Would this terrarium design work?

Discuss water requirements, "soil" (growing media) and suitable planting containers
User Avatar
Naja002

 
Posts: 246
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:57 pm
Location: Zone 6b, Tennessee
Thanked: 91 times in 67 posts

Re: Would this terrarium design work?

by Naja002 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:26 pm

EternitySmile wrote:Well Naja, I really appreciate you taking the time to fill me in on all that and giving me an idea of what would be in store for me in building my own tank out of acrylic. After looking into it more I saw so many things where I was like "Wow, I'll probably mess that up..." and I decided to just buy a turtle tank and convert it into a CP terrarium. Here's the one I ordered:
http://www.vetinternetco.com/reptiles/h ... c-dec-2011


Sounds good. The slot on the side would certainly help facilitate a couple of PC fans. However, on that note, I assume that one of your goals is still:

EternitySmile wrote: Just so you understand my design, I plan on catching the annoying flies in my office and depositing them live into the terrarium via a trap door on the top, so that my flytraps can catch them at their leisure.


If so, then you will need to cover it with bug screen in order to keep the flies in. Not a big deal, but PC fans generally are not designed with the static pressure to provide the air flow that you might think you will get. That said, with the advancement of PC air and water cooling over the last decade or so....quiet fans with good static pressure are available. My only point is that you may find that you need to purchase the fans, if what you may have doesn't perform up to par.



EternitySmile wrote:It has a hole partway up the one side for a water filter that I intend to re-purpose for a computer case fan providing some air circulation, and I'll add another fan on top to pull air out and help with circulation more.


^^^^^See above.

EternitySmile wrote:I called the tank manufacturer to make sure the side glass wasn't tempered, then called a local glass company about drilling a hole on the side opposite the fan for the drainage tube.



Actually, I'm thinking/hoping that you can skip the whole drainage hole idea. Here's a nifty little item that I had forgotten about until your aquarium pump question below:

Tom Aquatics Aqua-Lifter Dosing Pump

Basically, it's a liquid "vacuum" pump and will pull the water out of the tank. It has been around for a few years. Many people have used them for a variety of tasks. They do work, and it will work well for your intended purpose. They are inexpensive and with shipping should not be much more $$ than paying to have the glass drilled. It can be set anywhere below the tank, at tank level or up to 30" above the tank.

Installation is easy enough: set one end of tubing in bottom corner of tank, run it length-wise along tank bottom, then up and over the rim (or out the slot), cover with your drainage layer. The problem there is that you can skip the lifter pump and just use the tube as a siphon tube! :mrgreen: Either way, you can tilt the tank toward that corner to facilitate getting as much water out as possible. Cheap aquarium tubing as a siphon tube would really prevent the need to tilt the tank...it's small diameter will draw as much water out as needed before air enters.

The lifter pump is rated @ 3.5 gal/hr. My rough calculations based upon the outside dimensions of the tank and a 2" drainage layer show ~3.7 gals, so it would need to run for ~1 hr. A bit longer without the lifter pump and just as a siphon tube.



EternitySmile wrote:I also had another zany idea that seems to help me on several different fronts. The new terrarium is nice because it's 36" long which is how long I wanted anyways, it's 12" wide and will fit perfectly on the 12" windowsill, but it's a little taller than I wanted at 16". With 6" below the soil surface, that left 10" above ground which seems a little excessive. I didn't want to just add more gravel to the water table at the bottom because it would dramatically increase the weight of the tank. Then I thought: what about styrofoam? And the more I thought about it, the more I liked it! I found 18"x12"x4" styrofoam blocks for sale online, two of which would cover the entire base exactly and raise the "floor" up 4 inches. An awesome bonus is that now the hole for the drainage pipe doesn't have to be drilled so close to the glass's edge because the floor is 4" away from the glass's edge. AND the drainage pipe can now sit partially "underground" by me cutting out a ditch in the styrofoam for the drainage pipe to sit in! This will provide some much-needed stability for the drainage pipe and keep it from moving around and possibly breaking the seal between it and the glass. See below:

Image


Honestly, you don't need the styrofoam blocks. You are much better of with an 8" media layer. VFT roots grow downward and can reach 8", so by limiting the media layer to 4" and total depth to 6"....you are just cramping the VFT''s style. :ugeek:

VFTs are consider to be ~5" high. So, for full grown, non-monster sized cultivars: 2" drainage layer, 8" media layer, 5" plant height with 1" to spare.

My advice: Skip the styrofoam blocks, skip drilling the glass, go with the 8" media layer, go with the siphon tube, then decide whether you want the lifter pump that you really don't need, but may help out.




EternitySmile wrote:As for heating up the soil, perhaps I could wrap some cardboard in aluminum foil and place that between the tank and the window, only covering up the lower part of the tank that has the soil, water table, and styrofoam. The foil will reflect the sun back out and the carboard will provide some insulation to keep any excess heat from heating up the glass and then the soil. Does that sound like it would work?


Yes, that is the idea. The are a number of ways to block the sun from the media. The foil/cardboard may work out well, or you may end up needing to experiment a little to see what works. 2 thoughts: 1) pay attention to whether or not the sides need to be covered also...it really won't take a lot of radiant heat from the sun to start heating up the soil, 2) You can place the outdoor probe from a cheap (~$8) indoor/outdoor thermometer between the glass and the foil/cardboard to get a reading and see how well it's working.




EternitySmile wrote:EDIT: You know, after thinking about it more and realizing the potential hazards of running that pipe through the glass (seal breaks and water spills all over office) I'm starting to think a better idea would be to just go with the suggestion of pulling the water out of there from above. I was thinking of just buying an aquarium pump and pulling the water up with that by running a tube through one of the pvc pipes from above. Would an aquarium pump work for that?


The short answer is: No. What most hobbyists know as an "aquarium pump" is not self-priming. In other words, they don't pull water. They really only push water, if it is available. Make sense? That's the difference between an "aquarium pump" and the lifter pump. The lifter pump is self-priming and actually pulls liquids...and at it's cost...it really is a nifty little item as long as expectations are kept reasonable.

User Avatar
EternitySmile

 
Posts: 56
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:46 pm
Location: Westlake, Ohio
Thanked: 14 times in 10 posts

Re: Would this terrarium design work?

by EternitySmile » Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:35 pm

Thanks for the info about that pump, that looks like what I'll go with. The glass drilling and drainage tube is just asking for trouble. Best to leave that out.

I didn't realize that flytraps got up to 5"! I must have little ones now because none of them are much more than an inch above the surface of their pot. Not needing the styrofoam layer makes this even easier then! I'm not sure if you realized this when giving me your numbers, but when you said: "2" drainage layer, 8" media layer, 5" plant height with 1" to spare." did you realize that the media for the plants actually extends the 2" down into the drainage layer? I found 1 liter plastic water bottles that are 3 1/4" wide by ~7" deep (with the narrow top part cut off) and I was going to cut slits in the base of these and stick them down into the drainage layer. So I could add another inch to the media layer easily enough, maybe a little more. That would have the roots in 7"+ of soil. Is the 3 1/4" diameter too narrow for one plant? I wasn't sure about that. I was looking for something with a 4" diameter, but for the price of like 60 cents/bottle I thought the bottles would work okay.

As for the fans, yes I was planning on putting the bug screen in front of the fan. I didn't realize that could be a problem. I did buy some new fans for this:

http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Com ... B0026ZPFCK

Do you think those would do the trick?

I think my design is starting to come together in a workable way! :D Anything else I can plan for to try and make a successful colony of carnivores?

User Avatar
Naja002

 
Posts: 246
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:57 pm
Location: Zone 6b, Tennessee
Thanked: 91 times in 67 posts

Re: Would this terrarium design work?

by Naja002 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:39 pm

EternitySmile wrote:Thanks for the info about that pump, that looks like what I'll go with. The glass drilling and drainage tube is just asking for trouble. Best to leave that out.


Now you're getting it.... :mrgreen:

Keep in mind: You don't need the pump, but it won't hurt anything either...




EternitySmile wrote:I didn't realize that flytraps got up to 5"! I must have little ones now because none of them are much more than an inch above the surface of their pot. Not needing the styrofoam layer makes this even easier then! I'm not sure if you realized this when giving me your numbers, but when you said: "2" drainage layer, 8" media layer, 5" plant height with 1" to spare." did you realize that the media for the plants actually extends the 2" down into the drainage layer? I found 1 liter plastic water bottles that are 3 1/4" wide by ~7" deep (with the narrow top part cut off) and I was going to cut slits in the base of these and stick them down into the drainage layer. So I could add another inch to the media layer easily enough, maybe a little more. That would have the roots in 7"+ of soil. Is the 3 1/4" diameter too narrow for one plant? I wasn't sure about that. I was looking for something with a 4" diameter, but for the price of like 60 cents/bottle I thought the bottles would work okay.



Yes. But 10" is better than 8". The roots do not need to reach all the way into the drainage layer. Not saying that there is anything wrong with your bottle idea, but the roots themselves don't need to reach all the way down. The drainage layer is to drain the excess water away from the roots, so that they are not sitting in water all the time. The bottles with slits will allow the media above the drainage layer to wick water/moisture upward. Having the 8" media layer will allow the adult/mature VFTs to grow a full root system without having the roots sitting in standing water all of the time. Make sense?

The bottom line is that you will really only be able to take the media layer up to the bottom of the slot at most. I'm not sure what the measurement of that is. No way for me to know without measuring it, or hearing from the manufacturer or someone else. It may be 9" above the bottom of the tank...maybe a little bit higher. 10 or 11" would be perfect.

Your idea with the bottles is fine. The only thought that I can offer on that is that you may find it easier to drill some small holes, instead of trying to cut slits.





EternitySmile wrote:As for the fans, yes I was planning on putting the bug screen in front of the fan. I didn't realize that could be a problem. I did buy some new fans for this:

http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Com ... B0026ZPFCK

Do you think those would do the trick?



The short answer is: I don't know. :mrgreen: The static pressure listed seems low, but I'm not a PC Fan person, so I'm not up to speed on the specifics, and cannot seem to readily locate the info needed to make a judgement call on your behalf. Basically, I went from straight PC water cooling to Mega colony PC water cooling to a chiller. So, PC fans are not my forte`, but I do know enough basics to be able to research it if my next great brainstorm required it. :mrgreen:

The bigger problem is: What's the opening of that slot? 120mm fans are ~4", so is the slot large enough to accommodate them? It may be a 3" slot. I have no idea. Keep in mind that the center of a fan is basically a dead-zone...that's where the motor is. So, you may need 80mm or ~3" fans. :shock:

I've been quite happy with the cool master fans that I have owned, but that doesn't mean that the ones you ordered are a good choice for your intended purpose. So, my advice would be to cancel that order. Wait until you get the tank in hand, so that you can measure the slot (or call the manufacturer), so you can determine what size and how many fans will fit.



EternitySmile wrote:I think my design is starting to come together in a workable way! :D Anything else I can plan for to try and make a successful colony of carnivores?


Keep in mind that VFTs are designed to attract flies. They may not do it at the pest removal rate that you desire, but it is their intended function. So, the screen and screen top, PC fans, etc....may not even be necessary. Maybe just a small personal fan from walmart blowing gently into the tank might just do the trick. But somehow I think your sadistic quality of catching the little buggers and trapping them inside their tomb of death plays as a major factor here, so.... :mrgreen:

User Avatar
EternitySmile

 
Posts: 56
Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:46 pm
Location: Westlake, Ohio
Thanked: 14 times in 10 posts

Re: Would this terrarium design work?

by EternitySmile » Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:32 pm

Naja002 wrote:Yes. But 10" is better than 8". The roots do not need to reach all the way into the drainage layer. Not saying that there is anything wrong with your bottle idea, but the roots themselves don't need to reach all the way down. The drainage layer is to drain the excess water away from the roots, so that they are not sitting in water all the time. The bottles with slits will allow the media above the drainage layer to wick water/moisture upward. Having the 8" media layer will allow the adult/mature VFTs to grow a full root system without having the roots sitting in standing water all of the time. Make sense?

The bottom line is that you will really only be able to take the media layer up to the bottom of the slot at most. I'm not sure what the measurement of that is. No way for me to know without measuring it, or hearing from the manufacturer or someone else. It may be 9" above the bottom of the tank...maybe a little bit higher. 10 or 11" would be perfect.


I suppose I could always just have another inch of media beyond the top of the bottle. The water would spread out a little more, but that's not such a bad thing I guess. Like you said, it'll depend on how far up that slot is.

Naja002 wrote:Your idea with the bottles is fine. The only thought that I can offer on that is that you may find it easier to drill some small holes, instead of trying to cut slits.


Another good idea! I'll be doing that instead!

Naja002 wrote:The bigger problem is: What's the opening of that slot? 120mm fans are ~4", so is the slot large enough to accommodate them? It may be a 3" slot. I have no idea. Keep in mind that the center of a fan is basically a dead-zone...that's where the motor is. So, you may need 80mm or ~3" fans. :shock:


Hm, a good point. I'll have to see once the tank comes in. If the hole is too small I can just put the fan on top as a second exhaust fan and order an 80mm fan then attach it later.

Naja002 wrote:Keep in mind that VFTs are designed to attract flies. They may not do it at the pest removal rate that you desire, but it is their intended function. So, the screen and screen top, PC fans, etc....may not even be necessary. Maybe just a small personal fan from walmart blowing gently into the tank might just do the trick. But somehow I think your sadistic quality of catching the little buggers and trapping them inside their tomb of death plays as a major factor here, so.... :mrgreen:


Ha ha I think you have me figured out! :lol:

Previous

Return to Water Quality, Growing Media and Planting Containers

 


  • Related topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests