One of my initial customization projects for my vivarium was lighting. I went through several iterations of lighting designs from a single dome fixture with a CFL, to Exoterra hoods with CFL’s, finally ending up with the design outlined here, Exoterra hoods with LEDs and cooling fans. I’m using this configuration for two vivariums. This page walks through the customization steps I followed.
Dual 18x18x24 vivarium lighting
First up is the parts list:
- 2 x 18″ Exoterra 2 socket fixtures
- 2 x 9W JungleDawn LED screw in lamps
- 1 x 13W JungleDawn LED screw in lamp
- 1 x Repti Sun 26 Watt 10.0 CFL (10.0 was used due to the limited size of the holes in the top, the use of extra screening for fly proofing, and the depth of the viv)
- 1 x blue LED strip lighting kit
- 3 x Stanley 38245 TImerMax digital timers
My original configuration just had the two Exo fixtures laying side by side on top of the viv. They were relatively loose and moved around on the 1″ wooden strips I used to elevate them off the top of the viv. The 6500K CFL’s I was using ran relatively hot. Since we’re in the middle of the Texas summer, I figured I’d jump into LED lamps to reduce heat while creating a cleaner looking top.
This is the lighting durations for my frog vivariums, simulating a daily lighting schedule by using three timers controlling three sets of lights on side-by-side vivariums. Here is the sequence of lighting conditions the frogs experience:
Here is a visualization of the timer cycles that indicate how the three timers are used to simulate the lighting conditions summarized in the thumbnail view.
Blue LEDs only
Blue LEDs only
18x18x18 Bakhuis lighting – custom hood
This is the lighting configuration from a build completed in June of 2013. This viv is an 18″x18″x18″ Zoomed cube that will ultimately house a group of Dendrobates tinctorius ‘bakhuis’. The lighting consists of 3 x 13W JungleDawn LED lamps with mini-mount fixtures from lightyourreptiles.com. These daylight fixtures were combined with a moonlight LED fixture; each fixture was run on 4 timers. The lighting effect I was after was to simulate the path of the sun from East to West when facing the front of the vivarium. In this case I lit the fixtures in sequence moving from right to left. Each LED lamp was turned on and subsequently turned off in 2 hour staggered intervals. The visual effect is summarized in this view.
The TIMER phases are detailed in the following table. Each column represents a specific timer and the hours that it is enabled. The right most columns indicate the phases illustrated above, identified by a letter. The blue and yellow squares visually represent the type and amount of light enabled during each phase:
Cool stuff. So how did we get here? This fixture was custom built out of wood. The hood was designed to match a pedestal stand.
Full tank shots
Here are the FTS. Now I had 4 x 13W CFL’s in here already and they were bright. My main goal with this project was to reduce heat, improve airflow, stabilize my rickety fixtures, and drop the hood to look a bit more clean. I also liked the idea of adding UV bulbs (thanks Todd!).
Exoterra light fixture modifications
This was an interesting modification that I made to four Exoterra hoods; I added active venting and moonlights to both vivariums (2 hoods per vivarium in the dual vivarium project). The exhaust fans help keep the fixture temperature down which in turn keeps the vivarium temperatures within their desired range. I also use vents in the glass canopy of each vivarium to aide in moving fresh air through the vivarium. The use of vented hoods also helps vent air more actively from the vivarium. Here are the hood modifications:
LightYourReptiles.com :: http://www.lightyourreptiles.com/
Todd at LightYourReptiles was extremely helpful in designing a custom lighting solution for my viv. He provided email based consultation prior to the purchase and followed up on the sale. The quality of his products is excellent, and packaging for shipping was top notch. I’ve done follow up business with Todd for another aquarium hood project that I am starting, again yielding excellent results. All my future lighting solutions will involve Todd’s products.
DartDen :: http://dartden.com/index.php
This is my favorite dart frog related forum. There is so much wonderful information on getting started in the hobby on this site. I highly recommend it to people interested in the hobby as a great resource for researching and asking questions about frog care.
Exoterra 18″ hoods
Exoterra makes excellent, easy to modify hoods that provide a clean, professional look. It may be odd to pair Exoterra gear with Zoomed (18″ x 18″ x 24″ single door vivarium) but it worked well for me.
Thermaltake ISGC Fan 8 (model AF0043)
These are excellent fans that come with a variety of optional parts allowing for a myriad of mounting options. The built in speed contoller is an added plus.