Terrarium building with decorative back wall (fake rock)   
                                                     
   
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   There are breeders, who prefer empty glass terrarium with newspaper instead of substrate and one free-hanging lamp, who dedicate to their hobby at least one entire room where only the best friends have access and they deal exclusively with reproduction or crossbreeding and fissuring of a rare or in captivity poorly-replicating species and that’s why there are carefully guarded sanitary and quarantine measures. And there are another breeders who are limited to i.e. flat space. These breeders certainly have the same ambitions as the first ones, unfortunately their terrariums have to fit between furniture or other furnishings in the flat and it has to be understood by their wives or girlfriends as a suitable decoration of their love nestJ.  Not to mention that various nice visitors, i.e. mother in-law, executor or on neighbors impulse the inspection of the regional veterinary administration can visit you.  

   Therefore we, or at least me, are trying our terrariums to be as effective and easy to maintain clean as somewhat decorative. I anticipate, although I haven’t properly expanded in writing yet, somebody will stone me that this is not the truth at all. Well…

    I personally live with my girlfriend in 2 +1, so I can’t expand with the breeding just because of lack of space, so I try to use each (for me useless) meter.

     In the corridor of the flats there is usually built-in wardrobe, so I cancelled it as the first one.

   

  

  And just at this time when I built the terrarium instead of build-in wardrobe I began to deal with the problem of the back wall decoration. I read a lot of literature and opinions of breeders in discussions, I tried something of them, I experimented with something but it was still not so good.

 In the first terrarium I just threw mounting foam on the back wall.

   In the second one I played with the polystyrene, I carved various pieces out of it and stuck them on the wall.

     Then I tried to play with the epoxy resin. The result was satisfying but I knew that it had to go differently and better. In addition, the work with resin wasn’t much of anything, our flat smelled for two weeks and it was expensive as well. Not to mention that bitumen is harmful, so I can’t certainly recommend this for creating of fountains or for snakes, which quenches his thirst licking drops of water from the surface after the dewing.

 

     So I was still thinking how to best and cheap manage it and I got an idea.

 For a long time I planned for my boas, which started outgrowing the existing facilities, to build a big, spacious terrarium at the corner of a living room, so I said that I will try to manage my new idea. I would like to introduce you the whole procedure. Maybe, some of you will like this and with the help of my instructions you will simply and cheaply decorate your terrarium.

 So as a first step I made a terrarium construction of prisms 6x8cm and I properly fixed it to the wall and ceiling by long screws.

 

   The interior of the terrarium I scraped to bricks, I painted it 3 times by bonding primer and then by a highly abrasion and water resistant color from Hornbach. I carved the floor of 2cm board OSB plates. They told me it is waterproof and the whole of plate dripped in water will keep fine forever. All joints, both on the floor and around the walls I sealed by aquarium silicone. I coated the constriction with several coats of Balakryl. The first two coats were diluted a lot to absorb as deep as possible and then 2 undiluted coats.

     Then I drilled to the inside wall and fixed a rough constriction of the roof laths, on which I stretched the steel lathing out and I formed it into a rock.

      I counted with the fact that I will build a waterfall, so I beforehand prepared and fixed the hose, which leads up to just below the ceiling.

    On the prepared lathing I caught up the cloth by clothes-pegs, which gave rock its future shape. Corpus of terrarium is made of the black laminate. I know that laminate is unsuitable material in contact with the water but I am sure that the water can run out nowhere. But for the case it does a mischief with the higher air humidity inside, I designed individual parts to be their exchange very quick and easy.

    Since the cloth is loose and baggy at some places, I had to paint it twice by cement and water solution for the first time to absorb, get firm and keep the shape. Maybe it would go very well by plaster solution as well.

  Then I could easily throw up the concrete on this fixed base in the correct ratio of cement + sand + water according to data mentioned by manufacturer on the package.

  This ratio needs to be observed. It is a mistake to think that the more amount of cement I give the stronger it will be. Rather it would cause the subsequent cracking of concrete.

   I threw up three coats in total and in the meantime I calked by mounting foam all possible escape ways. I also created a shape of a future pool from mounting foam. The whole part, where the water should run down in the future and the pool itself I concreted by Vodotìs, it is a waterproof, health safety blend for repairing wells and drinking water tanks. Pool has 80 L.

     You may have noticed a "hole" in the rock under the higher shelf.  It is intentionally designed cavity, where  a certain water level will be held, appr.10cm, and where a fog machine will be located.

 After that only the decorative finishing followed. I painted the rock by the same color as the walls before, just with mixed gray pigment, but again those parts, through which water will flow, are painted by Bisilem, again health safety color for a coating the pools. It was followed by stretching of electrical cables, on the part of wall I stuck a photo wallpaper, I arranged artificial flowers and finally, it was a chapter in itself, it remained to bring the right trunks from the wood.

   Well, here is terrarium equipment: I bask by two 75W bulbs which are connected to the thermostat and by one 30W spot light pointed to waterfall. On one half of the floor (50x40cm) is 30W heating cable, illuminated by 30W bulb. There is 50W aquarium heater with the thermostat set at 23 ° C non-stop in the pool, and the fog machine.

   Bottom left there are two and top right also two circular air holes with a diameter of 10 cm each. I think the big advantage of a large terrarium for reptiles is a big choice of temperature zones. There is 27 ° C down on the floor in the shelter, 28.5 ° C on the plateau below the ceiling, up to 34-35 ° C under incandescent lamps and 23 ° C in water. I forgot to mention that there is a service door carved behind a rock in the floor, through which I can check the situation such as water leak, checking the walls for mildew, escape of snakes or rats from behind the rock…Nothing like this has happened yet but if so, I would not have to demolish the whole terrarium.

    In conclusion, I attach some photos of finished, glazed and populated terrarium with some details of the rock. And for those who are curious about how much I invested into this experimentfully complete glazed terrarium cost 720 EURO. And for comparison with other commercial or custom-made rocks - mine has about 12 m2 and cost me from 40 to 44 EURO.

                                                                                                                                                 Radim Vinklárek  (Translated By Denisa Holásková)