DragonStrand Bioactive

wanabthemoon

New Member
Hey everyone! Happy (US) Thanksgiving! So I've been gaining knowledge and making plans for some time. The other day I spied a dragonstrand tall hybrid enclosure on FB marketplace for a song. I snapped it up (of course). It looks perfect just needs a good cleaning. I've been working toward a full bioactive vivarium build for a hopeful Panther or Noise Be in the future. My plan was to do a full expanding foam / drylock background with bioballs and substrate base. I'm now debating how to convert this top-of-the-line enclosure into a vivarium.

The biggest challenge is the placement of the dragondtrand ventilation. The full bottom 6 inches of the front is screening. If I converted this, I would need to add plexi glass here and then open up other areas for adequate ventilation. Does that even make sense?

Do I abandon the bioactive and just go with the standard enclosure?
If that is the recommendation does anyone have any ideas to make the white of the dragonstrand walls look a bit more natural?
 

bbyoda

Chameleon Enthusiast
You can go bioactive and leave the PVC siding alone. That's what I've done. It's just the soil at the bottom and clean up crew that makes the enclosure bioactive.

To make the back panel more naturalistic you could go the trompe L'oeil route and do a background sticker. ;) See how Neptune the Chameleon did that in this video:

I also have a tree patterned shower curtain around and behind the cage to protect the cables and provide a bit of ambiance.

I know you were looking for a different kind of solution but hopefully this gives you something to consider!

PXL_20211003_145041631.jpg
 

bbyoda

Chameleon Enthusiast
Oh oh you have the hybrid one. But the whole front and top are screen right? Not just the bottom area that has a separate hinge for easy access to clean the bottom out. So I think it should be OK. You could put a small PC fan at the top of the enclosure to aid ventilation.

@Klyde O'Scope you'll probably have some good suggestions for OP! Please feel free to correct if I've given incorrect info.
 

wanabthemoon

New Member
Oh oh you have the hybrid one. But the whole front and top are screen right? Not just the bottom area that has a separate hinge for easy access to clean the bottom out. So I think it should be OK. You could put a small PC fan at the top of the enclosure to aid ventilation.

@Klyde O'Scope you'll probably have some good suggestions for OP! Please feel free to correct if I've given incorrect info.
It is actually just the bottom 6 inches and the top that have the screening. which will be perfect as keeping proper humidity is going to be much easier. But I'm going to have to make sure that the bio active part doesn't cover the whole screening 6 inches. or add some other vents.
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
@Klyde O'Scope you'll probably have some good suggestions for OP! Please feel free to correct if I've given incorrect info.
It is actually just the bottom 6 inches and the top that have the screening. which will be perfect as keeping proper humidity is going to be much easier. But I'm going to have to make sure that the bio active part doesn't cover the whole screening 6 inches. or add some other vents.
Correct. This can be done in a couple of different ways. One is to keep the soil container back from the front screen a couple of inches. Another is to 'landscape' the soil so that it's lower in the front, sloping up to the rear, allowing ventilation in above the soil at the front.

Do I abandon the bioactive and just go with the standard enclosure?
If that is the recommendation does anyone have any ideas to make the white of the dragonstrand walls look a bit more natural?
Let me say that I'm sure many do it successfully, but this is not the enclosure I would start with/use for bioactive. JMO.

Some of my concerns have to do with whether you build a solid container for the soil, or use a root bag/pouch. The PVC walls of the DS enclosures are half the thickness of others. IDK if the weight of the soil & water in a soft-sided bag would create enough pressure to bulge or break the PVC panels.

Personally, I don't mind the white walls at all. They reflect light down into the nether regions of the enclosure, and make finding my chameleon much easier.

That said, covering them would best be done before the enclosure was assembled. Removing the screws at this point might strip the holes/threads in the frame (personal experience), requiring the next larger size (dia) sheet metal screws. I've had to do this in a few places where the holes were stripped right out of the box; it works in some places but not all.

The panels can be covered with vinyl backdrops (See Enclosure Picture Threads at the top of this forum) or painted (much easier before assembly), but I would mask carefully or paint the frame, and IDK how well paint might/might not stick to the frame (Hint: test piece).

FWIW, If I knew from the start that I wanted a bioactive setup, I would get a Zen Habitats—the frames are much stronger, and the PVC panels are twice as thick (and available with a bamboo look). The stronger frame and top also come in handy for supporting lights.

Another option for bioactive is DIY. It may not save a lot, but you can get exactly the enclosure & features you want.
 
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Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
I should add that my experiences building a tortoise table might be applied to building a waterproof bioactive substrate box.
https://www.chameleonforums.com/conversations/tortoise-table.178827/

I would use a similar frame (maybe 1" instead of 1½"), seal all inside seams with GE#1 silicone, and slather the entire interior with at least 2 coats (3 would be better) of Flex Seal Liquid. I would use the liquid over the spray because it can be applied much thicker, and abrasion from soil particulates would be less likely to scratch through causing water problems.
 

wanabthemoon

New Member
wow that is very helpful. I don't know why I hadn't thought of blocking off the first few inches. That might be a perfect solution.

has anyone done a spray foam / drylock background on a dragonstrand? I would love to see what it looks like.
 

Troubledluna80

Established Member
I have a bioactive dragon strand hybrid cage. Hi simply added a plant bag at the bottom. It filled up most of the bottom with only the corners opened. In the back corners I filled with Sphagnum moss. The front corners I left open to encourage air flow. I decided against spray foam Bc it does take away space in the cage. It works great I’ve had this set up for over a year and my plants have completely taken over.
 

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