New custom tank design

Deabrua

Juvie Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Dezzy is 5yo 18" F, Percy is 8yo 19" M
I'm purchasing six 1/2" 48x96" pvc panels and two 1/8" 24x48" either acrylic or glass panels to build two tanks. The idea is to have a minimum size of 60x30x30" (LxWxH). Aside from the above listed panels, budget is of no concern to me for other necessary materials such as venting, light fixtures, pvc glue, screws, etc etc etc. I already have bulbs and thermostat(s)/timers, etc.

From here I could use some help in decision making because I don't want to do this a third time.

The 48x96" pvc panels will support a tank size of up to 64x32x32". Aside from enlarging the shelf dimensions/weight capacity and ensuring this fits through doorways, are there any other cons to building this size or anything larger than 60x30x30" as opposed to only 60x30x30"? The current lizards that will take the two tanks are a 9" SVL 18" full length beardy and 10" SVL 19" full length beardy.

The current two plans were either 60x30x30 with a 47x18 front viewing using sliding acrylic doors on rails of some sort with 8" substrate barrier, 4" top lip, and 6.5" side lips on either side... OR 64x32x32 with the same 47x18 viewing, 10" substrate barrier, 4" top, 8.5" sides.

I think height will largely be decided by heat/uvb setup. Sufficient heat/uvb needs to reach the bottom of the tank without overdoing the basking spot. I already have some 34" reptisun T5HO UVB 10.0 39W tubes and exoterra 100W basking bulbs. What are the bulb -> basking & bulb -> floor recommendations to help decide on height? It would be easy to hang the UVB but I don't know how easy it would be to hang the basking bulb since these will be mounted to the ceiling rather than above the tank vs raising the basking spot higher, but this would cause the floor to be cooler compared to a lower light/basking spot.

I intend on having 6-8" of substrate. Are there any recommendations on how tall the substrate barrier, as in the lower front pvc panel, should be? My initial idea was 2" taller than substrate depth so 8-10" but im unsure if this is enough.

It was recommended to me that the basking spot be as close to center of uvb as possible, so am I deciding where uvb goes then move basking spot or vice versa? I'm concerned if the basking is too far to one side that the opposite side of the tank may need a second heat bulb, which I'd like to avoid *if possible*. If not possible, c'est la vie. Placement ideas appreciated.

What would the ideal venting setup be for the tank? My intention is to have a closed top and vented sides, front doors, though im not sure how to best handle this in such a large setup. My tank for Dezzy simply had long rectangle vents on either side of the tank, and Percy's current tank is a mesh top aquarium so that is his "venting".

I'm not keen on custom made decor this time around as did last time, but any specific purchase recommendations would be greatly appreciated as I am bad at choosing things.

I'll likely add further questions during discussion. If anything I stated doesn't make sense, please ask for clarification as necessary.
 

xp29

BD.org Addict
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Beardie name(s)
Zen , Ruby ,Snicker Doodles, Sweet Pea, Sinatra
I built the same size for my first beardie. She never used the bottom at all and rarely the 2nd level. The height was a total waste of space. I recommend sticking closer to the 24 inch height range.
 

Deabrua

Juvie Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Dezzy is 5yo 18" F, Percy is 8yo 19" M
I built the same size for my first beardie. She never used the bottom at all and rarely the 2nd level. The height was a total waste of space. I recommend sticking closer to the 24 inch height range.
There will be no second level in the 60x30x30 / 64x32x32 designs. They're taller than the traditional 24" for the purpose of supporting 6-8" substrate depths plus hides, rocks, or branches to climb on top. With just 24" height on the tank, taking away space for 6-8" of substrate and the internally mounted basking bulb being maybe 5" from the ceiling, there's only 11-13" of open space which will be mostly empty so they're not too close to the 100w basking bulb. Very little space for climbing any hides, branches, rocks, or anything else.

Side note, Dezzy uses *all* of the space in her current 48" tall 3 floor tank.

If it would be better to go shorter than 30", I just need to figure out ideal height. This would have to consider the 6-8" substrate, internally mounted uvb/heat, and balancing temps/uvb from climable surfaces to floor.
 
Last edited:

CooperDragon

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
Some dragons love to climb, and others don't. The height is certainly nice to have for dragons who like to climb around because you can introduce more temp/uvb options without increasing the footprint of the enclosure. For dragons who don't climb much, then making a more spacious floorplan makes sense. That's just kind of an individual call.

As far as lighting placement goes, Set your UVB distance for optimal output and then put the basking light near it. You could either use multiple smaller baskers or a single wide beam to achieve similar effect. If you put the basking light next to the UVB, that should be good enough. They just move around to change temps and UVB exposure anyway. I have 3 side by side lights in my free range (incandescent basker, MVB, Infrared) and Darwin just moves back and forth between them. Enough of the heat and light overlap it's not a big issue. The advantage is that sometimes they like to bask under high heat but not a lot of UVB (And sometimes the opposite) so you can achieve that more easily by separating them.

For the doors, I'd probably use glass in a thin frame if possible because it will better stand up to scratches and not be as prone to discoloration in the long run. If they are simple doors that are easily replaceable, then that's probably less of a concern.

If you're thinking ahead to the possibility of moving them (through doorways as mentioned) you might be able to build them in a somewhat modular way. You could build a frame with grooves in the posts that you can slide the panels into. That way if you want to move the enclosure you could slide the panels out and disassemble the frame more easily.
 

Deabrua

Juvie Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Dezzy is 5yo 18" F, Percy is 8yo 19" M
Some dragons love to climb, and others don't. The height is certainly nice to have for dragons who like to climb around because you can introduce more temp/uvb options without increasing the footprint of the enclosure. For dragons who don't climb much, then making a more spacious floorplan makes sense. That's just kind of an individual call.
Dezzy enjoys being more vertical and is frequently found basking on slanted surfaces or on top of hides. Ive only had Percy for a few days, but he's constantly up/down the rock pile in his tank. I'd say they each need some vertical space available.
As far as lighting placement goes, Set your UVB distance for optimal output and then put the basking light near it. You could either use multiple smaller baskers or a single wide beam to achieve similar effect. If you put the basking light next to the UVB, that should be good enough. They just move around to change temps and UVB exposure anyway. I have 3 side by side lights in my free range (incandescent basker, MVB, Infrared) and Darwin just moves back and forth between them. Enough of the heat and light overlap it's not a big issue. The advantage is that sometimes they like to bask under high heat but not a lot of UVB (And sometimes the opposite) so you can achieve that more easily by separating them.
Within current design plans, this would require off-centering the 34" UVB to one side and keeping a second heat bulb off to the other side. I considered heat + uvb, no heat + uvb, and neither in this but forgot about heat + no uvb.
For the doors, I'd probably use glass in a thin frame if possible because it will better stand up to scratches and not be as prone to discoloration in the long run. If they are simple doors that are easily replaceable, then that's probably less of a concern.
I hadn't yet thought of having a frame around the glass. The idea so far was plastic/metal rails with two slots similar to that of a sliding closet door with two 1/8 acrylic panels cut to size.
If you're thinking ahead to the possibility of moving them (through doorways as mentioned) you might be able to build them in a somewhat modular way. You could build a frame with grooves in the posts that you can slide the panels into. That way if you want to move the enclosure you could slide the panels out and disassemble the frame more easily.
I suppose it's rare for doorways to have <30" width, so if my height stays at 30" or lower that's the short side to fit through the door. Side from fitting through doors, dimensions/weight/etc are of no concern. This way I can still give more floor space than 60x30 if I'd like, though im still weighing options as to what I'd like to do. If I use the full 96" width then that's less cuts when building so it would potentially be an easier build than something smaller.
 

Deabrua

Juvie Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Dezzy is 5yo 18" F, Percy is 8yo 19" M
Update: I am looking at doing 66x30x30 for the tank size now. This makes the most of the 96" length boards (yes, I know the cuts will remove fractions of an inch. It's fine) and reduces the necessary cuts. We decided that a 32" depth on top of a few inches from the shelf sticking out totaling at least 35" from the wall would be too far.

The above conversations sorta cemented that I'm not interested in heights above 30", nor less for the 6" substrate, climbing area, and open space to the basking bulb/uvb that will be mounted on the ceiling rather than hanging above such as some other "traditional" designs.

The substrate barrier will span 66x8 to not take away from the viewing window/doors/etc and still be taller than the substrate. Upper lip will be 4" leaving 18" tall doors. The side lips will each be 6" leaving 54" wide for two sliding doors that will be a little less than 28x18" each.

Still undecided on basking/uvb placement, what sorta hides or otherwise climbable stuff to add, etc. Ima have two tanks to fill and not a whole lot that I'm keeping from the old ones.

To my dismay the doors are staying as acrylic due to convenience vs paying others to cut glass for me or the pain of finding clear polycarbonate sheets. I'm going through with the rails for sliding doors and 1/8" acrylic.
 

Deabrua

Juvie Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Dezzy is 5yo 18" F, Percy is 8yo 19" M
I'm still struggling to decide whether the uvb/basking should be centered or how far off to either side I should have them.

I'm familiar with the idea of heat + uvb, heat + no uvb, no heat + uvb, and neither heat/uvb, but I'm unsure how to handle it in a linear tank. I'd think the entire tank would be generally warmer with two bulbs as opposed to my old tank design which used separate floors to handle the quadrants. I'm also not sure if I'd need the uvb to be against one side or not to provide the heat + no uvb on the other side, then I run into the issue of having no cool side.

Thoughts appreciated.
 

CooperDragon

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
The way I've configured mine in the past (just one option, not necessarily the best but it works) is to have a basking light on one side with the UVB running across the front of the enclosure (keeping it out of the way and creating a gradient along the depth) and then putting a heat projector on the cool side that is set to kick on if temps drop too far overnight. You could probably offset the UVB toward the front or the back to allow room for a more centered basking light. That would also allow for varying UVB exposure across the basking area.
 

Deabrua

Juvie Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Dezzy is 5yo 18" F, Percy is 8yo 19" M
Alright so say I've the UVB tube towards the back of the tank, should it be towards one side of the tank or centered with the length of the tank? I've seen people do it both ways. My idea was have the UVB more towards one side of the tank in the back, basking bulb in front of it centered with the UVB.

The only times the wood/glass tanks have fallen below 65-70F have been during power outages, where a night heat source wouldn't be helpful anyways. This includes sub-zero winters outside. I don't know how the PVC tanks retain heat yet.
 

CooperDragon

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
It would probably be just fine either way. I would set mine toward the side with the basking light though, to make sure the entire basking area is getting at least some UVB. The heat projectors aren't needed in a lot of setups. I keep my house pretty cold in the winter though (high 50s-low 60s) so I use it seasonally to bring temps in the tank up to 65-70ish overnight.
 

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