My New Cage Build


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Hello All,

I came up with an idea for my new cage build. I'm sure it's been done before..but I hadn't read about it. Figured I'd share.

My last serious hobby before I recently moved was salt water reefs. There is a lot of work that goes into a nice display tank. Though I will not be able to create my own little mini-world...I figured I'd do my best to give my growing male Ambilobe a nice pad.

I'll start with the dimensions. It is in three parts. There is a stand for elevation, an enclosure for the inhabitant, and a canopy to hide lights and drippers and such. As we all know, chams are arboreal. I figured it would be better to build up than out. I decided to go with a cage size of 3ft wide by 2ft deep, by 4.5ft high. The stand elevates the cage another three feet, and the canopy adds little under foot to overall heighth, giving the total structure a dimension of 3ft wide X 2ft deep X 8.5ft high.

Since I was building it from scratch, I decided to custom build the base so it would be easy to clean.

To start, I made sure the base of the enlosure had a "step down" from the edges to the middle of the stand.

I then cut a rectangular piece of 1/4" birch veneer to fit the base of the enclosure and cut it like so...

The hole in the center of the stand is for's a drain that will lead to a 5gallon bucket under the cage, within the stand.

I then placed the pieces of the board together on top of the stand like so. The drain is placed in the middle. Because the birch is 3/4" higher on the outside edges than in the center where the drain hole is, I have a nice slope for run-off into the drain.

I went to Lowes and bought some 40 mil PVC sheeting used for shower pan liners for effective water run-off from misters and general maintenance (poop clean-up).

I cut it and layed it out on the sloped birch

I didn't take a picture, but I used a contact adhesive to permanently attach the PVC liner to the 1/4" birch plyboard. It is now smooth and looks custom fit.
Because the base is sloped, I decided to place egg crate diffuser on top to provide a level surface for future plants.

Tonight I'll only be able to add pics of the base.

For grins, here's a few pics of my old reef. It was a 150 gallon...a lot of time and effort went into this...and money lol. I only grew aquacultured corals. It was a lot of fun. The tank was pretty young here, it matured quite a bit more over the years.

looks like its coming along nicely. im going to be building something similar for my guy, but not for a few more months probably. hes still just little. any building pics of the base itself?
Its looking good, I cannt wait top see more pics of the build. I'm looking into a new cage build myself. nice tank as well. :)
Well, I've just about wrapped things up. I'm sorry that I didn't do a step by step guide...except for the base. I just finished sealing it. I'm going to let it air out for the rest of the weekend.

Well here are the three parts of it:

The Base

The Cage

and The Canopy

Because I'm impatient, I loaded it up with my live plants to get an idea of how it's gonna look. I still have lots of fake vines I can add later. They're currently in the cage he's living in now.

Door Open

A Little Closer

Door Closed, with my 5 yr old son as a size reference. He is 4'4"

And of Course, A Pic of the Future Resident, a 7 Month Old Ambilobe
Fantastic Craftsmanship and your tank was just beautiful also!!! I am sure you will have a happy chameleon!!! I would just add a few more vines and branches.
Thanks for the kind comments.

There are still a few pending items:

- The extra vines and branches will move over with him from his old cage.
- I re-potted all of the plants. I still need to cover the soil with river stones.
- Of course, I need to mount my lights in the canopy
- I need to route his misting system

I hope he likes it. He's so skiddish right now in his current enclosure. Hopefully the extra real estate helps him feel more comfortable.

Right now he's about 13 inches long, including his tail. Do you think he's big enough to move into an enclosure of this size?
That looks so nice. I would like to do something like that, my lights/fogger/dripper are kind of junky looking right on top of my cage.

You can definitely tell you used to do saltwater reefs. My boyfriend does that, and raises coral too, those photos are so pretty.
Simply amazing enclosure. Beautiful cham too!

I maintain 5 freshwater aquariums myself (fish + 9 different species of turtles) and I definitely know how much time and money it takes to pull that off. Saltwater tanks require even more skill and I am very impressed indeed. ;)
Simply amazing enclosure. Beautiful cham too!

I maintain 5 freshwater aquariums myself (fish + 9 different species of turtles) and I definitely know how much time and money it takes to pull that off. Saltwater tanks require even more skill and I am very impressed indeed. ;)

I used to raise turtles a long time ago. Very cool. I still have my 150...sitting empty in my dining room. I need a break from the reefing world though. It was heart breaking having to tear everything down before I moved this summer...thank you Uncle Sam. I plan on setting up my 57 this month to raise seahorses.

I'm very excited about my chams. My kids are trying to get me to name them...they like the name "Toothless", like from How to Train Your Dragon.
Beautiful cage and beautiful reef, too! I've got 2 reef tanks, a coral frag tank, and a 10 gallon tank for breeding clownfish (about 300 gallons total). My next project will be an enclosure for a veiled chameleon.
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