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.
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! 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:
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.
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.