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Custom Terrarium Top

Hi,
I have a 5 gallon aquarium with a standard screen top that I'm currently using to house a pair of small red mangroves, some java moss and a java fern. The mangroves are growing and are close to the screen top. I've been wanting to build a second level of sorts for this terrarium using screen and some sort of structural material to keep it together. It would be rectangular and measure approximately 16 inches long by 8 inches wide and 14 inches tall. My issue is finding an appropriate material to build and maintain the structure. The plants I'm keeping need to be misted heavily throughout the day to maintain high humidity and so that would rule out every type of wood that I can think of since it would rot. Most metals rust in that kind of environment as well. So what other materials would be suitable for the job? I should add that there is also a small terrarium light that would need to be supported by this structure.

Any ideas or recommendations would be appreciated.

Thank you.
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Posted 2015-12-27T20:44:40+0000  by Vivarium Vivarium
 
Some of the tropical hardwoods are very resistant to rot.  Teak comes to mind as does true mahogany and ipe (commonly used as deck boards).  Domestically old growth redwood, western red cedar, and cypress.  If you want to go with metal, stainless steel is the obvious choice.  There are many grades of stainless and it would probably be wise to look one intended for a marine environment.  Then there's glass and a bunch of stone.

In terms of fabrication, wood is pretty easy to work with and if building the structure is beyond you skill level (or interest) you could contract with a local woodworker.  Plenty of shops can fabricate stainless steel too.
Posted 2015-12-28T12:27:55+0000  by Adam444
Thank you Adam444. I'd really like to build it myself, and I'm a decent builder. I also really like the natural appearance of wood, so I'll have to look into the types that you mentioned. Cedar won't be an option, since I might add some tropical insects, reptiles or amphibians later on, and cedar is toxic to them, but the others that you mentioned should hopefully work. I'll look into each one of them a bit and see what seems the most suitable for the job.

Thanks again.
Posted 2015-12-29T06:49:42+0000  by Vivarium
Here's a chart from the USDA Forest Service with the rot resistance of various woods.  I might suggest looking for the ones labeled with a subscript "a" indicating a very high level of resistance.  You aren't likely any of these woods at your local home center or hardware store, you'll need saw mill that caters to woodworkers.  Some of them can be very expensive but fortunately you won't need much wood for your project.  Some of the tropical wood have several common names too.

Good luck with your project!
Posted 2015-12-29T14:41:51+0000  by Adam444
 
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