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Old 03-22-2011, 05:42 AM
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Default 75G Paludarium

I recently bought a 75 gallon aquarium for quite a steal. Yay craigslist.
I plan on building a paludrium and then moving the inhabitants of my 29 gallon paludarium into it and then eventually redoing the 29.

Click the image to open in full size.

The dimensions of the tank are 48x18x20 inches so it gives me a decent amount of space to work with. It came with a screen lid and metal stand.

I've been putting this project off until the tank I've been working on was mostly done.

This tank will have roughly 9" of water in it & will hopefully resemble a jungle river bank. My plan is for a drip/rock area run by a canister filter in one end and a tree with some upturned roots in the other end, these areas will make up most of the land area.

I ordered some ghostwood yesterday and it should arrive sometime this week.

Today I started cutting styrofoam. I bought two 48x96" pieces of blue insulation foam for the background and rocks.

First, I cut the background because it was quick and easy. The foam is very easy to cut and you can just slice it with a box cutter and snap it along the line, or you can do what I did and make and equally impressive mess - saw it with a hacksaw.
My tank has a bar at the top so I cut the back piece into three pieces so it was easier to put into the tank.

Click the image to open in full size.

Then I started to cut out the rocks. I cut shapes out of the large pieces of styrofoam.

Click the image to open in full size.

Then I would carve smaller pieces out of the shape, so it looked a bit more like a section of rocks than some crazy polygon. I tried to make each one different so it didn't look to organized in hopes in the end it will look natural. This way a huge mess; there were tiny pieces of powder blue foam everywhere sticking to everything from static.

Click the image to open in full size.

And finally I would sand it down. Also pretty messy.

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And stack them up.
I repeated this until my husband insisted I came upstairs. This was the progress I've made so far. I have a lot more to do.

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Old 03-22-2011, 05:44 PM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

HUGE fake rocks there! I'm interested to see what style you use in covering them. Do you plan on putting a false bottom or LECA in also?
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Old 03-22-2011, 05:54 PM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

Looks like a good start. If you want it to look really natural, try glueing sheets together to make rocks of different thicknesses, then glue them together at odd angles. Right now they are all flat and level with eachother.
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Old 03-22-2011, 06:58 PM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

Quote:
Originally Posted by GRIMM View Post
Looks like a good start. If you want it to look really natural, try glueing sheets together to make rocks of different thicknesses, then glue them together at odd angles. Right now they are all flat and level with eachother.
Agreed. Also some driftwood overhanging/entering the water could like nice and natural.
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Old 03-22-2011, 07:42 PM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

GRIMM, very good suggestion. Thanks very much. I've been trying to break up the straight lines by adding a few on odd angles but they are to few and far between to make much of a difference.
Gluing them together will definitely mix things up.

Mitch, I will be adding some driftwood. I just have to wait for UPS to deliver it. I'll be fitting a few pieces into the rocks and I plan on trying to build an upturned looking area at the other end of the tank.

nschmitz06, I won't be using LECA because I want to leave more swimming area for my fish. I am hoping to use the rocks and the roots to create support for the eggcrate material, so the land area will be more of a shelf than false bottom.
I am still trying to decide what method I'm going to use to cover these huge rocks as well
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Old 03-22-2011, 07:49 PM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

Good start so far, I think it looks pretty sweet! I noticed you said you cut the background into 3 pieces because of the bar on top of the tank. Do you happen to know if that needs to stay because of the 9" of water that will eventually be there, or can you just cut it out like I've seen others often do?
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Old 03-23-2011, 02:57 AM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

Also you'll want to pull the liner/plastic off the foam. Makes the grout sick better if you do. I did a back wall a lot like yours with the same foam...

how it was when I first planted it.....
Click the image to open in full size.

In the tank...
Click the image to open in full size.

I built the foam outside the tank. Was much slimpler to work with this way.
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Hope that helps some.
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Old 03-23-2011, 03:53 AM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

LunarGecko, thanks so much for the advice. Your viv looks fantastic.
What type of grout did you use on your rocks?

freaky_tah, at this time I'm going to keep the bar. I'm not sure if I need it for the water, but Id rather be safe than sorry.
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Old 03-24-2011, 04:08 AM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

I got a bit more rock carving done.
I expect I only have about one more day of carving left, which is excellent, because it's a HUGE mess. There are bits of styrofoam EVERYWHERE, literally; it's even all over my dog.
I will make a few extra "rocks" to put in at odd angles to break up how flat it looks. Mitch suggested gluing sections of foam together, but this ended up making up being a million times more time consuming, albeit, much more attractive. I think my plan will end up working in the end, but if not I can always go back to gluing.
I also need to touch up a few edges and cracks.
Click the image to open in full size.

For size. There's a water bottle in there.
Click the image to open in full size.

I am still waiting on the ghostwood I ordered. I was hoping for it to arrive the end of this week, but more realistically it's going to arrive at the beginning of next week. Wahh. However, this gives me plenty of time to carve all the rocks to perfection and to start painting them.
I did get my cork flats today though! It's starting to give me an idea of how the tanks going to look a bit more completed.
Click the image to open in full size.

The piece on the far left will end up being a bit in the water as well. I just haven't cut anymore holes in the eggcrate yet; I'm holding off until I have all my wood on hand.

I'm going to need a way to brace this section of eggcrate, as it won't have anything underneath it. I was thinking of zip tying another section of egg crate over it to keep it from sagging once it has substrate on it.
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

A bit more work on the rocks.

I started painting them with concrete. I used the same product as Okapi in her vivarium built into a wall thread: My Vivarium built into a wall Henry 547 Universal Underlayment. I bought the smaller of the two bags and still have plenty left over. I mixed it until it was thin, and then applied one or two coats to all of the rocks.
Click the image to open in full size.
I placed each on sheets of newspaper and numbered them so I would put them back in the right order. The numbering system: decent plan :: the newpaper: bad plan. The newpaper ended up sticking the my first coat of cement and I was picking off little pieces of it for a solid forty minutes. Total hassle. I put my next few coats on sheets of wax paper instead to dry, and this was perfect, the wax paper never stuck to it.
With one or two coats.
Click the image to open in full size.
Next I mixed a few more batches of cement, but this time I also mixed in cement color. I had buff and black. In each batch I mixed different amounts of each and was able to produce a variety of colors.
With a bit of color:
Click the image to open in full size.
I often sprayed the cement with a 50/50 water/vinegar solution as it dried.

Later today I will be painting some of the rocks with acrylic paints.
I'm still waiting for my ghostwood to arrive. Hopefully it will make an appearance soon.
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:31 PM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

looks awesome so far. keep it up.I can not wait to see the final product
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Old 03-28-2011, 11:28 PM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

I did just a bit of painting with the acrylics. I'll be doing a few more layers.
The first wash alone gave it a lot more depth.

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Old 03-30-2011, 05:31 AM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

The wood came in the mail!
I was able to check all the pieces out after work, and had a few ideas about how to place them.
I took pictures of the arrangements I liked so I wouldn't forget how to position the pieces when it comes down to securing them. The electrical tape only held the larger pieces long enough for me to snap quick pictures.

I'm mostly decided on this placement.

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The green line is where the land will be & I will be moving the middle cork piece to the right a bit, and I have a few pieces of wood to act as the roots for that as well..
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Old 04-07-2011, 11:16 PM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

I haven't made too much progress. I've been trying to research various sealants for my rocks and I think I've finally come to a conclusion as to which would be the best, marine epoxy, but all the clear coats seem to be high gloss.

I was hoping to coat all the rocks with marine epoxy, but I don't want them to be shiny, and unnatural. Does anyone have a suggestions or solutions for this little dilemma?
I wasn't able to find a safe epoxy with a clear matte finish.
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Old 04-08-2011, 01:31 AM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

You and I are in the exact same boat. I came to the conclusion that my only real option for areas that will be permanently submerged was epoxy and silicon unfortunately. However, the upside is that it being shiny underwater is less of a big deal.
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Old 04-08-2011, 02:15 AM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

Quote:
Originally Posted by Averhoeven View Post
You and I are in the exact same boat. I came to the conclusion that my only real option for areas that will be permanently submerged was epoxy and silicon unfortunately. However, the upside is that it being shiny underwater is less of a big deal.
Agreed.

I was thinking of sealing the sections that will not constantly be submerged or have water flowing over them with Aqua Mix sealer. I have read it's safe, but I'm worried about long term wear in vivarium conditions and it would be an added expense.. I still have a bit more research to do, but it may be a solution to super shiny rocks.
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Old 04-08-2011, 02:20 AM
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Default Re: 75G Paludarium

I used minwax polycrylic for my areas that wont be permanently submerged but will still have to tolerate misting
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