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  #1  
Old 06-22-2012, 11:43 AM
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Rainforest Canopy | Epiphyte Laden Branch

Rainforest Canopy | Epiphyte Laden Branch

I have been meaning to start this project for a while. I have seen a few other similar ones around. I plan to do this one in a 30 X High, which isn't a lot of room. I want to take some time to find real small epiphytes that will scale well with the branch that I am making and the enclosure.

Earlier this morning I started making the branch feature. I might have selected a thick piece of manzanita for it, but decided to use GS foam. All that I did to start the shape was to place a piece of waxed paper over my bench top with a few scraps of wood underneath to make a more dimensional surface, then I just sprayed out a twisted branch shape about 24" long. After it cures I will flip it over and apply more GS to the other side to get a more or less cylindrical branch form. I would shoot a picture of it now, but it's pretty ugly and not much to see. After the whole thing is cured I can start shaping with this fine coping saw that I have and coarse sandpaper

I don't see very many very memorable pictures of this kind of thing on the Internet, which is surprising because trees loaded with epiphytes can be so visually striking. Back in the day I climbed a few tall trees down in Costa Rica and it was really amazing. If anybody might know about any real good albums on flickr or Pinterest or wherever I'd be interested to get the link as more visual reference. Here is a Wikimedia Commons image that shows a tree with some larger bromeliads and aroid climbers and stuff like that.


(Wikimedia Commons image: FileirkvdM epiphytes.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

I'm going to do this as a Forest Floor setup with false bottom. It might also be engaging to pick out terrestrials for the planter pots. Terrestrial plants will need to be very short to fit with this idea. It would be great to find some more unusual mini terrestrial orchids, aroids and gesneriads. The bottom area might need some extra illumination because the epiphyte branch above will be well-lit but throw a lot of shade.



I don't know about livestock yet. This kind of setup could potentially work for a pygmy cham, but I can imagine there are better ways to build a habitat for them. I understand that there are some dart frog species (Ranitomeya spp.??) that are almost entirely arboreal. I might just make this a plant display. Some sort of insect might also work. There might or might not be connection between the branch and the bottom planted area with some fake vine features.
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Old 06-23-2012, 06:48 PM
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Here's the GS branch feature all expanded.



Now I need to start carving away at it.
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  #3  
Old 06-23-2012, 11:10 PM
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I just remembered this older picture that shows scale in that 30 X High tank pretty well. I took it apart some time after getting this shot. This new setup will just have the single artificial branch in it, not two pieces of manzanita, but the picture shows pretty well how much space there is in there. I want to use mainly very small epiphytes and also use very short terrestrials underneath. I want to do some research and try to incorporate some more unusual terrestrials that I haven't tried before.

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Old 06-24-2012, 07:11 AM
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I love it! Keep us updated! Frogs would be a good choice, I think, I don't know a huge amount about keeping them, but they would love a setup like this and be nice little splashes of colour, especially the little blue ones, they would look gorgeous. Ooh, or a red-eyed for a fairly traditional feel?
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Old 06-24-2012, 10:11 AM
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Thanks! Yes I did consider frogs. The bottom area could be a good deal of habitat for frogs, but surprisingly there are also dart frogs that are almost entirely arboreal. I read, however, that those dart frogs are difficult to collect because they live way up in the tops of trees and thus rarely exported and rare in captivity.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:34 AM
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...carving away at this thing again today. I had to fill some air bubble voids with more Great Stuff. I hope to have more pictures later on.
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Old 06-27-2012, 10:50 AM
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I carved away at the branch feature to get the general shape. Now I am going to coat it with the Drylok. I'm also going to have to stiffen it with some kind of reinforcement; I might use some of this thick anodized aluminum bonsai wire that I have. The Great Stuff foam is really flimsy and the branch shape just bends with any weight at all.

The expanded GS foam has a lot of air pockets in it and I bet that epiphytes would like the surface a lot. I'd like to get a can of the black GS for ponds and try some of it unfinished for growing orchids and ferns.

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Old 07-01-2012, 06:47 PM
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Here's the foam branch with Drylok and a steel eye bolt. There is another eye bolt on the other side too.

I left the foam surface rough and with the Drylok it made a more or less convincing bark-like finish. After getting this shot I covered the log with sphagnum moss too and I'll post a picture of that in a bit.


1-VII-12-epiphyte-branch-I-m by hidrofit, on Flickr
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  #9  
Old 07-02-2012, 02:36 AM
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I got this thing planted up tonight. Here is a quick shot showing the branch with sphagnum moss. I used the sheet sphagnum, which is a lot easier to attach than regular long-fibre, held in place with monofilament fishing line wrapped around and around. I mounted the plants with cotton sewing thread. I'll get a picture the whole planted feature tomorrow.


1-VII-12-epiphyte-branch-II-m
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