Viv Interiors

The Design Student and I put together a reasonably elaborate interior for the 90 gallon vivarium we set it up a few years ago. One thing has become obvious as the 90 has settled in – the time we spent on the background is not apparent to the viewer. Between the two kinds of peperomia, the Cissus amazonica and the philodendron, the back of the vivarium has turned into a wall of leaves – and, as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing. What that’s meant for the rack vivariums is a lot less time spent on sculpting and, for two of them, a different choice of material.

The background in the two lower cube vivs is a combination of cork bark, osmunda and driftwood, all held in place by Handi-Foam.

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The middle viv has a background of tree fern panels with a piece of driftwood providing some horizontal relief.

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The top vivarium got a tree fern panel and a section of tree fern blocks embedded in foam.

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The pictures of the top vivarium provide me a nice segue into the next topic – substrate. There are a variety of approches to providing drainage in a glass box – I like LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggregate, aka Hydroton). So, in each enclosure down goes a LECA layer – graded so that there is a low spot where excess water can be siphoned/turkey-bastered out. In the photo below, you can see two different types of LECA – completely interchangeable as far as I’m concerned.

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A barrier layer goes over the LECA – I used window screen because I had some around – landscaping barrier fabric works beautifully too.

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And on top of the screen goes the ‘soil’ mix. I used a mix of (very approximately) 1/2 Schultz’s Aquatic Plant Soil (clay based), 1/4 shredded tree fern and 1/4 coco chips. It looks like there’s a lot of chips in the mix, but that’s because the chips are tough to mix in – they tend to float to the surface.

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Viola! (da Gamba!)

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Add some leaf litter (important!), plants and seed with springtails and things are ready to go. I am waiting on a shipment of bromeliads – they will make a big difference both practically and aesthetically.

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