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I noticed you have a couple of pygmies, and I think I could use your help setting up my new vivarium. First off, how many do you currently own and which size aquarium do you use? Did you build according to the plans on the chameleon news website? Namely, did you use the three-layered substrate method they recommend? How is maintenance? I know the idea for a vivarium is to be at least somewhat self-sufficient. Do you find this to be true with your current setup? Do you use a humidifier to keep humidity high? Any guidance is appreciated.
I have 11 adults split into two enclosures and a bunch of fruit fly inhaling, rapidly growing babies in several small baby containers. My enclosures are set up like the one in Roo's article on Chameleon News, for the most part. I built in a background with wood, spray in insulation, black silicone and coco bark on the big tank, and I like it. The other one is a cage I built myself, not an aquarium. It has cork on three sides, plexiglass front, screen top. I have only used it for a couple months now, and I am not sure it is going to stand up to heavy use. Time will tell.. I built it out of melamine board and plexiglass. The 65 gallon tank houses 6.. 1 male and 5 females, and the cage holds five, 1 male and 4 females.

I used hydroton for the first layer, then screen.. charcoal, then screen again. The first top substrate I used was mainly coco fiber mixed with sand, but I didn't like it a whole lot. It stays really wet and kind of mushy. So, I took about half out and mixed in an organic soil and pumice and like it a lot more. Leaf litter on top of that.. lots of crunched up leaves, and then a lot of whole leaves too. I cooked all the outside stuff before putting it in the tanks. I use a bunch of sticks for climbing, mainly manzanita at the moment.

Other differences from Roo's article.. I planted my plants directly in the substrate. A couple of the smaller ones have died, and I just pulled them, but for the most part the plants have thrived. Like, I will be pulling a couple soon because they are too big now. I used aquarium gravel instead of hydroton in the 2nd cage because I couldn't find any hydroton except for online. In the 65, I am using a soil heater in the top layer. It holds the temp at 74 degrees. I keep it plugged into my light timer, so it runs only during the day, and only if it drops below 74. I haven't used it long... so far, I like it. But, it got warm not long after I put it in, so I haven't really been able to see how it works yet.

I don't use a humidifier on the cages, but I recently added an automatic misting system to them. Each enclosure has 2 heads that spray a fine mist, and they run 4 times a day for 2 minutes each time. Still deciding if I like the system. I am a bit worried it will make it too wet, but so far so good. The humidity stays fine in the enclosures, 60-75%. I use a room humidifier during the winter, and I don't think I will need to pipe any directly into the cages.

Roo is a true expert when it comes to the leaf chams, and you can trust his article to be right on. Everyone has different situations due to their particular area, and you may have to adjust a bit to make things work for you.

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