Rate my enclosure (concept)

Have you ever immersed yourself in a project as extreme as mine?

  • Yes

    Votes: 7 87.5%
  • No

    Votes: 1 12.5%

  • Total voters
    8

Aloysius Taschse

Active Member
Location (City and/or State)
Mainly Texas
Hello fellow chelonian lovers,

I recently posted a thread about my idea to include a waterfall in Kiwi's new bioactive enclosure. I have everything planned for that, but I figured before I purchase things and start landscaping I should post a thread about what people think about my enclosure concept. I would post a picture of a design layout that I usually draw, but I couldn't do it this time. Hopefully people can give me ideas.

Before you go on, you may notice that there is a poll. I wanted to know how ambitious my project actually was, so feel free to submit results. (It may have some issues) Happy New Year's day!

The enclosure is this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0055FSKPW/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
Each bed is only 9 inches tall, so I'm buying the 2 bed option with the cover to make it a total of 18 inches (not including that extra 5 or so inches of space at the bottom of the cover). In this, I want prayer plants, boston ferns, spider plants, echeveria, air plants, devil's ivy, bromeliads, and some star moss (if safe, I don't actually know), and sphagnum moss. I also want springtails and isopods to add onto the "bioactive". Even more, I would like to have rocks, a humid hide box, logs, and the waterfall! The waterfall will be entirely put into a plastic container embedded in the 4 or so inch orchid bark/backyard soil substrate. I think I will build a cascading design, but miniature. I also want a large pool at the bottom which can easily be heated by the ceramic heat emitter and will be a lovely spot to soak for Kiwi. If possible, I would like moss and other nice things around the waterfall. There will also have to be a reptile mister. Day temps will be around 95 or so and night 85. The heat emitter will be positioned over a slate basking tile. There will also be an T5Pro Arcadia UVB light that will only be on on the day and will be stuck to a wooden beam across the canopy of the enclosure top for UVB. The humid hide box will basically be a tub flipped over with a hole that will be covered with substrate to make it look like an actual burrow (I can't resist!) I have checked all the plants and they should do fine in the enclosure. If there is anything that needs improvement or you have any suggestions, feel free to comment. As much as this is going to be a massive project and will be quite difficult, I'm really looking forward to surprising Kiwi with this for valentine's day!
 

KarenSoCal

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Low desert 50 mi SE of Palm Springs CA
It sounds beautiful! But food for thought...with so much in there, will there be any space for Kiwi to walk around? And you say a large pool...how difficult will that be to empty and wash out? Is there going to be enough water that you need to have a filter?

You are going to need grow lights for those plants, so adjusting the temps under the cover may be tricky.

This is for indoors, right? It's going to be quite heavy, and it preferably won't be on the floor. You're going to need a large, very sturdy table.

I look forward to seeing a build thread! Lots of pics!
 

crimson_lotus

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Location (City and/or State)
Massachusetts
Your plan sounds very ambitious. Wait until your tortoise gets big enough to bulldoze anything nice in the enclosure, or big enough to eat down/trample all the plants. You can set up the enclosure however you want, but they will rearrange it. I would come home to a new mess every day - once I even caught her FACE DOWN in a planter she climbed into...
20160304_183538.jpeg Look what I did!.jpeg rearranging.JPG
Be mindful as well on what each plant needs to survive - I am not sure a boston fern would do as well in the same thriving environment as a bromeliad for example. To be honest with your selection (particularly the bromeliad) I thought you had a redfoot! are you sure you don't want any grasses in there? or some sort of grazing mix? (I would suggest alternating trays)

the waterfall sounds like a pain in the butt to maintain. Make sure you know how and where to hang your lights, in addition to your mister, thermostat, hygrometer, etc. given the grow tent you picked out.
 
Last edited:

Blackdog1714

Well-Known Member
Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, VA
I second the waterfall issue---POOP! The pump needs clean water and any debris will clog it fast. Now using and any fish tank my bee the trick. Water fall on top, rocks and bathing area next, now a filter that leads to a hidden reservoir. Imagine everything below the rocks is hidden in your setup. It would still require an almost daily clean out due to POOP
1609580652056.png
 

Aloysius Taschse

Active Member
Location (City and/or State)
Mainly Texas
Those are all things I did not think about. It's good that I have the tortoise forum. Maybe I will turn down the plants and maybe only have a few based on the compatibility with the environment. I will also work on the waterfall. Here is my improved idea: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000ICNM96/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20 I think that building my own will be really hard and this is already a filter and a pump. Blackdog1714's idea might work. There still is a chance I might build my own, but I'd need a large enough grate or filter that I can easily replace and filters out waste the size of mazuri pellets. Possibly an aluminum filter? Does anyone else have any ideas? The plants will have the 2 ft uvb strip right in the middle around a foot off the ground, so I don't think that will be a problem. I will also put the heating lamp where she cannot knock it over. (My friend almost burned down the entire house with one). The thermostat will be stuck to the side somewhere and the reptile mister will sit on my desk and use the tube to send mist through into the enclosure. The floor really is quite strong, and because the enclosure doesn't have a bottom we are using some sort of tarm and base arrangement to fix it. Then we can find out if water is leaking and my knees will feel better. I don't plan to have planters for most of the plants, but I might have to bury one or two which isn't that hard. I'll also look into grazing mix. I'll try to post as many pictures as I can, and as far as I know my 78 year old grandmother who is quite excited will make sure the water feature will be up and running. Thanks for the replies, they are really helpful.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Hello fellow chelonian lovers,

I recently posted a thread about my idea to include a waterfall in Kiwi's new bioactive enclosure. I have everything planned for that, but I figured before I purchase things and start landscaping I should post a thread about what people think about my enclosure concept. I would post a picture of a design layout that I usually draw, but I couldn't do it this time. Hopefully people can give me ideas.

Before you go on, you may notice that there is a poll. I wanted to know how ambitious my project actually was, so feel free to submit results. (It may have some issues) Happy New Year's day!

The enclosure is this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0055FSKPW/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
Each bed is only 9 inches tall, so I'm buying the 2 bed option with the cover to make it a total of 18 inches (not including that extra 5 or so inches of space at the bottom of the cover). In this, I want prayer plants, boston ferns, spider plants, echeveria, air plants, devil's ivy, bromeliads, and some star moss (if safe, I don't actually know), and sphagnum moss. I also want springtails and isopods to add onto the "bioactive". Even more, I would like to have rocks, a humid hide box, logs, and the waterfall! The waterfall will be entirely put into a plastic container embedded in the 4 or so inch orchid bark/backyard soil substrate. I think I will build a cascading design, but miniature. I also want a large pool at the bottom which can easily be heated by the ceramic heat emitter and will be a lovely spot to soak for Kiwi. If possible, I would like moss and other nice things around the waterfall. There will also have to be a reptile mister. Day temps will be around 95 or so and night 85. The heat emitter will be positioned over a slate basking tile. There will also be an T5Pro Arcadia UVB light that will only be on on the day and will be stuck to a wooden beam across the canopy of the enclosure top for UVB. The humid hide box will basically be a tub flipped over with a hole that will be covered with substrate to make it look like an actual burrow (I can't resist!) I have checked all the plants and they should do fine in the enclosure. If there is anything that needs improvement or you have any suggestions, feel free to comment. As much as this is going to be a massive project and will be quite difficult, I'm really looking forward to surprising Kiwi with this for valentine's day!
We have another member who has used this raised bed idea for her tortoises. I think it was @Elohi , but I may be mistaken. Anyway, whoever it was, the bed worked out well and was a great closed chamber.
 

Aloysius Taschse

Active Member
Location (City and/or State)
Mainly Texas
Does anyone know if star moss is safe? Sphagnum moss is okay but star is my favorite and there is a stream with large quantities of moss by my house which I think is star.
 

Armadillogroomer

Active Member
Tortoise Club
Location (City and/or State)
NC
The US forest service lists all native moss as non-toxic, so you're fine if you can keep it alive.

I originally had a similar setup and I'm embarassed that I encouraged others to do bio-active because it didn't work out for me. Cleanliness is a human thing, and my guy was happy, but I wasn't. For my redfoot's indoor enclosure this winter, I switched to just a very thick layer of fir bark and only a small amount of isopods, just enough to thrive on any food he drops. After a day or two, my tortoise was just fine with his "clean" enclosure and doesn't seem to notice the difference.

My mistakes with "biodome":
  • The plants (ferns and bromeliads) got trampled immediately, and because they were greenhouse grown, they were very sensitive to just about anything and hard to keep alive (even the low lights burned them). To their merit, the sword ferns lasted the longest under the abuse!
  • If I were to give any advice, it would be to not combine a fogger and waterfall, because that condensation is sneaky. Even with hydroballs for drainage under the soil, condensation started gathering under the substrate and flooding became a problem after about 6 months in.
  • With flooding came the smell. This was my tipping point after a little over a year in. While the bugs do break down the poop pretty effectively, they don't get keep the liquid/urate from sinking to the bottom. Scooping watery tortoise sewage into a bucket is not fun. My tortoise always smelled like old sour mud and I had to wash him off to weigh/handle him. Since he's a pet, that became a big deal for me.
  • This part was simultaneously fun and gross: all of the natural surprises. You may get random bizarre (but thankfully harmless) fungus growing on anything wood/organic. The springtails leave clumps of eggs on everything, and you will even find bugs in your tortoise's folds. There were mornings where I woke up and there was a carpet of isopods hanging out on the surface. I started out trying to save every single bug, but by the end, there was no way to keep some unlucky pillbugs from going into the garbage/getting washed down the drain.
So I like the idea, but bio-active ended up not being for me.

I do love custom enclosures, so I'm looking forward to seeing what you build for precious Kiwi!
 

queen koopa

Well-Known Member
Location (City and/or State)
Las Vegas Nevada
Those are all things I did not think about. It's good that I have the tortoise forum. Maybe I will turn down the plants and maybe only have a few based on the compatibility with the environment. I will also work on the waterfall. Here is my improved idea: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000ICNM96/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20 I think that building my own will be really hard and this is already a filter and a pump. Blackdog1714's idea might work. There still is a chance I might build my own, but I'd need a large enough grate or filter that I can easily replace and filters out waste the size of mazuri pellets. Possibly an aluminum filter? Does anyone else have any ideas? The plants will have the 2 ft uvb strip right in the middle around a foot off the ground, so I don't think that will be a problem. I will also put the heating lamp where she cannot knock it over. (My friend almost burned down the entire house with one). The thermostat will be stuck to the side somewhere and the reptile mister will sit on my desk and use the tube to send mist through into the enclosure. The floor really is quite strong, and because the enclosure doesn't have a bottom we are using some sort of tarm and base arrangement to fix it. Then we can find out if water is leaking and my knees will feel better. I don't plan to have planters for most of the plants, but I might have to bury one or two which isn't that hard. I'll also look into grazing mix. I'll try to post as many pictures as I can, and as far as I know my 78 year old grandmother who is quite excited will make sure the water feature will be up and running. Thanks for the replies, they are really helpful.
I saw this fountain too and thought about it for my RES. But after upgrading her enclosure to 75 gal stock tank and cleaning the filters I now know that this water fall feature would not last. Little piddly filter included. I put a small water pump in the tank for more water circulation (in addition to the filters) and it clogged that day.... BUT that’s her water enclosure. What species to you have?(sorry if you mentioned before) all tortoise and turtles are messy. If yours decides to poo and drag things into water then you’re going to be cleaning the water fall out daily just like their water dish.
 

Aloysius Taschse

Active Member
Location (City and/or State)
Mainly Texas
I have a sulcata tortoise (sorry for not specifying). The waste is the biggest problem. The filter that I'm looking into cannot take waste in and it would clog it. My current solution concept is a mesh grid to take out the large debris like poop, food, and large urates. Then I'm thinking about using a zilla filter for everything else. it also would pump water. But there is always a problem. 1, I would have to have a way to access the zilla filter for maintenance. 2, I need a way to access the mesh grid without destroying the entire setup. Maybe I could just lift up a rock and access the mesh grid? It would take 5 or so minutes and I'd have to do the gross work, but it could function? Also, water changes would occur every few days and due to the constant bombardment of heat and uvb, I have a feeling it would evaporate relatively quickly... Because of these large barriers, I might just scrap the idea and stick with a terracotta saucer. If anyone has any other ideas or solutions, please comment! Also, I have decided not to use a reptile mister. I think that the closed chamber and the water fountain will be enough.
 

Blackdog1714

Well-Known Member
Location (City and/or State)
Richmond, VA
I have a sulcata tortoise (sorry for not specifying). The waste is the biggest problem. The filter that I'm looking into cannot take waste in and it would clog it. My current solution concept is a mesh grid to take out the large debris like poop, food, and large urates. Then I'm thinking about using a zilla filter for everything else. it also would pump water. But there is always a problem. 1, I would have to have a way to access the zilla filter for maintenance. 2, I need a way to access the mesh grid without destroying the entire setup. Maybe I could just lift up a rock and access the mesh grid? It would take 5 or so minutes and I'd have to do the gross work, but it could function? Also, water changes would occur every few days and due to the constant bombardment of heat and uvb, I have a feeling it would evaporate relatively quickly... Because of these large barriers, I might just scrap the idea and stick with a terracotta saucer. If anyone has any other ideas or solutions, please comment! Also, I have decided not to use a reptile mister. I think that the closed chamber and the water fountain will be enough.
If you put up high and out of access just for looks and sound it would work. Torts are dirty boogers
 

Aloysius Taschse

Active Member
Location (City and/or State)
Mainly Texas
That actually could work. Like yous said in your first post, it doesn't have to lead into the bathing pool. I originally thought of this when I first came up with the idea. I brushed it aside, wanting it to actual be a littler more natural but I'm sure I could make it look really cool. Thank you for the suggestion.
 

Aloysius Taschse

Active Member
Location (City and/or State)
Mainly Texas
We got the enclosure yesterday and my father built a bottom for it, which I like to call "stage 1". I plan to use orchid bark substrate and once the heat emitter, humid hide box, and uvb bulb are in stage 2 will be complete. Then stage 3 will consist of some plants, possibly bioactive components, and the water feature. What do you people think of the current enclosure?
IMG_7805.jpeg IMG_7804.jpeg
 

Aloysius Taschse

Active Member
Location (City and/or State)
Mainly Texas
Sorry I didn't reply sooner - the enclosure is 4x4 feet but looks really small in the current setup. For the lights I was thinking some wooden beams that could hold the arcadia uvb light and the heat lamp ring that hangs on the stand can just go on the beam too. Just a quick update: I think I will do a mix of substrates including some orchid bark, coconut coir, and organic gardening soil. The fountain has changed a lot. The design is no longer a cascading one but a rectangular tall rock kind of design with water coming out of the top. This is not going to be the water dish but simply a water feature to spruce it up and also to help raise humidity. The water dish will be disguised as a natural looking pool but realistically it will be a terracotta saucer like Tom and other members suggest. I plan to have a 2 inch deep tupperware, another piece of tupperware, and vertical brick like rock. A flipped over circular container will have holes for the water to get into and the pump inside. Gravel and rocks of some type will be on top for the water to go into and hopefully there will be enough water in it that I won't have to refill it every few hours due to the uvb light and heat emitter. I also plan to have a mesh grate that I can just take rocks off of so I can see the water level and add water. This will also maximize water storage. A very small pump will do the job of pumping water and for maintenance I can just take off the rock and the cup to get to the pump. I will have to destroy the gravel dn rock setup, but that can be easily fixed in a few minutes. Any suggestions? One more thing I forgot to add - it will be slightly elevated in a hill of rocks and I can imagine that Kiwi would have no reason to climb on it. If she does and happens to pee, pass urates, or poop, it simply will be caught in the mesh and can be picked up. My description of the latest enclosure design might be a bit vague, so reply if anything confuses you.
 

Aloysius Taschse

Active Member
Location (City and/or State)
Mainly Texas
Thank you. I already have plenty of orchid bark and I have cypress mulch on my list of tortoise things. Just curious, why do you not prefer the soil? Just wondering because it is the easiest and cheapest to get but I want what's best for my tortoise.
 
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