Diary of my first reptile-related DIY project

Discussion in 'DIY Zone' started by Renenet, Jan 6, 2012.

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  1. Renenet

    Renenet Very Well-Known Member

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    Hi,

    I have found an aquarium that I am going to convert into an enclosure for Zephyr, my Stimson's python. This is it.

    [​IMG]

    I will be posting updates in this thread as I work on it. The first step is to clean it!

    Renenet
     
  2. whatmeworry

    whatmeworry Not so new Member

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    why not an enclosure for a mate for zephyr?
     
  3. Fantazmic

    Fantazmic Very Well-Known Member

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    It looks good renenet.....and the glss should help to stop the temps soaring when it gets really hot with any luck !!
     
  4. Renenet

    Renenet Very Well-Known Member

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    The mate for Zephyr is in my plan for this season. If he's a hatchie, he'll simply take over Zephyr's click-clack.

    Just a bit worried about ventilation. I'll be putting in a mesh roof but it might still be stuffy down at the bottom. Someone suggested I get holes for a couple of vents cut at a glazier, but I don't know.
     
  5. Renenet

    Renenet Very Well-Known Member

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    The work has started in earnest. First the cleaning. Someone suggested I use CLR, but after taking a good look at the material data safety sheet, I decided I didn't want to take the risk. My first try was with good old vinegar. I sprayed some on one evening and left it overnight. Then, using very fine steel wool (no soap) and more vinegar, I scrubbed the inside and outside.

    It still wasn't perfect, so I moved on to my next option - isopropyl alchohol. It does the same job as metho, except that it has no additives and thus evaporates completely, leaving no residue. Nonetheless, I hosed it out a couple of times and left it in the sun to dry. If the vinegar and alcohol didn't kill any nasty microbes, the sun would definitely finish them off!

    With the tank as clean as it was going to get, I began to cut some wood for the lid. As I did, I mused on ventilation. I didn't like that the only air would come from the top. I discovered, with the correct instructions, a diamond-coated hole saw and some bravery, that it's possible to drill holes in glass. I bought a 25 mm diamond-coated hole saw from Bunnings, took a deep breath and started drilling. The operation was successful - unless the glass shatters two weeks down the track. :D

    I won't go into precise instructions here. There's some good info on the net. I used Drilling holes in aquariums (PDF) as my main guide, as well as Drilling methods and some advice for diamond drills and How to use diamond core drill bits. Never use this method to put holes in tempered glass - it will shatter - and don't drill holes too close together or near edges. I've posted some pictures of the process below.

    Drill with the diamond-coated hole saw:

    [​IMG]

    All set up and ready to go:

    [​IMG]

    When you use a diamond-coated hole saw on glass, you need coolant or you run the risk that the glass will get too hot and break. I opted to use a trickle of water from a garden hose. Please note that the trickle depicted is too light - you need a slightly faster flow than this:

    [​IMG]

    I cut a very rough drilling template to stop the drill from slipping before the hole was deep enough to give it a good footing. I used a bit of Blu-tack on the back to help stop the template from slipping, although I did still need to hold it down:

    [​IMG]

    By the way, the masking tape on the other side of the glass is to stop the glass circle from dropping to the other end of the aquarium when it breaks off. It also minimises the chance of chipping and catches any glass shards. Beware the glass shards - they're sharp!

    I drilled four holes in each side at the bottom. I didn't put them all in a row because I was concerned about weakening the glass along a straight line:

    [​IMG]

    After that, I hosed out the aquarium, scrubbed away any remaining adhesive and left the tank outside to dry. Now that I've successfully done the drilling, I'll go get the vents I've picked out, as well as some other materials. :D
     
  6. Dan40D

    Dan40D Active Member

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    Well done, quite the handy little one aren't you. Can't wait to see the updates!!
     
  7. Renenet

    Renenet Very Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Dan. I saw your set-up just recently - it's looking awesome. Have you moved your snakes in yet?
     
  8. Dan40D

    Dan40D Active Member

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    Not yet, he is in shed, should shed tomorrow going on history. I have finished the landscape tonight, just about to chuck some pics up.
     
  9. Wookie

    Wookie Well-Known Member

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    I assume you have 25mm round vents? Great idea with the drilling by the way!
     
  10. Renenet

    Renenet Very Well-Known Member

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    Bunnings has some that should be perfect, though I'll probably wipe out most of their stock. :)
     
  11. Renenet

    Renenet Very Well-Known Member

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    The next instalment in the tale of DIY...

    I made some cosmetic improvements by painting the frame. I gave it two coats of undercoat and two coats of flat black water-based enamel:

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately, when I removed the tape it took some of the paint with it, which, on close inspection, makes it look scruffier than I intended it to be. I'm trying not to let it bother me. (It's only a second-hand tank, it's only a second-hand tank.) I should have used the Stanley knife a little more.

    The vents I bought from Bunnings were snap-ins. I didn't need the snap so I took the clips off with nail clippers:

    [​IMG]

    By the time I'd finished cutting 64 of the buggers, I'd developed the technique of cutting each clip at the edge on either side, then bending it forward so that it simply snapped off.

    I glued the vents on with high-strength, fast Liquid Nails. As soon as the glue had set so that one accidental touch couldn't put something out of alignment, I cleaned up the residue with a damp cloth. It came off very easily at this stage and I'm glad I didn't wait for it to dry completely. You can also see the rough edges on the furthest metal frame in this picture.

    [​IMG]

    In the meantime, wood is being prepared for the next stage of construction:

    [​IMG]

    The tank so far:

    [​IMG]

    The things we do for our reptiles!
     
  12. Renenet

    Renenet Very Well-Known Member

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    It's been a while, thanks to an intensive maths bridging course, starting uni and a lot more fun, but I've managed to do bits and pieces here and there.

    To hit the main points, I built a "lip" around the top edge of the aquarium so that I would have something to anchor a lid to:

    [​IMG]

    Each piece of wood was glued to the glass with Liquid Nails (the same kind as detailed above). I clamped the wood to the glass while the glue dried, using a bit of cardboard on either side to prevent damage to the glass or the wood.

    [​IMG]

    A close-up of the corner:

    [​IMG]

    There will be two hinged lids attached to the lip. This is the frame for one of them. Due to my inexperience, the 45-degree angles are not perfect and the rectangle is slightly askew. I will have to somehow remove the overhang so that the frame aligns with the lip.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Gruni

    Gruni Very Well-Known Member

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    Are you going to make a textured back wall for it? What sort of internals are you thinking about putting in the tank?
     
  14. guzzo

    guzzo Very Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting thread,
     
  15. Renenet

    Renenet Very Well-Known Member

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    The tank is a bit narrow and I'm reluctant to take up more space with an elaborate back wall, as good as that would look. (Plus I don't have the time!) I might go with a poster instead. Climbing opportunities will be provided by a branch. I haven't decided on substrate. I'm curious about that Wild Crystal stuff, but I'm not 100% sure. I have a rock-looking water dish already and will get a hide and some fake plants to match.
     
  16. Gruni

    Gruni Very Well-Known Member

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    My tank has the same issues. I went with an aquarium backdrop of rocks and wild flowers. I used astroturf as it ooks good and it's quick and easy to clean, I have a second piece so I pull one out and wash it and put the other one in so the tank isn't out of action. I also found a great forked branch that gives my mac a great climbing option. Not sure if you've seen the pics of my 'build'.

    My mate in Armidale found some magnetic rocks on ebay and has a few of those on the walls of his tank for the snake to lay on or grab hold of, if I could find some I would definately include three or four.
     
  17. Renenet

    Renenet Very Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Gruni. Those magnetic rocks sound cool!
     
  18. Sezzzzzzzzz

    Sezzzzzzzzz Very Well-Known Member

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    i have 2 of those magnetic shelves renenet, they are fantastic. my jungle loves his... The guys on ebat that have them have all different sizes, colours and shapes, and depending what you are putting in there they also have some fantastic water ledges.
     
  19. browny

    browny Well-Known Member

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    glad to see someone has the guts to drill holes in a glass tank, you did some serious research lol

    great job can't wait to see it finished

    *you got the same vents I did just I went the black ones haha at $2 a pair it's the cheapest anywhere isn't it
     
  20. MontyTheBredl

    MontyTheBredl Active Member

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    haha we bought bunnings out of there vents. 8 packets haha. tank looks awesome
     
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