What's your ideal glass terrarium for tropical pitchers?
Hey guys. I recently started cutting glass as a new hobby, considering I've been into keeping reptiles and amphibians in vivariums since I was a kid. My first couple of terrariums I built were Euro-style (restricted top ventilation with sliding glass front and low front ventilation), and I'm trying to figure out if there is anything anyone wishes for from a terrarium perspective (not considering adding electronics) that they don't find available. I'll probably eventually get around to considering the addition of small computer fans, but I believe ventilation might already be sufficient to hold humidity without stagnating the air (like traditional aquaria do).
I'm not as interested in Sarracenia as plants for these terraria, and I'm still fairly new to tropical pitchers and testing my ability to keep them with a couple of small Nepenthes. They're doing well while sharing the 1 foot cube I built, but I'd imagine once the warm season comes around, they'll quickly outgrow that. You more experienced growers might have a better understanding of the demands of these plants and be able to share with me some of your ideas on how to better house them indoors, while also trying to make an attractive structure in which to showcase the plants.
I'm currently in the planning stages to redo my lowland grow area, so I've done a bit of searching and thinking. If your looking for anything sub 36X18X18 there are plenty of options on the market right now, and if your willing to wait for the once or twice a year sales they are not priced that bad. Over 36" long or over 18" deep and the market completely dries up unless you have a custom shop local. Please correct me and link a produced 48" X 24" X 24" Exo-terra type that I could get in TX.
From the vivariums I've made or fish tanks/Exo-terra's I've converted I've been leaving a 1" or so vent on the top/back of the setup, so a sliding vent would be an improvement to allow for more control.
I've seen really complicated built vivariums and for me its a waste of resources that could be spent elsewhere. The basic glass box with a 4-12" water reservoir, sliding glass doors with an adjustable vent on the back/top. Sub 48" X 24" you can buy the black aquarium frames and add them for a better look if your glasswork/siliconing is not attractive.
From my research and pricing, building an all glass version of the above would be VERY expensive, so I'm looking into a glass/plywood hybrid box.
It's really not all that tough to build something to suit your own needs. I guess each of us has our own thing that we'd look for in a terrarium/vivarium, and yours seems to be size. With patience and a decent idea of where to look for it, you can get 1/4" glass for free. I just scored 2 sheets at roughly 4'x5' just last week, which I turned into something slightly larger than an 18"x18"x24" with lots of glass left over. My specific aim with this thread is not to figure out how large I can go. Rather, I'm interested in any ideas people think might be lacking in terms of the Exo-Terra or aquarium style enclosures when it comes to showcasing a single plant. Obviously, functionality with respect to the plant is first and foremost. I see photos of enclosures with complicated electric fan setups and wonder if it's overkill with other electricity-free ventilation options out there. I've got an idea of something I'm going to try the next time I find some free glass, so we'll see how I manage to make it turn out once I get around to it.
As for large custom terrariums, you don't necessarily have to go local. A friend of mine builds terrariums for a living and he put together a 2'x2'x4' terrarium for some geckos of mine a few years ago, which is still my favorite setup I have. I know he's built bigger. I'm not saying it's very economical, though. Depending on where you are, there is also the possibility of checking out vendors at local reptile shows. Being in the Carolinas, I'm fortunate to be around quite a few. Once you know the vendors, you can contact them to inquire about custom builds. Depending on your level of experience putting together a glass enclosure of your own, it might just be worth it to get a local glass shop to cut the glass to size for you, then you just have to put it together. 1/4" glass is $6 per square foot from my nearest shop, which isn't unreasonably expensive, if you ask me.
The only area I've ever changed on an Exo-Terra is the mess top and I just replaced that with a glass one. I have most of my vivariums set up without fans but when I need a fan no vent design would be able to replace the purpose of that fan, it would have to be there. For examples I have a high humidity setup (that needs constant 80%+ humidity) with some plants that also want to dry out every few days while keeping 80%+ humidity. The easiest way to achieve this is with a simple fan.
I'd love to see any examples of what your thinking about, I should be building something in the Spring and I'm always looking to borrow better working solutions.
I've been to enough local reptile shows down here to know they are really just snake shows with a few others thrown in so they can call it a reptile show and are not worth the pricey admission, I wish it wasn't so but they are sad unless your after a snake. There just isn't much of a reptile following down here anymore.
When I looked into glass prices they were closer to $7-8 per sqft.
Thanks for the input. But since I like to keep the electrical cost of my many terraria minimized, I'll go without the fans until my experience dictates the need. Once I have things hooked up to my MistKing system, I imagine the intermittent spritzes should keep air flowing nicely. Time will tell.
I have a crudely drawn idea for a single-plant display, but I'd like to see it come to fruition before sending off the idea. Considering that's the case, I can understand why others might not be eager to come forward with new ideas. I guess if there's something easy enough that's marketable, it's not worth just throwing it out there to have it ripped off.
Reptile shows are similar here in the Carolinas. They really died off in the early to mid 2000s. You rarely get wholesalers/importers bringing in unique animals, which is bittersweet. There are more CB animals being offered. Unfortunately, similar to your experience, the shows are heavily weighted toward the most popular animals, which can be found in less variety at pet stores everywhere now. The number of tables with corn snakes, ball pythons, and red tail boas has always made me question how those people can even make a buck. But some of them do. Same thing goes with leopard geckos. They're the most common lizard, maybe followed by chameleons. Still too many iguanas. I'll occasionally get a view of some interesting new imports, but they're overpriced and not as commonly seen on the tables anymore. The shows are still fairly popular overall, there was just very poor management in the past, and the current management seems to go for insane table prices, high door prices, and more frequent shows, which has unfortunately made the overall experience rather dull and less and less fruitful for the smaller vendors, which just don't seem to want to show up anymore. If they do show up, they're splitting tables and not getting a name for themselves.
I guess your prices aren't too different from mine, just slightly more expensive. But considering what you'll spend on a brand new Exo-Terra from the pet store, building your own has financial advantages, as well as potential for functional advantages, which is what's driving me right now.
If you want it today then Exo-terra pricing is high, but if your willing to wait for the 1-2 time a year sales you can get them a lot cheaper. Black Friday is the best example, 2013 the 36 X 18 X 18 was $99 in 2012 it was $89. At $5 per sqft that would be around $90 for the glass so on black Friday that footprint is actually even if not slightly cheaper than the glass + silicone.
The 36 X 18 X 36 you can get for $300 pretty easily year round but the glass at $5 per sqft would run almost $160 + silicone + time. That Exo-terra is a good deal imo, if you wanted anything 3 feet tall.
The $1 a gallon sales really hurt custom vivarium builds also, if I can buy a 10g tank for $10 and turn it upright on its side then just order a vertical conversion kit (google it if you don't know what I'm talking about). Why go through all the work for anything close to that size? The 40 breeders are another popular size, you get a lot of space for $40. Some people turn them on a side and add on a front opening door for under $100 easily.
The point I'm trying to make is that right now there are a ton of ready made options out there for the common footprints, what we are missing is the really odd or large. I'm not sure how many people would pay more for a perfect vent that removed the need for a fan since there are so many other options so easy to get, and a simple euro style vent (one of the front, one on the top) works so well as is.
If your idea works and is better than the known ones IT WILL GET copied unless it overly complicated, no way around it. Once you build one if it works someone will copy it and post a photo and away we go! The reason Exo-terra and the like are not copied is that they are really too complicated for the average person to build, all that molded plastic. But people build sliding door versions all the time.
Without knowing what your trying to do I really can't be of more help, I'm not trying to be negative but unless you really have reinvented the wheel or enjoy what your doing it will be a long road for any retail.
I do want to ask, why are you trying to build a vivarium for a single plant?
It takes some digging but there is a TON of information on these forums http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/
Not trying to reinvent the wheel. I'm just not familiar enough with the CP community to know if there is any simple functionality to add to a terrarium that isn't already out there.
I'm fully aware of the Exo-Terra/Zoo-Med varieties of terrariums. I bought one of the 18"x18"x24" models when they first rolled out (ca. 2004?) and have enjoyed the design, but coming from a large, arboreal gecko keeping background, 18x18x24 leaves a bit to be desired. I've always fantasized owning a huge terrarium, and currently the largest I own is a 2'x2'x4' built buy my aforementioned friend. Aside from the pain it is to move around, I really love it. If anything, I'd really like something even larger...though that's just getting to the point of being impractical until I'm solid enough to not be moving around every few years.
I realize we're in the age where no simple, good idea goes unreplicated. I didn't want to give the idea that this was to be a financial venture either. Just developing a new hobby of cutting glass and putting stuff together. I didn't know if the experience of people here left something more to be desired from typical terrarium designs.
I'm trying to build a vivarium for a [technically] single plant because I don't have an extensive collection like others do here. I've been fortunate enough until recently to live and work in the land of Sarracenia and Drosera (slightly outside of the land of Dionaea), where I was afforded the luxury of having enough wild plants around to squash my desire to keep them. My collection is small, primarily Carolina natives, and only recently expanded to a couple of Nepenthes. I simply thought it would be nice to combine hobbies of creating terraria/vivaria for display purposes with now growing certain plants to make something that suited a single Nepenthes. I'm not into growing a huge collection. I'd simply like something simple, yet nice looking, yet fully able to suit the needs of the plant. I realize the cage itself isn't the only part of the equation. I just have access to occasional free sheets of 1/4" glass, the tools, and the desire to put things together. I'm not looking to compete for the practicality of buying Exo-Terras on sale. I'm simply trying to combine hobbies while picking the brains of the experts to see if there are gaps to fill, since I'm lacking the long-term plant-keeping experience.
I don't know if I've made myself any clearer by this point, but I'm not thinking you're being negative. It just seems that you don't think that someone with the right tools could put together anything to appease the needs of a CP owner any better than a typical terrarium/aquarium/Exo-Terra.