Crested Gecko Viv

indyana

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Starting a progress thread for my created gecko bioactive vivarium. Here's just the start, a large cork background tile with various cork pieces attached with black silicone.

There are also some screws and washers pinning the largest cork pieces. I was originally going to put screws in all of them, but it turned out to be extremely difficult to get the screws to actually come through into the edges of the cork. >_< If anyone has any tips for making that work in the future, let me know. It frustrated me so much that I gave up and just gooed the heck out of everything with silicone.

 

indyana

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I let that first stage cure up for a week to make sure the thick silicone joints were all set. Now, I've started smearing a layer of black silicone over the joints and pressing in background texture mix (from NEHerp). I'll knock off the excess tomorrow and do some touch up, as I'm sure I've missed spots here and there.

 

indyana

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After the first round of sticking background mix over the joints, I touched up spots and decided to smear silicone over the background in spots to make areas of texture. Here are some pictures of the finished background panel. Last picture, I've glued it to the back wall of my acrylic vivarium and weighed it down to cure for a while.



 

indyana

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After the branches were cured, I smeared a layer of silicone over all the black and stuck background mix over it. The cage was laid on one side for a day to coat one end of the branches, then flipped over to do the other ends. I also stuck some substrate along the top side of the branches in a few areas.

I also sealed the back bottom edges with silicone at this point, since I thought it would be difficult to get it once the front of the cage was installed.



After that cured for a day, I cleaned everything up and sealed the bottom side edges before installing the front of the cage and door. Do to the way the branches were positioned, it made it really difficult to seal the front bottom edge. I ended up using my gloved fingers and a small paint brush to get all the joints covered in silicone.

This will need to cure for a while, but then we'll be able to move on to the fun part of substrate, plants, and custodians... :)

 

indyana

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Planting day, woo!

Per usual, click for larger resolution images.

Viv all cured and ready to go. Right now, the cage is sitting on shelf liner, but after I was done, I ended up putting a couple layers of plastic (folded black garbage bags) between the shelf liner and the viv. I noticed that sometimes I dripped water down the sides, and I didn't want the shelf liner getting wet and rotting on top of my wood bureau. Plus, insurance if my unskilled silicone seal springs a leak...



Drainage layer (NEHerp LDL) and screen separator in place.



Base layer of substrate (NEHerp V.2 vivarium substrate).



Selection of plants, selected by NEHerp for being a bit more robust and able to deal with gecko traffic.
  • Mahogany fern
  • Creeping fig variety
  • Peperomia variety
  • Watermelon Peperomia
  • Golden Pothos
  • Sansevieria varieties
  • Tillandsias
  • Moss packs

All of them washed, inspected, and soaked thoroughly.



Planting complete! Sorry, didn't take any step photos while covered in substrate. I started up high and did the wall planters with Pothos, creeping fig, and a bit of Peperomia, then put some creeping fig at the base of the background. Next, Sansevierias along the back and sides. Mahogany fern planted in the middle, partially under the cork round. More creeping fig along the bottom edges where it could climb branches. Peperomias filled in up front.

The moss packs, I wasn't really sure what to do with, so I rubbed substrate into the top of the cork round and branches/ledges, then set the moss on top. I'll keep it misted well and see if it takes anywhere. I put a bit on the ground up front, but not a lot, as most of the ground is supposed to be covered in leaf litter.

The Tillandsias were hot-glued to the background up high and the top of the left planter.



I seeded the custodian population with cultures of dwarf white isopods and springtails. Then, I covered the ground with leaf litter (live oak). Watered the plants a bit and misted liberally.

Some more pictures from various angles.


I have to give credit to a couple sources for this project:
 
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indyana

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So far, the plants are taking nicely. I've been misting 2-3 times a day for the moss and watering a little about every 3-4 days. I expect to cut that down a bit after the initial acclimation period for the plants.

I also made some bioactive adjustments today:

  • Mixed up some Dr. Earth potting soil and compost starter and worked some down into the front bottom of the viv substrate. Overlooked doing this during construction, but it's a microbiotic seeding technique I've been trying on my bioactive vivs.
  • Added in several more custodian species from purchased cultures:
    • Dwarf white isopods
    • Dwarf purple isopods
    • Armadillidium isopods
    • Tropical springtails
    • Temperate springtails
    • Silver springtails

I buried a few mushroom slices in the viv to help feed the custodians for the time being as well.
 

indyana

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An update after a month of growing in. You can see the plants are starting to grow up after dying back a bit. It's really looking good, and the custodians are taking hold. Luna the crested gecko will be moving in the beginning of August. Her parasite screening came back negative this week, so she's all set.

I've been cutting back on the misting this past week to get the humidity to cycle properly for a crested gecko. As a result, the moss on the top of the log has started drying out; I don't think that patch is a good location for it, as the moss really does better in environments that stay consistently humid. Hopefully the patches in back and on the ground will continue to survive, as I like the added texture.

 

indyana

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Luna entered the bioactive vivarium yesterday! She was a bit hesitant at first (what is this witchcraft?!), but she had fun running all over the place during the night. Unfortunately, the two air plants and the dead moss up front did not make it through one evening; they were knocked to the floor. I'll have to figure out if I can secure them so she won't be knocking them all over the place.



Uploading a short video, so I'll post that here when it's ready.
 

indyana

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And... more pictures. Because I can't help myself! Notice that I have now tied down the air plants. We'll see if that stops her from knocking them about.

Comparison to old, starter cage. That one was a more sterile setup that I used for initial quarantine. Lots of plastic and paper. :)




And more of the new viv, now in day light. There are two feeding ledges. Top one has crested gecko food and calcium. Bottom one has water and calcium.


And the top/bottom "floors". Lots of fun nooks and crannies, but Luna is currently burrowed into the leaf litter in the back corner. She used to do the same thing in her old viv sometimes (lay on the floor). I have trouble imagining the humidity is too low for her... but we'll see. Maybe I'll try spraying more often if she seems bent on being a terrestrial gecko.



 

indyana

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Haha, Luna's rampage continues.

Last night, she flipped the top dish with calcium in it so that all the plants below the ledge were dusted. Gah... Spent a few minutes carefully spraying them off so they wouldn't be damaged. And the moss on the side branch was on the ground. My support for the air plants seems to have held, so I'm thinking about getting a needle and thread and stitching through the moss to tie it down in various places.

This morning, I can't even find her, so she's nested herself down for the day somewhere. No eating yet, but that was to be expected.
 

indyana

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Massachusetts, United States
The crested gecko cage is settling in well. I'll have to snap some more pictures soon. I noticed that while I have a booming population of springtails and dwarf white isopods, it was taking them a while to clean up waste. I picked up a group of larger isopods to give them a hand. A few pictures from introducing them today.

 

indyana

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Some updated photographs of the viv. You can see how many of the plants have grown out. Not too many changes here. I lost the Peperomia species up in the wall planter, but the Ficus is doing okay. I would love for the Pothos and Sanseveria to fill in the top more, but it seems slow going. I haven't wanted to disturb it too much though, as the ground level is pretty much filled in nicely. Thinking about adding another vine/branch at some point.

 

indyana

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Photo update! You can see the plants are springing up.

All the ficus appears to have died off. I guess the environment didn't agree with it. :( Need to decide if I want to put something else on the upper wall. Even the pothos up there isn't doing very well. Can't tell if it's drying out too much or being water logged...

 

acpart

Geck-cessories
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Somerville, MA
I don't know if pothos can get too much water. It's been my dependable plant, but the top leaves do tend to dry up and burn sometimes (especially in the day gecko enclosures that have the basking light). Maybe another air plant?

Aliza
 

indyana

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Hmm, yeah, maybe that or some type of bromeliad that tolerates full "sun"? I'll have to poke around on the NEHerp website. Thanks for the pothos tip; I'll try keeping it watered more and see if it improves. In future projects, I'll know to put wall planters a bit lower to the ground... :)
 
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