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Easy Plant Grow Chamber

By Ted's Fishroom on

Ted: Do you know anybody that has the bad habit of buying plants or animals before you actually have a place ready to keep them? I have that bad habit and I've done it again. I bought these bromeliads for the vivarium project, probably about a month or more before I'm going to be ready to actually put them in the vivarium. That's actually not such a bad thing because I believe in quarantining plants, just like I quarantine animals. The challenge I have with me today is I bought these bromeliads before I actually had a place to quarantine them.

When you're going to do quarantine, you've got to be able to provide the organism with all the things you're going to provide for them in the main enclosure. I need something that I can make a growth chamber out of that I can keep the temperature and the humidity and the light levels where I need it to be and I want to do it in something that's not going to require a whole lot of attention. I think I have just a thing.

This is a vision cage and if you keep reptiles, you're probably already familiar with vision cages. They've been around for 22 or 23 years, maybe longer. One reason they've been successful in the reptile hobby, they really haven't changed much, is because they really work and they have a lot of features that are really, really cool. For the purposes, I'm going to use this for as a humid growth chamber for plants. It's great because it's one piece plastic molded, which means the bottom is waterproof and watertight and all I have to do, is put a drainage layer in the bottom of this like hydroton, or a gravel, or marbles, it can be anything. Then I can just set pots of plants on top of it and let the water drain right through and all the water that's in the bottom is just going to create humidity inside the enclosure. It's going to work out really, really well.

Let me give you a little tour of the vision cage as it is. It's really a very simple system. The whole thing as I said before, is one-piece molded HCPE, there's no seams, there's no glue points, there's nothing that's going break or leak. These things will last forever. They're really, really nice. It's got sliding glass doors and strong tracks that's going to help maintain humidity and temperature as well.

There is a vent in the back and the light that I have on it so you can see inside is sitting on that vent. You can put a strip light there, and we'll talk about that again, but here's that vent. This particular model, it goes all the way down the length of the enclosure which is great because I can put a strip light there and have it shine down the plants, but if this vent lets too much humidity out, I can also cover this with a piece of glass or even plastic and it's going to block the humidity from getting out.

What I'm going to do with the lights is a little bit different. I'm actually going to take a light strip and I'm going to mount it on the inside. Not this one. Mount it on the inside of this enclosure, right like that. The light is shining on the plants from the front and having the light inside the enclosure. This gives the whole thing, a little neater appearance as well. Now I can put something else across the back vent if I need to. That's basically it. The reason I'm not showing you the light that I'm going to actually going to put on this thing, is I don't have it yet. Amazon hasn't gotten it to me and you saw the bromeliads, they've got to go in here today.

I'm going to get this set up ready to go and install the light some other time. I've got everything in front of me that I need to turn this into a nice holding quarantine growth chamber for humid tropical plants. This is actually what I'm going to use the drainage later, and this is actually bio media. It’s basically clay marbles. I was going to use hydroton but I don't have enough of it to put the thickness of the drainage layer that I want inside of this thing. The sliding glass doors, by the way, they just pop right out. All you got to do is lift up, pull them out like that. Do this one.

The first step for setting up my humid quarantine chamber, growth chamber is-- And I’m almost done. I'm going to level out. [background noise] Ta-da. Go ahead and put my doors back. Here's my bromeliads. Now, all I'm going to do on these bromeliads is I've got inside this little bucket here. Let's put these up here. See, if I can keep my cover for my table from getting too dirty. These bromeliads are what's called mini-versions or mini-growths of a Neoregelia bromeliad. I got them from Vivariums In The Mist. Paul sent me those.

All of this is a plastic mesh bag that like onions come in or produce comes in from your grocery store. I get them from my grocery store and then the bottom has got some hydroton in it for some drainage and then the top is ABG Mix and I can just set that inside right there like that, spread it out a little bit and then on these bromeliads, I can take that and I can just stick it right down through the mesh, like this. Stick them in as they stand up. There we go.

Remember, all I'm trying to do is keep these bromeliads in good condition. Maybe get them to start growing some roots before I put them in the enclosure upstairs in the vivarium. I really only have one more thing to do and that's to give these plants a nice spray down. Some pressure here. [background noise] Let them get a little bit of water in their cuts, not a lot. There's already some water standing in the substrate because I rinsed it before I put it in there and didn't get all the water out of it.

There's plenty humid in there for those bromeliads and I'm going to leave the light on it the way it is and then when I get the new lights, I'll put those in and probably show you another photo of this on Instagram or something, but you know what, that's it. Quarantine chamber, growth chamber for bromeliads and other tropical plants made out of a vision enclosure and some drainage layer material. It doesn't really get much easier than that.

I've had the bromeliads in the growth chamber for about three days and I'm a little worried about them being too humid and too wet down around the stolon because that ABG that's in that bag, holds water well and it soaks up water from the atmosphere around it. I've actually got to get them out of that bag into something else. The other problem I've got is I could just put them up in the vivarium except I don't have the lighting set up for the vivarium yet. I'm having trouble getting the lighting that I want.

I may have to do something temporarily and if that happens, it still won't happen for about another week. If I can't mount the stolons on the bromeliads into the wood that is in the enclosure, I need something else to put them in. I came up with this idea. I've got this old piece of driftwood. I'm just going to drill some holes in this, leave it nice and flat. It'll sit in there, drill some holes in the top, and put the bromeliads in with their stolons like they'd be growing up in the enclosure and let them stay in there and see if they do better. They're still doing fine. I'm just worried about them being in there too long with their stolons being too wet. That's the project of the moment.

While I was downstairs drilling holes in that log for those bromeliads, the mailman showed up and brought me my T5 high output lights. These little 24-inch lights, they're not very expensive. They came in two-pack from Amazon for about maybe $30, I think. They have a 6,500K bulb. There are 120 volts and they've got a clip-on system where I'll just be able to screw the clips into the top of the enclosure and snap the light right in because I really would like to get a light right over top of the middle of the enclosure instead of them being behind the plants.

Now, I've got two of these because they came in two-pack, and I was thinking about putting them both inside, but I think I'll just let the other one sit on the back, over top of the light vent the way it is, but if I don't think that two lights are bright enough that way, I can always put the other one inside the enclosure as well. You can daisy chain them. They come with this nice little daisy chain. If I really wanted to, I could put them both inside and still control them with just one cord. The way I'm going to get the cord inside is just drill a hole in the side of the enclosure. I've got a grommet that will fit. It encloses the space a little bit. It's a slightly smaller hole around the cord. I couldn't use a smaller grommet because I had to drill a big enough hole to be able to get this through the side of the enclosure. It's about it. It's going to be a pretty easy task. I'll pick the camera up, move it around so you can see what I'm doing. The first thing I need to do is figure out where on the top this light can go.

I got one slight challenge, and these are indentions. Here they are concave, but inside the cage, they're convex. My clips, they're going to have to go on that. One is going to have to go there. One is going to go here, but you'll notice I can't actually get at the widest point. I'll clip them on here so you can see. At the widest point, I can't actually get them on to there. What's going to have to happen is I'm going to have to have the light off-centered to one side, which really isn't that big a deal. It's not going to make that big of a difference.

All I'm really going to do is figure out where I want to put the light. put the clips on it, like there. Let me get this clip off. There we go. Here, center it a little bit better. The other thing I have to be careful of is to make sure that I leave enough space to get that cord into the enclosure. I got to remember someday I may want to put the other light in here as well. I got to have space. If I'm going to have it sitting here this way and that's where the code hole is, I really ought to move the whole thing over this way, which gives me more space over there. I'm going to do that.

Definitely works better if you just take them off. I'll run this clip over here to this end, and I'll run this clip in here to the middle. A little more like that. Okay. Not too bad. Make sure I've got it as straight as I'm going to be able to get it. Let me do it like this. Here we go. Let's do it that way. Right Like that. I'm going to take a magic marker. I want to move it a little closer to the front in case I want to put another light back here in the back. I also want this light to shine back towards the back of the enclosure anyway.

I'm going to put a mark there, put a mark there, and hopefully that's the only place I have to put holes. All right, here we go. [background noise] Simple as that. Then what I've got, are these little stainless steel screws with a nut. I didn't use a washer because I don't really think I need one, but if I really wanted to, I could probably install a washer on it as well. [unintelligible 00:13:41] to do is take my-- Like that. If you do this-- I had to go buy these. These didn't come with the light. Make sure you get the flat head screws because if you get a dome head screw, you may not have enough room in the fixture for the light to clip onto the light.

There we go. All right. There's the little screw. Here's the nut. One thing I've learned whenever I'm doing with these clips is always left it slack before you actually attach the light to it because if you tighten it down too much and sometimes those clips aren't perfectly square-- There we go. Get my nuts started here. All right. Now, all I'm going to do, make sure that my plug is down that end.

[pause 00:14:46]

I tell you, these multilevel bits are nice. If you drill a lot of holes in things and you have to have a lot of different hole saws, if you think about it, this is the same as buying about 12 or 13 different hole saws. Each of those costs $10, $15 a piece. Yes, this drill bit costs about $50, but it's going to save you money in the long run, especially if you drill lots of holes.

All I'm really doing is I'm going to drill it out and then test. I want as narrow hole as I can that I can get this cord through. I can get it through that. I'm going to call that good.

The grommet just goes around the end of the code before you put it through the hole and slides back on the cord like that. Then you slip this in here. Then this is the matter of finagling it and fiddling with it, pushing and pinching until you get the wall of the enclosure in the groove of the grommet. There we go. Nice. All right. It's just a matter of plugging it into the light. There we go. You plug it in and voila. We have light. Nice. Now that I see this with the light on the plants, I think one light is going to be plenty. That gives me an extra T5 light. Not sure what I'm going to do with that. Maybe I'll make another chamber like this. Maybe I'll use it on the main vivarium.

As I mentioned before, I am having trouble getting the lighting that I want for it. As nice as this is in a 18-inch tall enclosure, this is nowhere near powerful enough for a 45-inch tall enclosure. Still working on that. The next morning after shooting that clip, I picked up a thermostat and humidistat so I can keep track of the temperature and humidity and it's right where I want it to be. I also picked up some other plants. One of these days, I'm actually going to plan a video.

That'll be it for this update. I know we didn't update the actual large vivarium itself. I really haven't done anything to it until lights come in, but I am starting to get some plants. I am thinking about what's going to go in it. On the next episode of the Bioactive Vivarium Project, we will put lights and we will start planting the large vivarium. Thank you for watching Ted's Fishroom.

[00:18:26] [END OF AUDIO]

About Ted's Fishroom

Ted’s Fishroom shares videos about the aquarium life and adventures of Ted Judy. You will find fishrooms, how-to, DIY, species profiles, interviews, travel logs, and other interesting topics.

Ted Judy is the PR and Social Media Manager at Custom Aquariums and our sister site, Custom Cages. He has been aquarium-keeping for many years as a personal hobby and is experienced with showing pet enthusiasts how to set up and maintain exotic bird enclosures, bioactive vivariums, large saltwater tanks, freshwater tank displays, and more. The Ted's Fishroom channel is Ted's personal channel where you can get practical information on the cage and aquarium-keeping hobby.

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