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A Terrarium/Vivarium for Poison Dart Frogs


Ever wonder how a professional makes those wonderful terrariums and vivariums that you see at museums and parks?

This series of pictures have been submitted to this website by the Curator of an exotic animal museum. His name is Trever Messenger and he gives us some pictures and insights into how he makes these vivariums.

They are terrariums/vivariums for Poison Dart Frogs. Trever is a professional at this and he is the curator of the Exotic Animal Museum at Oak Tree Village in Oak Glen, CA. (More information below)

If you want a professionally made Terrarium/aquarium/vivarium you can contact Trever by


Here is what Trever has to say about building these vivariums:

This first picture shows his terrarium with Orchids. He revamped this into the vivarium with water pump and a stream.

OK first off I had this old fish tank and figured that the shape was perfect for a terrarium. I started off with a false bottom of Zoo-med Bio balls and small gravel (about 2in) then covered it with fiberglass screen.

For the water feature I used a plastic container, cut the bottom out wrapped it in screen (to protect the pump) and laid it in through the false bottom. For the waters edge you want to wrap your screen under then back over your drainage material so it holds in place.

I then put in a piece of cork wood as the retaining wall for the pond I then put a layer of activated carbon covered by a layer of moss. I then made my own substrate out of coconut fiber, ACR (low light acidic planting soil), all natural cypress mulch, vermiculite, dry moss, a little bit of sand and coconut bard shavings.

Once all the substrate was down I started setting up the stream with a piece of green plastic as the base then filled it in with small aquarium gravel. I then lined it with river rocks to cover up the edges. Once that was done I put in the pump and tested it ( it takes some fine tuning), then to hide the wire of the pump I cut a groove in the back side of another piece of cork to which I Velcro to the back wall.

I then planted my plants I used a button fern, a Pothos ( needs lots of trimming to keep under control) and a small palm that for the life of me I cant remember what kind. I then decorated the rest with mopani wood and a bio vine, and last but not least I added 5 ghost shrimp (to help filter the water) and 2 fancy guppies and a zebra dania to the pond. As far as the other one goes I used Scottish moss, the pothos, the button fern and two phalaenopsis orchids. I also built the light box on top which holds all my lights and wires, and puts them on two switches on a single power cord.



Here is a look at the waterpump setup:


About the LightBox

Lighting in a vivarium or terrarium is very important. Trever custom built the lightbox for this project. More pictures and information about this here: The Terrarium Lightbox




Want to see another project made by Trever? It is an 80 gallon frog terrarium with some unique landscaping and a fogger

Interested in Oak Tree Village? Here is what Trever has to say about it:

We are a 14 acre family park with an exotic animal museum, outdoor animal park and petting zoo, trout ponds, jumpers, pony rides, train rides we have lots of shops and a restaurant and bakery with our famous mile high 5 lb apple pie. Were located at 38480 Oak glen rd. in Yuciapa Ca, 92399 and our phone number is 909-797-4420. Visit the Website

If you want a professionally made Terrarium/aquarium/vivarium you can contact Trever by



The Exo Terra AllGlass Terrarium

  • Glass terrarium for reptiles or amphibians
  • Patented front window ventilation
  • Raised bottom frame in order to fit a substrate heater; Waterproof bottom
  • Escape-proof dual doors lock to prevent escape
  • Closable inlets for wires and/or tubing management



Exo Terra Habisphere Desktop Terrarium

  • Stylish & compact design
  • Unique bent front window for optimal viewing
  • Integrates in any home or office
  • Easy to install & maintain
  • Energy efficient Day & Night LED lighting

Frogs, Toads, and Treefrogs (Barron's Complete Pet Owner's Manuals)

Terrarium keepers will find advice from two of the country's leading experts on amphibians, their housing, care, and breeding in this helpful title. This book is a title in Barron's extensive line of Complete Pet Owner's Manuals . Heavily illustrated with color photos and instructive line art, these books present information on housing, feeding, health care, the title animal's traits--and where applicable, on grooming, training, and breeding. Each book is individually written by a trainer, breeder, veterinarian, or other animal specialist. The titles cover virtually all animals that are kept as pets, and include a wide selection of dog and cat breeds, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, small mammals, and even some insects and arachnids.


Mushroom Terrarium

Mushroom Terrarium TimeLapse video
I just started this project so I don't have the timelapse yet. It will end up to be a short video of the mushrooms sprouting out of the box. In ten days it should be done. I have set up a mushroom terrarium so I can take pics of it as it grows. Pretty interesting project and I am also working on a couple of mushroom terrariums to be coming soon.. Mushroom Terrarium Timelapse


New: Terrarium Accents: I have a selection of miniature accents to add to your terrarium. And I have a few ideas that you might like including using crystals in your terrarium.




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