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Old 07-07-2009, 01:35 PM
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Default First post here, with lots of Vivarium questions

Hello everyone...GREAT forum you have here! I have spent a few days searching around on here and have gotten some wonderful information. I'm about to start the conversion of a 55 gallon aquarium to vivarium and want to double check what I THINK I know, and then ask some additional questions. Our plan is to divide the 55 in half and house a pair of Leucomelas on one side and a pair of Azureus on the other side. Here are my questions:

What type of silicone is safe to use?

How deep does the false bottom need to be? (no water feature planned right now)

My plan (based on an experienced breeder's recommendations) is to use the Egg-crate and PVC slices for the false bottom (does the egg crate get siliconed in around the perimeter?), covered with fiberglass screen, covered by sphagnum, then planted with moss and plants - likely with some mulch (cypress ok? I use tons of it in my Tegu enclosure) and decorative rocks of some nature perhaps. Does this sound feasible or am I leaving something out?

How much/deep should the sphagnum be? Do the plants go directly into the sphagnum with no dirt? That's what I was told. How does that work?

Are the large limestone rocks that people use in aquariums okay for a PDF vivarium? I have some beautiful pieces left over from my aquarium that I could bleach, rinse, dry and re-use in the viv if that makes sense.

Is air circulation critical? I saw a thread online where I guy hooked up a fan to circulate the air inside. He cut holes in the glass and ran PVC pipes to route the air.I dont understand why, though. Couldn't one simply mount a small fan inside the enclosure in a safe and discreet manner if air circulation was critical? Or is the point to circulate the air that's under the false bottom with the air "above ground"?

Due to the narrow width of the 55, Im thinking of a view-through design or back cover that takes very little from the depth of the tank. Im thinking of using the Zoo Med Cork tile for the back. 2 pieces would do it about $60 including shipping. The stuff looks okay and wouldn't take much from my minimal depth. Has anyone used this? Have an opinion on it? Is there a better way to do this?

For the sides I would use corkbark and plant, and use some corkbark branches coming in from the sides.

For the back corners I would use corkbark and round them out turn the bark into corner planters.

I will likely have some glass panels cut to cover each side of the top (and NOT use the aquarium cover). I'll have some types of handles on each panel for easy removal. My plan is to buy a decent looking 4 foot shop light (electronic ballast) to use for lighting. It's cheap and if I get a decent one it should look okay. What lights do people typically use? 6500k? More? A mix of two different Kelvin rated bulbs?

These are my vivarium questions.....I will have lots of questions about plants, fruit flies, and frogs later. I'm trying to attack this project in sections, and this is for sure the first section.

Thanks in advance guys...I appreciate your time and experience,

Warner
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:22 PM
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Default Re: First post here, with lots of Vivarium questions

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What type of silicone is safe to use?
GEII from Lowes/Home Depot. "Bioseal" is infact just a marketing tool and it's nothing to be worried about.

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Originally Posted by warner View Post
How deep does the false bottom need to be? (no water feature planned right now)
We do a minimum of 2.5" - but more would be good... Large tanks like 50+Gallons people do closer to 4-5" This part isn't an exact science - so long as it's "enough".

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My plan (based on an experienced breeder's recommendations) is to use the Egg-crate and PVC slices for the false bottom (does the egg crate get siliconed in around the perimeter?), covered with fiberglass screen, covered by sphagnum, then planted with moss and plants - likely with some mulch (cypress ok? I use tons of it in my Tegu enclosure) and decorative rocks of some nature perhaps. Does this sound feasible or am I leaving something out?
You don't need to silicone the eggcrate down... Above the screening you can use whatever substrate you choose... Most people use COCO mixed with sphagnum, peat, orchid bark, or other things. You don't want to leave dirt or mulch exposed. Cover it with leaf litter or moss... Otherwise you'll have dirty frogs.

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Is air circulation critical? I saw a thread online where I guy hooked up a fan to circulate the air inside. He cut holes in the glass and ran PVC pipes to route the air….I don’t understand why, though. Couldn't one simply mount a small fan inside the enclosure in a safe and discreet manner if air circulation was critical? Or is the point to circulate the air that's under the false bottom with the air "above ground"?
Air circulation will keep the sides of the glass clear. Even a fan on top of the cage with just a little air making it thru will help. It's not so much for the benefit of the frogs as so much the benefit of viewing.

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Due to the narrow width of the 55, I’m thinking of a view-through design or back cover that takes very little from the depth of the tank. I’m thinking of using the Zoo Med Cork tile for the back. 2 pieces would do it – about $60 including shipping. The stuff looks okay and wouldn't take much from my minimal depth. Has anyone used this? Have an opinion on it? Is there a better way to do this?
If you are spending that much on cork bark - you may want to consider a custom great stuff background... More time consuming - but it looks much nicer. There are tons of great stuff foam background builds and DIYs on here.

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For the sides I would use corkbark and plant, and use some corkbark branches coming “in” from the sides.

For the back corners I would use corkbark and round them out – turn the bark into corner planters.
Again - all this with a custom background can look AMAZING.

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I will likely have some glass panels cut to cover each side of the top (and NOT use the aquarium cover). I'll have some types of handles on each panel for easy removal. My plan is to buy a decent looking 4 foot shop light (electronic ballast) to use for lighting. It's cheap and if I get a decent one it should look okay. What lights do people typically use? 6500k? More? A mix of two different Kelvin rated bulbs?
~6500K in one slot - ~4300K in the other. Doesn't need to be exact - but try and come close and the plants should do very well. With such a large tank - you may want to consider high-output lighting... Or two 4' ballasts... That's a pretty tall vivarium.

Good luck with it!
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:34 PM
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If you are spending that much on cork bark - you may want to consider a custom great stuff background... More time consuming - but it looks much nicer. There are tons of great stuff foam background builds and DIYs on here.


Again - all this with a custom background can look AMAZING.


Wow....AWESOME reply! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer each question individually! That was fantastic!

I have seen many really nice "great stuf" backgrounds and thought about going that route (still may for the sides). However, because the depth of the 55 isn't that great, I wanted to do something VERY minimal for the back, which is why I was thinking about the Zoomed product - it's relatively thin. Even if I use the corkbark on the sides (which won't take much, really), I'll likely have to fill in some gaps with great stuff. I've worked with it in the past and all the warnings about gloves and wearing old clothes can not be stressed enough.


That'll get me started....thanks again!

Warner
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:41 PM
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Default Re: First post here, with lots of Vivarium questions

^^^ If you use Window & Door great stuff - it doesn't expand much at all... You can end up with a 3/4" depth AND you can actually go even thinner if you make it "nook" into the glass in the back... Just cover the glass portion showing with more silicone and hit it with coco. It'll blend in AND maximize space.
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:53 PM
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^^^ If you use Window & Door great stuff - it doesn't expand much at all... You can end up with a 3/4" depth AND you can actually go even thinner if you make it "nook" into the glass in the back... Just cover the glass portion showing with more silicone and hit it with coco. It'll blend in AND maximize space.
You sound convincing! Haha! I've used the "minimally expanding" stuff before as well, and you're right...I probably could get a good thin depth with it. I have two concerns with doing the entire back with it, though. The FIRST and foremost concern is my ability to make it look good! Ha! The second of course is the messy work that it involves, both with the GS and with the silicone. I don't know....for $60 I can slap some pieces up that will look good for sure, and will take a LOT less time and effort in the process. I think I'm still going to use the Zoomed stuff...as "sissy" as that might be. Hahaha. I'll put plenty of work into the rest of the vivarium though. I'm leaving the planting of it pretty much up to my wife (who is surprisingly interested in this project!). She wanted me to do a saltwater tank...and I KNOW I don't want to do that. The frogs are every bit as beautiful as saltwater fish, more enjoyable (to me, anyway), and building their habitat will be enjoyable as well. So it's a win-win in my estimation!

Warner
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Old 07-07-2009, 03:10 PM
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^^^ Sorry if I sounded too much like a great stuff salesman! haha I love custom backgrounds.
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Old 07-07-2009, 03:25 PM
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^^^ Sorry if I sounded too much like a great stuff salesman! haha I love custom backgrounds.
The sides of mine will be real custom....I'm going to use pieces of corkbark...NOT the prefab Zoomed stuff. I have plenty of length to play with, just not much depth on the 55 so I want to conserve that as much as possible. Thanks again SO MUCH for your promt and thorough replies!

Warner
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Old 07-07-2009, 03:39 PM
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^^^ Sorry if I sounded too much like a great stuff salesman! haha I love custom backgrounds.
Who knows....I may change my mind. If I felt like I could make the back look GOOD with GS I would be much more confident. I'm just doubting my skills a little bit. Maybe I'll take a look around at work some others did and see how difficult I think it would be to duplicate. Maybe I'm overly scared to screw it up....

Warner
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Old 07-07-2009, 04:23 PM
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Default Re: First post here, with lots of Vivarium questions

you could always get cork flats that arent perfect squares and you can set them ito your gs background
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Old 07-07-2009, 04:52 PM
 
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you can also sand and carve the GS to make it thinner once it dries
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Old 07-07-2009, 04:57 PM
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Thanks for the replies, guys.....I'll make a decision soon. I have to put the false bottom in (after thoroughly cleaning/bleaching the aqarium of course) first....the plastic parts at least...


Warner
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Old 07-08-2009, 02:30 AM
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I would also be sure that the frogs can't see each other through the viv's divide---maybe obstruct their view with plants or tank furniture so they won't stress each other out over time.
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Old 07-08-2009, 03:35 AM
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Default Re: First post here, with lots of Vivarium questions

Thanks everyone. Yes, I will have the divide covered so they can't see each other. I bought my first (and probably all that I'll need) pieces of cork bark tonight and some sphagnum as well (from the frog breeder that I will buy my frogs from when the vivarium is ready). My wife is totally into this project, so that makes it much more enjoyable. I have decided to use lava for the bottom (instead of the false bottom) which I will likely buy soon. I have also decided to go ahead and use the great stuff to fill in the spaces between the cork bark and on the divider between the side of the vivarium. I will take good photos and document the entire build up once I get started for real. I need to measure for the divider piece of glass, and I'm also going to replace the aquarium cover/light with 2 pieces of glass (with some type of handles on them). I also need to go buy a decent (electroncally ballasted) shop light to put on top. This is going to be a fun project....

Warner
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Old 07-08-2009, 04:01 AM
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GEII from Lowes/Home Depot. "Bioseal" is infact just a marketing tool and it's nothing to be worried about.
!
I would not use anything containing Bioseal with amphibians. It is kind of a marketing tool.. its a organotin that was added to the GE II as part of a new formulation and was subsequently discovered to inhibit mold growth as well as be toxic to many aquatic organisms.
I would suggest perusing through this thread http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/par...io-seal-8.html before using any GEII product as the organotin in question is also a known endocrine disruptor. As it is an endocrine disruptor, it can cause non-visible problems with frogs that are housed with it.

I would suggest using GE I which does not contain the organotin....

Ed
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Old 07-08-2009, 04:05 AM
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I would not use anything containing Bioseal with amphibians. It is kind of a marketing tool.. its a organotin that was added to the GE II as part of a new formulation and was subsequently discovered to inhibit mold growth as well as be toxic to many aquatic organisms.
I would suggest perusing through this thread http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/par...io-seal-8.html before using any GEII product as the organotin in question is also a known endocrine disruptor. As it is an endocrine disruptor, it can cause non-visible problems with frogs that are housed with it.

I would suggest using GE I which does not contain the organotin....

Ed

Thanks Ed. Is the GE I still commonly available at the typical Home Depot, Menards, etc?

Warner
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Old 07-08-2009, 04:09 AM
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Thanks Ed. Is the GE I still commonly available at the typical Home Depot, Menards, etc?

Warner
I buy it at both Home Depot and Lowes. I've never seen a Menards..

Ed
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Old 07-08-2009, 04:13 AM
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I buy it at both Home Depot and Lowes. I've never seen a Menards..

Ed

Good...thanks. We have all 3 stores here in the Chicago area...I'll go with your recommendation, since I haven't bought the silicone yet. It's the 100% silicone one, right...just make sure to get the GE I and NOT the GE II.

Warner
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Old 07-08-2009, 02:21 PM
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Yes the GE Silicone I.

Ed
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Old 07-08-2009, 02:32 PM
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Yes the GE Silicone I.

Ed

Thanks Ed....will do.

Warner
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:17 AM
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Well, I did a little shopping tonight and I'm feeling like I made some progress! I found a real decent shop light with wire cage over the bulbs with an electronic ballast that fits perfectly (and actually LOOKS decent!) on my 55 gallon vivarium to be. I bought the suggested bulbs (or as close as I could find) which are T8, 32 watt bulbs - one is 4100k and the other is 6500k. I also bought to bags (1 cubic foot total) or red lava rock which is what I will use in the bottom of the cage instead of the Hydroton or a false bottom. I picked up 3 tubes of GE1 clear - I checked 2 places for the black and couldn't find it. There's really only one side of my viv that will be visible from the outside that will have great stuff on it, and I can cut a piece of paper or something to hide the GS on that side, so I'm not that worried about it. I bought 2 cans of the window and door GS to work in around my corkbark after I lay it all out and mount it. I've been thinking about leaving the under gravel filter parts in the aquarium and putting the lava rock over that, just as an extra layer. Is there any reason that I SHOULDN'T do that? I am also thinking that I should have some type of tube running down one of the corners into the bottom just in case I ever need to drain it out....I can simply siphon any buildup of water out. Good idea? Unnecessary?

Thanks guys (and gals),

Warner


PS - Once I really start the build, I'll keep a good photo journal and post my progress here (in the appropriate forum, of course)
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:19 AM
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Also...one more question:

Do you need to/Is it a good idea to coat the glass with a thin layer of silicone prior to putting the great stuff on? If so, I can coat the entire back and side pieces of glass when I attach my cork bark and then when it all cures, start filling in with the great stuff....


Let me know and thanks,

Warner
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Old 07-09-2009, 12:11 PM
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The lights sound just about perfect. Just make sure the lava rock is Ph neutral.

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Also...one more question:

Do you need to/Is it a good idea to coat the glass with a thin layer of silicone prior to putting the great stuff on? If so, I can coat the entire back and side pieces of glass when I attach my cork bark and then when it all cures, start filling in with the great stuff....
I always coat the back of the viv with silicone first... Not only does it look much better from behind - but it helps the GS stick as well. There are a lot of, "Oh no my great stuff pulled away from the background!!!" threads - but just about all of 'em don't have a silicone layer first.

Good luck!

edit: After 20 minutes or so of drying - the great stuff can be pinched & pulled on the edges to make nice contours... That way it looks less like bubbly foam.
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Old 07-09-2009, 12:20 PM
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The lights sound just about perfect. Just make sure the lava rock is Ph neutral.



I always coat the back of the viv with silicone first... Not only does it look much better from behind - but it helps the GS stick as well. There are a lot of, "Oh no my great stuff pulled away from the background!!!" threads - but just about all of 'em don't have a silicone layer first.

Good luck!

edit: After 20 minutes or so of drying - the great stuff can be pinched & pulled on the edges to make nice contours... That way it looks less like bubbly foam.
Thanks again for the quick and informative response. I WILL do that with the GS.....mold it a bit with my (gloved) fingers after it skins over....great advice!

Yeah, the light really IS perfect in my estimation. It was only $23 without the bulbs, and for a "shoplight" it really looks rather finished on top of the aquarium! I'm very pleased with it! I thought for sure that I'd have to build some type of enclosure for whatever shop light I bought, but this one looks just fine the way it is...so I'm very happy about that.

I'm just using the red lava from home depot. Will it say on the bag whether it's PH neutral or not?

And, what about using the "undergravel filter" plates under the lava? Good idea? Bad idea? Doesn't matter?

Also, is my idea to run a hose down into the bottom (for vacuum assisted draining if required) a good idea, or will the water level never reach a point below the gravel where it needs to be sucked out?


Thanks again,

Warner

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Old 07-09-2009, 12:43 PM
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^^^ The hose running down the side (maybe even BEHIND the Great Stuff ) is an excellent idea. I think partial water changes should be done AT LEAST once every 2 weeks - but there are a lot of people on here who think that's way overkill.

As for the other questions - I'm not sure about so I'll leave those open to people with more experience. "Ph Neutral" is written on most types of in-aquarium substrates... I'd do some research to be sure.
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Old 07-09-2009, 12:57 PM
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^^^ The hose running down the side (maybe even BEHIND the Great Stuff ) is an excellent idea. I think partial water changes should be done AT LEAST once every 2 weeks - but there are a lot of people on here who think that's way overkill.

As for the other questions - I'm not sure about so I'll leave those open to people with more experience. "Ph Neutral" is written on most types of in-aquarium substrates... I'd do some research to be sure.
So there should always be some standing water under the substrate? Say you have two inches of substrate (lava or other) - how high should the water level be? Should you see ANY standing water? Sorry for the noob questions...just want to make sure I start out right.

Thanks,

Warner


PS - If I run a hose down, it WILL be behind the GS.....not visible....
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Old 07-09-2009, 01:03 PM
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^^ There should always be water in the drainage layer - and it should be shy of touching the substrate. If it's touching - it will get soggy quick.

So after enough misting - the drainage layer will fill up a bit. Before it's making contact with the substrate - it should be drained to the "normal level".

It's not an exact science, really - just don't let it dry out - and don't let the water line be in heavy contact with the substrate.
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Old 07-09-2009, 01:19 PM
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^^ There should always be water in the drainage layer - and it should be shy of touching the substrate. If it's touching - it will get soggy quick.

So after enough misting - the drainage layer will fill up a bit. Before it's making contact with the substrate - it should be drained to the "normal level".

It's not an exact science, really - just don't let it dry out - and don't let the water line be in heavy contact with the substrate.
Got it...thanks for clarifying. That's what I thought but wanted to make sure. So I think I'll leave the plastic "under gravel" filter plates IN....as that will give me a tiny (1/2" maybe?) false bottom with the 3" of red lava on top of it. This way I can run the hose down into that "false bottom" that is under the plastic plates and siphon excess water from it that way. I think that'll work out really well....

Thanks again,

Warner
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Old 07-09-2009, 02:07 PM
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If you run the hose behind the great stuff, I'd slide it through a piece of PVC pipe that way you don't risk the GS pinching it shut. It would suck to have to tear it off and try again.
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Old 07-09-2009, 02:19 PM
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Default Re: First post here, with lots of Vivarium questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by btcope View Post
If you run the hose behind the great stuff, I'd slide it through a piece of PVC pipe that way you don't risk the GS pinching it shut. It would suck to have to tear it off and try again.
No kidding! Actually I'm planning on using cork bark pieces in both back corners of the tank, so I can run tubes down one or both back corners without worry about GS interference. I've also been reading a thread on here about making your own expanding foam, and also COLORING it so that after it's applied, you're DONE....NO silicone, NO pressing a bunch of bark and crap into it....just done. It's a real interesting thread...and I may be bringing those GS cans I bought last night back to Home Depot soon!

Warner


PS - Here's the thread that I've been reading:

http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/par...es-stumps.html
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