Bioactive Build

Dbash44

Avid Member
Hey CF!

Hope everyone is staying safe and sane out there with what's going on in the world.

I'm posting a thread about this bioactive enclosure I'm working on for anyone interested in following along. I know the threads I've looked at have helped a lot, so hopefully this will help someone else.

Anyhow, I picked up a 18x18x36 Exo-Terra terrarium as well as some Great Stuff, branches, isopods, springtails and so on. Basically all the essentials for this project. I'm letting the microfauna reproduce in a smaller containers while I build this. My hope is that, after some time, I'll be able to give it to a smaller species of chameleon. I've planned the build to have a basking spot for UV and one for heat as well as some potted plants on the sides of the walls.

For substrate, I've researched this thread: https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/bioactive-mentor.167174/ and received a recipe for bioactive substrate from someone who sells isopods and springtails. Another member suggested I look into getting some substrate from the wilderness. I'm still deciding what I'll do for this as I'm afraid getting substrate from the outdoors will have something dangerous in it (i.e. pesticides, parasites).

Here's some pictures of the progress I've made. I used the Great Stuff Big Gap Filler and sort of regret it. I thought I was being smart by buying something that would expand more than the original so I'd buy less cans of it. It expanded SO much and now I have a lot of carving to do. You can see how much I had to cut off in the last picture. Part of the left side fell over when I was spraying the foam on it which is why there's a huge mountain in the middle. The amount of branches I originally planned on may make it too crowded to plant plants and provide them with some space to grow.

Any critique is welcome :cool:
 

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Dbash44

Avid Member
I carved out a bunch of the foam and added in some more cork that I’ll use as a pot. Added some other foam “ledges” that I’ll carve out and use to pot plants, too.

I took a look at my springtails last night and found something interesting. Looks like an myriapod, but I’m not sure. Maybe someone else knows? Did I get a freebie? I added a couple pics of it.
 

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CJ's Exotics

Chameleon Enthusiast
That's pretty cool! That's the pain of the gap filler, the carving! What species are you planning on getting? Looks pretty good!
 

CJ's Exotics

Chameleon Enthusiast
I will say to be careful with all the little gaps and crevices and hard to reach areas though, it makes putting the silicone a pain.
 

Dbash44

Avid Member
That's pretty cool! That's the pain of the gap filler, the carving! What species are you planning on getting? Looks pretty good!
Thanks! I’m looking into possibly getting some sort of pottery tool that I can glide across the foam to shape it. I was hoping to get bradypodion if I can find someone willing to sell one to me. I absolutely love those

I will say to be careful with all the little gaps and crevices and hard to reach areas though, it makes putting the silicone a pain.
Yeah I know right?! I usually put a lot of branches in my chams cages so it’s hard to not do the same here as I know it will make it more of a challenge with silicone. The plan is to get the right plants that will be used as climbing surfaces. Either that or I can get my cat to help out with the silicone 😂
 

CJ's Exotics

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thanks! I’m looking into possibly getting some sort of pottery tool that I can glide across the foam to shape it. I was hoping to get bradypodion if I can find someone willing to sell one to me. I absolutely love those



Yeah I know right?! I usually put a lot of branches in my chams cages so it’s hard to not do the same here as I know it will make it more of a challenge with silicone. The plan is to get the right plants that will be used as climbing surfaces. Either that or I can get my cat to help out with the silicone 😂
Ooh, bradypodion! Good luck searching, they are hard to find!
 

Dbash44

Avid Member
Update:

I carved the heck out of this thing tonight and reapplied some foam to areas I messed up on. I’m happy with the way it’s coming together. I’ve chosen to leave some of the sides bare so that it doesn’t feel as boxy.

Little tip for anyone doing this. If you get some foam on the glass in a place you don’t want it there’s an easy way to get it off. Remove the gist of the foam with your finger nail. Then use some nail polish remover with acetone in it and a soft rag/cotton ball and apply it to the area you want to remove the foam residue. It takes some time but be patient and use some elbow grease. Some pictures are attached to show how well this works.
 

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Dbash44

Avid Member
Hi! Just wanted to know what kind of great stuff foam you used (:))
It’s looking great btw! 💕
Thank you!
I used the Big Gap Filler (black can) as well as the original. I wish I would have just stuck with the OG from the start since I cut A LOT off. The BGF is like $2 more, too. Plus I feel the BGF took forever to cure properly. I've used the pond and stone in the past and it works well, it's just pricer than the rest of them. I like that one because it's black.

What are you planning on doing with it?
 

Dbash44

Avid Member
About halfway there with the coco husk. I used four tubes of the silicone and ran out. Picked up more and will resume progress once home from the office this evening.
 

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Dbash44

Avid Member
Watched the live action Lion King last night and got some inspiration for the moss aspect of the project. Anyone ever see the cham eating the dragon fly in the gorge before Mufasa dies? They even got the tail right on this one!

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Dbash44

Avid Member
My favorite scene! I freaked out when my team won for quizlet live, we were the chameleons lol
I loved that the cham truly did not give a crap and just walked in front of Simba. He eventually got scared, but I found it funny because cham's wouldn't act that way in the wild. I also wondered where all the lions sourced their protein from. The movie made it seem like the lions were vegetarians. Not confusing at all. I just gave up hope on the realism of that movie 😂

What's Quizlet? You're making me feel old. lol
 

The Wild One

Chameleon Enthusiast
I loved that the cham truly did not give a crap and just walked in front of Simba. He eventually got scared, but I found it funny because cham's wouldn't act that way in the wild. I also wondered where all the lions sourced their protein from. The movie made it seem like the lions were vegetarians. Not confusing at all. I just gave up hope on the realism of that movie 😂

What's Quizlet? You're making me feel old. lol
It’s a online game that your teacher sets up and it randomly put you in teams, there are questions of the teachers choice and you have 4 answers and your on on team with 3 other people. You can’t see the other peoples answers so you have to rely on them to get it right. If you get one wrong you go back to question 1 and the first team to 12 wins. I was waiting for Simba to get bit on the nose lol.
 

hiddenflaws

Established Member
Thank you!
I used the Big Gap Filler (black can) as well as the original. I wish I would have just stuck with the OG from the start since I cut A LOT off. The BGF is like $2 more, too. Plus I feel the BGF took forever to cure properly. I've used the pond and stone in the past and it works well, it's just pricer than the rest of them. I like that one because it's black.

What are you planning on doing with it?
So I’m planning on switching to bioactive (my exo terra just came in today so I’m very excited) and I am trying to figure out what kind of foam to use. I’m basically doing what you’re doing.
 

Dbash44

Avid Member
It’s a online game that your teacher sets up and it randomly put you in teams, there are questions of the teachers choice and you have 4 answers and your on on team with 3 other people. You can’t see the other peoples answers so you have to rely on them to get it right. If you get one wrong you go back to question 1 and the first team to 12 wins. I was waiting for Simba to get bit on the nose lol.
Oh that's sounds really competitive. haha thanks for schooling me.
What class was it that the Lion King movie was even relevant?

So I’m planning on switching to bioactive (my exo terra just came in today so I’m very excited) and I am trying to figure out what kind of foam to use. I’m basically doing what you’re doing.
IMO I would just use the original. People swear behind GE Silicone 1 or aquarium silicone, which is usually clear, for this type of thing. If I remember correctly, some people thought GE Silicone 2 and other silicone/caulk for windows and doors had some ingredient in it (what acts as a mold inhibitor I believe) that is bad for animals.

On the contrary, I've also seen people use other types of silicone like brown silicone, which is typically the window and door variation, and not had any issues.

Reason I bring this up, other than to pass on what I learned, is for aesthetics. I've used the clear silicone in the past with the Original Great Stuff and when the substrate/silicone started to fall off from weathering the yellow foam was revealed. It looked bad to me. There could have been a number of things attributed to the substrate/silicone falling off in that application.

After speaking with other people who have done this project, I now believe it was the method that I went about applying the silicone and substrate. My original thinking was to skip a step and omit the shaving of the foam. The way I applied the foam made it have a rock-like appearance and I was happy with it.

It was extremely difficult to apply the silicone effectively in all the nooks and crannies between the "rocks". Also, the foam gets this slick outer layer, or "skin" if you will, which makes it hard for the silicone to stick to. On top of all this, I just sprinkled the substrate on top of the silicone (the way you used Elmer's glue and glitter in grade school art class). By applying it this way, the substrate was not really embedded in the silicone very well. It was suggested that I cut the foam, then apply a thick layer silicone and firmly press the substrate in to the silicone.

Following that method works a lot better in my experience. The foam is rougher after being cut, which allows the silicone to grip into the air pockets of the foam (at least that's what I can deduce). Lastly, I found it easier to apply the silicone by hand with a latex/nitrile glove than it is with a large paint brush.

So, if you are afraid of the substrate falling off and making your piece of art look bad, you can either use a brown silicone or use the Great Stuff Pond and Stone. The brown silicone will blend with the environment if the substrate starts to fall off. GSP&F is black in color and, if you choose to use clear silicone, will be less off-putting to the environment if the substrate starts to fall off. The GSP&F option with clear GE Silicone 1 might be the way to go about things if you're nervous about what products you'll be exposing your cham to. That particular variation of the foam is the most expensive of all of them I believe so just prepare yourself for that. I always find that I need more product than what I originally think I do.

I would suggest use whatever you're most comfortable with for your cham. At the end of the day, you're the only one who's going to notice aesthetics. Your cham is going to be the only one physically affected by something that you choose to use for the build.
 
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