For the past few weeks I have been working on a few long awaited upgrades for the cool vivarium. Well, long awaited for me, I am not a very patient person… Now they are finally all done and I am very pleased with the results. So here is an updated photo of the viv today along with an account of all I have been working on.
First, the rain system…
I realized pretty soon after deployment that the original 6 nozzles I had planned for the rain system was not going to be enough to keep my huge case properly watered. I have since added two more nozzles and a drip irrigation system – the latter mostly as an attempt to cater to the requirements of the moss to be honest – but I have still had some problems with dry areas. On top of that, fixing one thing usually leads to new issues with this project as it really is like a very sensitive ecosystem in there… so after having installed some stronger fans a few weeks ago the drying problems were intensified (more on the fans later).
So this weekend I installed 6 more rain nozzles, bringing the total up to 14. I had noticed that the potted orchids in the front row was not getting watered hardly at all and have watered them daily by hand for weeks, but no more of that. In order to properly water all the pots on the floor I installed three new nozzles down low in the front of the case just below the sliding glass doors. I just attached the nozzles to the aluminum ledge I had already installed for this very purpose in the beginning but had decided against using, until now. Problem solved. Next I placed an additional nozzle on the front edge of the side wall on the wet side of the vivarium (the right side) to help keep that side…. well, wetter. Finally I placed two nozzles in the very middle of the back wall about one meter down, where the top nozzles does not quite reach. I ran the new water line along the tube for the drip system along the back wall and then down, hidden in the seam between the two EpiWeb back plates. I point the heads up towards the wall pointing in opposite directions and it works beyond expectation actually.
But… since my original pump is only rated for up to 10 nozzles, which is more than plenty for an average size vivarium but not a monster like mine, I had to install a new pump as well. The new pump is not only more powerful (rated for up to 35 nozzles), but it is also runs almost completely silent!! What a nice bonus! Just remember to tack down the high pressure water line or it will rattle and make a lot of noise. The added power is immediately evident in the new system. Despite pushing water to 6 additional nozzles and through about 3 extra meters of hose, the whole vivarium is filled with a cloud of mist as the system runs and you can totally see how much more water it delivers – 1,7 liters per minute compared to 0,7 liters per minute for the old pump. Well worth the upgrade I’d say. Some fine adjustments are bound to follow, but I think I am close to nailing this now.
Next, the humidity system…
As I said before, there is a bit of a domino effect, just like in nature, when you change things in this little Swedish cloud forest… so the new fans naturally lead to a problem with the fog… I was blowing fog in from a hole at the top of the right side wall, but the new fans are so powerful that they completely suck in all the beautiful fog and thrashes it to smithereens before the orchids get to enjoy much of the benefits. So, I devised a plan to get around this problem and it looks much nicer too, much more dreamy and natural. I attached more PVC pipe to the intake where I was originally blowing in the fog and redirected it into the corner and about a meter down the wall. Now the fog gently rises towards the fans, lovingly caressing the orchids in the wet corner on the way. To disguise the lovely white PVC piping I covered it in EpiWeb and now it blends in nicely and hopefully it will be covered in moss too eventually. One nice feature of EpiWeb is that you can shape it with the use of heat. I just tied the EpiWeb panels to the pipes and heated it up with a hair dryer for a few minutes, easy and effective.
While I was at it I also decided to install a humidistat, the same brand and concept as my thermostat, with two circuits making it possible to have different settings for day and night. I set mine for 75% during the day and 85% at night with a 5% differential, which means that the humidifier will start up as soon as the measured humidity drops 5% below the desired setting. This is a nice gadget to have now, but is going to be even nicer in the summer when it is harder to keep RH up due to all the dry air blowing in to keep it cool (especially when i use the AC unit).
Finally, the new fans…
Aahh yes, the fabled fans… I installed these new fans several weeks ago actually (well, dear husband helped as he is so good with electricity…) and they a growers dream. Thanks to a newly designed impeller they not only move a large volume of air, they do so very quietly too. I have been concerned about not getting enough air movement though out the viv, especially all the way down on the bottom of the vivarium with all the new plants in place. So I did a “blow test” a while back placing a stick of smoking incense on the bottom of the vivarium, but I was chocked to see that the air movement did not even register with the four Fractal 80 mm case fans I had originally installed… No need to show you that video, but please do check out the video below on the three new fans I put in… they are awesome! You can clearly see the smoke vigorously moving down there, and that is approximately 150 cm below the fans. I am extremely impressed with the performance and it is not hard to understand why the manufacturer is having difficulties delivering these fans… I had to wait nearly a month for mine and they are still sold out everywhere.
Alright, here are some of the specs for you technology freaks (like me) out there…
- Pump: E.N.T. Power Pump, 24 volt, 15 watt, 9 bar, 1,7 liters per minute.
- Fans: Scythe Gentle Typhoon, 120 mm, 1850 rpm: 0.083 A, 28 dBA, 98 m³/h.
- Humidistat: Lucky Reptile Humidity Control II, digital, two circuits (day and night), built in minute timer, switch between humdifying and de-humidifying, maximum load 1000W.
Humidity system upgrades:
Video log (1. rainsystem) (2. rain + dripsystem) (3. fog) (4. fan smoke test):