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How I Made My Vivarium Look Like a Zoo Exhibit with Foam – DIY Background

By Simply Betta on



[Music] Hey guys Simply Betta here in my last video I introduced the Simply Betta studio and i explained that i have to spend some time redoing the floor I've been doing that and it's been great except for it's taking up all of my spare time notice how i haven't posted a video for a few weeks that's because this office is literally taking every single tiny moment of spare time that i have i usually spend those precious few hours in my day of free time and i make videos with them but now i'm having to spend them just working on the simply betta studio so bear with me here i need a little change of pace today i need a little play time so I'm doing something cool with

Vision Cage Explanation!:

this what is this thing this is a reptile cage full disclosure this is a sponsored product i was contacted and asked if i'd be interested in receiving this vision cage with the sole purpose to create a nice habitat for an animal with it so i thought what a lovely opportunity to bring a new cold-blooded creature into my life but wait this isn't fish you're a fish channel unsubscribe true this is not a fish it's not a fish tank but you might know if you've been watching my channel for a while that i have a thing about geckos geckos are basically fish that you can hold they're land fish so far with my geckos i've been using exoterras exoterras are really nice glass enclosures and they're a nice way to display a vivarium because you can you know you can see through all the sides but exoterras have a downside they are super heavy and i don't have noodle arms either okay i don't have noodle arms for a small person i don't mean to brag but i'm totally ripped but i have a hard time with exoterras of any substantial size because that glass is just so heavy and cumbersome and awkward to try to pick up and move around so when i got this email to try this vision cage the first thing i looked at was the weight and i was really surprised by just how light it was i love that see look i'm gonna take the glass doors off like that and check it out you see how light it is it's nothing so i don't have to ask for help and wait for help and and coordinate help so this is like a 34 gallon size it's pretty much indestructible like compared to exoterras you're not going to be busting this super heavy duty plastic it's also stackable so you can stack multiples on top of each other for when my collectoritis kicks in and it's really customizable because you can drill like all your own holes and do whatever you want knew i had to try it plus uh this way i have an excuse to get another lizard so i'm gonna get

The Plan:

started on making this just a really nice habitat for a leopard gecko i have a lot of vertical space and i want to try to utilize some of that in this terrarium design so leopard geckos they're not climbing geckos in the sense that they have like the little little sticky feet that they they stick to everything they can just climb straight up they have little quad feet but some vertical structure for climbing around sounds like a nice enriching environment so my plans for this vision cage is i want it to look nice because of that i really like the idea of doing kind of like a foam background type deal in this cage i'm not sure if i want to commit i'm kind of afraid that doing like the great stuff foam background is just it's going to stick permanently to the plastic and just completely ruin it so i'm trying to think of a way that i could have a beautiful custom foam background but not be 100 committed in case i messed everything up i think before i start

Light Fixtures:

worrying about the background i'm going to put my lights i'll be putting in two lights this is going to be like a fluorescent daytime bulb type light and then this one it's a little bit smaller is going to be my uvb light with these cages you can actually drill into them so i'm going to do my best to mount these lights which come with some little mounting brackets inside and there should be ample room for a little heat lamp hope i measure right i'll add the little brackets the hardest part of this entire project might just turn out to be mounting this dang light on the top it wasn't hard it was just like the brackets that actually attached to the light were impossible to figure out am i just dumb i don't know i have a hole saw i'm gonna drill a hole here uh in the side where the power cable the power cord is gonna come out probably should have gone up higher oops these light fixtures are the devil ah i finally got it in check it out i have light so nice but now i'm not even done because i have to do this light fixture oh now i'm just installing my uv one uh these lights daisy chained together so i don't need two you know plugs but i just need one done get my uv light in

The Structure:

there so now it's time for me to actually make decisions on the structure of what i'm putting in here do i just go nuts with great stuff with the foam sprayer and if i hate it like oh well i'm stuck with it or do i want to somehow be able to remove something if i hate it it's a tough question what i think i'm probably going to do is i'm going to add some egg crate in here for the foam to hold on to and to make sure that the foam doesn't adhere to the plastic itself and just become impossible to remove i'm going to put a little oil coating on the plastic so i have some mineral oil that can just be a really light oil coating before i start working i measured out and i cut some pieces of egg crate this is what's gonna give some some bite some surface area to bite into this is gonna go on the bottom like so i also made a piece to go in the back back here and the sides now i'll use some zip ties to hold it all together i did it um the egg crate is sort of you know it's structurally sound as a crate can be the problem is that it wiggles around a little bit so now my plan is to bolt it to the sides and to the back so it doesn't actually move around just going to add a screw and a big ol washer to just help pull it to the back so my plan is to put a really big washer on to just grab that egg crate and then come to the back here just tighten it into place that worked nicely this worked out really nicely check it out uh the egg crate is firmly in place like it's not moving the bottom moves just a little bit but i don't want to like damage the integrity of the bottom just in case now i have to consider how


do i want to lay out the skate the aquascape what would i call that when it comes to terrariums the landscaping oh my god i just got it aquascaping is the watery version of landscaping oh my god oh my god anyways let me kind of build what i have in my brain here all right here's kind of what i came up with i know it's it's hard to see what i see by looking at this mess of sticks basically i'm gonna have an embankment filled in here i have a couple little flower pots kind of where i'm gonna maybe put some plants i'm gonna have a hide in this embankment and then down here it may be like a cool moist tide over here um there's a whole lot of places this gecko can go i got some new screws today that don't jut out as much and i replaced those and i had to drive around for like half an hour trying to find a place that would sell me balloons why balloons because i have a great idea i've stolen this idea from mike tytoola mike tytoola basically my idea is that i'm going to blow this balloon up and i'm going to place it in a few places before i put my foam in and it's going to make like a burrow like a like a void that i can turn into a hide and i think it's going to work out i think i hope oh i just have weaker lungs than than when i was a kid why is this so hard i'm an adult i am a functioning adult yes i did it all right so i'm gonna pop a balloon into where i want a hide to be actually this balloon might even be too big no it's fine it's like i would like a hide to be right about here so i opened up a bunch

Foam and Carving:

of windows i have some really good ventilation going on in here and i'm gonna do the first bit of this great stuff expanding foam just to hold everything in place i also wrapped the flower pots and some saran wrap so that way like with the idea that i just lift it out after this stuff sets i hope that's a that's the right idea and i'm gonna start putting some spray foam mostly to hold things into place [Music] it's been about eight hours now and i'm back it's night i'm gonna add another can or two of great stuff um this stuff has cured at least mostly i'm gonna add more of the bulk and let that cure overnight and then maybe finish it off tomorrow [Music] it's getting there it's slowly turning out to be what i have in my brain i'm going to spend some time carving off a little bit of the excess and shaping it a little more how i envision it to be shaped this is all cured overnight it's finally starting to take shape into kind of the idea that i had for this tank now one thing that i need to work on is more of a basking area i was planning like right here was going to be my really warm area where the heat lamp is pointing down almost like it's a rock just kind of jutting outwards just a little bit more to give some more space there i'm just sticking these skewers into the foam ways to give make sure that there's something to bite onto very clever i do say so myself i'm just going to finish this up tonight by trimming the last of the new foam in this next

Rock Sculpting:

step i'm preparing the material that i'll be using to sculpt my fake rocks this is called polygym 307 lite it's a two-part epoxy putty that when prepared right can make a neat sculptable medium that cures to a hard strong inert non-toxic material what i'm doing here is i'm measuring out equal amounts of two parts and the additive that firms it up into a clay-like consistency i also added a bit of pigment powder to turn it into a more of a neutral gray instead of a tan 307 light is interesting in that it will stick to pretty much anything but it will release if there's water to work with it i actually have a bowl of water on the table beside me and i keep re-wetting my hands often to keep the material from sticking to my gloves and tools i'm basically treating it like clay except i have to keep adding water to be able to work with it i'm sculpting it into the rock shape that i've had in my head using my hands to get the basic shapes and then my tools to mix in some cracks and sharper rocky edges [Music] the rest of my rock sculpting is pretty much the same process i lay down the epoxy and i press it in and around the foam i sculpt it into shapes that i want with my hands and then i use my tools to sharpen smooth or add some details to areas to make it seem more rocky the back walls are less jagged and boldery and more cliff-like now about the epoxy clay it has a working time once you get it fully mixed and ready to work with you better set your stopwatch because you can only work with it for maybe an hour it will slowly get harder to work with as it starts the curing process so it's best to keep mixing it in small batches that you can finish sculpting with quickly versus mixing large batches that you can't use on time and wasting materials i wanted to make the entrances to the hides look like caves so i made sure to add some visual bouldery interest because they're the cool parts i think the rock features ended up looking really really cool like surprisingly cool i really like how it turned out the cave entrances are neat i like the scattered boulders and the more cliffy parts in the back


i'm very pleased i let the 307 light cure for a day and then i put a little paint on it just a little i made a really diluted black paint to wash into the cracks and crevices and the little details that i put into the sculpts this extra step is subtle but it brings out those details and adds some nice contrast and a little bit of grunge this is acrylic paint which when it's dry and cured it's inert and non-toxic now it's time


 to cover all that ugly foam the remaining exposed foam i want to look like terrain like deserty ground i'm covering the foam in small batches with silicone and i'm pressing substrate down into the silicone before it cures i bought a lot of my supplies like the foam and silicone and bulbs and all that from josh's frogs and i also got a bag of their leopard gecko bioactive substrate now this isn't a bioactive setup but their substrate is nice and it looks deserty and arid with nice texture to it and it's way better than using something like those bricks of coconut husk this step takes a while i did it over a few nights it may have been harder for me because i had so many obstacles to go around also do it in small areas at a time because you only have a few minutes of working time with the silicone before it firms up too much this substrate from josh's frogs is so awesome rubbing it into the cracks in the rock sculpts helps to make those rocks look like they belong there too it integrates them really nicely i can't even explain how much i love how this turned out i can't even it's time to get some of my plants


into the plant pots i got some succulents from my local florist ones i thought would look nice these ones are neat they're kind of short and spiky this one is called a jade money tree and it looks like a cartoon look at this huge plant coming out of this tiny pot and i have no idea what this one is please help


this might be the coolest terrarium i've ever made i am so proud of this especially because i made it while i was like so sick you could probably still hear it in my voice a little bit this is so cool and i love how it turned out i'm so happy that i was able to take that little vision that was in my mind and actually make it there's just a couple little touch-ups i still have to do my heat lamp originally was going to go right here pointing down at this overhang rock right here and it was going to be like a little basking area but it's just a little too close it's it's uncomfortably close and i feel like um a leopard gecko would be able to like touch climb up or touch or just get a little too close and i can't have that instead of doing that i'm actually going to cut a small hole um in the top of the enclosure in the plastic and then attach some stainless steel mesh so i can put a heat lamp on top of it and the heat lamp will be above and it will just project down and everything will be just fine i was really hoping to just be done by now and to put my little creature in my little leopard gecko inside but my leopard gecko does not have a clean bill of health yet i have brought her to the vet the vet says there's nothing wrong with her but she's not eating for me ah i'm still just waiting for a clean bill of health before i put her in here i love the way this turned out and i'm so excited here's what it'll look like with the with the front glass this is so cool so thanks so much to ted judy from vision cages and custom aquariums thank you so much for sending me this beautiful cage that i could make into like my own little exhibit this thing's still so lightweight i could pick it up and move it anywhere in my house and i just love that and i can't wait to put my leopard gecko in it but i think i'm gonna make a whole nother video about my beautiful leopard gecko as soon as i know she's just perfectly healthy we might need one more little trip to the vet does anybody have any tips for keeping succulents alive because i've never really been able to successfully do it thanks so much for watching guys i know this isn't a fish tank but i hope that it was fun to watch because with the skills that i was practicing in this video i'm going to be applying it to some custom fish tank decoration slash backgrounds so it does apply thanks so much to vision cages for sponsoring this video i really love this thanks so much to my patrons like i really appreciate all you guys i don't have very many but the ones that i do have i really really really really really like i'm taylor from simply betta have a great day and i'll see you next time [Music]   

About Simply Betta

Taylor, from Simply Betta, is a betta breeder, planted tank enthusiast, colorful nano fish lover, gamer, LOTR nerd, and all-around creative person! A betta fish enthusiast, watch her YouTube channel today for practical betta fish care, aquariums, aquatic plants, unboxing videos and more. You can shop her online store for betta fish and fish food at

We met Taylor at Aquashella in Dallas, where she showed off some excellent dance moves!

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