Sunday, October 28, 2012

Future Aquisition

I've been looking into what I want to get after I move Rocza to his new tank.  It's probably going to be arboreal and tropical, since that's what I'm set up for.  In truth, I'm not looking to break the bank on this critter either; it will most likely be a pair or a trio of anoles (Anolis carolinensis or sagrei), depending on how much space they require.  Anolis carolinensis is the typical green anole while Anolis sagrei is the brown or "bahaman" anole.  These are the little guys that first sparked my interest, or at least the first herp I tried to get when I was a wee little lad.  I never ended up getting one, probably for the same reasons I can't own a frog or a turtle now.  In all fairness to my parents, it's very likely I would have accidentally killed the thing after a week, but I didn't see it that way back then, obviously.

Image from
According to PetSmart's pamphlets, crested geckos (Rhacodactylus ciliatus) is beginner level shit.  These guys are at least on the same level, if not lower.  Maybe it's just because I've seen them for years, but I just feel like they're very easy to raise.  Anoles have been in the pet trade for ages, after all.  You always see them in these huge groups at the pet store, just chilling out; brown and green anoles living together in their little utopian society.

Well, maybe not quite so technicolour, but still.

I wouldn't mind a mix, myself.  It would add a little variety to the tank.  The only iffy thing about it is that they are exclusively carnivorous, so I would have to leave crickets in the tank.  This frustrates me, since they can get behind the foam backdrop and stay tucked away, chirping into the wee hours of the morning.  The only saving grace is that the crickets will probably have to be smalls; too young to be able to chirp.  Then again, I'm probably just over thinking this.  A war-band of fleet-footed anoles is surely a match for a couple small crickets.

I have also been putting some thought into making an aquatic/terrestrial hybrid tank.  I've drawn a couple sketches for a vertical hybrid tank, but... I can't get frogs with my current living condition, so there aren't many options of creatures to put in it.

Image from
So since I can't get frogs because I don't have my own house or turtles because my parents don't want "that aquarium smell", I've decided to revisit salamanders and newts (Caudata), like the tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) to the right here.  What's cool about salamanders is that they have larval stages where they are completely aquatic, like frog tadpoles.  I don't think I'd get one that young, since I don't think a hybrid tank would have enough water, unless it's really big.  Who knows fur sure, though; I may decide to get a pair of larva and see them through to adulthood!  This setup would definitely need to be horizontal; most salamanders aren't arboreal.  That's not to say I couldn't build up, I'd just have to make sure I give them a nice easy incline.  I'll give it some more though.

Image from
Another nifty thing about most of the common salamander species is that they not only live in my type of climate, some are even native species.  That give me a much bigger range of plants to chose from, and easy access to them. No need to pay 5.00$/lb. of drift wood or mopani wood when I can go out and find tree branches and stones from habitats used by wild salamanders.  I should point out that the salamander I really want is native to Europe; the fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra).  They still live in similar habitats; clean running water with plenty of mossy cover and places to burrow.  Maybe it's only since I've been studying evolution in biology (note that I know use Latin names as well as common), but I find that salamanders have a sort of primal beauty to them.  Amphibians were the first vertebrates to crawl up onto land, after all.  Plus, I have a penchant for dangerous animals; they're usually much more interesting than their safe, gentile cousins.  Clear example: monarch butterfly vs. some... shitty, white, non-toxic butterfly.  These fire salamanders produce samandarin, which is a powerful neurotoxin they produce in their skin which causes muscle convulsion and hyperventilation in vertebrates.  How cool is that?!  Finally, a reason to put a lock on the cage door!

I'll write up another post soon (hopefully) on some research into making moss which I found while looking over some caudata sources. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tropical Terrarium Build (part 1)

I've been talking about if for a while now, so it's about time I made a post for it; after many delays, here is a look at my tropical terrarium.
Bet that was anti-climactic! The truth is, being my first build of this kind, it's taking even more time on top of all the delays. Lacking the proper techniques definitely slows down the process! But I've come up with a few by trial and error, such as stringing up the wood that I'm siliconing in before spray-foaming. I'll get to those tips later on, I'm just giving a bit of a status report on it at this point.

If it looks at all crowded from this picture, that's because it is. In fact, that's what I'm going for. I want maximum amount of furnishing without over-crowding. Also, this picture doesn't really capture the scale of this build; the tank is 18" x 18" x 24". I mean, I can fit my head in there... so it's big. Trust me.

As show to the right, here, you can see that there is in fact much room for plants. I also feel I should mention that since this particular shot was taken, I added a bunch of foam to the bottom corners to build them up. The reason for this is to minimize the amount of substrate needed in areas where it's not really useful to have it.

Something else clearly visible is how painfully close my pots are to the top of the tank. This is something I learned the hard way to look out for. In the end, I'm sure it'll be fine. The only problem is one of the two pothos plants I wanted to put there is kind of... growing up instead of growing like a vine. I may try to transplant parts of it, or maybe just buy a new one. I'll probably have the room for a third one down at the bottom.

Quick price break down:
-Great Stuff Pond and Stone (which is the black kind): 9.00$/can, 3 cans
-Aquarium Silicone (price carried over from the leopard gecko build): 13.00$
-See previous posts for prices of plants and wood (I hope...)

Some of the tools I used include:
-Breaking Bad costume Breathing mask
-Caulking gun
-Many pairs of disposable rubber gloves.

All of these I had lying around the house. At this point, I also want to point out that I don't condone the use of disposable latex gloves; be kind to the environment and get some nice rubber gloves that you can use again and again. Yes, I am a hypocrite.

I won't add the substrate costs just yet, at least not until I have a better idea how much I will use. Hopefully, Amanda at The Pet Store will live up to her standards and get me some good aquarium silicone by the end of the week!

Leopard Gecko Build (part 3)

Finally, some new pics of my first rock outcrop project!

As is clearly shown, I have painted my rocky outcropping and I've even managed to seal it. Heck, I've even managed to put a nick in it! Fortunately for me, it's in the back, where it won't be visible.

For a bit of an idea of the price of this part of my build, check out my quick break down:
-Rona Sanded Grout: 10.00$
-Rona No Sheen Grout Sealant: 10.00$
-Liquitex Matte Varnish: 20.00$

Throw in some left-over acrylic paint and some old brushes I had kicking around, and there you have it.

All I really have left to do now is give it a bit of a washing, but only once I touch up my little ding. I was going to put on a third coat of varnish, but after the second, I find that it starts to get a little cloudy. Since I don't intend on this piece to go in a humid environment, I think two coats should do just fine. The Liquitex is made for outdoor use, after all.

Quick fun fact; i made some crappy little cave paintings inside, just for funzies.

This build turned out way bigger than I had originally anticipated! I will definitely need a new tank soon. Thankfully, Christmas is just around the corner! I'm thinking possibly one of Exo-Terra's new Low models, but that's going to depend on prices.

I digress; next post on this particular project will be the conclusion post, wherein I will give a total break down of what I used and what I would not use again, as well as helpful tips for getting a natural finish and how to avoid annoying bubbles in your varnish!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Much-Needed Updates

(FECK! I just spent way too long writing a post that I jsut deleted!)

Alright, so here's a long story made short, since I just deleted a good couple paragraphs of information.


Been busy these past couple months; lots of school and volunteer work.

Lots of delays in getting my black aquarium silicone.
Aqua Zoo had me pay up front, plus extra for shipping, only to get me the wrong product two months later. That's a no-no.

Amanda at The Pet Store has ordered me some, though it has not come in yet due to shipping issues, she hasn't charged me anything.

Plus, she ordered me Zoo-Med Clay Hydro Balls and Terrarium Mesh in exactly one day; that's from ordering to receiving. Booyah.

Waiting on her black silicone to compare with what dick-face Mr. Aqua Zoo got me (which I couldn't return because he wasn't there as usual and his staff can't do anything without him).

That's why I'm late in my projects.


Sadly, lost my venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) to cat attacks.

Lost my moss to dehydration, though I may still use it as dried moss.

Worried my philodendron (Monstera deliciosa) might not be getting enough humidity locked away in my basement, trying to avoid cat bites.

Pothos and Sansevieria doing amazingly well; truly idiot-proof plants.


Leopard gecko build nearly finished.

Spent lots of time hunting a better varnish.

Found one. Applied a coat; looked good. Applied a second coat; not so good. Won't be putting a third on. Still need to wash it for a bit and soak off all excess varnish. Post to come later with pictures, materials, and details.

Tha'ts it for now. I'm ticked off at my incompetence with blog posts.