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Nano Vivarium with a Waterfall

By Rachel O'Leary on


hey guys and welcome back i'm rachel o'leary and recently i was invited to take part in the nano vivarium challenge now it's not a contest because there's no winner and initially i have to be honest i wasn't particularly interested first of all i rarely keep critters i focus mainly on aquatics but if you've been around my channel at all you know that i am super into plants so they eventually got me hooked uh by saying that the point of this particular challenge was to showcase how you can ethically and humanely house critters within one of their cages uh specifically smaller critters this is the vision 215 model i was sent this cage just as an empty box with doors as well as being given a 200 credit to josh's frogs and i've been shopping at josh's frogs for years so that was also a big hook for me um there are no other real criteria to the contest other than that you needed to use these two items so i figured i would give it a shot and this is what i've come up with i've been doing a lot of traveling especially locally during covid times to spend time in the mountains and the rivers and the creeks and the local waterways so i took a lot of inspiration from sort of the appalachian basin uh as well as the local local just aesthetic of the area where i live which is in south central pennsylvania and i always take a lot of photographs when i travel not so much video but that's going to be changing and i really wanted this vivarium to speak to the inspiration that i've been finding from the local waterways now it doesn't currently have any critters uh i try i'm traveling quite a lot in the upcoming months for um water adventures so i didn't want to put anything in it that i wouldn't be home to care for plus i like to let my

enclosures or aquariums really mature before i add critters um again this is the vision 215 cage it's 28 inches wide by 20 inches tall by 14 inches deep i utilized um various woods and rocks within it as well as all live plants and i built a waterfall feature in the side if you're interested in seeing the total build we'll be getting to that in just a minute i had a lot of fun doing it i got to try a lot of new techniques and it made me come become really inspired i know a lot of reptile and amphibian keepers because it's made out of this really durable polyethylene and it's vented on the back here where i have my light and this was important to me because i wanted to incorporate that waterfall feature initially i have to be honest i thought the box was kind of ugly i wasn't entirely sure that this is something i'd want to keep i started out by building this live age live edge black walnut table for it just so that it would make a little bit more sense in my living room but it turns out i really like this cage i think that what you do with the inside really dominates the simplicity of the outside and i think that's really cool of course you know if you give a fish nerd a plastic box and tell them to do something it's going to incorporate water but i really think it was very easy to work with um and i'm excited to show you guys the entire process one thing i did want to mention as well is that the doors are super easily removable which made working on it maintaining it as well as caring for it very easy now they did send me a substrate barrier which i didn't use um it also came with door slides which i did not use and that's simply because i wanted all of the attention to be on the inside now if i were to put some sort of critter in here i would probably invest in one of their

locks or maybe even utilize the substrate barrier but right now it's just me messing in the tank so i don't have to worry about any of the stuff on the inside getting into the tracks all in all though i was super impressed with the quality of the plants that i got from josh's frog i'll make sure i put a complete build material list down in the description for you guys as well as links to this cage which retails for about 300 as well as to josh's frogs but i hope you enjoy seeing the build and we will watch this thing evolve together uh over the next few months on my channel as always thanks for the continued support let me show you how i built this since i knew i wanted to do a water feature i decided to start by gathering together a ton of supplies a bunch of manzanita and some various other woods as well as rocks and placing them to form a sort of hillside and basin i took blacks expandable foam to attach the rocks to the sides of the thing and then i took regular expanding foam to do the background and this is because it is substantially cheaper to use normal great stuff than it is the pond black foam insulate or expanding foam um for the background it wouldn't really matter so much because i knew i was going to be covering it with silicone and coconut choir but between the rocks where it would be potentially visible i wanted that darker color so i saved myself a bunch of money by using just the regular grade stuff i then played around with some of the hardscape it would have been about 20 minutes so there was a skin on the phone but it was still soft on the inside and this allowed me to wedge some of the driftwood pieces into the side and have them stay secure without making a giant mess i also pushed a coconut basket into a few spots of the vision tank in order to be able to plant in them later and this is what it looked like pre-carving i would go on to edit a lot of the wood placement i then carved all the foam and this took a deceptively long time i initially tried to start out with a dremel but that made an

enormous mess so i just went to a razor blade and it's important to remove all of the shiny surface of the foam so that the silicone you apply later will have a better surface i also carved out some holes and some deeper valleys in order to place plants later as well and this is what i ended up with after my initial carve at this point if you saw any major holes or anything you could go back and refill them should you want to the silicone and coconut will cover all of the little tiny air bubbles so that's not a big deal i did drill a hole through the pot that i placed up in the corner just so it would have some drainage i then applied a brown 100 silicone and i find it easiest to smear it around with my hands this is kind of time sensitive because you don't want it to be super thick but you also don't want it to cure before you can apply the coconut choir i used a just brick of coconut choir that i rehydrated and then let dry out and after i had applied the silicone everywhere i just sprinkled it on and then pressed it in gently with my hands you do need to do this part in sections because the silicone will cure pretty quickly this was a very ambitious section and luckily it worked out i'd never done this particular procedure before so it was a bit of a learning curve and with applying the great stuff to the plastic of this you really do have to lay it on its sides this was after i did the other sides and applied some choir you can see that there's still some detail work that needs to be done but you can see how the silicone and coconut really did cover all of those nooks and crannies so you really want to over carve if you want any definition to that i then went back in and did the detail work this time because it was standing on its back i had to throw the coconut onto it which worked okay i also went back and touched up some spots where all of the coconut had fallen off i also took more of the black expanding foam for my waterfall feature and just secured those rocks a bit

better you have to let the great stuff cure for about a day for it to really be totally done especially if you go thick so keep that in mind as you're doing this i then cut a piece of pvc drilled out the end of it and applied it to the corner of my vivarium so that if i need to drain the bottom layer of water that'll eventually be in here i have a way to do so i didn't want to add any more holes to this cage i really want the humidity to be as high as possible i then moved it into my living room cut a piece of foam to fit over the little power head within the basket cut some screen this is just window screen black window screen to fit over that basket as well because some of the coconut does fall off and i didn't want it clogging up the filter i then tested the waterfall i probably should have done this sooner luckily for me it worked out all right i did end up adding more stone into the water feature later but i'll show you that then i then took lecca um which is uh clay balls basically and covered the bottom of the tank with that and this will help um keep the humidity up within the terrarium or vivarium i also covered it with window screen and this keeps the substrate out of the water section so it doesn't get nasty over time uh it also means if you need to change the subject substrate you can lift out the window screen it's kind of a pain in the butt to cut it to fit i then placed in my additional rocks and wood filled the bottom of the vivarium with water put in some substrate balls that i made if you're interested in how i made those i do have a dedicated video to that this allows me to plant up on the sides of the tank with it still having a good soil substrate um i then added my abg mix uh i did get all of these materials all of the substrates from josh's frogs

i find that this mix is particularly good you could of course make your own but for the the cost analysis i feel like it makes more sense to buy it from someone who already makes it i then sort of pre-gamed where i wanted my plants i'll put a complete plant list in the description all of these plants for the most part came from josh's frogs other than some that i was growing here i unwrapped all the plants making sure i was keeping everything sprayed down as i was planting and just went around and put them in the viv and this is what it looked like after the preliminary planting i then took some hair pins cut off the legs of them so that they were shorter and used that shorter little clip to plant my plants that are going into the walls of the tank because it has the spray foam back you can pin them on with these and it's a really cheap and easy way to do so i do a similar procedure when i'm doing carpets in planted aquariums so i gave it a try here too you can buy pins but i don't see the point when i those are something i already had and i could just cut them down to size so this is what it looked like after the primary planting i wanted to let it sit for at least 24 hours and observe the waterfall see if i needed to make any adjustments see if it was leaking before i uh continued on with my planting now it has a lot of growing to do at this point but i'm pretty pleased with how it looks i think it's going to be really lush i also added in some locally collected small pine cones some more detail rocks and a little bit of moss and some wassertang that i had already growing emergent i did have to order some more moss from josh's frogs uh i thought i had more that i was growing than i did so um that will be being added here shortly as well but i'm i'm pretty pleased that you can't see the basin that the waterfall is subtle that there's a lot of dimension to the planting and then i just added the culture of springtails to help keep

everything healthy they'll eat any decaying plant matter or fungus up next i added about a quart of this moss that i got from josh's frogs mainly to the bottom of the vivarium but also on the top of some of the substrate balls and around the waterfall feature i'm currently misting this every day i could have incorporated misting system but i didn't have any experience with them to know which products are best and i really wasn't completely sure that i was going to like this in my living room so i didn't want to invest a ton of money initially and it's pretty easy with the waterfall feature and the amount of humidity in that substrate to keep that background hydrated um i'm not against adding critters to this vivarium but that's where you guys come in i really need your help in helping me figure out what would work some of the criteria that i have are that i don't want it to be particularly labor intensive to feed as i do plan to travel quite a lot on river adventures this year um also there's that open water feature so it would have to be something that wouldn't drown let me know what you guys think down in the comments below i had a really great time doing this setup and i wanted to thank josh's frogs as well as vision cages for sponsoring this content i think it was a really great time i really like the products and i was pleasantly surprised at how it turned out uh if you guys like content like this make sure you give it a thumbs up and share it so that i know and i will see you in the next video  

About Rachel O'Leary

Rachel O’Leary is a mother of 3, a loving wife, and an unmistakable personality at conventions and clubs around the country. A life-long fish keeper, her interests range from micro fish to monsters, with a focus on invertebrates and dwarf species. Rachel has spent the last 15 years studying invertebrate husbandry, aquascaping, and breeding practices. Rachel's fishroom consists of 60-100 tanks ranging from 10 to 220 gallons. A passionate educator, Rachel travels to lecture nationally and internationally for Aquarium Clubs and Conventions.

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