Intro to the Madgascar Biome Project!

Hey guys, I been away awhile, had a new baby and a bunch of other stuff go down. So I had to leave the hobby among others. But I am back, and going to finish my large DIY enclosure, along with changing the plan, to a Madgascar Biome!

The goal, 100% Naturalistic Vivarium! It will be a little slice of Madgascar in my living room! It will also house a F. Paradlis. ALL PLANTS will be Eastern Humid Forest Natives, just like the Panther.



The Enclosure, is hand made wooden Viv. It will have Glass sliding doors, and Vents to allow airflow. It will be 100% bioactive even the walls.

The dimensions are 48in wide, 24in deep, 82in tall.

The Enclosure consists of 4 sections, we will discuss them top to bottom.

Lighting Top: There is a removable Top for Lighting, This will hold my lights, my Herpstat 6, and drippers ect.

Living Area: The Living area is 46 inches tall, it consists of the area the cham can roam in. Which will be filled with plants, have greatstuff / cocofibered walls, ect.

Soil Bin: The soil bin, is 7.5 inches deep, with 2 holes for drainage. We will talk more about this area, when its time to soil fill it.

Water Storage: The bottom is a cubby for water storage for the system. It will hold a 13 gallon water reservoir, The Fogger system, A Drainage catch, the Mistking pump, and anything else I may need a place to put :p.


The setup will be 100% Bioactive, great stuff will fill gaps in the background, where the Cork Trees are not, it will be covered with Cocofiber fiber, that will then be covered with living moss. The Cork Trees will be adorned by Native Orchids, and Ferns!

Their will be Madgascar Native plants and trees planted in the 7inch deep soil bin.

Everything will be Madgascar Native Only! (Except the soil) I even plan to mix in Red Terrarium Sand to help imatate the red soil of the island! You won't see it, but I don't care lol!

Plant List:


Dracaena marginata (AKA Madgascar Dragon Tree) x2-4. This are my main trees, though I may switch out 2 for 2 of something else, undecided.

Ground Cover / Wall Cover:

Athyrium x3-4 (not sure the rest of the name, as neither is the seller, it is a Athyrium, that was harvested from Eastern Madgascar, came in with some orchids. (im on the lookout for more ferns, if you know of any native to Humid forests of Madagascar let me know!)

Stephanotis floribunda (AKA Madgascar Jasmine) x2. This is my wall climbing vine and I may entice it to wrap the bio active hanging vines.

Hypoestes phyllostachya (AKA Polka Dot Plant) x2. This is some very pretty ground cover.

Asplenium nidus (AKA Birds Nest Fern) x1, too big to do 2 lol.

cordata (AKA Chameleon Plant) x1. This is a pretty, edible ground cover, I am not sure if I will include it as it likes to strangle vivariums.

Orchids (all Orchids will be mounted to cork bark on the walls):

Angraecum sesquipedale (AKA Darwins Orchid / Star Orchid) x1, This is the star of the show (Pun intended), but seriously it will be in the center of the cage, it can grow quite large and will have plenty of room to do so.

All the further orchids, amounts are varied, due to availability ect, to fill the space sufficiently. More may be added, and I am open to suggestions that fit the criteria.

Aerangis modesta
Angraecum aloifolium
Angraecum elephantinum

Aerangis hyaloides
Aerangis fuscata

Aerangis citrata
Angraecum didieri
Angraecum compactum
Angraecum pectinatum


The lighting, will of course be Naturalistic as well. We can't have Naturalistic, with lights turning on blasting tons of lumens, at 7am. So we need to make them gradual, like the sun. They need to ramp on, and they need to ramp off, they need to be brightest in afternoon, more orange in the morning, more blue at night.

We will be achieving this, in the fullest. To do so we will be using,

Basking - There will be 2 Arcadia Deep Heat projectors. Not only do these allow me the ability not have to worry about the light from basking lights. They also provide the chameleon with InfaRed heat! They will be tempature controlled, with the assistance of a Herpstat 6, to maintain perfect tempatures. On the opposite side, there will also be a fan, hooked to the Herpstat to cool the cage as needed to maintain perfect temps.

Grow Lights - The grow lights, are going to be a very imporant piece of the pie. Not only do they give the Cham, a nice lit enclosure, they also provide my hues and color changes, needed to make Dawn and Dusk be completely different atmospheres. This will be accomplished using 4 AI Prime Fresh Water LEDs. At 50ws and 4000 Lumens each, and the ability to control the spectrum, precisely, these will accomplish what we need and more! And do so while delivering over 16k Lumens of light, in any color I want with incredible levels of PAR.

UVB - Now I know what your thinking, what's the point? How can you adjust the spectrum or color, and ramp the lights when you have a 5k lumens T5HO UVB bulb blasting. Your right, which is why I found a solution. With the combination of a Phillips Advance Dimming T5HO ballast, and a TC 421, LED controller converted to 0-10v. I will be able to control the UVB bulbs brightness, down to 1% of the bulbs power! Which will allow me to ramp it on in the morning as well as 1 other suprise, we will get to later.


We all know Chameleons need lots of water. However what they really need, is humidity. We will achieve both.

Humidity - We will be maintaining nighttime humidity at 80% for the nighttime, just like it is in Madagascar. We will do so, with the help of a Ultrasonic Humidifier, and the Herpstat 6, Humidity mode.

Misting - Misting, nothing special here for now. Just a Mistking, with 4 Nozzles. A Rain system, is in the thought stages, but for now just a Mistking (any ideas??) There will also be a second fan, next to the cooling fan, this fan will be on timed intervals to ensure proper drying between sessions, it will also help with ventilation.

Storms - This is a combination of all things up until this point, working in a beautiful glorious tandem. We have all seen Chameleons when the Mister turns on, they run, they hide, they look like a deer in the headlights. They go from sitting on a branch, enjoying life, to being blasted with a stream of water. They have no signs, like they do in the wild. So I will be rectifying that.

30 mins before the Misters turn on, in the afternoon and evening. The lights will began their storm mode. The lights will darken and blue, as if clouds have settled in.

15 Mins before the misters turn on, the timed fan will turn on, creating a light gentle breeze. Helping to change atmospheric pressure, and provide a cool breeze.

10 Mins before the misters turn on, the Fogger will turn on, bringing up the humidity, the pressure, and bringing the smell of rain on the air.

When the misters are on, the cloudy lights will flash bright white, to simulate the occasional lighting strikes.

After the mist is over. The lights will begin to ramp back to their normal spectrum, until the next storm.


"I even plan to mix in Red Terrarium Sand to help imatate the red soil of the island! You won't see it, but I don't care lol!"
I admire your attention to detail. I can't wait to see your project progress.
Nice to see you active on the forum again.

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