Has anyone built a vivarium with a waterfall?

Tyler, TX(Zone 8b)

I want to make a vivarium for our newt out of his aquarium and it would be a good place for some of my plants (orchid, brom, ferns etc). I want to make a waterfall with the aquarium pump but not sure what to shape the waterfall/background from that plants can grow on. It has to be natural/nontoxic of course, but I want it to look as realistic as possible. Any ideas???

The Heart of Texas, TX(Zone 8b)

I have several ideas for you.
First you can buy them ready made...check ebay and of course Pets mart.
If you had your heart set on doing it yourself ..try searching Black Jungle Terrarium Supply... Somewhere on their website they have some outstanding pics and info for making them form that foam spray insulation..several of the Frog folks use it so it should be safe for a newt.
You can be creative once you see the instructions.. Lots of fun..I was addicted to my terrariums and made a few.
Happy Hunting

Tyler, TX(Zone 8b)

Thanks for the reply.

I researched alot, found that the foam spray insulation can break down after awhile into the water and its messy to use, and needed it to be a 'kid friendly' project as well (I've had my own mishaps with it before...does Not wash off fingernails! LOL). I also prefered to use all natural elements, if possible. I did however, find some very good pictures/advice on Black Jungle and other sites.

My tank is only 10g so I didn't want the W'fall to take up too much space, and since I didn't want it to become a week-long project (the newt isn't very happy in his small temporary motel, LOL), I decided to go with the Cork Tile.

Fortunately, I work at a PetSmart, so the Cork and soil were easy to find. I'd have to say, cutting the eggcrate pieces was the 'funnest' part. Luckily, I already had the fountain pump, spagnum moss, mesh, etc that we needed (Gosh, that Cork bark can be expensive!).

It's coming along nicely. We're chosing/planting the greenery today so hope to have it up and running by tonight.

Thanks again!

The Heart of Texas, TX(Zone 8b)

Hey, that's great. Yep I totally understand about the foam..it has a mind all it's own! Seems to go everywhere except where ya want it.lol .I had a frog terrarium a while back & enjoyed it.Now I just stick to plants..it makes them easier to keep. I just set them up & they're own their own for a while. I still have a few I made several years ago...they are so full they need to be reworked but I'm too lazy to do it right now.
Please post a pic when ya get it finished. The forum always needs new pics!


Tyler, TX(Zone 8b)

We finished the vivarium. The kids and I really enjoyed building it, and Wall-E the newt seems to like it alot too, LOL. It turned out better than we expected and will look even more tropical onc ethe plants grow a bit.

Now if I could only make something like this for my brackish water fish tank!

Thumbnail by chellflower
The Heart of Texas, TX(Zone 8b)

That looks great! I'm sure the kids had a lot of fun! When I get really bored I always make another terrarium. Cheers me right up. Thanks for adding the pic.


South, TX

That is so pretty!

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Chellflower.. will you please share some tips with me. I came into this forum intending to start a thread over this exact topic. I hope you don't mind if I somewhat hyjack your thread. I thought it might be great to keep all the info/suggestions on one thread for anyone else looking for this same info. I love your 'newt house' btw :) How is it holding up? OK here is a list of ?s for you....

1. How did you secure the cork to the tank?
2. Why did you raise the substrate above the water level?
3. What kind of filter are you using?
4. Do you have the return water from your filter routed to 'fall' down the waterfall?
5. Do you use a special light for the plants? broad spectrum lighting?

Here is a little history on my project:

My youngest son has a 30 gal tank with two firebelly frogs and a few fish in the water. In this tank we've had artificial plants and such. He has decided to save his allowance to now buy some green tree frogs. We researched and decided that it would be best for them to have a home of their own. So what we are going to do is move the firebellys and fish to a 55 gallon tank. We are planning to plant this tank with live plants and build a waterfall as well. I was thinking of building a 'pond' of sorts in this tank for the frogs and fish. The 30 gallon tank we are going to use for the tree frogs. We plan on planting this tank with live plants as well but plan on possibly having a fogger instead. I am open to suggestions from anyone as far as both habitats are concerned.

Tyler, TX(Zone 8b)

Hi Catzgalore,

Ours is a typical 10gal tank with two light bulbs in the hood...they are regular (long cylinder-type) aquarium lights. I used 100% silicone to glue on the corkboard (it is set at an angle for the water to flow), and aquarium grade (100%) silicone to glue the pebbles, etc onto the waterfall). I raised the substrate with the false bottom because newts (like frogs) like water and land, so I made him a 'pond' area.... the raised substrate also drains excess water and acts as a filter. For the waterfall I used a small fountain-sized pump, which I hid in the far left corner and the hose comes up behind the cork to a cutout spot above the waterfall. It is pretty self contained, a small 'ecosystem' in itself....I simply turn the light on/off every day/night.

It would be a great type setup for the frogs too, the fogger would be nice too but may cause condensation on the glass making it hard to see the critters...hard to say as I haven't used one. The frogs would love plants with leaves large enough to hide under too.
Be sure to use something like Jungle Soil (coconut coir) as it is safe for the plants and critters and sterile as well, so no chance of 'unwanted' bugs/parasites in your setup.

Good luck and be sure to post photos!

Burleson, TX(Zone 8a)

Thank you Chelle :)

Mobile, AL(Zone 8b)

Chellflower your viv looks great.
Critterkeeper what kind of plants did you keep with your PDF?

I also have a viv and am working on a second one. I keep poison dart frogs. Micro fauna (bugs) are beneficial for your frogs to eat. I a grow wingless fruit flies for my frogs and also added isopods and spring tails to my soil.

Here is a photo of my one. I need to add more plants.


Thumbnail by tortoisekeeper

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