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Old 02-04-2010, 09:59 PM
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Default clay background

am i doing it right?? used cat litter to do it...

DSCN0213.flv video by werehedgehog - Photobucket
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:38 PM
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Default Re: clay background

darn nearly dropped it picking it up and a leca ball has got under the slate the woods attached too raising it up too high
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:48 PM
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Default Re: clay background

cat litter?
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:53 PM
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Default Re: clay background

cat litter is bentonite clay and you can purchase pure bentonite kitty litter

james
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Old 02-04-2010, 11:00 PM
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Default Re: clay background

insteresting, i did not know that. But doesn't cat litter actually have chemical properties in it that will be harmful to frogs?
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Old 02-04-2010, 11:26 PM
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Default Re: clay background

there are brands that are chemical free. You just have to look. I think someone posted some good brands in a previous thread
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Old 02-04-2010, 11:58 PM
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Default Re: clay background

Every time I've tried to use chemical free kitty litter it still smelled of perfumes from having been stored with/next to the scented litters.

clay litters are usually mainly sodium bentonite

Ed
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Old 02-05-2010, 12:14 AM
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Default Re: clay background

Lol but will my background hold up?
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Old 02-05-2010, 01:03 AM
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Default Re: clay background

Yes mine has, the only problem I have had is at the top where the clay meets the glass. Hard to get moisture in that spot. On my ner build will pack it with sphgnum and see if that fixes things.
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Old 02-05-2010, 01:11 AM
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Default Re: clay background

hoew talls urs....it seems an awful long way up
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Old 02-05-2010, 02:04 AM
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Default Re: clay background

The one built is 18" tall the new one is 24, once my lights get delivered will finishe the 2 18x18x24 I have.
Sly, I sent you a pic of the kitty litter I was using, do you need it again. It worked well, no ill effects, have very happy pums and froglets not to mention plants.

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Old 02-05-2010, 12:09 PM
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Default Re: clay background

Its hard to tell in your video but are you waiting until the clay has finished expanding before you are mudding up the back wall (or in other words have you let it fully hydrate)?

When I've mudded up backgrounds, the clay was fully hydrated and the consistency was smooth and easily spread with a trowel. I turned the tank on its back and mudded up the back and let it set overnight. Once it was set, the tank was turned back upright, put into position, substrate added and then planted.

I also mixed peat into the clay as this really gives a boost to the mosses that grow in the substrate.

As I noted above, every bag of "scent free" chemical free litter I tried had absorbed sufficient perfume from being stored with/near other scented materials as to be unusable. I finally just ordered 50 lbs of calcium bentonite from a local pottery store for somewhere between $15 and 20 dollars. The calcium bentonite has a advantate of not swelling as much when wetted and adding calcium to the substrate. I don't use 100% bentonite anymore, instead depending on the part of the tank it is to go, it is mixed with red art clay, peat, cocofiber, and/or crushed leaf litter

Ed
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:45 PM
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Default Re: clay background

looks to me like it didnt get fully hydrated. it looks on the video like its still pretty clumpy. i mix mine up until i cant see any of the granuals, then add more water, mix and let sit. i let it go for a day or 2 and its good to go. and like ed said, mix some sphag in with it. the 2 tanks i have at home greened right up. i was really suprised, but i even got mushrooms growing out of it...
derek
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Old 02-06-2010, 01:04 AM
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Default Re: clay background

thanks guys...i might pull it out, rehydrtae it and use a trowel on its back...i had mixed in coco fiber to the mix

appreciate the input
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Old 02-06-2010, 01:29 AM
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Default Re: clay background

I did something similar in one of my histrionicus tanks when it was just growing out plants, I since scraped off the clay parts and just replaced it with peat moss/sphagnum moss "mud" where the clay was in between the tree fern and cork bark pieces because it was cracking, especially up near the top, that was probably a product of not being kept moist enough though - some days the lid just wasn't on at all, but others talk of it cracking near the top too, here is the thread it was in, I actually used less clay than any of the other single ingredients in the mix also: Corner pentagon with sodium bentonite background
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Old 02-06-2010, 01:40 AM
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Default Re: clay background

It looks like you could've soaked the litter a bit longer, but it should be fine. The first tank I did like that looked the same way, now I dump the kitty litter in a bucket and let it sit for a few hours/overnight and it's a smooth paste.

The first tank I set up, it was ~50/50 peat/kitty litter. Plants are growing in the background really well (hoya, pothos, creeping fig) and I have drift wood pieces in the background, too. It was set up in September I think, and still fine, and this past month I had a mushroom explosion. I would not use as much peat in the future because it's not 'sticky' enough.

Like Ed said, most unscented litters still have a faint smell. The slightly pricier, fine "white clay" litter in a plastic jug I've tried doesn't smell at all, while the bags sometimes have a faint scent (I didn't use the smelly ones).
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Old 02-06-2010, 04:28 AM
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Default Re: clay background

I let mine soak overnight as well (in a bucket), then added peat untill a wet playdough consistency (about 50/50 as well). The litter I bought was in a plastic jug and had no smell. I will try mixing some spaghnum at least towards the top where the lights are for the next build.
This is the cat litter I used, saw it recommended on another thread.
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Old 02-06-2010, 05:00 AM
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Default Re: clay background

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bcs TX View Post
I let mine soak overnight as well (in a bucket), then added peat untill a wet playdough consistency (about 50/50 as well). The litter I bought was in a plastic jug and had no smell. I will try mixing some spaghnum at least towards the top where the lights are for the next build.
This is the cat litter I used, saw it recommended on another thread.
Yeah that's the one I used, get it at Petco
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Old 02-06-2010, 01:33 PM
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Default Re: clay background

Not cheap but goes a long way. What is nice is if you have some left over just put it in a tub and add water when you are ready to do another tank.
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:17 PM
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Default Re: clay background

What i like about it is
1)cheap. $6 for a bag (i didnt notice the smell in mine?) for a back ground
2)fast. you can do a whole back ground in 15 minutes or so
3)versitile. if you dont like the way it looks or want to add a piece of wood, peal it off.
4)moist, i think this helps with humidity
5)odorless, you dont get a buz from the fumes.
6)plant growth. i was suprised how green mine got and whats growing out of it, a reefer told me that they use it a lot to anchor in fish tanks. he said it has a high iron content that gives plants a boost.

sorry, didnt mean to turn it into a clay appreciation thread.
derek
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:25 PM
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Default Re: clay background

Will I agree with you 100%, the silicone is dangerous to breathe and when your head is in a tank you get the full whiff.
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Old 02-06-2010, 03:12 PM
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Default Re: clay background

You can also use it to glue things to the back of the tank..like pieces of osmunda or pieces of cork. If you you use cork, you can fill in the back of (trowl the cork piece full) and then stick it to the back of the tank and let it set. No need to use items like expanding foam...and if hydrated fully no need to worry about it pushing items out of the way or popping off.
I've used it to glue rocks together to form a stack, and then ran a stream over it at work.


Ed
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Old 02-07-2010, 01:55 AM
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Default Re: clay background

Interesting. I went ahead and siliconed a couple of pieces of ghost wood to the glass of my two tanks before the clay afraid it would not hold them.
They were long but 1 inch in diameter.
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Old 02-07-2010, 02:51 AM
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Default Re: clay background

So you just soak the kitty litter in hot water until it turns mushy? Is there a ratio people go by like 10lbs of litter to 1 gallon of boiling water? Is it sculptable or just sloppy mud?

Is the litter alkaline and have to be leached like the concrete products? I never wanted to do all that vinegar leaching hassle so I never bothered with the concrete bonders, though I have seen awesome results on this board.

Can you use kitty litter in a non-glass enclosure?

I'm working on some Azek PVC trimboard and fiberglass tub surround panel vivariums and would rather not silicone the insides 3 walls of four 4 ft x 2 ft x 3 ft vivariums. But smearing on kitty litter clay over carved pink panther brand closed foam rock shapes would be pretty easy. Will the kitty litter crumble and fall off over a few years time? That would not be cool. I want to be able to mount orchids and ferns and epiphytes to it just like I would be doing with a spray foam background.
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Old 02-07-2010, 04:26 AM
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Default Re: clay background

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bcs TX View Post
Interesting. I went ahead and siliconed a couple of pieces of ghost wood to the glass of my two tanks before the clay afraid it would not hold them.
They were long but 1 inch in diameter.
For it to work in this way it has to be fully hydrated and troweled onto the item to be stuck to the back of the tank. Backgrounds can also be adhered in this manner. It works better if the tanks is on its back to give it time to set. Once it is set, it should hold it up unless you let it dry out too much. Some of the D-boarders were behind the scenes at Philly and got to see the rocks held together with clay...

Ed
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Old 02-07-2010, 04:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Swords View Post
So you just soak the kitty litter in hot water until it turns mushy? Is there a ratio people go by like 10lbs of litter to 1 gallon of boiling water? Is it sculptable or just sloppy mud?.
To get it to mix easily I put it all in a 5 gallon bucket and add water and stir with a paint mixer on a heavy duty drill until it is fairly fluid (If I am adding organics like peat moss or cocofiber I do it know and let those hydrate). I then pour it out onto some cage screen lids lined with some news paper to let the excess water drip out over some rubber maid containers. I look for a mix that is similar in texture to joint compound as it will then trowl on readily.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Swords View Post
Is the litter alkaline and have to be leached like the concrete products? I never wanted to do all that vinegar leaching hassle so I never bothered with the concrete bonders, though I have seen awesome results on this board.
The level of calcium and pH is going to depend on the level of calcium bentonite that is in the mix. This can raise the level of the calcium up, but it usually isnt' a problem if you have a flow through system. Some calcium bound up in the soil is a good thing as loose ions can be absorbed by the frogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swords View Post
Can you use kitty litter in a non-glass enclosure?

I'm working on some Azek PVC trimboard and fiberglass tub surround panel vivariums and would rather not silicone the insides 3 walls of four 4 ft x 2 ft x 3 ft vivariums. But smearing on kitty litter clay over carved pink panther brand closed foam rock shapes would be pretty easy. Will the kitty litter crumble and fall off over a few years time? That would not be cool. I want to be able to mount orchids and ferns and epiphytes to it just like I would be doing with a spray foam background.
A 100% clay background is probably not what you want. You are going to want to cut it with some peat or cocofiber. If you trowel it on wet and let it set over night it should be pretty stable as long as you don't let it get dry. Areas that get dry will crack and potentially flake off.

Ed
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Old 02-07-2010, 07:42 AM
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Default Re: clay background

Thanks for the info Ed! I guess it's back into the respirator and rubber gloves for me. I may try the litter clay on a smaller experimental project down the line. I will soon have a 56G cube to redecorate after I get the 4 big ones done...
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Old 02-07-2010, 01:49 PM
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Default Re: clay background

Here is a drip wall that I built years ago and has been one of my stress test runs... it is still up and running. Just now greening up after a three month period of letting it dry out.

red clay substrate

Ed

Last edited by Ed; 02-07-2010 at 01:49 PM. Reason: forgot to add link
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Old 02-07-2010, 07:30 PM
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Default Re: clay background

Ed some awesome info there man thanks "
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Old 02-07-2010, 07:35 PM
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Default Re: clay background

Just one question...about how thick do you want it to be to avoid cracking?
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Old 02-07-2010, 09:30 PM
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Default Re: clay background

I've usually used about 1/2 inch on the background unless I'm glueing something into place or I want to sculpt a bulge (as you normally don't see flat faces like that in the wild).

Ed
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