Creating a soil bottom in a screen terrarium

dlaunde

Established Member
Hey all,

Been away from the forums for a while. My Panther chameleon died a last Spring 2019 and I took a break from the hobby. But I have now found myself wanting a chameleon friend again. I will be starting from scratch for the enclosure, so I had an idea I was hoping for input on.

I am going to get the usual 24x24x48 screen terrarium but I was wondering if it would be possible to create a waterproof bottom and sides up to about 8" so I can place soil down and plant one or two plants directly into the soil. This way my misting system doesn't need drainage and instead will just keep the soil perpetually wet/moist.

The cheap/easy solution would be to line the area I want with double plastic (black)...but I know even plastic can biodegrade ever so slightly over time and I don't want to deal with a possible issue years later. Wasn't sure if there was a better solution people knew of. Or if this idea is just not feasible or if I would still need a drainage tray underneath the setup for any possible excess moisture.

Thanks!
 

MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Hey all,

Been away from the forums for a while. My Panther chameleon died a last Spring 2019 and I took a break from the hobby. But I have now found myself wanting a chameleon friend again. I will be starting from scratch for the enclosure, so I had an idea I was hoping for input on.

I am going to get the usual 24x24x48 screen terrarium but I was wondering if it would be possible to create a waterproof bottom and sides up to about 8" so I can place soil down and plant one or two plants directly into the soil. This way my misting system doesn't need drainage and instead will just keep the soil perpetually wet/moist.

The cheap/easy solution would be to line the area I want with double plastic (black)...but I know even plastic can biodegrade ever so slightly over time and I don't want to deal with a possible issue years later. Wasn't sure if there was a better solution people knew of. Or if this idea is just not feasible or if I would still need a drainage tray underneath the setup for any possible excess moisture.

Thanks!
Welcome back and sorry you lost your cham.
Sounds like you’re wanting to crate a bioactive enclosure. There’s a few different ways to achieve your goal. Some make a planter box and sit the enclosure on it. Some create with varied materials a box to fit inside the enclosure. I use root bags for mine at the current time.
This is an awesome blog that will take you thru the basics.https://www.chameleonforums.com/blogs/intro-to-bio-activity.2429/
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
Dragon Strand builds drain trays out of PVC board. You could do this to the dimensions you need, and still provide drainage via a bulkhead/gravity drain system.

As MissSkittles suggested, a planter box is another option.

A third is a deep drain pan. In searching for drain pans to go under a DIY enclosure, I came across some fairly deep aluminum & stainless steel pans, but they were on the expensive side. Not what I was looking for, so I didn't save links. :(
 

dlaunde

Established Member
Welcome back and sorry you lost your cham.
Sounds like you’re wanting to crate a bioactive enclosure. There’s a few different ways to achieve your goal. Some make a planter box and sit the enclosure on it. Some create with varied materials a box to fit inside the enclosure. I use root bags for mine at the current time.
This is an awesome blog that will take you thru the basics.https://www.chameleonforums.com/blogs/intro-to-bio-activity.2429/

So I am in the process of getting everything together per the blog you posted. And I will be making my own soil based on the four parts they outlined. However, I am having trouble understanding how well the window screen option works as a barrier since one part of the soil being used is sand...wouldn't that be fine enough to fall through the screen?
 
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