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This is a cool little build using an Exo Terra 18x18x24 glass terrarium. I designed this to temporarily house two baby mountain horned dragons (they’re soooo adorable!) until they grow another few inches. But I also needed to make the design fluid, so when the dragons outgrow this set up, it can easily be tweaked to accommodate poison dart frogs.

Since both species need water and running water is the best, I started with the waterfall and pool area.

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To the left is the land area, to the right is the pool with the fall. To separate the two areas, so the water doesn’t flood the land and create a wretched bog, I cut plexiglass to size, heated it with a heat gun and bent it to make a more natural shoreline. With the shoreline done, I set it in place, marked where it’d sit with a marker and then siliconed the daylights out of it. In this area, it’s better to over-do the silicone than under do it. Ripping up a landscaped area to seal leaks later is a royal pain.

Next, I used egg crate and created a boxed in area to house the pump and hose that’s also large enough for me to reach in there and do maintenance. As a preventative measure, I also siliconed screening to the portion that’ll be submerged to keep debris from entering the pump area and causing cloggage.

Those marks you see on the glass are for where the cork will go. I spent days arranging and re-arranging the wood pieces until I found a combination that I liked.

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Here’s the cork bark in situ. The cork tube is temporarily held in place by unused paint stirring sticks. Once the Great Stuff is dry the tube will be secure.

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Before setting the main cork in place, I drilled a hole for the waterfall tubing, then snugged and siliconed a piece of pvc into the hole to hold the tubing.

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And then…the foaming begins! I prefer Great Stuff’s Gap and Cracks for most work, other than shorelines and filling tubes, because it dries hard and solid. The Windows and Doors dries soft, which might be okay for frogs but not for the claws of dragons. It’s also not solid enough to hold the weight of heavy woods. But I did cap the cork tube with the Great Stuff Windows and Doors to prevent access. I also used Windows and Doors behind the cork on the waterfall to avoid over-expansion.

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Working on one side at a time, I foamed in the pieces and waited at least 6 hours per side for the foam to set enough before flipping the terrarium to work on another side.

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Once the foam dried completely, the carving process began. Carving the foam gives a more realistic look and allows silicone and the cocofiber/peat mixture to stick better. For carving I usually use a serrated steak knife, sometimes pumpkin carvers too and razor blades.

Stay tuned for Tree Pool Terrarium Build Pt. 2!