Tank Upgrade

My leo’s, Loki and Zara, got tank upgrades today. My boy Loki was in a 15g. My girl Zara was in a 10g. Today they both got moved into 20g front opening enclosures.

You can see my man Lok doing a peek from under his hide.

Zara is hiding like always. She hates me and everyone else. She did have fun climbing her new background when I first put her in though.


That’s not the final product. They both need new humid hides. I’m currently making some on my 3d printer. Will post pics when I nail down something I like. Zara needs a poop box too once I figure out where she likes to bm in her new home lol.

*Edit: my girl just reminded me I also have to make them their new tank decals with their name. Will post those here when I get them done.

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Sand is not safe to keep most reptiles on, especially leopard geckos. @mblaney can tell you more, but I can tell you that it only risks the health of your geckos.

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I’ve kept them on sand the entire time I’ve had them. From what I’ve read if your husbandry is correct its not a huge deal. Less than ideal, sure. But I tong feed them every day for a number of reasons, one of those reasons being to make sure they aren’t eating substrate with their meal.

Not sure if we are allowed to post outside links, but this is one of the sources that I base my pro sand argument in for anyone interested. If not I’ll happily take it down.

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You’re allowed to have outside links as long as you’re not trying to sell something
The site says that

Pre-washed, silica-free play sand or fine-grain dune sand like Jurassic Reptile Substrate and Zoo Med ReptiSand (linked above) is perfectly safe to use with leopard geckos, although we do recommend mixing it with organic topsoil for optimum results.

If you did all of these precautions it’s better than not doing any. Personally I’m not going to take the risk with sand. All it takes is a little bit of sand to impact you gecko and cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in surgery or kill your gecko. For a substrate I’d recommend paper towels, tiles, or repti carpet (bacteria can get stuck in it and it can be hard to clean).

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I recommend mixing in topsoil with their sand, leopard geckos like to dig under stuff and a mix of sand and topsoil can hold those tunnels better than straight sand, a sand and soil mix also mimics their natural environment more closely than straight sand. Plus with topsoil you can give the geckos some live plants! I’m about to switch my big male leopard gecko to a sand and soil mix to give him a bioactive vivarium, unfortunately it’s too cold for me to buy the live plants right now…

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@arcanicdragon That sounds like a great idea. I’ve been wanting to try out a bioactive set up. That sounds like the easiest way to get there. What are you putting in as the clean up? What plants are you looking at? What ratio of sand to soil are you looking at?

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I’m going with Armadillidium maculatum isopods, springtails and mealworm beetles/larvae. Armadillidium species are generally more tolerant of drier conditions, but much like a leo they’ll need a moist area. I’m looking at different succulents, most definitely going for an aloe, and potentially some African violets or a lipstick plant towards the more humid area. I might also toss in some of the blue bonnet and other Texas wild flower seeds my mom gave me because they’re more tolerant of hotter and drier conditions, I’d have to do the pollinating of the flowers myself if they grow because they’re annuals. My ratio is going to be about 60% topsoil and 40% sand, I’m also going to mix in some coco fiber. The area with the humid hide will also have a drainage layer made of leca to keep the hide humid longer and give the springtails a place to retreat. I’ll be using plenty of magnolia and oak leaves for the clean up crew, and sphagnum moss for the humid area.

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I dream of having big front-opening enclosures like that for my bebes! But I have approximately a zillion (for a pet owner), so they require stacking units. Are there several companies that make those front-opening kinds of enclosures, or just one? How long have they existed? I don’t remember them being widely available for at least the first 10 years of me keeping leos, but I’m not sure.

Re: sand, it sounds like your mind is set, so my response is more for any others reading; I’m not trying to argue. I do agree with @ashleyraeanne and @erie-herps , and I think there’s no benefit to the leos to keeping them on loose sand, and quite possibly harm.

While I am a vet that’s kept leos forever, I’m not a herp vet. I like paper towel, ceramic tile, or reptile tank liners, all of which can be purchased in earth tones. I think slate works as well, but I haven’t read enough about it to be sure. All the substrates I’ve mentioned have virtually zero risk of impaction, are very easy to sanitize, and can be an excellent choice from a financial perspective. (Which one is best varies a lot on the prey you feed, imo.) I have lost a gecko due to substrate ingestion, and nearly lost another. Her name was Trox and I will miss her forever. I had to spend an arm and a leg hospitalizing the other gecko (Penguin), and she was never quite the same (mentally) afterwards- not sure why.

My ABVP Reptile & Amphibian board certified herp vet doesn’t recommend regular sand either, though I do disagree with some of their choices. They recommended hard-packed sand-gravel, especially Excavator clay. I have not used it, and it strikes me as potentially very difficult to clean, but I would probably go that route if I wanted to do bioactive setup for a leo. They mention that a possible alternative would be, “topsoil with no chemicals, fertilizers, manure, vermiculite, or perlite.” They emphasized that they do not recommend calicum sand, silica sand, wood, or coconut products for health reasons. (Recommendations per Dr. Paul Gibbons at Avian & Exotic Veterinary Care.)

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@mblaney I have 5 animals in those front opening tanks; 2 leos, a beardie, a hoggie, and a ball. They are beautiful and beneficial to both the keeper and the animal. At roughly $200 a pop, give or take depending on size, and how much room they take up we have decided to move to a rack system for all future animals. I know zilla and exo-terra make them. I think petsmart has a thrive branded front opening terrarium. As far as other manufacturers I am not sure. All of mine are exo-terra. After seeing the quality of the first one we never even tried another option. I cannot speak to how long they have been around.

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I know what you mean about cost of tank-style housing versus rack-style. Most of my leos are in Boaphile Plastics 421Condos so I can stack them- if you go that route I cannot recommend getting a pedestal enough! They are harder to clean than racks, but they look super-sweet, and the front doors make viewing easy both for them & me (most of my leos are extremely curious). The rest of my leos are in semi-clear tub racks temporarily (normally they are for any babies), and I’m waiting on the racks I’m having custom-made for clear polycarbonate tubs to be ready so I can transfer them… and maybe get just one more gecko… or two… heh. :upside_down_face: But I’ve decided that any further housing I get will be polycarbonate tub housing- it combines the visibility for me & my guys that my gorgeous cages have, but will have the ease of use & cleaning that racks do. I’m disabled, so ease of maintenance is important and I’m willing to take a hit in the ‘looks like gorgeous household furniture’ department in favor of practicality. :wink:

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Got the name decals done after work tonight. Figured I’d post a pic of my handy work.


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@mblaney I am extremely disappointed with the rack I purchased. I just took a minute to browse boaphiles rhinoraxx system and it looks promising. We are hitting the pause button on expanding aside from filling the last 2 spaces on my rack with hoggies so I can start to breed them. Once we need to add anything down the road I will for sure be looking at boaphile first.

Oh my gosh I love those decals! I have printed nametags, but those are next level awesome!

Oh man I am sorry to hear that about the rack you bought. They can be quite a chunk of change too. Hopefully it still works for what you need.

When I was shopping for polycarbonate tub racks, I was thinking of ordering the Rhinoraxx that has those tubs (polycarbonate palace), but it wasn’t going to work in the space I have in terms of orientation. I couldn’t get the model they already offer as the ends would hang off my worktables. Unfortunately, Boaphile only takes custom orders if you can commit to a sizeable order. If the customs I ordered from another merchant are awesome, I’ll try and remember to let everyone know.

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Thank you, @mblaney ! Making decals was a bit of a side hustle for me for a while but then my real job got super busy and I didn’t have time to make them, work 50-60 hours a week, care for my animals, and have a life. Now I just do it for fun. Used to make t shirts too, but now I just do that for myself too.

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I use some front opening tanks(exo terra brand has the 2 door one that I love) . I don’t keep leopard geckos in them. I have those for tiger geckos, and steppe runners.
When I first got into leopard geckos, I used the calci sand. Big mistake. The leopard geckos in that tank got impacted. I have seen the play sand used and work from many people. I use paper towel for my racks.
I use a sand and eco earth mix for my tiger geckos and eco earth and excavator for the steppe runners.

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@winecountrygeckos what tiger geckos? The African varieties or Asian? I have never seen either and just tried to look them up but it came up with 2 different continents having a variety

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I got mine from a breeder here in the states in an auction. I just have them because the auction was for a good cause and they look cool.

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@winecountrygeckosthanks for the pic. They look like the African variety. Polydactylus tigrinus. The look awesome and I will now be researching those. Lol

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