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Thread: Tegu Vivarium 4X8X4

  1. #1

    Wink Tegu Vivarium 4X8X4

    Hey guys,
    I originally had this build at dendroboard but realized it would be more relevant here.

    My first Tegu Terrarium.

    Started last month. I built a 4X8X4 Ft wooden enclosure with a 3' by 6' glass pane on the front. The access door is on one side. All wood has been covered in a thick clear epoxy like you see on bar counters. I still need to finish coating it. I will also seal all the edges with silicone. Since the tank is bigger than my doors, I have designed it to be modular and break down into 8-9 pieces/panels in case i ever move.

    Here is the front panel. The glass will slide into this 1/4" channel. The cabinet portion detaches for the glass to slide in.

    The top of the cage has recessed lights for a cleaner look. I will admit they are not rated for high wattage like i am using, but they will be open to the air, and after multiple test runs of 12+ hours, they didn't get above a temperature I couldn't touch comfortably. I rewire the insides with heavier gage wire too.

    The lights used are 375 watt infrared heating lamps (non -red) and a megaray Uv bulb 275 watt. Since my enclosure ceiling will be 3 feet above the substrate, I needed to find bulbs that could project at distances longer than the usual 18". The megaray UV is effective from 2-3 feet for my tegus needs, and the 375 watt heat bulbs hit target 100-110 on a black rock at 2-3 feet as well. I will have to finalize testing when everything is set up.

    Will also have a lunar light cycle and a lightning bulb in the recessed cans.

    I will be using a 6 nozzle mistaking system along with a 5 head ultrasonic fogger I got from house of hydro for humidity control.

    I have a 5 gallon bucket with a bulkhead. the mister will be ran off of it, and the fogger head will sit on a float in the bucket too. I will use a small inline duct fan and 2-3" tubing to blow air/fog from the bucket into the terrarium. Ventilation will also be done via a 8 inline duct fan.

    All devices will be controlled by a ecozone vivarium 500 controller. This company is amazing and they are dedicated to their customers. Very quick responses. I was playing with the controller and it has TONS of options and customization available.

    I will be using three sensors. Two temperatures and one humidity/temp combo. This will let me know temps in my basking spot, middle of tank and cool end as well as humidity in the cool end. I plan on keeping it from 75% to 90% depending on season.

    I have also been working on a buttress root tree. i used 2" construction foam with great stuff, then coated it in a resurfacing concrete that has acrylic and is fiber reinforced. Tree is 3 feet high by 3.5 by 3.5'

    Also have been making Great stuff rocks. I drop real a real rock into slightly wet sand then take it out. This leaves a negative cavity. Then I fill the void with great stuff and remove the final piece. I saw off the excess and voila!
    Not a great pic but you get the idea.

    I plan on having 1.5 feet of substrate in the cage as Tegus love to burrow.

    I plan on putting my rocks on a foam background surrounding the buttress root tree with moss, vines and other rainforest items. There are also plans for a water feature but i need your guys input on how to do false bottoms or set up water cycle/ drainage for something like this.

    Lastly, I have created a storm mode. I created a storm soundtrack from various rainforest sound effects. This goes on a sd card which plugs into a computer chip. This chip is triggered by a relay whenever my Mistking pump is activated. The sound plays for three minutes over computer speakers with a subwoofer. The sound is picked up by a Perfect Storm Controller that flashes a LED bulb in one of the recessed cans. Plans are to have every light in the terrarium go to 0% whenever the misters go off. This storm function will be toggle controlled in case I don't want a thunder storm 2-3 times a day.

    The black and white wires lead to the relay. These will be spliced into the pumps lines. Whenever the ecozone vivarium tells the pump to go off, it triggers the sound/ lights. There is also a manual push switch for triggering it on the spot.

    You will have to copy/paste this link due to 15 image restriction

    Here is a video

    Backside of the front panel with glass installed
    You will have to copy/paste this link due to 15 image restriction

    Put together minus the front panel

    DIY heater
    I was looking for a way to get my terrarium up to 85 degrees or so without relying on heat from lights, heat pads/rocks et.. I decided to take a 8" in line duct fan and bolt a heater coil into it from a room heater. I will be installing a thermal cutoff as well for safety. The wiring is essentially the same as it was in its original room heater. I don't have the front panel on my cage yet (4X8X4 ft), but a thermostat in the middle of the tank shows temps of 82 degrees F at full power. I imagine I could hit 90-95 once the tank is completely enclosed. Fan and Coil will be triggered via a relay that will be triggered via a ecozone vivarium 500 controller ( It pulls over 1500 watts). Temperature probe will monitor set high and low points.

    Need to get a circular outlet cover to install under it.

    My false bottom will cover the whole foot print, I plan for 3-4 inches of water , 4"high, 6" inch diameter pvc pipe pieces to hold up my egg crate. On top of the egg crate I have a fiberglass mesh.
    I am not sure how to layer it after this?

    Would I go sand, gravel, peat/soil or gravel, sand, peat/soil?

    Also, is peat/sphagum moss mix ok for a tegu as the substrate? I really do not want to go with mulch and I plan on training my tegu to use the restroom in water or potty train him.

    Thanks guys! More to come!

  2. #2


    Also, Have the finalized output controls.
    1- Basking bulb ( was told to turn on for 4 hours in the morning, off for 4 hours, then 4 hours again later in the day. Any thoughts here? Basking temp will be MAX 110F measured on top of the basking rock? Monitored with TEMP probe)

    2- Moonlight Bulb (Dims on at night and its brightness corresponds to the lunar cycle)
    3- Dusk/Dawn LED Bar ( will dim on over a set period in the morning, stay on , then dim down at night. can be adjusted for changing length of day with season.)
    4- Heater ( Keep a constant 75/80/85 F? Slightly cooler at night then max mid day? Monitored with separate TEMP probe)
    5- UV bulb ( will only come on when the basking bulbs are on, or stay on from dusk till dawn?)
    I/O- Mister( will keep humidity from 80-90% depending on time of year, automatically set from RH sensor)
    Separate Timer- Ultrasonic Fogger ( will come on 3-4 time a day for a few minutes, not probe controlled but simply on a timer)

    Given these variables and ability to control/dim them, what would you have them do on a daily basis? I can also change settings for months/seasonal as well. Things like longer/shorter days, different basking times, seasonal max and min temperatures per day et.

    If I don't want him hibernating, do i keep above 70 or so?

  3. #3


    UPDATE: I gutted a rectangular inflatable pool and fitted it to my enclosure. I put a 2" drain bulkhead in that will lead to the intake of a hayward pool pump. The pump will supply water to my waterfall and stream. on the right side of the enclosure. Water coming off the stream will enter the false bottom from the right and be sucked back out in the left, giving me circulation to prevent stagnation. I added a vent cover for the heater. I also started placing the false bottom. Finished the tree and am starting work on the waterfall and rock wall background. Tree looks shiny but is matte when lit from above. Vines to come as well!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    San Antonio,TX


    Very nice . I like the tree stump a lot. Thank you for sharing. Please keep us posted.
    Rich is not how much you have, or where you are going, or what you are.Rich is who you have beside you.

    Our videos :

  5. #5


    Thanks^ It has been a process. I have seen your videos before, lol your tegu in that mulch bag.Today I got more false bottom panels put together. I decided to double them up for strength.

    Pool pump is on the way.

    I put together a storage container and tubing for my fogger. It uses a 8" fan to push fog generated by an ultrasonic mister into a 6" duct main that subdivides into three smaller white hoses. I plan on having one come off the tree, one off a rock and one from the waterfall.

    The storm mode is fully functional now as well. It uses the ecozone vivarium, an arduino, a few relays and a mp3 trigger board. When the mist heads fire either automatically via the ecozone or I press a momentary push button on the front of the cage, the lights all dim to 0%, the mister heads go on and off intermittently, the fogger turns on, and a soundtrack plays through computer speakers which also flashes a LED bulb whenever there are thunder sounds. After three minutes, the tank returns to normal function.

  6. #6


    Put the tree in for layout check.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    San Antonio,TX


    Your welcome. This is so awesome. You are not worried that the air duct is going to rust after a while with all that moisture ? Thank you for the updated photos and for watching my videos.
    Rich is not how much you have, or where you are going, or what you are.Rich is who you have beside you.

    Our videos :

  8. #8


    Hey, Supposedly the duct that is in direct contact with moisture is aluminum ( doesn't really rust). I do have some concern that the fan may rust out, but if so I will just replace with a High Output waterproof PC fan. I built the receiving pool that goes at the waterfall base last night. roughly 2X3 Ft by 10" high. I think this is big enough for a tegu to lounge around in. It has concrete "Crumbs" in it at the moment that haven't been vacuumed out and isn't completely dry. Water will flow out the front of the pool, into pea gravel and through the false bottom into the drain return for the pump. Pump came in too today!!! I am hoping it isn't too powerful. I kept seeing where 10-12" wide waterfalls needed 3000-5000 gph flow to look full. This pump puts out around 4,500 gph, so hopefully with the 5' rise it works itself out. I also plan on diverting some piping directly into the empty space of the false bottom to ensure water circulation. It will pump a jet underneath all the soil and egg crate. I will buy some 2" bulkheads to allow the pipes to pass through yet still be waterproof.

  9. #9


    Epoxied the pool last night, so it is effectively water sealed for the forseeable future. I cut egg crate so there is a 4" wall surrounding the basin for the false bottom. Fiberglass mesh folds down into the gap between the wall and basin. Room is effectively a disaster at this point lol

  10. #10


    Started on the waterfall. Rudimentary structure laid out. Will be sanding/carving, filling cracks with greatstuff, gluing a few of my foam rocks on then covering in a coat of concrete then a satin epoxy or sealer.

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