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Old 02-28-2011, 07:52 PM
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Exclamation vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

im going to build my first paludarium / vivarium. iv had a vivarium for a few months now in a 20h tank but used a t-rex foam rainforest rapids insert. i am building this new 38 gallon viv because my 20h tank has a crack in the top of it and decided to go bigger and build my own.

i started cutting out the styrofoam into the shapes i wanted and just placed them together in the tank in order to get a feel of how it would fit. the pain in the butt part is that each peice of styrofoam, once it is sealed and painted, will have to be put together inside of the tank becuase tthe plastic divider in the middle of the tank wont allow me to build it outside and simply place it inside. i am currently stuck at this part as i cant do anything until the peices are sealed and painted. i am having trouble finding a sealant that will meet my requirments. if anyone can let me know of a product that meets these following requirments i would greatly appreciate it and can get started on finishing this project and continue posting its progress.

I need a sealant that will do the following:
-first off needs to be reptile/ fish safe
-i want it to dry up pretty hard in order to make the styrofoam alittle more durable / easier cleanup
-i want to be able to paint on the outside of it in order to make the details look more realistic
-moderatly easy to work with
-wont melt the styrofoam
I also would like to know of paints that are aquarium/ reptile safe and long lasting/ durable

any help on this would be greatly appreciated as i cant got any farther in my project until this gets done. i am not going to get into the mechanics or plumbing of this project just yet as it will be hard to describe without pictures. once again ill keep everyone posted on the status of this build just so long as i can get some input on how to get past this step

I will post pictures soon as i dont have any on my computer at work
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Old 02-28-2011, 08:05 PM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

I'm new here.. so don't take my post to seriously, I'm just trying to brainstorm with you.

What about using a polyurethane.. (wood finish). I'm sure you would have to stabilize the PH in the water by filling and draining a couple of times. Much like Cement. But it seems to me it would give you a water proof quality and you could put a first layer down.. then do some painting. Then add a second coat to seal the color...

Just an idea. I've recently been thinking of doing an enclosure, and in my brainstorming session I've considered using it instead of resin. Resin is very expensive but that might be one more option to consider
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Old 02-28-2011, 08:20 PM
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I used Dap aquarium safe sealant. It cames in small tubes tho.
I'm sure you can find larger tunes online.
Most people use black silicone so no color will show through.
I used clear silicone and peatmoss and I can see the styrofaom in some places.
Marineland makes actual full size caulk gun tubes of 100% silicone that is aquarium safe. They are more exspensive tho.

What do you plan on using to cover? Peatmoss method?
Also have you thought about using Great Stuff?
They make black expanding foam for ponds



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Old 02-28-2011, 09:40 PM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

Are you trying to make rockwork, vines, and/or trees? Why not carve 2 or three sections that can be pieced together in the vivarium as opposed to alot of small ones?

Research Drylok. Its a latex paint type sealer that can be tinted different colors.

In this thread, Zbrinks posted this picture of drylok rock work that he did.
Themed Viv
Click the image to open in full size.

The Deeb made a construction journal of his drylok trees in this thread.
300gal paludarium project
Click the image to open in full size.

David Brahms did some nice vine and tree work with drylok in this vivarium.
Cubism and Vines
Click the image to open in full size.



Or if you want to do with cement products (which you will have to neutralize the PH of), here are some good builds:

Arielelf's build. 60 Gallon construction
Click the image to open in full size.


Its hard to say if this one was ever finished, but it would be a nice one if it was:
Rock wall vivarium construction
Click the image to open in full size.

Titan's vivarium was recently constructed and uses what is believed to be the material marketed as habicrete:
TITANS 37 gal Vivarium (LOTS OF PICS)
Click the image to open in full size.

Azure's 40 gallon breeder is what finally pushed me to try making fake rocks myself:
40G Breeder Paludarium with Cement Waterfall Construction
Click the image to open in full size.

This European vivarium uses a lot of cement work, and turned out better than most zoo exhibits.
new wooden hill stream tank (constr jrnl)
Click the image to open in full size.

And lastly, my build.
My Vivarium built into a wall
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 02-28-2011, 11:36 PM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

heres what i have done so far. i plan on doin the peat moss method for the area above the land section. as for the land section and below it i plan on making it look like rocks. i plan on painting on top of the sealant to get all the details in there. anyone know of any good paints i can use?
thanks for the responses
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Old 02-28-2011, 11:41 PM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

as for the drylok product, will that mess with my ph at all?
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Old 03-01-2011, 01:47 AM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

Btw your tank is comin out pretty good.
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Old 03-01-2011, 12:54 PM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

Quote:
Originally Posted by shibbyplustax View Post
as for the drylok product, will that mess with my ph at all?
Drylok is essentially a latex paint, so like a latex glove it would be inert once dry.


As for paints, nontoxic acrylic paints are commonly used. As are cement coloring pigments, which are either powdered iron oxide or iron oxide suspended in water. The cement pigments would be mixed into the cement/drylok/permastone as it is hydrated and mixed before application. The acrylic paints are applied to the surface of the constructed piece after it has cured/dried.
Check out the links I gave you, all of them used some form of paint or pigmentation either in their mix or applied to the finished piece.

Thanks for the compliment on my build, its still a work in progress though. Its my first cement work so im researching all I can and changing things as I go along. Im at the stage where im trying to decide if I want to paint it, seal it, or leave it be now that its neutralized.

Check out this video. Specifically the last 13 minutes or so.
How to make a waterfall (rainforest edition)
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Old 03-01-2011, 05:13 PM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

ok i did some research on drylok and i think thats what im going to end up using. but i also found that there is different types of drylok. which specific one is good for vivarium use?
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Old 03-01-2011, 05:47 PM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

Quote:
Originally Posted by shibbyplustax View Post
ok i did some research on drylok and i think thats what im going to end up using. but i also found that there is different types of drylok. which specific one is good for vivarium use?
The fish guys use the masonry version so I would assume that its vivarium safe. I havent looked into the different types.
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Old 03-01-2011, 06:02 PM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

Ok nice I just picked up a gallon of that stuff and am going to start applying it after I get out of class. How many coats u think I should put on?
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Old 03-03-2011, 03:51 PM
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Question Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

one more question, i am not worrie about the acrylic paint flaking or peeling off in the land area after i use an acrylic sealant. but as for the underwater part, do you think i should seal it with silicone or something because im not sure if the acrylic sealant is water proof or water resistant. i havent even got the paints yet so its hard to tell but most of the acrylic sealants iv been reading about are only water resistant not waterproof. and in that video Okapi sent me the guy says that anything under the water he sealed with silicone. what are your guys opinions?
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Old 03-04-2011, 04:43 PM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

ok i went ahead and started sealing the underwater parts with silicone, does anyone know how to make the silicone look less shiny? it looks okay but it shines alittle too much and i think it would look great if it dulled down alittle. i was thinking about either sanding it or maybe adding some sand to it, what do you think?
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Old 03-05-2011, 02:23 AM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

I used acrylic paints labeled specifically for outdoor use. Im pretty sure that they are no different than the regular, but Id rather pay the extra $1 a bottle and play it safe. The silicone that the guy in the video used was spread really, really thin. Like a millimeter or less. I would think that adding fine sand over the silicone would cut down on the shine, just dont go overboard. Too much would in my opinion look fake. Once its under water I wouldnt expect the glare to be noticeable, especially once algae, moss, and beneficial bacteria colonized its surface. If you do sand it, make sure you dont breath in any of the fine dust.
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Old 03-05-2011, 06:17 AM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

Love that video. Watched it a few times when I started mine. You can do what he suggests and sprinkle sand onto the silicone to give it a less glass look. It also makes the silicone surface look like it has more depth. Neat imho.

Best of luck. Its interesting how many paludariums are in progress here just now. Lots of them but so many different looks going on.
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Old 03-09-2011, 04:22 AM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

can you use any of the Latex-Base DRYLOK
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Old 03-09-2011, 05:40 PM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunar Gecko View Post
Its interesting how many paludariums are in progress here just now. Lots of them but so many different looks going on.
Yeah, its good to have multiple references to compare your own build to as you work on it. No one way is the best way, and every thread brings up opportunities to learn something new or see things from a different angle. And its funny, I keep searching for answers to the questions I have regarding building mine and end up answering everyone else's instead.
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Old 03-10-2011, 02:15 AM
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Arrow Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

Ok so i figured id update how my builds goin and post some pictures of the progress i did this week. i ended up using drylok then painting with non toxic acrylic paints and doint the peat moss/coco fiber method on parts of the back wall. i put a layer of silicone on all the parts that were going to stay submerged under water. i bought some plants from tropiflora.com and some from petco and figured out how i was going to set it up. In the final picture i have all the plants in the tank but that is not goin to be there final set up just put them inside so my cat doesnt get to them. anyway im about 3/4 of the way done and should be finishin up by the end of this weekend so i can get some water in it and let it run for a week or two before i start tranferring animals to their new tank. i figured i would get some feeder goldfish and throw them in there just to make sure everything is ok and get some good bacteria before i put in any expensive fish. i can just throw the feeders in my pond outside when im done with them so i dont have to keep them in that tank. anyway tell me what you think and anything else i can improve on.
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Old 03-10-2011, 07:17 AM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

Quote:
Originally Posted by Okapi View Post
Are you trying to make rockwork, vines, and/or trees? Why not carve 2 or three sections that can be pieced together in the vivarium as opposed to alot of small ones?

Research Drylok. Its a latex paint type sealer that can be tinted different colors.

In this thread, Zbrinks posted this picture of drylok rock work that he did.
Themed Viv
Click the image to open in full size.

The Deeb made a construction journal of his drylok trees in this thread.
300gal paludarium project
Click the image to open in full size.

David Brahms did some nice vine and tree work with drylok in this vivarium.
Cubism and Vines
Click the image to open in full size.



Or if you want to do with cement products (which you will have to neutralize the PH of), here are some good builds:

Arielelf's build. 60 Gallon construction
Click the image to open in full size.


Its hard to say if this one was ever finished, but it would be a nice one if it was:
Rock wall vivarium construction
Click the image to open in full size.

Titan's vivarium was recently constructed and uses what is believed to be the material marketed as habicrete:
TITANS 37 gal Vivarium (LOTS OF PICS)
Click the image to open in full size.

Azure's 40 gallon breeder is what finally pushed me to try making fake rocks myself:
40G Breeder Paludarium with Cement Waterfall Construction
Click the image to open in full size.

This European vivarium uses a lot of cement work, and turned out better than most zoo exhibits.
new wooden hill stream tank (constr jrnl)
Click the image to open in full size.

And lastly, my build.
My Vivarium built into a wall
Click the image to open in full size.

that first picture looks amazing!
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Old 03-10-2011, 03:02 PM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

That's Zack's tank. He posted more recent pictures of it in the members frog and vivarium section yesterday.
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Last edited by Okapi; 03-10-2011 at 03:04 PM. Reason: Stupid auto correct
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Old 03-11-2011, 04:43 PM
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Default Re: vivarium paludarium build styrofoam need help please

ok heres my progress as of today. i have some rainbow moss planted up on the left wall but i dont think i like it very much. any ideas of what i can put up there instead? whatever it is cant be too tall because its very close to the top of the enclosure as it is. anyway let me know what you think and ways i can improve it to make it look more natural. also anybody have any tips on getting some moss to grow on the back walls and stuff?
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