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  1. #1
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    Default Tank Build Progress


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    So I recently started looking into getting a leopard gecko after receiving a 55 gallon tank from a neighbor moving away. And I saw all these awesome diy hides and rock builds while looking around and knew I had to try my hand at it!

    Checklist:
    [x]Tank
    [ ]Mesh lid
    [x]heat sources
    [x]thermometer
    [ ]thermostat
    [x]substrate (slate tile)
    [/]faux rocky terrain, including multiple hides (in progress)
    [x]reptivite
    [x]repticalcium
    [x]feeder insect food
    [ ]feeder insects (to be bought at same time as animal itself)
    [x]food dish
    [/]water dish (also being carved from foam, in progress)
    [ ] gecko (possibly 2 or 3?? opinions on multiple females in the tank presented welcome)

    I started with cleaning and resealing everything first, since the neighbor I had gotten it from had previously used it for fish (I had debated using it for fish as well, but decided I didnt have a horizontal surface I was willing to sacrifice that would hold that tank + the water that would fill it).
    Next came heating the tank. I couldn't find many heat mats that a) were sized correctly for the tank, b) I thought would get enough heat through the substrate I had chosen, which were leftover 1'X1' slate tiles I had leftover from when we redid a portion of our basement floor. So I chose heat cable as my "belly heat" instead, and paired it with a CHE. Here's a picture of the cable all taped into place (I had a time of it finding tape which would actually stick to the glass and ended up using packing tape):

    I placed the tiles on top of the cable and spent a day measuring how well the heat sources worked via the thermometer that came with the CHE. They heated it very well, and it made me confident that my gecko will receive adequate heating even when the temperatures start dropping when summer is done. My cat certainly enjoyed the warm spot!

    Now on the heating front I just need to get a thermostat I can hook the cable and CHE up to- does anyone have recommended brands/models they enjoy?

    After setting up heating, I started on my faux rock background/hides. I decided to try for something canyon-like with four "cave" hides (two on each side) and a few areas for climbing and basking, as well as two pits in the back corners to plant grasses or succulents. The caves are in front, one stacked atop the other, and are pressed against the glass. When complete there will be black construction paper on the outside of the tank which will give the geckos privacy but allow me to peek inside the cave without disturbing them. So! I sketched up a quick birdseye pattern of my design in Krita

    and gathered up my supplies. I chose to use extruded polystyrene foam insulation board, 3/4 inch thick, as my building material. I got a huge board of it, and just started sketching out my pattern and carving it up with a steak knife. Here's an in-progress picture of the first few layers:

    I got it all cut out of the foam and put it in the tank.... only to find I had mis-measured the length by about a foot when actually carving everything. Measure twice, cut once people! (Or in my case, measure once, cut twice). I decided the rocks would now be in three easier to remove pieces and promptly sawed the layers that connected the middle in half

    and then started carving and inserting more foam until I had something I liked. A picture of the carving placed into the tank:

    That as far as I've gotten as of this post, since I found that Someone in my house used up the construction adhesive he told me to use to glue it together. So! Next time on This Old Tank, we glue, further refine the shape, coat in tiling grout, shape and sand some more, paint, and seal! And then we grab the rest of the things on the checklist, including our lizard!
    Please give me some feedback, I'd love to hear your opinions!
    Likes thebakker liked this post

  2. #2
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    I can tell you're hard at work and quite creative!

    Are your heat cables underneath the glass? I can't tell from your picture. Packing tape might end up a gooey mess? Nashua electrical tape or aluminum tape is much better. It's available at hardware stores.

    Are your heat cables properly spaced? Another GU member used heat cables for his 40 gallon breeder: 36 x 18 x 17 inches. Here are pictures and text of Kyle's experience.

    20150831_223625.jpg

    16473552_750768792702_6750947765179603186_n.jpg

    For 73 click: How to configure heat cables?......kholtme -- Aug 2015 with link
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 08-08-2018 at 01:55 AM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)

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    Thanks Elizabeth!
    The cable is currently between the glass and the tiles, with some sand in between the coils, and I've spaced it according to the instructions in the packaging, in which a minimum distance between the coils is specified. I may redo the tape though- electrical tape would definitely be safer, so I'll pick that up when I run to the store for more supplies. Or see if I have any laying around, I know we have a wire repair and soldering kit somewhere...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by cicirose97 View Post
    Thanks Elizabeth!
    The cable is currently between the glass and the tiles, with some sand in between the coils, and I've spaced it according to the instructions in the packaging, in which a minimum distance between the coils is specified. I may redo the tape though- electrical tape would definitely be safer, so I'll pick that up when I run to the store for more supplies. Or see if I have any laying around, I know we have a wire repair and soldering kit somewhere...
    You're welcome.

    From what I've noticed, heat cables are usually designed to be under the tank or tub for safety -- on the outside. Do your instructions comment on this?
    Adequate heat should reach your leo through the glass and through those tiles as long as the tiles are roughly 3/8 inch thick.

    Be sure to elevate the enclosure above the stand for proper ventilation. Otherwise the heat may scorch wooden furniture! Several 1/2 inch thick strips of wood along the length or width will provide adequate ventilation.

    Temperatures - A temperature gradient from warm to cool maintains your leo's health. Here's a temperature guide for all leopard geckos as measured with the probe of a digital thermometer or a temp gun (and controlled by a thermostat set at 91*F/32.8*C):
    • 88-92 F (31.1-33.3 C) ground temperature right underneath a leo's warm dry hide
    • no greater than 82ish F (27.8ish C) air temperature - 4 inches above ground on the warm end
    • no greater than 75 F (23.9 C) air temperature - 4 inches above ground on the cool end
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 08-09-2018 at 03:18 AM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)

  5. #5
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    Reply 2:

    That as far as I've gotten as of this post, since I found that Someone in my house used up the construction adhesive he told me to use to glue it together. So! Next time on This Old Tank, we glue, further refine the shape, coat in tiling grout, shape and sand some more, paint, and seal! And then we grab the rest of the things on the checklist, including our lizard!
    Please give me some feedback, I'd love to hear your opinions!
    Your leo has a huge space! That's awesome!

    Are you planning to grout in the tile? I'd leave it loose. Grouting in tile makes it impossible to do that infrequent deep clean.

    With your current heat cable scenario, grouting also seals off the cables. It's vital that heat cables and mats have ventilation space!
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 08-08-2018 at 09:57 PM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)

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    Ah, no, the grout is to texturize the faux rocks, not to be used on the actual tiles, sorry for the confusion. I plan to just let the tiles sit atop the cables.

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    The cables were advertised to go inside or outside the enclosure- one of the example images actually shows it wrapped around a decorative branch inside the cage.
    I can use some scrap wood to elevate the tank, thanks for the tip.
    I'm looking to get a thermostat, not sure what one I want to get. I did see the recommended temperatures elsewhere in the forum, but thanks for checking that I knew.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by cicirose97 View Post
    Ah, no, the grout is to texturize the faux rocks, not to be used on the actual tiles, sorry for the confusion. I plan to just let the tiles sit atop the cables.
    Maybe @acpart (Aliza) will stop by this thread. She uses heat cables.

    Quote Originally Posted by cicirose97 View Post
    The cables were advertised to go inside or outside the enclosure- one of the example images actually shows it wrapped around a decorative branch inside the cage.
    I can use some scrap wood to elevate the tank, thanks for the tip.
    I'm looking to get a thermostat, not sure what one I want to get. I did see the recommended temperatures elsewhere in the forum, but thanks for checking that I knew.
    It's hard to tell what someone has already seen, so thanks for being accepting.

    The first 6 feet of some heat cables are not actually heated. I know that elevation works when the heat cables are outside the tank. I have no idea how to ventilate heat cables when they're inside and basically closed off. Heat cables need decent ventilation in order to work properly.

    Which brand heat cables do you have?

    I use Hydrofarm's Jump Start MTPRTC thermostat. It works quite well for my leo.
    Last edited by Elizabeth Freer; 08-09-2018 at 03:16 AM.
    "If you can hear crickets, it's still summer." ;)

    "May the peace that
    You find at the beach
    Follow you home"

    Click: Leo Care Sheet's Table of Contents

    ===> No plain calcium, calcium with D3, or multivitamins inside an enclosure <===

    Oedura castelnaui ~ Lepidodactylus lugubris ~ Phelsuma barbouri ~ Ptychozoon kuhli ~ Cyrtodactylus peguensis zebraicus ~ Phyllurus platurus ~ Eublepharis macularius ~ Correlophus ciliatus ~ (L kimhowelli) ~ (P tigrinus) ~ (P klemmeri) ~ (H garnotii)

  9. #9
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    The enclosure it looking great! I use heat cables (installed in that sine wave pattern that you have) and ceramic tile successfully. I do put the heat cable under the tank, not inside due to ventilation problems. If you do move it to under the tank, you will find that electrical tape will sag, as will duct tape and possibly packing tape. As Elizabeth mentioned, Nashua tape (the roll is the same shape as duct tape, but it's basically aluminum foil with an adhesive backing and paper on the back to keep it from sticking) is the only thing that really seems work, since the tape will be under the cable. I would recommend ditching the CHE because I think it will make the enclosure too hot and dry and it can dehydrate the gecko.

    Aliza
    Thanks Elizabeth Freer thanked for this post

  10. #10
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    @Elizabeth Freer
    The cable does have a mark where the heated section begins, so I haven't included that in the area I'm trying to heat.
    I think that after what you and Aliza have mentioned I will move the cable to the underside of the tank. I've also ordered that thermostat you recommended- amazon warehouse had a used but "like new" one available for cheaper as well, which is always nice. @acpart - would I find Nashua tape at a hardware store like say, Lowes? Also, I think that while I may not need the CHE right now, when the house is hovering just under 75 degrees for summer, I'm definitely going to need it to keep the geckos comfortable in the winter, as it gets cold here, to the point where we use heating blankets ourselves when sleeping. We also employ humidifiers in the winter though, since the house heating does tend to dry out the air.
    Likes Elizabeth Freer liked this post

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