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Tweaks on my "closed chamber"

Discussion in 'Tortoise Enclosures' started by Team Gomberg, Apr 25, 2013.

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  1. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    I have been using a 40gal Zilla tank as a closed chamber for my leopard. I was covering the screen lid with aluminum foil but had holes cut out around the lights. My humidity would average 60-80% but never less than 50%. I sprayed it minimally 3x a day with warm/hot water. Often, I sprayed it more than that. It was work but my leopard was growing perfectly smooth.

    Eventually I traded out the aluminum foil for a clear plastic and tape top. I liked being able to see down into the enclosure. For fear of the lights burning the plastic I made the light cut outs slightly larger than the fixtures. I didn't notice at first but eventually (a month or 2 later) saw some slight pyramiding on my leopard. I bought a new digital hydrometer that offered high/low records by AcuRite and noticed my humidity was not staying up or constant. I was spraying so often and still couldn't keep it up. After a few days of this I realized I had to fix my lighting holes. That change is when my problems started. That small opening was so significant. I lined the light fixtures with an aluminum foil ring that goes 1inch under the lamp and 1 inch out from the edge. Already since doing this I have seen a huge improvement! My humidity ranges from 80-90% for about 4 days straight before dropping to 75%. Then I spray a few warm squirts and I'm good for a few more days.

    With my CHE on thermostat for 80F my indoor tank is literally self maintaining. With the aluminum cover before (up to the rim of the light fixtures) I still had high humidity but I had to spray a few times a day. I never minded that but whoa, what a difference a few small holes in the top make!

    My leopard still looks great. What pyramiding did start is very slight and hardly noticeable. I'm just glad I have it set up better now. Even if it is only used as an evening and bedtime enclosure for my lil' guy ;)

    The whole tank (that is a piece of romain lettuce and Mazuri on the rocks)
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    not the prettiest top, but its benefit FAR outweighs the unattractivness
    [​IMG]

    I put a small white shelf you can buy to put in your cabinets for extra storage into the tank and decorated the top part with plants. The tortoise can fit clearly under this and it acts like a plant canopy while holding up the hydrometer/temp gauge.
    [​IMG]

    under the canopy is the terra cotta saucer
    [​IMG]
  2. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member Tortoise Club

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    Great looking enclosure. I like that shelf idea. Your accidental experiment, once again, confirms Toms theory on a closed chamber. Hope lots of people take note. Tom will be happy, me too. Good job. The only bad part, you didn't include a pic of your leopard:(
  3. Sezdawg

    Sezdawg New Member 5 Year Member

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    I really need to work on a better closed system for my Redfoot! Good job!
  4. kjr153

    kjr153 Member 5 Year Member

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    Do torts like it better when there is a lot of foliage in the tank? I have a Sulcata and it is just the substrate and a hide box. Do Sulcata's prefer leaves and such?
    [hr]
    BTW,very nice set up!
  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Well. DUH! That's what I've been saying for years now!!! :p

    Wait until you build a bigger closed chamber and put the lights on the INSIDE. Then you will really see some neat stuff. :)


    Seriously though. Good info. Very insightful and helpful. Thanks for posting this.
  6. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    Next time it will be a big one with the lights inside :)

    I posted this so people could really grasp just how right Tom is! Even a little opening means a big difference.

    Barb I'll attach a picture of my leopard. Silly me, i forgot the most important part ;)
  7. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member Tortoise Club

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    In Toms words, DUH, :p :D Now, where's that pic:)
  8. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    I'll post some when I'm home from Disneyland :p
  9. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    These were taken at bath time this morning before going into the outdoor pen.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    You can see he is still very smooth. He's a little over 4 1/2inches and 350g last time I weighed him.

    But here is the little bit I started to notice. It isn't much at all and it doesn't bother me. I know as he grows this will practically "disappear" and it wont be noticed.
    [​IMG]
    [hr]
    I'm sure it doesn't bother him either ;)

    He is one happy little dude (or dudette) and loves his life here!!
  10. Jtort

    Jtort Member 5 Year Member

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    Heather, what kind of plastic are you using to cover the top?
  11. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    Julie, I bought it from the 99 cent store. It's in the gift wrapping section. It's a large clear plastic bag used for wrapping basket type gifts. I cut it to fit, taped it along the perimeter, cut the light holes (slightly larger than the dome) and then lined the holes.

    Hope this helps you :)

    Sent from my TFOapp
  12. Jtort

    Jtort Member 5 Year Member

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    Thanks Heather! I finally found a larger tank on craigslist. It's 48" long and was only $20 [SMILING FACE WITH SMILING EYES] The top has a divider in the middle and with two 23" long openings. I covered one with plexiglass. The other is where I have the light and CHE so the plexiglass doesn't work like I wish it would. I did use 8 inches of plexiglass up to a little before the CHE and then covered the rest using tent like coverings made of aluminum foil. The foil tents will probably make people think I'm trying to call aliens or something but it's been working! My cool side has been at 92-94% humidity and the hot side dropped to 84% lol. I'm going to try the plastic with aluminum like you did so it will at least be flat and not tenting. Since this tank is a lot bigger than the previous one I need more plants as probably a background picture so it looks "nice," but other than that I think my tank is almost set.

    Not to go too much off topic but I realize today I missed Fridays meeting! I don't know why I thought it was this Friday. [UNAMUSED FACE]
  13. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    Great Julie! I'm glad you've been successful with the changes :)

    Maybe we will see you at the club BBQ? Or next meeting.. :)

    Sent from my TFOapp
  14. Vegas_Leopard

    Vegas_Leopard Member 10 Year Member! 5 Year Member

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    Hey Heather,

    I have a few questions for advice on your closed chamber. The closed chamber I'm using is a 55 gallon aquarium (48"x13"x20"), it's lacking width, but I'm planning on building a bigger one.

    1. What 3 lights are you using?
    2. What substrate do you use and how do you prepare it?

    Thanks a bunch,
    Ralph
  15. waitmanff

    waitmanff Member 5 Year Member

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    Heather,

    What kind of planets do you have in your enclosure?
    Also what kind of substrate? Any kind of Moss?

    Thanks for all the advice so far! I now have a closed enclosure! But still working on it to make it just right!
  16. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    Re: RE: Tweaks on my "closed chamber"

    The center dome holds a 100 watt CHE on a thermostat for 80F. I keep the temp probe in the farthest cool end corner so I know my ambient and night temps never drop below this.
    The farthest right dome holds a 75 watt regular incandescent bulb for the basking bulb. Since I can't raise or lower the fixture I change out wattage when I need to adjust the temps. Sometimes I use a 60 watt, 75 watt and once used a 100 watt to get my desired basking temp of 100-105F.
    The farthest left dome held either a 25 watt, 15 watt or 7.5 watt bulb. I wanted extra lighting over the cool end without extra heat. But these low wattage bulbs still produced some heat.. Lately our weather has been over 100F everyday and my house temps have been warmer, too. My tank was getting too hot so I recently took off the cool end dome and instead put a tube florescent bulb over the cool end on the outside of the lid. This gives them the light without heat. It is working pretty well so far.

    Up until recently I always used clean dirt from my yard. Now that I have so much plant growth outside and can't just scoop up dirt, I buy plain, untreated top soil from Home depot and use that. Works great for me and I love the price. ($2 a bag) I do nothing to it, just put it in. I'll add to it as needed and occasionally replace the whole thing.

    Here is how my enclosure looks right now. You can see I still use clear plastic to seal the top screen but I line the holes for the domes with aluminum foil.
    My humidity is always in the 90s without having to routinely spray water. Usually filling up the water dish is enough to boost the numbers once it drops into the 80s.


    Sent from my TFOapp
    [hr]
    I use fake plants purchased from the dollar tree and walmart. Someday I would rather have live plants but I have never been able to keep then alive. Not enough light I think.

    I just talked about my top soil choice of substrate. And although I don't use any moss right now I have used sphagnum moss in the past. I used it in the hides and corners. It was ok but since my supply ran out I've not replaced it. Wasn't something I felt was a "have to have" essential.

    Sent from my TFOapp

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  17. Sh3wulf

    Sh3wulf Active Member 5 Year Member

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    This is fantastic Heather, and great evidence of Tom's advice.

    I thought I would share this photo cause it shows that the tiniest venting makes a big difference in moisture.

    ImageUploadedByTortForum1378643467.087082.jpg

    The cool end which is currently 88 degrees is dripping moisture and that end is completely sealed. Five feet down the chamber in the hot end, I have a very small two inch vent around the lights. That end has barely any moisture up the walls.

    Just wondering if you or Tom, or any of the pros have YouTube channels? These would be super helpful for us newbies trying to correct setups and care for babies. Would love a link in the stickies if they exist
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2014
  18. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE 5 Year Member

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    No YouTube for me...just TFO ;)

    Sent from my TFOapp
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