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Custom Viv Questions

Hey guys,
I’ve decided to make a custom viv after a stupid mistake caused the old non custom glass one to crack down the side. I have a crap ton of pine plywood in my garage and I was wondering if it would be safe if I seal it? I was also wondering what I could seal it with if that’s the case.

Oh also not super Beardie related but I also have a Crested gecko and if I seal the plywood would it withstand the humidity required in a crestie tank? If so I’d make a second tank for her.
Thanks!
 
Hey! I’m currently finishing up a custom right now too.
I unfortunately don’t have any definite answer on the pine plywood if it’s sealed. Someone else might I hope.
I considered it too but settled for 14mm marine grade hardwood. More for sturdiness, longevity, and to match the oak wood I used for the frame to be honest. It’s good but more expensive . If sealed pine can be used, I want to know for the future lol that would save me an expense.

As for the wood, if you’re looking for a varnish/waterproof finish/sealant sort of thing what you want to look for is low or no VOCs, Water-based, polyurethane. No oil based.
Also, in my experience you’d be best finding one labeled “outdoors”. These are more UV-resistant, which you want for a tank with high levels of uvb.
I can upload a pic of what I’m using later if you needed.
Also, for good durability and to properly seal and waterproof the tank, you’ll need a couple of coats.

If you’re wanting something less “wood finish” and more “sealant” then go with an aquarium or pond sealant. Aka silicone. (This is my go-to for glass and stuff. It’s intentionally designed for sealing in large amounts of water without leaks)
Here you’re looking for Aquarium silicone sealant that’s 100% non toxic silicone.
Pond and aquarium silicone tends to be more animal safe than general silicone because it usually has aquatic life in mind. Just make sure whatever you buy that it does not have any anti-fungal, anti-mold things added to it. These can be toxic to reptiles so read the labels carefully.

Edit: I initially said there could be general use silicone that’s perfectly safe to use. I take that back, aquarium or pond silicone is the safest way to go. It seems to me that some of those labeled 100% silicone are still including formaldehyde, which releases toxic fumes when exposed to heat.
No formaldehyde.
 

Toothless37

Member
Original Poster
Alright thanks! The only other thing I was wondering is if I go bioactive could the clean up crew eat through the bottom even if it is sealed?
 
To be honest, yeah they probably could.

Best thing you could do is make sure they can’t reach it.
If you go bioactive, one of the layers will be a drainage layer, and above that will be fine mesh/screen:
111883-5478066066.jpg

So hopefully that would prevent the cleaner crew getting to the bottom of the tank. Keep em well fed just in case lmao

Also if you’re doing bioactive, you need to make sure the base of the tank is sealed really really well, or that water is just going to rot the wood, or make it moldy.

Also a bioactive tank (especially if it’s wood and glass) needs really good ventilation. Keep that in mind when putting it together.

It’s my dream to go bioactive! I just don’t have the resources atm. I hope it goes well for you if you choose that :D I’m sure your reptile will love it.
 

Claudiusx

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
Hi there,

Pine is perfectly safe to use if you seal it properly.

Now on the topic of sealers, you have lots of options. One many forget about, and actually my favorite for the inside is paint. I especially like white paint for the inside as it helps reflect light and brightens up the viv.

You can also use any other type of wood sealer such as poly. If you can find one that is low in VOC, go for it, but you don't need to limit yourself to only low-no VOC products. Once a product is fully cured, it will not be off-gassing VOC's anymore. That's why it's very important that no matter what product you use to seal the inside of your viv, that you allow it adequate time to cure. If you can still smell the product, it's still off-gassing.

Oil based finishes are fine, and usually hold up to wear and tear much better than water based finishes, but oil based takes much longer to cure. I sealed one of my first builds with an oil based exterior rated poly. The can stated 2-4 days to cure. I had it baking in my garage for almost 2 weeks before I determined it was "Fully" cured.

Just a note, if you are going to go with a clear finish such as poly, I'd opt for an exterior rated one because they are rated to stand up to UV exposure. The interior ones won't degrade or anything, but they will yellow over time due to UV exposure. Another reason I like just using paint.

As far as the high humidity of a crestie enclosure, I'm not sure as I've never built one for a crestie and I'm not very familiar with their requirements. If there is a high likelihood of standing water and extreme moisture, you could seal the enclosure with a clear epoxy. That is more expensive than other options, but it is waterproof. I'd avoid silicone simply because of how thick it is, and the logistics of spreading it over the whole interior of an enclosure.

-Brandon
 

Toothless37

Member
Original Poster
Thanks so much for the help! I’m not really in a rush so I think I’ll go with the oil based for durability. I hope to eventually go bio active but we’ll see lol.
 
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