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iitomodachi1
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PostSubject: False Bottom Alternative   11/30/2010, 3:06 am

Alright everyone, I'm hoping for a little constructive criticism or just plane old thoughts on this. I have been toying with this idea of a false bottom alternative for a while now. I know false bottoms aren't necessary but I think they are nice in a means to keep the substrate more natural being more moist from the bottom up. But gravel makes the tank so darn heavy. I have a 20gal with this set up and it weighs a ton. Just scored a free 30 gal tank and wanted to use it for my AFS but dreaded the thought of gravel in that pig!!

So I spent less than $10 at a hardware store for a bunch of 1/2 inch pvc pipes, joints and end caps from a local hardware stores plumbing department. Best thing is this stuff is meant for water, also you want it distribute water so you don't have to worry about the joints with any sealant or tape.

Empty tank (30 Gallon)


I played around with the length of the short pieces to fit it all in the 30. I cut them to 2 1/2 inches and saved the remainder of the pipe. The longer pieces came at that length and off had I don't recall what they were. I had an extra on to use for the piece sticking up but ended up using the left over from the short pieces.

PVC Pieces and the only tool I needed - regular ol' saw. I would have gone power if I was not doing this in my kitchen Very Happy



Pieces fit together



Inside the tank


Top view inside the tank


Sorry I have not set the tank up yet there are a few things to do yet. I intend on drilling small holes at the very bottom of all these pipes, They have to be small enough so when you pour water in the top it will run through the whole series of pipes and pour out the holes in the bottom fairly evenly.

I also need to mention that I would put about 1-2 inches of substrate down first set the pipes up and the add the rest of the substrate and furniture.

The piece that sticks up out of the substrate in the corner can be covered by plants or my preference is a large in diameter piece of bamboo I found for my 20 gal set up. I can just slide that over the bottle and the tank stays looking natural rather than see whatever bottle or whatever you use to pour the water down to the bottom of the tank.

I was trying this method not only for the weight of the tank, but I have read too many times that scorps will burrow down and dig up the gravel, they will also get stuck under screen or anything that may be used to separate the substrate and gravel. I figure if they burrow down under or into this stuff they will probably like to use it aid in the strength of their burrows and be at no risk at all. (other than say extra wet substrate Very Happy)

I'll get some pictures of it up after I set up. Unless there are some things that I missed on here that would be very bad, so feedback please Very Happy

Can't forget to mention I thought of getting another end cap for the top of the of the piece sticking out of the substrate just in case anything gets up their, it won't fall in and get trapped in your plumbing
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Mr. Mordax
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   11/30/2010, 3:37 am

Seems like a good idea. May I suggest two things? 1) pack down the substrate fairly tight up to where it is level with the pipes, and 2) drill the holes very small and at least on the bottom of the pipes (i.e., not just on the tops).

Doing that should make capillary action the dominant force removing water from the pipe, which should in turn keep your substrate moist without it becoming a soupy mess.

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Canth
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   11/30/2010, 3:43 am

That is a great idea, very innovative.

But I'd like to direct your attention to this stuff: http://www.blackjungleterrariumsupply.com/Terra-Lite-12-Cubic-Foot_p_634.html

It's used in vivariums for basically the same use. It's very light and doesn't give your tank the same weight as gravel does.
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iitomodachi1
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   11/30/2010, 3:57 am

Thanks guys Very Happy

Canth: how much of that stuff do you get for 23 bucks? I'd be willing to give it a try but will see how this works first as it was only like 8 and change to buy the pvc from home depot and 10 minutes to piece together, save the drilling of course Smile

Mr. Mordax: I was planning on packing the substrate up to the pvc, but I was a little curious about what you mentioned with the holes. I had to actually look up capillary action as I was thinking of it in a medical sense. I'm not quite sure how that will relate with the holes. I was planning on drilling the holes very small all along the very bottom of the pvc. Basically in a straight line at the bottom most portion of curve of the pipe.

Are you saying I may need to drill some on the top as well to help it to drain properly?

Thank you both for the quick feed back, I had been toying with this idea for a couple of months now and just finally broke down and dropped the cash for the experiment Very Happy
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Canth
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   11/30/2010, 4:09 am

I've never purchased it from Black Jungle or anywhere else but a friend uses it. The website says half a cubic foot, but maybe you can find better deals. I just linked you there so you could learn what it does. Check out some herp shows near you and see if they have that stuff available Smile
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iitomodachi1
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   11/30/2010, 4:32 am

I'll definitely look around as I'd be interested in setting up a little 5 gallon just as an experiment to see how well it does work. I'm always looking around for different things. Just that money's tight at the moment. Student loans are coming due, Christmas is up and I'm currently scavenging 19 10 gal or greater tanks for a bunch of T's coming of age Smile That's how I scored the 30. Also keeping my eyes open for 40 gal breeders to move my Hottentotta Trilineatus into and hopefully (a little further out) some Babycurus Jacksoni too. I just want some huge set ups for my communals and my T's need 10's minimum.

Keep the ideas rolling though Very Happy
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Kristopher
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   11/30/2010, 6:15 am

That's a good idea iitomodachi1. Though I believe the false bottom serves two functions. 1) water distribution at the bottom of the tank and the subsequent stabilization of soil moisture and ambient humidity. 2) a drain field in the event of over watering. You might consider employing your irrigation system in combination with the lightweight material Canth mentioned. That way you'd be getting the best of both worlds, so to speak. Although I suppose over watering is easy enough to avoid by simply not putting too much water in the tank. lol.

Let us know how it turns out. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   11/30/2010, 7:56 am

On second thought... Chin Scratch Having a gravel(or comparable material) bottom would eliminate the need for an incricate piping system as the air gaps between the gravel would allow gravity to evenly distribute the water across the bottom of the tank and the capillary action that Mr. Mordax mentioned will only work if the piping is surrounded in packed soil. So, I guess it's an "either/or" type situation afterall. Oh well......

Still, I'm anxious to hear how your system works out. It sounds like a practical alternative.
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iitomodachi1
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   11/30/2010, 9:57 am

Thanks Bro, Yeah, it is still easy to over water with gravel. I set up my tank with the real false bottom and just had to go to get it right and then I ended up misting once a week or whatever.

I will set this tank up slowly over the next couple of weeks and as you may have saw my pictures my AFS's are still way to small to move into this tank, so I will have a lot of time to get the moisture right. I'll start by adding a bit of water until it is up and running and then try to figure out a safe volume to just dump in and the frequency to do that. By the time I move any inhabitants in I will know that it will take for example, 1.5 water bottles 1x a week to maintain the proper moisture and humidity levels. And if I over water it will only be by freak chance and not too much, just enough to not add water for a little longer Smile

I will post more details and further pics as I move along on this Smile Definitely don't stop thinking or commenting in the meantime, that is actually how I came up with the idea!! Well that and moving my 20 gallon tank with a gravel false bottom set up 2 times! Didn't want to do that anymore Very Happy
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Mr. Mordax
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   11/30/2010, 1:44 pm

I meant holes in at least the bottom so you wouldn't have standing water in the pipe with nowhere for it to go; holes in the bottom only should work fine (unless you seal off the opening of your supply tube).

Capillary action will just draw the water out of the holes and into the soil. If the soil is packed, then it will only be small amounts of water that come out, supplying moisture for humidity (as water evaporates, the tank becomes humid and there's less liquid water in the soil, so equilibrium favors more liquid being drawn out to replace what evaporates).

If the soil were loose, it would just drain via gravity and you'd have a soupy tank.

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iitomodachi1
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   11/30/2010, 9:43 pm

Cool, we're on the same page. that was exactly what I was planning! Thanks for the explanation Smile I'd assume this would be a beneficial tid bit for most keeping a tropical species.

I didn't have all the reasoning behind my plan but the plan was on track at least Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   12/1/2010, 2:50 am

Very innovative! Thanks for posting it up Bro Very Happy
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Dracennights
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   12/2/2010, 12:31 am

I used pvc pipes to make my false bottom.. I posted pics but I just cut the pvc into short pieces to replace the rocks and my 40 gallon breeder is not any heavier then a tank with out the false bottom it may even be a little lighter... nice idea as everyone says keep us updated.. I haven't needed to add water to my tank but once in the last 3 months.. it's been very nice but I also have a glass top with the plastic rear piece which I punched holes in....
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iitomodachi1
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   12/2/2010, 12:48 am

Awesome Bro, and I'll definitely keep everyone posted. It will be couple more months before the tank is actually populated but I should have watering down to a science by then. I will also be creating a lid for the 30 gal tank out of plexi glass and with drilled holes in it so it should help keep the moisture in it better Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   12/2/2010, 12:54 am

ya the plex will help lots I wish you the best of luck getting the balance down so you don't have to water t much... my emp tank stays perfect...temp and humidity...
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   2/9/2011, 2:08 pm

iitomodachi1, any word on how this is coming along? I'm thinking about doing something similar for my enclosures because trying to soak all the substrate from the top seems time consuming with a spray bottle, and simply pouring water in makes me fear a collapse of the burrows.
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iitomodachi1
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   2/9/2011, 2:17 pm

Actually, I'm testing a slight variation of this now. I found the water drained before getting through the whole system so I tried sealing the joints and drilling smaller diameter holes with the same result.

I ended up creating 2 pieces like but 1/2 the size. So I have to pour water into two tubes which guesstimating 1/2 the water is no big deal.

I have set this up in a 30gal tank and it seems to be working great so far. I took pictures along the way but was waiting for my results before posting. I should be able to get something up here in the next couple of days.

I recently moved my H. Spinifer slings into a 5 gallon with a traditional false bottom set up and I can compare the two. I can say that even the 5 gallon is heavy and they are digging up all the gravel Sad

I'm working on an alternative to that also by creating a mesh pouch to put the gravel in so that they can not dig it up or get trapped under the mesh but thats another post Very Happy

Give me till Friday and if you don't see anything start blowing up my pm Very Happy and I'll get it done.
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   2/9/2011, 3:00 pm

What size holes are you using?

Looking at the way it is setup, maybe having the setup slope so the water will fall nearer to the end of the tube before being drained. But your post was the first I had heard of a false bottom and haven't seen anything else (going to search after this post).

Due sexing and swapping out tanks I have had to move my emps around way too much since I have had them, so I am going to leave them be until I get my orders placed for more scorps in the next few weeks. When I get the permanent tanks setup I am going to move them, but I have some ideas (similar to the pics Hauser did of his enclosures) for lighting/heat. I have also been tinkering with an idea for all my tanks dealing with monitoring the humidity/temp from my computer somehow, but that idea is kinda long shot for working as it is cheaper and less time consuming to simply purchase separate meters.

As far as a mesh to cover the gravel, a plexi frame probably about 1" wide with a mesh siliconed to the underside to lay on top of the gravel might work. I'll try to think of some ideas too Smile
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iitomodachi1
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   2/9/2011, 3:37 pm

Actually the plexi frame would be a great idea, cut a piece the same measurements as the bottom of the tank and cut out the center so you have a picture frame looking piece. Place that on top and use aquarium sealant to glue it in place and a hot glue gun to glue the mesh on and you are good to go. You'd have to rip it out to change or clean but that would be minimal. Problem is you still have a gravel false bottom which is very heavy. Mesh pouch may be easier and quicker if you still opt for gravel.

As for pvc method i don't remember if I used a 1/16" drill bit or what it was the smallest I had. I also did try to slop it as I could adjust the elbow's and make that happen but to no avail. If you wanted to experiment with less holes and further apart you could probably get it to work. But frankly the trial and error on that would be a lot more time and effort than I really want to put in. I have found some plumbing pieces that have 1 tube on the top an 2 on the bottom so if I really wanted I could attach the 2 downspouts so I need to only add water to one but putting water into 2 is no big deal. All depends on how much you want to tinker I guess. I'm already building 2 doz lids and back drops for other vivariums and stuff so I don't want to spend too much time on one thing.

My biggest thing I'm trying to accomplish with this is not having to have 2" of gravel in the bottom of my tank!
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   2/9/2011, 4:58 pm

Yeah, 10 gallon tanks aren't that bad with a bit of gravel in the bottom of them, but I can imagine it would with anything else. But if you are using 1/2" lines you shouldn't need more than an inch of gravel in the bottom, however, I imagine any amount of gravel just adds to the pain when trying to move the tank around.

I wouldn't want to rip out the frame piece each time I was going to clean it. It actually might be a lot easier to make something raised up to hold water, yet removable for cleaning and still keep anything from digging underneath it. Something like the stuff made from foam from the Lizard Landscapes site, with mesh stretched across and grouted in, and maybe some form of support in the center.

But without a few spots with a small amount of gravel in them, the majority of the water area would just hold water. The coco fiber soaks up the water like a sponge anyways, but if it isn't evenly distributed then it's all going to get soaked up into 1 or 2 spots. If none of the coco fiber is touching the water then the bottom would just hold a bunch of water all the time, which would be just a tad lighter than the same volume of gravel.

For the water lines though, I was thinking it might not be a good idea to run the holes down, but maybe at an angle or even sideways. This would allow for the entire tube system to hold water before distributing out.

I'll do a bit of testing over them next week or so and see what I can come up with for something light weight, sturdy, and distribute water more evenly. As you can see I has tons of ideas to test out now for something like this Smile. I'll post anything I can come up with that works decently.
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iitomodachi1
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   2/19/2011, 1:12 am

Alright here my final verdict and what I will try. I had to make two pieces similiar to the original plan as the water would drain before getting to the last pieces no matter what I seemed to do. So it looks like this and testing it without maintaining it seems to work great! The picture with the substrate was not taken after the tank has been set up, that's why there is different layers of moisture visible. Enjoy...




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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   2/19/2011, 3:29 pm

thats really cool, will deffo have to give it a go when we get another large tank or even when we get our male for our female emp gonna have to redo the whole thing anyway so may as well try it then... Smile what you got going in there?

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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   2/19/2011, 4:00 pm

Hey, nice new pic Bex Very Happy This 30 gal is what I'll use for the next home of my AFS's. I have moved the 4 into a 5 gallon tank and they are border line ready for a 10. When they def out grow the 5 I'll move them into this one Very Happy
Ohhh, they grow up so fast! Wink
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   2/22/2011, 4:09 pm

Thanx, think we may have to try this soon, we can't seem to get hold of adult emps ATM so might get a load of juveniles and have a little colony going in the female adult emps tank and kick her out into another one until we can get her a mate Smile

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iitomodachi1
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PostSubject: Re: False Bottom Alternative   2/22/2011, 11:46 pm

Sounds great! The more the merrier Very Happy And my main motivation for this is the weight, it is ridiculous! 2nd though is the scorps digging up the gravel at the bottom and kicking it all over the tanks Very Happy
Keep in mind I like natural looking set ups, in my 5 the AFS's are currently in I used blue gravel thinking it is at the bottom and you won't notice, if you do it is for the water anyways! Well now I have blue gravel kicked all over the surface and it looks like garbage Sad
If you try this out though, let me know what you think, so far so good here!! I'd be stoked if this idea helps a bunch of folks out though Very Happy
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