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Vivarium Design and build ..


Back to the Main Vivarium Page ..

Let 's talk now about the misting system plumbing works .. Actually all misting systems come with flexible tubes and pipes exceeding no more than 5 mm outer diameter it can be fixed simply by small fittings .. and the sprinklers ( Nozzles ) can be fit on the glass , acrylic or wood after making a small hole ( see Part 3 ) .

We will take a sample of a system which widely spread among the hobbyists it is name a Mist King - The world leader in Vivarium misting system ..

You can purchase a complete kit which come with every thing you want and start to built your own system .. 

see the videos for more information ..

Other system Not different to much about Mist King System

2- Misting system .

The instant when the pump stops, the pressurized water inside the tubing has nowhere to go and will cause your nozzles to drip a little.


Once pressure drops where the checkvalves in the nozzles can engage, the nozzle will close and dripping will stop. Nozzles, will never drip for an extended period of time after misting is done. Nevertheless you should expect more dripping than from a system equipped with a ZipDrip valve.

MistKing Connection Types


courtesy to : www. Mistking . com 


Some people are confused how a system is connected with a ZipDrip vs without, why there are all T nozzles vs last one terminating in an L nozzle. What is a backbone system and why would I need it. The next 3 examples and diagrams should answer all these questions for you



Systems that do not have a ZipDrip valve connected terminate with a final elbow misting assembly or a T-misting assembly that has been plugged. If you are connecting a single or multiple nozzles the idea will be the same. For illustration purposes, we are showing an install with 3 nozzles.



Systems that include a ZipDrip valve form a loop allowing rapid release of pressure that is trapped in the lines when misting stops.


Remember that misting system pumps run between 60-125psi depending on how many nozzles you are using and if the pump’s bypass is engaged during misting.

Remember our systems are all modular, therefore your system will probably look totally different, but the diagram should give you an idea on how to connect things together. You can install your system in a greenhouse, a barn, ZOO, rack, etc but the idea will be the same. 


  • For simplicity fittings are not shown on any of the diagrams. Remember when connecting tubing:

  • 3/8" to 3/8" you will need a 3/8" fitting

  • 3/8" to 1/4" you will need a reducing fitting

  • 1/4" to 1/4" you will need a 1/4" fitting

Nozzles already contain the built in checkvalves, which greatly reduce post mist drip, nevertheless little dripping is expected. A system equipped with a ZipDrip valve instantly releases pressure from the tubing, resulting in a clean finish with zero … ZIP…DRIP! This is a great option in places that are not drained and only benefit from the added mist and not dripping. 




In larger systems (20 nozzles+) the system may bottleneck on the input and on the output as the 1/4" tubing may not be able to handle the demands of the misting system. For this reason the pump has to be supplied with larger tubing. It also needs to properly supply all the misting assemblies with water.


The green line in the diagram refers to the system's "backbone" of 3/8" diameter tubing. From there you can run your 1/4" connections.



Plan accordingly and figure out the system before you cut and connect things together.



Pipes can be cut and inserted simply .. Also can be extracted  by press on the pressure ring around the pipe with fitting . 

MistKing System Overview .. 

mistking wiring set up. 

3- Fog system  :

Dilecering the fog to the vivarium need larger pipes  similar those used in drainage .. but this time will transfer the fog to the vivarium ..


You have two choises even by using a ready made device which generate the fog and come with enough pipes to transfer the fog to the vivarium ..


Or you can build your own fog transfer system .. 

DIY Fogging System :


courtesy to : www.vivarium works .com 





Product Review :   Swell Fogging System 


courtesy to : 


Of our own design, these Swell Reptiles Fogging Systems help to maintain fantastic humidity levels in your rainforest terrarium at a fantastic price considering their practical value.


Product Information :


The perfect way to ensure optimum humidity levels in your rainforest reptile's terrarium, the Swell Fogging System is made to the highest standards and favours better in price than many other branded variants.


Rainforest reptiles like chameleons, geckos and frogs need a higher humidity level than will be found anywhere else in your house, and while this can sometimes be achieved with a pump spray, this method can be laborious, time consuming and requires your almost constant attention - not great!


Instead you can opt for the Swell Fogging System - perfect at providing a brilliant mist in your rainforest terrarium and keeping your reptile happier than ever!


The fogger is more than capable of increasing terrarium humidity levels by 100%, giving your reptile a regular dose of moisture in their environment in the form of a mist rather than a potentially mess-making rainstorm.


In warm terrariums, it will cloud up, producing a beautiful and eerie effect in your reptile's habitat, and more importantly, it features dry-run protection, meaning that your fogger won't become damaged should you forget to top up its' water levels every now and again.


It comes with a generous 180cm of tubing to help delivery to mist, as well as boasting an impressive 300ml per hour water consumption for a real good soaking should you need to give your reptile just that, all selected by the adjustable output.




Before You Start:


Fogging systems are a lot of fun and really give a unique look to the vivarium. However they do not work to replace a true misting system. The water particle size produced by ultrasonic foggers is not large enough or in a sufficient abundance to properly moisten anything but the smallest of vivariums. As it may look like the humidity is increasing, the amount of water actually available to your plants, mosses, and animals is quite limited and often merely condenses on the glass. This method is presented to allow you to design a unique look and supplement to a misting system, but NOT to replace it. A fogger alone will not be enough. This especially includes the in tank submersible foggers.


Safety :


You will be using PVC tubing and electrically-powered devices that use water. Use common sense.


Materials Needed :


Ultrasonic Air Humidifier (non-ultrasonic versions will not work)

1"-1.5" PVC tubing couplers

Plastic flexible tubing. ("Bilge Pump Tubing" at Home Depot)

Electronic Timer


Details :


emove the plastic top fog directional piece from the ultrasonic humidifier. This usually takes only a little force to snap off.


Insert a 1.5" pvc tubing coupler. Then insert into this coupler a 1" pvc tubing coupler. This will then allow your flexible bilge pump tubing to connect to your humidifier.


Now wherever your tubing ends, out will stream a billowing fog that can quickly fill the volume of even the largest vivariums. 





Tips :


By planning ahead with your build, you can insert PVC tubing with holes drilled in it into your background. Then when connecting your fogger to this embedded piece,  fog will stream out of the holes/cracks of your background. It is a very unique look, especially if pumped out near the water level of your tank as the fog will roll and cover the water first.


Make sure there are no spots where your tube can slag and begin to collect water as this can fill up and plug your fog stream.


It is very important to use distilled or DeIonized water only in your fogger reservoir as tap or spring water will contain solutes that will adhere to your ultrasonic membrane and prevent it from working. If this happens consult the directions of the humidifier.



In tank submersible foggers can be fun if used right. They work best in distilled water as solutes build up on their ultrasonic vibrating membrane rapidly. If you do want to use one of these, consider having a small container inside your vivarium that separates water and soil from getting into it. This way you can add distilled water into it and extend the life of your fogger. Personally I don't use these anymore as they tend to cost more than a much larger DIY system and have a much shorter life.



1" pvc coupler inside 1.5" pvc coupler, covered in silicone sealant and put into the humidifier. 

In-tank fogger.

Use only distilled water to avoid buildup on your membrane, resulting in less fog.

Some Videos : 

My new vivarium - fog system

How to build fog machine for vivarium!!

vivarium fog

4- Water features systems .

Waterfalls can play a reakistic role and add anatural looking to your vivarium .. it is not impossible or diffecult to do that .. if we know some basics 


Building a Vivarium Waterfall :


courtesy to : www.reptiles 



A waterfall is certainly one of the most attractive and useful fixtures that can be installed in a vivarium. Companies are now making prefabricated waterfalls, but they can't match the beauty and authenticity of real rock or the colors of other decorative rock used in your vivarium. With a little time, effort and a bit of artistic vision, you can create a real-rock waterfall that will match other rock used in your vivarium.


Rock in a Vivarium : 


Rock that is safe for use in aquaria and moist vivaria can be used to construct a natural-rock waterfall. Good rock includes most hard sandstones; most metamorphic rocks, such as marble; and most hard, dense igneous rocks, such as granite.





Pictured is the waterfall described in this column, installed in the pond section (right side) of a tropical forest vivarium.

When choosing waterfall rock, avoid rocks with potential toxic qualities, such as those with a rusty, orange or red appearance indicative of iron; copper-reds or greens suggesting copper; yellows indicating sulphur; and any with a heavy salt content. Unless you're up on rocks, refrain from using any rock that is overly light, porous, bubbly, chalky, crumbles easily, has unnatural colors or a metallic sheen. Some limestones can break down in moist settings and cause elevated pH levels.


I use Mexican bowl lava in tropical forest vivaria. I'm sure it is possible to find similar volcanic rock in rock yards (lawn-and-garden outlets) around the country. Bowl lava is dense volcanic rock that was full of gas pockets and bubbles as it solidified, leaving behind numerous open areas within the rock. It is very attractive, rugged-looking and full of holes, nooks and crannies. Some pieces have caves, natural canyonlike channels and large bowl-like depressions, hence the name. Bowl lava is useful for creating little ponds or water holes, streams and waterfalls, as well as caves and hills in the vivarium landscape.


The waterfall described in this column is a relatively simple one, for a small vivarium pond, made from two pieces of rock. You might find one large, perfectly shaped piece that can be used by itself as a waterfall. Usually, though, it is necessary to put two or more pieces together to create a waterfall of the appropriate size and shape.


The top piece has a "cave" with a hole at the back. This makes it perfect for attaching a tube from a recirculating pump. The water is pumped into the cave. The cave fills with water, which then spills out and falls into the vivarium pond. The cave rock is attached to a hill-shaped base rock, elevating it a few inches above the surface level of the 6-inch-deep vivarium pond. If you can't find a piece with a convenient hole of appropriate size, you can chip a small hole to make it larger or drill one with a masonry drill bit. This rock is easily cracked or broken, so be careful.


Vivarium Material Checklist :


The equipment and materials you will need include: disposable latex gloves; a disposable one-half to 1-gallon mixing container; an old spoon for mixing; some quick-setting, high-strength, nonshrinking grout/cement (typically used for concrete and masonry repair); some concrete coloring (either powdered or liquid - use brown for this volcanic rock and black and tan to match secondary colors in the rock); a couple tubes of InstaCrete or similar epoxy putty (AquaMend is another one); a couple levels (small and very small); tools for forming and texturing the grout to match the rock surface, including small steel and/or stiff nylon brushes, an old fork, old screwdriver, chopstick, old pencil, etc.; paint brushes of various sizes; large tweezers; half-inch PVC thread/slip pipe fitting; and a pipe clamp for half-inch pipe.


Most small aquarium recirculating pumps use half-inch tubing. If your pump uses a different size tubing, adjust the size of the fitting and clamp accordingly. Depending on the snugness of the tubing fit to the PVC fitting and/or pump, you may not need the pipe clamp at all, or you may need one or two.


You should have a large, level table on which to construct your waterfall. A lazy Susan or other rotating surface is also useful, because it eliminates the need for lifting and moving a heavy waterfall - any side can be worked on with a quick, easy spin.


Making the Waterfall For Your Vivarium


Carefully measure the inside dimensions of your vivarium pond area. Begin experimenting with various combinations of rocks until you find a design that appeals to you and will fit into the allocated space. You can position it relatively close to a back or side tank wall, but leave plenty of room at the front for a decent open water area for plants and aquatic animals, and so that splashing water does not get all over the front tank glass. Also leave at least 2 inches of space between the waterfall and the edge of the pond so that splashing water does not waterlog the terrestrial area.


Be sure that your finished waterfall is tall enough so that the bottom edge of the rock lip, from which the water falls, is a few inches above the pond surface, but not so tall that it crowds the tank top or interferes with your vivarium tree branches or other plantings. You can create a simple waterfall in which water just flows or bubbles from a hole in the rock and drops into the pond. Or you can create a more elaborate waterfall, such as one that has a top basin that fills with water and overflows into the pond, or one with a streamlike channel so that the water flows a short distance before dropping into the pond. Use as many pieced-together rocks as necessary to achieve the desired effect, and so it looks like one solid rock formation.


As you create your design, be sure to leave an appropriately sized space under or behind your waterfall for the recirculating pump you have chosen. Also, be sure you have positioned the hole for your PVC fitting (where your pump tubing will enter your waterfall) someplace at the back or underneath. This way it can remain unseen or be hidden later by plants or other rocks, and it can be easily attached with the tubing to the pump.


After you have picked your rocks and created the design you want, use the InstaCrete putty to initially attach your chosen pieces of rock together. Be sure to position your rocks carefully and use levels of appropriate sizes to ensure that any water-pooling areas are level, so water will not run out anywhere you don't want it to. Make sure that the drip edge is also level, so water flows evenly and attractively into the pond.


To use the putty, break off a piece as large as you need to use in one spot to attach two pieces of rock. Work the putty in your hands to thoroughly mix the inner putty with the outer layer of catalyst. This putty hardens rapidly when mixed, so work fast. As soon as it is mixed, press it onto the surface of one rock, then press the other rock onto the first. Work the putty firmly around on all sides, in all spaces, cracks and nooks where the rocks meet, to make sure they are thoroughly attached. In about 15 or 20 minutes the putty should be hard and the rocks securely bonded together. However, wait another hour or so to allow for full setting. Once the putty is fully set, you can attach another piece of rock or move on to the grouting.


After you have connected all of your rock pieces with the putty, position your PVC pipe fitting with the threaded end on the inside of the waterfall, where water will exit, with the slip end extending out and down in the appropriate direction to connect to the tubing from your pump. Secure the fitting in the hole with putty, and make sure it is sealed all around and that the fitting opening is not blocked with putty.


Grouting a Vivarium:


After the rocks and PVC fitting are all attached and the putty has thoroughly hardened, use the quick-setting grout to cover and fill in around the attached areas, to hide the putty, create a thicker and stronger attachment, and make the entire collection of rocks look like one natural rock formation. Use the latex gloves to protect your hands from the grout. You may also want to wear a dust mask to help prevent inhalation of any grout. Use the disposable container and old spoon to mix the grout. You will probably need to mix several small batches, mixing only as much grout at a time as you can use. Once mixed with water, it will begin to harden within 15 minutes.


Use a little of the brown cement color in the grout to make it about the same color as the main base color of the rock. You may want to mix a very small trial amount of the grout, so that you can learn how much to use to make your grout the correct color.


To mix the grout, put some of the dry grout into the container, then add some of the color and mix thoroughly. Next, you'll want to add water, a little bit at a time, which you'll mix continually, until you get a claylike consistency that you can plaster onto the rock with your fingers. Take gobs of the grout and put it on the areas where the rocks are connected, thoroughly pushing it into the spaces, crevices and all areas you want to hide or fill up, gradually smoothing it out to create natural-looking surfaces. (Do not wash the grout wastewater down your household drain, as it can coat and clog your pipes.)

Texturing and Coloring a Vivarium:


The grout will quickly harden, so, while it is still pliable, use your various texturing tools to create holes, nooks, crannies and a rough texture that looks like the rest of the rock. Repeat this process with more batches of grout until all of the connecting areas have been filled in and textured.


Don't forget the area around your PVC fitting. If it is in an area where it can be seen, you want the water hole to look like a natural opening. At this time, you can also use the grout to fill in any small holes that might allow water to leak where you don't want it to, and to patch and strengthen any cracks (weak areas) in the rocks.


After you have finished your last area of grout, allow the waterfall to sit for an hour or so to make sure all areas are completely dry and set. Then take your waterfall outside and thoroughly wash it with a hose to remove any grout dust and loose particles. Allow it to dry a little and bring it back inside. Now you want to mix small batches of grout slip (runny grout), about the consistency of thick poster paint, adding your cement colors to make various colors that match some of the secondary colors of the rock (black, dark brown, light tan, etc.).


Using your selection of brushes, daub and stipple the different colors over the grouted areas to create speckles, spots and patches of colors that look like those occurring over the rest of the rock. To make them blend, you can extend the stippling lightly over the rest of the rock. You want to end up with a rock formation 

that looks natural, with the connecting areas of grout as indistinguishable from the rest of the rock as possible. Allow the waterfall to dry again for about an hour and then give it a final washing.


Testing and Installation of a Vivarium :


To test your waterfall and make sure it functions the way you want prior to placing it in your vivarium, set it outside on a level surface and place the end of your garden hose over the protruding end of your PVC fitting, creating a seal with your hand as best you can. Turn on the water at a very low flow rate, about what you expect your recirculating pump will produce. The water should flow out and spill off the waterfall as expected. If it doesn't, you can adjust the level of the waterfall by attaching a small piece of rock(s) underneath in any area(s) necessary to tilt the waterfall one way or another. You can also use more grout to raise an edge of the spill lip or plug an area as necessary to even out the water flow.


To install the waterfall in the vivarium pond, place your sand on the bottom of the pond and set the waterfall in place, settling it into the sand until it is stable and positioned where you want, facing the way you want and level. Place your pump under or behind the waterfall according to your plan, and attach it to the PVC fitting using your pump tubing.


If the tubing connection to either the pump or PVC fitting is not very snug, you will need to use a pipe clamp to secure it. Fill the pond with water to the appropriate level. Be sure to use treated or aged tap water or clean pond or aquarium water. Do not use distilled or reverse osmosis purified water, unless you have added the appropriate minerals to bring it up to adequate hardness. Have a container of extra water on hand, as you'll need to add a little more once the pump is running to keep the water level where it should be. Feed the pump cord out of the vivarium, and plug it in and turn it on. If your pump is adjustable, adjust the flow to the desired intensity.


Allow the waterfall to run for a day or two before adding plants and animals to the pond. Remember that your vivarium pond will function like any small aquarium, so follow the appropriate procedures for the addition and acclimation of plants and animals.


Congratulations are in order, because you've just transformed your vivarium from the commonplace to the sublime with the addition of a waterfall.

how to make Terrarium waterfall



Pumps and Waterfalls play a vital role in any habitat. Not only do they add tremendous visual appeal to any terrarium or vivarium, but Pumps and Waterfalls are a great way to provide fresh, clean water for your pet reptile or amphibian. It is important to maintain a high level of water quality in any Terrarium and Vivarium Waterfall with frequent water changes. Pumps and Waterfalls also provide aeration and water circulation, lending to a healthier, and cleaner, environment for your pet reptiles and amphibians. Pumps and Waterfalls are always a great value at Josh's Frogs!




Waterfalls play a vital role in any habitat. Not only do they add tremendous visual appeal to any terrarium or vivarium, but Waterfalls are a great way to provide fresh, clean water for your pet reptile or amphibian. It is important to maintain a high level of water quality in any Waterfall with frequent water changes. Waterfalls also provide aeration and water circulation, lending to a healthier, and cleaner, environment for your pet reptiles and amphibians.




How to Make a Waterfall in a Vivarium

Custom Waterfall Vivarium Setup

Terrarium and Vivarium Waterfalls play a vital role in any habitat. Not only do they add tremendous visual appeal to any terrarium or vivarium, but Terrarium and Vivarium Waterfalls are a great way to provide fresh, clean water for your pet reptile or amphibian. It is important to maintain a high level of water quality in any Terrarium and Vivarium Waterfall with frequent water changes. Terrarium and Vivarium Waterfalls also provide aeration and water circulation, lending to a healthier, and cleaner, environment for your pet reptiles and amphibians.

Paludarium Waterfalls are designed to operate in relatively shallow water, and are ideal for use in semi-aquatic enclosures. Ideal for a wide variety of aquatic or semi-aquatic reptiles and amphibians, such as African clawed frogs, newts, salamanders, turtles, and fire bellied toads, Paludarium Waterfalls from Josh's Frogs are guaranteed to be a great value.

  • Pump included

  • Natural look integrates in any type of terrarium

  • Stimulates natural drinking behavior in lizards (ex. chameleons)

  • Easy to clean

  • Increases humidity levels

  • Very stable, not easily tipped over by larger reptiles

  • Fully encased water tank and pump

  • Made from hard, non-porous and non-toxic resin; prevents the development of harmful bacteria.

  • 110 Volts

  • Compatible with Exo Terra Fogger

  • 110 Volts 

  • This measures: 10"x10.6"x10.6"

  • This waterfall is intended for INDOOR HOUSEHOLD USE ONLY, NOT for commercial use. For use with FRESHWATER only.

  • Carefully examine the appliance after installation. It should not be plugged in if there is water on parts not intended to be wet.

  •  If the pump shows any sign of abnormal water leakage, immediately unplug it from the power source. D. Do not operate any appliance if it has a damaged cord or plug, or if it is malfunctioning or if it is dropped or damaged in any manner. The power cord of this appliance cannot be replaced; if the cord is damaged, the appliance should be discarded. Never cut the cord.

  • To avoid the possibility of the appliance plug or electrical socket getting wet, position the unit to one side of a wall mounted socket to prevent water from dripping onto the socket or plug. A “drip-loop” should be arranged. The “driploop” is that part of the cord below the level of the socket, or the connector if an extension cord is used, to prevent water from traveling along the cord and coming into contact with the socket. If the plug or socket does get wet, DO NOT unplug the cord. Disconnect the fuse or circuit breaker that supplies power to the appliance. Then unplug and examine for the presence of water in the socket.

  •  It is suggested that this appliance and any other submersed appliances be equipped with a leakage circuit breaker. Warning: For North American market only. To prevent electric shock, supply electrical power through a wall mounted Residual Current Device (GFI-Ground Fault Current Interrupter) with a residual operating current not exceeding 30mA. If the appliance shows any sight of current leakage or if the GFI switches off, disconnect the power supply from mains and remove the appliance from the water.

  •  Always unplug an appliance from an outlet when not in use, before putting on or taking off parts, and before cleaning. Never yank cord to pull the plug from the outlet. Grasp the plug and pull to disconnect. 6. Disconnect the plug of this and any other submersed appliance before placing hands in the water.

  • The pump must be immersed in water (maximum water temperature 35°C / 95°F). The pump must not run dry.

  • Do not install or store the appliance where it will be exposed to the weather or to temperatures below freezing.

  • Do not expose the appliance under sunlight or place at low temperature for a long period of time.

  •  If an extension cord is necessary, a cord with a proper rating should be used. A cord rated for less amperes or watts than the appliance rating may overheat

  • Water Treatment : The water should be treated with Exo Terra® Aquatize to remove chlorine and heavy metals. If the water is used as drinking water by the terrarium inhabitants, extra calcium can be added by using Exo Terra® Calcium. Adding Exo Terra® Biotize will help to keep the water cleaner longer, as well as promoting necessary beneficial bacteria and reducing odors associated with decaying waste.

Exo Terra Pebble Waterfall with Pump (Large)


The pebble design of the Exo Terra Waterfall brings the natural look of a small, cascading stream into your living room. Often used by reptiles and amphibians to hydrate, these little waterfalls and streams are an important feature in a every tropical environment. The cascading water stimulates the natural drinking behavior of lizards (like: chameleons, anoles, water dragons, etc...)



Product Review : 


courtesy to : www.josh's frogs . com 

How-To Use :


Cleaning the pump: 1. Unplug the pump and remove it from the Waterfall. 2. Disassemble the complete impeller cavity by first removing the intake screen, and then the impeller cover. 3. Lift out the impeller and remove from unit completely. 4. Thoroughly clean the impeller to remove slime, dirt or debris. 5. Place the impeller back into the impeller cavity. Replace the impeller cover, then replace the intake screen.


Note: If you are using well water, or if you have hard water, run the pump for a few minutes in a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar to help remove calcium deposit buildup before rinsing thoroughly and replacing the pump in the Waterfall.


Caution: Do not use detergents or other chemical cleaners.




No Flow: • Check if the power supply is on. Check the circuit breaker or try another outlet to ensure the pump is getting electrical power. Note: always disconnect pump from electrical supply before handling the pump. • If power supply is working but pump is not, then it may be clogged by debris. Disconnect the pump, check intake screen to ensure it is not clogged, then follow the maintenance procedures to clean impeller.


Low Flow: • Verify if flow control is set correctly • Check the Waterfall’s output tube to ensure it is not clogged by debris • Check the pump’s intake screen to ensure it is not clogged by debris. Then follow the maintenance procedures to clean impeller

Videos and photos for DIY Waterfalls in Vivariums :

26 gallon bowfront Terrarium Waterfall

Dendrobates Terrarium Vivarium with Waterfall

Please follow the Dark den here :

DIY Projects : 


DIY Mini Terrarium with Small Waterfall





This diy mini terrarium guide will explain (in detail) how to make a simple, yet awesome terrarium, along with a small waterfall that acts as a riverbed. All you need is a few supplies.

Most of this stuff I had lying around the house. You can buy the exo terra and zoo med stuff on Amazon for cheap (I linked items to the cheapest items I could find on Amazon). You can get the rest of the stuff from home depot or lowes for cheap.




First step was to gather all (or most, lol) of the materials.



Supplies Needed :


  • Tank

  • Exo Terra Mini Pump

  • Forest Bedding (one brick – expanded and 100% completely dried)

  • Great Stuff foam (one can – I used the type for large gaps)

  • GE Silicone II caulk (two large tubes)

  • Caulk gun

  • Egg Crate/Light Diffuser

  • Gorilla super glue

  • Small Jiffy Pots (bio-degradable seed starting pots @ Home Depot)

  • Fake plants (stripped off the leaves to uses as roots)

  • Small zip ties

  • Small wire cutters (works great to cut the egg crate)

  • A variety of rocks of different sizes

  • sand (I had large grain sand)

  • Terrarium plants

  • Frog moss

  • Zoo Med Hydro Balls (one bag)

  • An angled box cutter razor blade (worked great to cut/sculpt the great stuff)

  • A box of disposable gloves (used almost the whole box)

  • Thick ml plastic drop cloth (used a very small amount)

  • Thin landscape fabric (used a very small amount)

  • 2″ stiff disposable paint brush (worked great to push around the small rocks and brush off the back ground)

  • 5/8″ tubing (about 6″)

Next I built the “bones” of the terrarium. I used the egg crate to make a slope for the water to run down and a base for the floor. Its raised up and has a few supports underneath. I used zip ties to hold the pieces to together and also glued them with the Gorilla glue. I left a space for access to the pump also. This took a long time but soon figured out that using small wire cutters made it easy to just cut the egg crate with out it shattering.

Then I caulked the thick ml plastic to the floor of the river leaving about an inch of over hang. Also, I attached the frame for the pump access opening. Then I stuck the tubing through on of the holes in the egg crate being sure to leave extra sticking out to allow for foam to go around it.

Test fit the “bones” with the pump in place. NOTE: the pump access was really small and while the pump fit I almost got my hand stick in the tank a few times :rofl:. I had to cut the black lip of the tank to be able to get my tiny hand in there to access the pump and get the tubbing on it. The opening is about 2.5″ x 2.5″.

I then glued the landscape fabric to the floor on either side of the river. (Sorry must have forgotten to take a pic of that step)


Now its ready for the Great Stuff. I applied a lot and it started “melting” so just do a little at a time. At this point I cut a Jiffy pot and placed it up side down to create a cave and applied great stuff around it. Also, I took two more jiffy pots and stuck them to the great stuff where I wanted plants to be in the end. You can also see the landscape fabric in these pics (its grey). I also out lined where the soil will be to help hold it back and to make a river bank.


First coat of great stuff:

First coat of great stuff( Expanded Foam):

Once its dried (see can), you can carve out your river bank shape and I made the opening to the cave bigger.

Second coat of great stuff and touch-ups. I stuck the fake plant sticks into the great stuff but this was pointless. Toward the end of the process you can poke a hole in the dried foam with a small screw driver to locate the “roots” where you want them. Also, be sure when the screen top is on the tank there is NO room for anything to get into the pump access hole.

Some of the foam was still oozing out so I had to let it dry overnight.

During down time while things were drying I worked on the roots. I took the fake plant sticks and coved them with a decent layer of caulk then dusted it with the ground coconut bark (forest bedding) and set them aside to dry.

Once I was happy with the design it was time to get messy . Wearing gloves, I applied caulk to the foam and smeared it around with my hand being sure it wasn’t too thick or to thin. Then after wiping the access caulk off my gloves I applied the dried forest bedding to the caulk getting it in all the cracks and crevices. You can always go back and touch it up when it dries a bit.

I didn’t put forest bedding were the rocks will be, just caulk.

Note: I didn’t apply forest bedding to the river bank either, only on the right and left sides where the soil bumped up to the glass. After the caulk dried I brushed of the access with the paint brush and blew it out of the tank with an air compressor on a low setting. Next, with the same technique I used for the walls, I applied caulk to the river bottom and banks and sprinkled the large grain sand on to the caulk.



Then I built up the front of the river with larger stones at the bottom reducing the size as I went up gluing them in place with caulk. I put smaller pebbles into the gaps between the larger stones and where there was caulk showing I sprinkled sand on to it to hide it and give it a natural look. Note: make sure to not seal all front of the river completely because water needs to get thought and back to the pump. This also serves as a type of filtration. I created a little of a slope on each side of the river too so any creature can get out of the water.

For the actual river I made the bank by laying a bead of caulk then sprinkling a mix of pebbles and sand on to it then brushing sand against to it to fill any gaps where caulk may be showing.

Next I placed the rocks for the waterfall. This took a white to get right. Then glued them in place with caulk.

While the falls were drying between layers I filled under the “bones” with hydro balls. Be sure your pump is in place and working before doing this or you’ll have to vacuum the balls out and start over ops: :rofl:. You have to rinse the hydro balls before using them but make sure they are dry or they wont pour down the pump access hole. I had help tilting the tank so they filled in the bottom nicely. Also, make sure everything is dry enough so nothing falls if you tilt the tank.

Pipe Opening 

Here is the little window I carved out next to the falls.


While the falls were drying (again, after adding more rocks) I planted the terrarium with some pothos, dracena, kyoto grass, and some polka dot plant (don’t use this one if there will be animals, its mildly toxic). I also added forest bedding as the soil. You can also use aquatic plant soil. Rinse the potting soil off the plants before planting in new, safe soil. I also added some hydro balls to the small pots to help with aeration and water retention. The kyoto is actually inserted through the landscape fabric so the roots are in the water under the egg crate. I made holes in the foam and glued the “roots” in place with caulk and where the caulk oozed out I stuck some forest bedding to it to make it blend with the wall.

Had to turn it off and let it dry to make more adjustments to the flow of water.

Water trials!

Finally! All done. I added the frog moss for a finishing touch. Lastly, I cut out black paper to hide all the “guts” on the side of the glass.


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