Can I plant this?


New Member
Hey guys,

I've been lurking for a while, but I came out of hiding finally to ask for some help from folks more experienced than I. I currently have a Nosy Be and a juvenile Jackson's, who both have happy little setups with potted plants and such, I've never attempted a truly planted enclosure. I always figured the very easy cleanup of the bare floor worked out nicely.

However, a friend of mine just gave me an 18"x18"x24" tall enclosure they apparently used for a frog at some time. It seems pretty old-- no side vent like any ExoTerra build, or at least, any I've seen in recent history. Would I have sufficient air flow to plant it? Or would it foster too heavily to mold, since it's only top-vented? How would I go about planting it, exactly?

I'm all ears. I'd be more than happy to set this up and get a baby cham in it. :D
I'll preface my reply by stating I have my newly acquired Jackson's in the Zoomed Naturalistic tank. However, it is top vented and has vents all along the front. I've used a few different methods to make sure there is good airflow throughout the tank, and enough so that it fully dries out between mistings. So far, so good, but we are watching him closely.

Having said this, without seeing pics of your new enclosure, I would bet that if it is fully glassed with the exception of the top, with no other ventilation, it might not be the greatest choice for a cham. Your concerns regarding airflow are spot on, maybe not regarding molding, but certainly regarding any potential respiratory infections.

Additionally, what do you mean by "fully planted"? If you are referring to a true vivarium, where you have an actual substrate the plants are in, from what I've read, that too is not suggested for chams. Depending on the substrate, if the cham ingests any of it, you run the risk of intestinal impaction.

Have you considered keeping it for frogs, say maybe some great looking poison dart frogs? As far as "how" to plant the tank, Josh's frogs has a great writeup on how to plant and care for a planted vivarium here:

Keep in mind, I'm a noob here, my current Jackson's is my first chammy, so you may want to wait around for further replies from those with more experience than myself. Hope this helps!
You know, you might be right. I'm thinking I might have to put a crested gecko in there, as it is truly only vented from the top.

Is it really inadvisable to use a soil substrate with chameleons, though? My local pet shop actually has all of their baby chameleons in tanks with actual substrate, though the soil is 100% covered in moss-- I was thinking about asking them to do a custom design in my tank, actually. They apparently haven't had problems, but I'd still trust you guys here over them.
Regarding the substrate, the overall consensus is you should not use it for chameleons. Not only for the risks of impaction, but for the potential of bacterial growth from all of the moisture from mistings, drip systems...etc.

However, I too have seen many chammy setups that do use a substrate of some kind and the owners have had no problems. Granted the owners applied common sense and used something that is all natural and digestible, such as coconut fiber, while also feeding from an insect cup to help cut down on the chances of accidental ingestion of the substrate. I'd say be careful and monitor closely if you are going to try it.
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