Mar 24, 2013

Crested Gecko Tank Assembly, 3rd Times a Charm

Here we go. I think everyone likes to see how people build awesome tanks. I am not saying my tanks are awesome but every time I rebuild it, it seems to get better and better. Practice takes perfect. If your tank setup doesn't grow right, or look how you wanted, just keep trying. I have "redone" my tank hmmm idk like 5 or 6 times now. I am still never completely satisfied with it. However, here is a picture step by step guide on how I built my crested gecko setup.

1. Start with a nice clean tank. I have an Exo Terra Large Tall tank. It's nice because it comes with a backdrop already. I had to clean my tank first because I already had it set up. I have a lot of issues with my substrate being too wet. My tank had a water feature before but it started leaking so this time around I am opting for a self contained water feature to avoid future leaks. Crested geckos don't need a water feature but I think they look good and give a nice ambience If you have male and female geckos always be very cautious when removing your substrate because you don't want to disturb eggs. Reptile eggs cannot be turned or they will suffocate and die! Unless you are evil and want them to die. Then you shouldn't have both males and females together then because you will have babies. I threw away all my old substrate because it had become rotten. I only saved my hardscape (rocks, logs, backdrop) and my plants that were still alive. I noticed I had some small bugs in my soil but these are not harmful. Most people who have dart frogs love this because their frogs will eat the bugs. Unfortunately I can't house dart frogs with my geckos. :(

2. Add a layer of porous stone to allow the soil to drain so that it does not rot. I use a specialty product of round clay balls. You can use lava rock or other stone. I have even used aquarium rocks in a pinch. Just make sure the layer is about 2 inches thick to allow plenty of room for excess water to drain. It is also a good idea to add a tube that goes to the bottom so that you can siphon out extra water if it gets too full. Since my geckos do not need a super wet habitat I should not have to do this so I chose not to add a tube for siphoning. If you have frogs, this is a must. They need a much more humid environment than cresties.

This is a good visual of how thick my layer of
porous stone is on the bottom of my tank.
NOTE: If you have any kind of electric powered water feature or pump make sure to put this in BEFORE you add your layer of stone. As you can see in the picture, I added my water feature first and hid the cord behind my background. The nice thing about Exo Terra backgrounds are that they have a notch cut out for your cords already!

3. I like to add a barrier between my substrate and my porous stone. I use a thick batting material. You can get it at any craft store, just be sure to rinse it out real well. This is just some left over strips I had. Normally I like to custom cut one piece to fit the bottom exactly. This is not a necessary step but it helps to keep your rocks free of dirt. It can also help keep your geckos from digging down into the rocks to lay eggs.

 4. I have the Exo Terra Monsoon misting system. I really like that its automated and I can set it to spray whenever I want. It really helps keep my tank at a constant humidity. I add the tubing for the mister as well as add my sensor to my hydrometer and thermometer so that I can put my lid and light on top so that I can see what I'm doing better. I have the Exo Terra Dual Top canopy. I like this light a lot but I have issues with the halogen spots burning out often. I just buy replacement lights from a hardware store instead of paying 20 bucks a bulb. It still serves the purpose of heating the tank and they get the uv they need from the fluorescent bulbs in the hood.

5. Add your hardscape. I have some different logs and sticks because cresties are arboreal so they like to climb and are pretty heavy so they need something sturdy. I also started to plan my plant arrangements.  I have Hawaiian schefflera, peperomia, and a few bromeliads. I plan to add some air plants and orchids over time if this set up works well. Here is a great site of Crested gecko approved plants however some of these are going to be too delicate for geckos so try to pick the sturdier ones. I also try to bunch a few together to make them stronger. I also have a magnetic feeder. It helps give me more space to allow for plants. Make sure if you have a mister it doesn't mist your food! Old runny food is never fun to clean out. I don't think the geckos like their food soupy either. It should be a nice thick consistency.

 6. Add your substrate. I use eco earth coco substrate. It doesn't hold too much water so hopefully this time it won't rot on me. I have mixed in some sphagnum moss in the past and I think this is why my soil rotted. The moss just held too much water for the need of my plants. It can also cause your eggs to rot if the soil is too wet. I only add about and inch or so of soil. Eggs will need at least a good 2 inches to lay in so they don't get smashed. I try to take out my eggs and incubate them in hatch right so a thinner layer of substrate helps me locate eggs easier but even then you can miss them. Make sure to cover up all your plant roots well so that the plants are well anchored. Geckos will knock them right over if they are not secure. I like to try to drape vines over my water features and hardscapes just to try to soften them up and make them look more natural. I have always liked the naturalistic vivarium.

 Here is a finished picture of my vivarium! its nice and colorful. Newly planted vivariums always look a little weird. Over time as the plants grow it will help fill in the gaps. I will also be ordering some other plants to add because the local hardware store only has so many tropical house plants. Orchids are way over priced at the store so I try to order them online. You can also get much more unique plants. Always inspect your plants for bugs and rinse off the dirt it comes with. Store bought plants can have unsafe fertilizers for your geckos. Chances are it won't hurt them unless they eat the dirt but why take the chance.

7. Last step is to add your geckos! This is a great opportunity to add different geckos to your vivarium. None have had a chance to claim a territory so adding a new friend or changing up your breeding groups is perfect to do when redoing or setting up a new tank. I have one male and two females. This is a good ratio because you shouldn't ever have more than one male together or they will fight. Having more than one female keeps the females from getting stressed from the males advances. If you want to have multiple geckos without the risk of babies keep females together. Males have a very obvious bulge once they are mature.

All that is left is to enjoy your tank! If you have any questions feel free to email me at

My female enjoying her new tank!

Mocha says hello! My tri-color male. :)

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