Dirty Waterfall safe?


New Member
Hey guys, today I set up a small "test" vivarium.

In it, I tried out Zoo Meds waterfall idea: (Place a pump in a layer of hydroballs under the substrate and pump water up to make a waterfall)

However, I noticed that the water pumped up to the top of the waterfall was kinda dirty.

Is it safe if my cham drinks any of this? I will have a dripper with fresh clean water.

Thanks for your help guys :)


Established Member
Waterfalls harbor bacteria like crazy. Everyone on here is going to say no on the waterfalls. They are visually pleasing of course, but the risk are just way to high for them. The chameleon can poop in the waterfall also and that is a major risk factor because they will drink the water.

Chameleons should drink from either an automated mister or hand sprayer. It does a much better job of upping the humidity in the enclosure. Along with that it also will be clean water either distilled or from the tap and then treated with a mild declorinator that can be picked up in the reptile section anywhere.

What is best is to actually just have a bare bottom with no substrate and typically just a layer of paper towels or newspaper if anything. But is sounds like you went for the more earthy feel so if you do have dirt at the bottom and what not make sure you get a colony of isopods to help recycle after your chameleon poops.

Ultimately though I would recommend a bare bottom of the cage because I feel like it is way easier to clean and much faster also. Plus there is a much higher risk with bacteria growing in a planted enclosure especially with a waterfall.


Avid Member
Yeah unfortunately the bare bottom is best. You will eventually see that it is just a total mess to try to keep the false bottom with earth. Believe me I tried this even just with my whites tree frogs. I wanted a planted viv with false bottom so bad and I was determined to give it a shot. I wasted so much time and money only to figure out that even with the whites tree frogs, the mini ecosystem just cant keep up. It got so dirty and one frog got a skin infection. That basically proved to me that if it isnt good for 2 whites tree frogs, it definitely wouldn’t be good for a chameleon. I really think the mini ecosystem only works well with small species of animals that dont produce much waste, allowing the bugs to keep up with cleaning. Otherwise you just end up with an unhealthy system.

I also tried the waterfall and it just constanly grew bacteria, in spite of me trying to clean it daily. I ditched that pretty fast in my frog tank. Now its bare bottoms for everyone. Although for the frogs I use fleece fabric that I change out every other day. Works well. The chameleons have a bare bottom with drainage.


New Member
Thanks for your help, guys. After reading what you said about bacteria, I will probably just go with no waterfall. :)
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