Okay, so I have some new pets, and I want to set up their tanks to be superduper cool, and I want to do it myself and I've been reading and reading about it all online. I think I have a good plan, but I just was hoping some people on here might have some tips.
I have a zoo-med tank (I think it's zoo-med, my dad got it for me as a gift), and it's 18x18x24, with front opening doors w/lock, ventilation, space on the bottom for a heat pad, etc etc the whole shabang. I've got a 20gal long, and three ten gallons (but I'm missing a lid for one of the tens).
Right now, in each tank I have:
**Two juvenile leopard geckos in a ten gallon
w/ several hides and things for them to climb on, tank carpet, a stickon background, heat pad on the bottom, and thermometer. The geckos came with the setup. The only problem I really have with this one is that it's a little too humid in my house (I live in southeast virginia - a very humid zone)
**Two adolescent corn snakes in the 20gallon long
w/aspen bedding (which they love to burrow in), some hides, a heat light, some clamps for the lid. No background at all. I just put them in here, but it's kind of plain, and I'd like to have the geckos in here, because they'll need more room as they grow.
**Crickets I keep in the 18x18x24 at the moment. I bought a little plastic container for them but they all have escaped so I put them in that tank for the time being. I'm thinking of putting some in a ten gallon and breeding them.
**Feeder Mice in a ten gallon, with a ton of aspen bedding and hide stuff, and a water bottle. They breed like crazy, I've had them for some time now.
*In the last ten gallon I don't have anything, as there's no lid, and my cat would eat the geckos if I left them without a lid. I feed the snakes one at a time in there, they'll fight if I feed them while they're together.
I want to have a paludarium. I just learned that word today ^^ But it's what I've been meaning to make for my snakes for a long time. They're about a year and a half old now, and I've wanted one ever since I got them. They love to bask in their waterbowl so I imagine they would love to swim too. I finally have a good steady job, so I should be able to afford it! I'm working on getting the supplies, right now.
I have some fish tank gravel that I'm going to put on the bottom of the 18x18x24, so there'll be a water table. In the front, I'll have a mini pond-type area, with some guppies or betas or something like that. Then I'm going to set up a pebble beach, and behind that I want to have some soil subtrate like coconut husk/sand or something like that. I'll have some tank-safe plants, like snakeplants or ivy or something. I want to make backgrounds for the three of the walls, and have the only one side open, because my snakes are extremely shy and never come out of hiding.
I'm pretty sure I have all that down pat. It seems pretty straight forward anyway. Throw in some rocks and some soil, plant the plants, add some bedding for the snakes, fill it with water and yay. The backgrounds will take the most time I think, and I'll have to do those first too, probably.
Now, there are some things I'm not sure about.
As for the backgrounds: What is aquarium silicone? I don't know what that is but I've heard it's good to use. I don't really know where to start when it comes to making a background. I don't want to use foam, I was advised against it by some people who's opinion I value (some friends who take care of their pets very very well), so I guess that leaves silicone? I've read about spraying foam and covering it with sand and cement and bark, but that's the foam method. Also, I've seen the cork backgrounds they have at pet stores, and that might be an easier route to take, but I'm still not even sure how to use it.
As for the water portion: How to use the pump/filter? I guess just stick it in the water, but I think it would be cool to have some sort of waterfall type set up. So I guess on one end I could set up some rocks and have the pump stuck behind there?
As for heating: I have a light, but it wouldn't heat all the way to the bottom I think. So I'm thinking of setting up some ledges for the snakes to chill on (or warm on lol), but I think I might need a heat pad to put on the bottom. Corn snakes are supposed to be more active at night so they probably would prefer a heat pad anyway. The problem with a heat pad in this set up, is that I don't know if it would heat through rocks, water, and soil! I don't want to put the heat pad on the side of the tank because then the snakes are designed to pick up heat through their belly, I think, and they would be climbing on the side to get the heat, when they should be able to relax on the ground if they want. Also, I'm concerned about space. If I have three walls with backgrounds, and water, will there be enough land space for a hot side and a cool side?
In the 20 gallon, a paludarium would be cool too, but I think for the leopard geckos I'm just going to have carpet and hideholes and a heatpad or two, with a waterbowl. Though it would be very cool to have water all down the front side, and behnd that have a desert like area, but I don't want to do that untill they're older, and at less of a chance of eating the soil - but I guess I could just cover the top of the soil with their carpet. Oh, but that wouldn't work because all the crickets would end up in the water and die. Well.... I could have a very shallow stream of running water then, maybe? over some stones, and have a pump so it keeps flowing the whole time, and keep it shallow enough that the crickets could hop out. Meh. We'll see. Anyway, the pic below is the 18x18x24, right now I just have some crickets in there but I'd like to set it up as a paludarium for the snakes.