them for a time. I don’t have anything in there particularrly nurishing the micro fauna so it dosen’t replenish as fast. But its handy for trips and the like. Alot of froggers set up their tanks (which are typically larger with fewer frogs) for a better funtioning eco system, mine on the other hand are more designed for waste controle and the like. I have heard of people releasing adult pairs of crickets also to “seed” the tank with eggs so that the frgos have afresh supply of pin heads. I’m too worried that they will eat my plants hehe.
Sib ;)

View Robin282's profile

Robin282

115 posts in 3597 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 08-22-2008 09:40 PM

Just beautiful…

-- Robin282, Zone 7, SE Coast of MA, USA

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3811 posts in 3471 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 10-20-2008 10:32 AM

What a beautiful and interesting hobby! The frogs are so beautiful! Thank you for showing us your wonderful display. You have gone to alot of thoughful work and the beauty of it shows. Like GranT said, I love that your little frogs have names. They look so endearing.
BTW, where do you keep these in your house———so place where they are prominate display, I hope. Other people would also find this fasinating.

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View Greenthumb's profile

Greenthumb

2290 posts in 3661 days

posted 10-21-2008 07:01 AM

very cool

-- just one more rock, and the garden is done ; )

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14694 posts in 3841 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 10-21-2008 07:48 AM

so fun to look at—over and over again!

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View mmh's profile

mmh

332 posts in 3370 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 11-08-2008 08:55 AM

What a unique and wonderful display! Very inventive and appealing. I will have to try this some day! How do you handle your dart frogs? I imagine you must be cautious for their poisons. They are VERY handsome creatures. I see they were “posing” for you too.

-- A weed is a plant that is growing where it was not purposefully placed by human hands.

View syble's profile

syble

126 posts in 3648 days

posted 11-08-2008 09:10 PM

Unfortunately no one else in my house hold appreciates them like i do so they are confined to my room. There are 4 tanks currently and about 30 frogs. On a side note I’ve just gotten my first frogletts from the azureus! I’m looking forward to doing up another 5 tanks.

As for toxcicity, Dart frogs are completely harmless in captivity. Their toxins are derrived from the bugs they eat in the wild (which in turn have eaten toxic plants). so they’re comepletely safe to handle, though being only 2-3 inches in size they are a bit on the delicate side.

Thanks
Sib ;)

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