Enclosure live background?

Lunatuck

Established Member
I have to say I'm blown away by the live vivarium style enclosures some of you are posting. Even before I decided I wanted a chameleon, I always thought I'd want a bioactive terrarium. It also looks like I'll have my screen enclosure for some time before I acquire my Panther chameleon.

That said, I'm concerned about some of the negatives of a bioactive floor in my first chameleon setup and I'm a firm believer in the KISS principal. (Keep It Simple Stupid).

So I'm asking myself why I would want a bioactive setup. My primary reason is the beautiful look of a lush rainforest looking setup, but I also feel like it will increase the humidity in the cage. I live in the northeast, and I can see humidity being my primary struggle.

So my thought is to do a custom planted wall, but not a planted bottom. I'd plan on using spray foam, cork bark and some driftwood to create a natural looking wall with pockets to hold planters or planted plants. I'd hope this would help maintain higher humidity while not misting. I suspect that better humidity retention throughout would always be better. I also feel like the smaller plants (with leaves closer to the base) would be better at holding humidity then something like a ficus. It should also give me more anchor points for vines and other climbing fodder.

So my main question is does this sound like a good plan? If so, my second question is "Do I create (spray foam)the wall directly onto the back screen panel?" I'm using an Exo Terra 24"wx18"dx36" screen terrarium. IF it was an aquarium, I'd spray directly, but I'm not sure that the screen can handle the weight. Particularly with plants on it. Is there an easy solution to this?

Any thoughts or help is welcome. Thanks!
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
In the search function on the forum search living wall... there are quite a few posts on this. I think you would like dragon ledges as well for securing pots and sticks They hold quite a bit of weight. https://dragonstrand.com/dragon-ledges/

Also just keep in mind they grow out of the smaller cages really fast so you may want to try your hand with it but not put a ton of money into this one. If it is only 18 inches deep and you are planting it out you will lose quite a bit of depth to the cage.
 

JacksJill

Moderator
Staff member
I make my planter walls on PVC sheets and then hang the sheets from holes drilled in the metal frame of the cage. I don't go all the way to the floor so the floor panel can still be lifted out if needed for cleaning. I also leave some cutouts for air flow because I hang mine from the sides not the back to preserve the depth
. IMG_3872.jpeg
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
I make my planter walls on PVC sheets and then hang the sheets from holes drilled in the metal frame of the cage. I don't go all the way to the floor so the floor panel can still be lifted out if needed for cleaning. I also leave some cutouts for air flow because I hang mine from the sides not the back to preserve the depth
.View attachment 223510
Sooo cool!
 

Lunatuck

Established Member
Thanks for the quick replies. I understand the cage will be outgrown. To give me a little more time, I was planning on having the faux wall V deeper into the corners preserving depth in the middle. It's hard to explain, but accomplishes what Jackjill posted above. Plus, when it's outgrown, I'll find another something to keep it warm. Or maybe go full bioactive.

I'll look for the living walls and dragon ledges. Thanks for the keywords.

This was exactly what I was looking for! https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/diy-living-wall-turtorial-with-pictures.129951/
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thanks for the quick replies. I understand the cage will be outgrown. To give me a little more time, I was planning on having the faux wall V deeper into the corners preserving depth in the middle. It's hard to explain, but accomplishes what Jackjill posted above. Plus, when it's outgrown, I'll find another something to keep it warm. Or maybe go full bioactive.

I'll look for the living walls and dragon ledges. Thanks for the keywords.

This was exactly what I was looking for! https://www.chameleonforums.com/threads/diy-living-wall-turtorial-with-pictures.129951/
Yeah utilizing corners in smaller cages is a great way to not lose depth. That is what I did going up the back right corner with 2 pots that had a lip to them with pothos. I attached them to the corner with exo terra jungle vine. Winding them around the pots to hold them in place. And using multiple mini zip ties to attach the vine to the screen. This worked really well for me.
 

Lunatuck

Established Member
Brainstoming is on! I have some old styrofoam rocks I made for a past project. They will give me a great foundation and will make great planters if Input holes in them!

I may start a build thread after this post, but heres my forst mockup for the time being.
 

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Lunatuck

Established Member
Those are pretty cool!

Thanks. Theyre not hard to make, and look a lot like the dragon ledges. But I love the crack going between. It was designed that way for a model railroad project that was recently broken down.
 

James&Monet

Member
I decided to do Bioactive because I love the beauty of it and wanted the best environment for my chameleon too. But I also wanted to keep cleaning in mind and after reading about some of the hazards of a bioactive floor, I chose to not to have one.

Instead I have potted plants on the floor in black pots with smaller plants like pothos wrapped around the pots so you can't see them. This way I can easily remove them for cleaning and there is proper drainage as well.

As far as building, my cage is 24x24x48 reptibreeze, and I cut a piece of screen to 24x48 and sprayed foam onto that... leaving pockets for plants and stuck sticks into the foam when it was wet. Then I used nontoxic good old Elmers glue for adhering the substrate and soil to the wall. I used a hot glue gun to glue on the mosses and airplants/bromeliads.

Anyway... after all this I had to use more foam to stick the foam to the actual cage wall... sooo I could have just done this in the first place! Haha. The foam is very light!!
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Lunatuck

Established Member
I decided to do Bioactive because I love the beauty of it and wanted the best environment for my chameleon too. But I also wanted to keep cleaning in mind and after reading about some of the hazards of a bioactive floor, I chose to not to have one.

Instead I have potted plants on the floor in black pots with smaller plants like pothos wrapped around the pots so you can't see them. This way I can easily remove them for cleaning and there is proper drainage as well.

As far as building, my cage is 24x24x48 reptibreeze, and I cut a piece of screen to 24x48 and sprayed foam onto that... leaving pockets for plants and stuck sticks into the foam when it was wet. Then I used nontoxic good old Elmers glue for adhering the substrate and soil to the wall. I used a hot glue gun to glue on the mosses and airplants/bromeliads.

Anyway... after all this I had to use more foam to stick the foam to the actual cage wall... sooo I could have just done this in the first place! Haha. The foam is very light!! View attachment 223570View attachment 223571View attachment 223572View attachment 223573View attachment 223574View attachment 223570View attachment 223571View attachment 223572View attachment 223573View attachment 223574

Amazing and inspiring! Thanks for the info.

I love the depth you’ve created! And wow! Thats a nice variety of plants!

Do I see Rhododendrons?
 

James&Monet

Member
Absolutely! You should definitely do it! It was more expensive than I thought because of the plants... I bought a lot of them... I have a ficus, several pothos, air plants, bromeliads, ferns, an avacado tree, mosses and some other vine thing... all good for chameleons.
 

Lunatuck

Established Member
I have three colors of mosses outside thatll come back this year. Never had a good way to keep them in the winter. Now I will! Yay!
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
There's really no hazards to a bio active floor, all of my chameleons have been kept this way. The old impaction myth needs to die lol. Unless you have gravel laying around and/or your cham is extremely sick and can't pass a few particles of dirt(in which case it couldn't pass insect chitin either) there's really nothing to worry about. I'm also in the northeast, the humidity shouldn't be a problem as long as the temperature isn't too high. Now if you're set on no bottom, that's your choice, just wanted to reassure you that it's safe if you wanted to give substrate a try. Bio floors do keep it simple, so simple it's hard to get a fecal sample because the cleaners get it so quickly!

As for your question, I used light diffuser when i made walls, foam onto it, add plant pots, shape it, cover in silicone, press on coco fiber, and whatever else. That way you can remove it if you need to.

Few pictures of my bio Parsons enclosure(no wall yet because it's not his permanent home). Have enough substrate in there to impact a horse, yet he still clings on for dear life(y)

(Sorry if anyone covered this already, I didn't read all the posts)
 

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James&Monet

Member
There's really no hazards to a bio active floor, all of my chameleons have been kept this way. The old impaction myth needs to die lol. Unless you have gravel laying around and/or your cham is extremely sick and can't pass a few particles of dirt(in which case it couldn't pass insect chitin either) there's really nothing to worry about. I'm also in the northeast, the humidity shouldn't be a problem as long as the temperature isn't too high. Now if you're set on no bottom, that's your choice, just wanted to reassure you that it's safe if you wanted to give substrate a try. Bio floors do keep it simple, so simple it's hard to get a fecal sample because the cleaners get it so quickly!

As for your question, I used light diffuser when i made walls, foam onto it, add plant pots, shape it, cover in silicone, press on coco fiber, and whatever else. That way you can remove it if you need to.

Few pictures of my bio Parsons enclosure(no wall yet because it's not his permanent home). Have enough substrate in there to impact a horse, yet he still clings on for dear life(y)

(Sorry if anyone covered this already, I didn't read all the posts)



Gorgeous enclosure!! And by "hazards" I meant... not proper drainage for the soil and possible mold growth. I also wasn't sure about their feces affecting the bottom... but they are easy to spot and pick up.
 

Lunatuck

Established Member
There's really no hazards to a bio active floor, all of my chameleons have been kept this way. The old impaction myth needs to die lol. Unless you have gravel laying around and/or your cham is extremely sick and can't pass a few particles of dirt(in which case it couldn't pass insect chitin either) there's really nothing to worry about. I'm also in the northeast, the humidity shouldn't be a problem as long as the temperature isn't too high. Now if you're set on no bottom, that's your choice, just wanted to reassure you that it's safe if you wanted to give substrate a try. Bio floors do keep it simple, so simple it's hard to get a fecal sample because the cleaners get it so quickly!

As for your question, I used light diffuser when i made walls, foam onto it, add plant pots, shape it, cover in silicone, press on coco fiber, and whatever else. That way you can remove it if you need to.

Few pictures of my bio Parsons enclosure(no wall yet because it's not his permanent home). Have enough substrate in there to impact a horse, yet he still clings on for dear life(y)

(Sorry if anyone covered this already, I didn't read all the posts)

Nice setup!

Thanks for clarifying that about bioactive floors. I was deterred mainly due to the myth, but may consider it for the next cage. This one is 24” wide and 36” tall. Should move into a larger cage with room for a planted floor.

As for now, I’m going with my wall and keeping options open.
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
Gorgeous enclosure!! And by "hazards" I meant... not proper drainage for the soil and possible mold growth. I also wasn't sure about their feces affecting the bottom... but they are easy to spot and pick up.


Thank yours as well!

The drainage is definitely important when it comes to substrate. Assuming one has that down correctly, with springtails and established soil mold growth is pretty much impossible. Springtails feed on mold and fungi, isopods and millipedes clean up the larger stuff like poop and dead bugs. Usually only takes several hours for a good CuC to handle. With the barebottoms we're more like to get a build up of mold or harmful bacteria without regular cleanings. When you have a good substrate, aerobic bacteria spreads through it and outcompetes anything negative that could take hold. Similar to a fresh or saltwater aquarium cycling before fish go in. I'm also a believer that it keeps animal's immune systems in good shape. Definitely not the only way, just sharing what I know and have experienced. It works well.
 
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