1. Affix cork backgrounds to the back and sides using aquarium-safe silicone. This adds a lot of “usable space” for geckos who do not stick to glass well, and I think it helps them feel more secure. Some prefer the spray foam method but I like to use cork because it looks natural, can be removed if needed, and doesn’t make a mess—can’t beat how easy it is.
2. Drainage layer: this helps excess water to drain and prevents your substrate from getting too soggy. Helpful for growing live plants.
3. Screen between drainage layer and substrate: you can buy an expensive pre-cut screen by the big reptile brands, or you can go to Lowe’s and get a roll of fiberglass window screening and cut to size. Tuck the edges down to secure.
4. ABG or other similar mix. Moisten with de-chlorinated water and stir! Coconut fiber alone is not adequate to support plant and invertebrate life.
5. Cork, wood, and climbing items. This is the challenging part, but try to make it as “3D” as possible. Don’t be afraid of putting cork right up front. You need some air space obviously, but air space is wasted space. Glue cork accents on the sides to add horizontal resting spaces near the top. I include at least one hollow that is large enough for the animal to hide inside.
6. Leaf litter, springtails and isopods, food bowls, plants, and your animal! Wood to create climbing area should always be prioritized over plants for heavy-bodied arboreal geckos.