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Old 01-01-2012, 03:45 AM
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Default First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

So for those of you that have been answering my questions up till now, thank you. There was a lot of research needed to start this, and I am learning so much every day. I decided to go with a 40 gal breeder tank, only because it was small enough to have at my apartment, but cheap (petco 1 dollar a gallon sale) and large enough to have some fun. I have a few weeks left of break from school and work and plan on finishing everything up to planting.

Let me start by saying that I take no credit for any of the ideas used here. Some are my own but many are imitations or at least similar to many things I have seen here on the forums. I am just sharing everything I did in as much detail as possible because it is my first build and I want everyone to be able to see everything I do.

Here is the tank I started with. Just picked it up at petco last week...


I started by cutting out egg crate for my false bottom. I also put some pieces in the corner for my waterfall. This left enough space to put my pump and be able to access it.



I created a small area for a "pond" for the waterfall to drain into. The pond will be filled in with great stuff, then painted, and coated with epoxy. There is a drainage pipe that I sealed in place with silicone.



Where the water pump will go for the waterfall i used plexiglass and will seal in that area to keep the water feature completely separate from the rest of the tank


I will finish sealing it when it goes in the tank.

While these things were drying I painted some foam/greatstuff rocks that I started last night, with acrylic paint from AC Moore.



I havent completely figured out how this is going to work yet, but created a removable top where the water will be pumped up to poor down the waterfall. Here you can see that I completely sealed it so water will not go back into the pump area.





While everything was drying I also prepared some pots to put in the background. I had these laying around so i figured I would try to use them...



If you look at the pot on the left you can see that the plastic is kind of stretched around the pipe. I did this by simply using a 1/2" drill bit and pushing through the plastic. Then i pushed the pipe through it and it was a perfect fit. I sealed this with silicone as well.

I had some wood and rocks to sanitize so I boiled and baked the wood. Since the oven was on I decided to prepare some coco coir as well...

Now I will have it when i need it.

I placed the pvc pipe and tested my setup to make sure all the pieces fit well...still have to workout the background.

I then used two dabs of silicone on each piece of pvc to attach them to the bottom of the tank. This keeps them in place but leaves space for water to drain out. This way no water builds up in the pipes themselves as they are just for support.

Thats all I did for today. Plan on finishing up painting the rocks tomorrow. Then getting screen and starting to assemble everything in the next couple of days. Let me know what you think! Hope you will watch this build.
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Old 01-01-2012, 06:06 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

I'm watching, looks good so far
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Old 01-02-2012, 02:02 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Great start, I'm subscribing!
One question - why are you separating the water feature water from the rest of the false bottom?
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Old 01-02-2012, 03:16 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Since this is your first build, I'll try and give you some helpful advice.

Before you get to far, I would seriously rethink the water feature design. Water will creep everywhere you dont want it to, and that is a fact. This means that your seperated water feature and false bottom will not stay seperate for long. Within a few days, that small amount of water in the pump area will have crept into the false bottom. I think the easiest and most pain free option for you would be to let the water fall into the pond (filled with rocks/aquarium substrate) and then flow freely through the false bottom. Not only will this make your life easier, but a larger volume of water stays clean for longer, and the rocks will serve as a filter.

Also, the water feature size might need to be larger. Once filled with foam or rocks, it wont be much more then a tiny depression with a spoon full of water. Your false bottom only looks to be 2-3 "squares" high, and with this shallow of a fb, it is difficult to get any water above the aquarium gravel without having the water touch the land substrate.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:10 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Quote:
Before you get to far, I would seriously rethink the water feature design. Water will creep everywhere you dont want it to, and that is a fact. This means that your seperated water feature and false bottom will not stay seperate for long. Within a few days, that small amount of water in the pump area will have crept into the false bottom. I think the easiest and most pain free option for you would be to let the water fall into the pond (filled with rocks/aquarium substrate) and then flow freely through the false bottom. Not only will this make your life easier, but a larger volume of water stays clean for longer, and the rocks will serve as a filter.
Thank you, I may try to work this out a little differently. Unfortunately I already did all the work that I was planning on doing lol.

Quote:
Also, the water feature size might need to be larger. Once filled with foam or rocks, it wont be much more then a tiny depression with a spoon full of water. Your false bottom only looks to be 2-3 "squares" high, and with this shallow of a fb, it is difficult to get any water above the aquarium gravel without having the water touch the land substrate.
This answers Shinosuke's question as well...I know that the false bottom is very short. Unfortunately petco would not sell the larger aquariums for $1/gal :/ so i bought this 40 which is not that tall (18"). Perhaps I will have to completely rethink this. You are right though, I already filled it in with foam and there is no room for water lol. I will figure something out and keep you updated.
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Old 01-04-2012, 01:38 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

OK so I completely ripped up the pond area, but left the top part as it looked kind of nice...finished painting my water feature, and siliconed it into the tank.



Then I got my background materials....


dont forget the gloves! lol. Though I actually didn't need them. But if I wasn't wearing them I inevitably would have got the stuff all over my hands. Thats just how the world works.

I laid out my background first...



Then I foamed it and put the wood pieces in place. I also foamed under the rock as it didnt fit perfect. Dont want any frogs gettin stuck under there...



I had to make sure to get foam in behind the top and side of the background to make sure no frogs get back in there. As you can see though I didn't do this around the drainage pipes for the pots...

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Old 01-04-2012, 10:26 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Any issues with foaming behind and under the big foam rock in the corner? Did it mess with the positioning of it after expansion?
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Old 01-05-2012, 02:36 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Nope, it was already siliconed in place. I am finishing the background tonight/tomorrow so will have pictures of it soon.
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Old 01-05-2012, 04:02 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

I would have tried to silicone or adhere that egg crate in some way....
Hopefully it doesn't pull away.
I doubt it will.
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Old 01-05-2012, 04:11 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

It is siliconed on the bottom, and when standing up it tends to press back towards the tank. In fact I had a hard time getting the tubes for the pots behind it, so I am thinking it will stay pretty well. If anything the pressure from the egg crate is pushing the foam towards the glass. But I guess we will find out for sure if the time comes Thanks for the tip though, I will have to remember that next time.

I just finished siliconing/coco coir'n the background. Just gonna let it sit over night, patch up any spots, finish some painting and take pics tomorrow.
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Old 01-06-2012, 09:49 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

what kind of epoxy did you use for the water feature and pond?
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Old 01-06-2012, 10:29 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

I was actually going to ask if what I have is OK. This is the stuff I got Walmart.com: Bondo Fiberglass Resin, 1 qt: Sealants, Fillers & Adhesives

Havent put it on yet, but it only needs to go on the parts with running water correct?
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Old 01-06-2012, 10:36 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Someone told me that was epoxy but after looking it up, it looks like polyester resin :/ this probably wont work, huh?
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:36 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Use marine epoxy
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:59 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Quote:
Use marine epoxy
I looked everywhere for it! lol. Dont have any local stores that I can find it at.
It needs to be a liquid type so i can paint it on right?

Do you have any links to somewhere I can get it online, preferably sold by amazon??

BTW more pics coming in a couple hours
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:11 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

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I looked everywhere for it! lol. Dont have any local stores that I can find it at.
It needs to be a liquid type so i can paint it on right?

Do you have any links to somewhere I can get it online, preferably sold by amazon??

BTW more pics coming in a couple hours
Sorry man i have no idea.
Lowes or Home Depot should have it?
Shop LOCTITE .85 oz. Marine Clear Epoxy Syringe at Lowes.com
PC-11 64 oz. Paste Epoxy-640111 at The Home Depot
Maybe that is the stuff they meant?
I was just told to use marine epoxy...no specifics was giving.
Send Ed a PM he should be able to help you more.

I want to get this stuff Zoopoxies - POLYGEM, Inc.

Can't wait to see more updates
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:34 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

OH that loctite stuff looks like the right stuff. Ill go get it tomorrow The other stuff you posted a link to is white. Probably not so good for my purposes lol. Anyway I am just heading home in a little then im gonna take the pictures and post the updates.
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Old 01-07-2012, 05:19 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

I accidentally left my camera with all the pictures at my parents house So I will post the methods later, but for now is a pic of where I am at from my ipod.

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Old 01-07-2012, 11:34 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

how much coverage can you get with that tiny loctite tube...?
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Old 01-07-2012, 04:56 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

AeroMarine Products - Epoxy Resin, Urethane Foam, Silicone Mold Making Rubber
Progressive Epoxy Polymers inc product summary page (marine)
Clear Coat Epoxy Resin

found these three sites....was looking at the LOW V on the epoxyproducts.com, low viscosity so it will paint on easily(hopefully not too easily), and from i can find on it, there is no toxicity. going to do a bit more looking though. 50$ for 48oz.
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Old 01-07-2012, 05:08 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

ok i was looking at part B when i said no toxicity, but it looks like there is none in part A when dry either. Reading more though it may be too thin, so now I'm think of trying the premium no blush...it is non HAZMAT so it cant be too bad.
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Old 01-07-2012, 05:26 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Thanks Erik. I think that any marine epoxy should be non toxic when cured. I could be wrong though, I couldnt even find the right stuf on my own lol.

Once I finish with using all GS, Silicone, Acrylic Paint, and Epoxy, how long should I wait before planting?

Im thinking 48 hrs or so?
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Old 01-07-2012, 06:42 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erikb3113 View Post
AeroMarine Products - Epoxy Resin, Urethane Foam, Silicone Mold Making Rubber
Progressive Epoxy Polymers inc product summary page (marine)
Clear Coat Epoxy Resin

found these three sites....was looking at the LOW V on the epoxyproducts.com, low viscosity so it will paint on easily(hopefully not too easily), and from i can find on it, there is no toxicity. going to do a bit more looking though. 50$ for 48oz.
I think he is looking for it locally. Know where he can get it locally?



Quote:
Originally Posted by gardennub View Post
Thanks Erik. I think that any marine epoxy should be non toxic when cured. I could be wrong though, I couldnt even find the right stuf on my own lol.

Once I finish with using all GS, Silicone, Acrylic Paint, and Epoxy, how long should I wait before planting?

Im thinking 48 hrs or so?
I would wait it out even longer lol. I am a bit excessive and I would like to let things dry out for a week.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:40 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

In my experience so far, epoxy can be hard to find local. Any boating supply store or maybe hobby shops near you? Most likely they will have it marked up to be close to these pieces any way, but check it out.
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:43 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

I decided to go with the stuff in lowes. It is for aesthetics though right? Just to keep the paint on? Or is it because the paint is toxic if it gets washed off.
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Old 01-08-2012, 12:35 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

was it clear? I went to Home Depot today and the loctite epoxy was white. give updates.
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Old 01-08-2012, 02:53 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

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I decided to go with the stuff in lowes. It is for aesthetics though right? Just to keep the paint on? Or is it because the paint is toxic if it gets washed off.
It is to seal the piece so the rock doesn't leach anything.
I wonder if anyone has ever tried to sand the epoxy then paint over it?
Acrylic paint from what I understand doesn't have to be sealed
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Old 01-08-2012, 03:30 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Dont think acrylic paint holds up to direct water contact
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Old 01-08-2012, 03:41 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Quote:
It is to seal the piece so the rock doesn't leach anything.
I wonder if anyone has ever tried to sand the epoxy then paint over it?
Acrylic paint from what I understand doesn't have to be sealed
OK so the epoxy was white, but because acrylic paint is not toxic I used it to paint the epoxy
Quote:
Dont think acrylic paint holds up to direct water contact
I figure, if the paint does not stand up to the water then at least I still have white epoxy under it. I am hoping though that even if some paint wears off that the epoxy kind of gets stained or looks like part of the rock.

I will be posting pictures late on in the week as I wont be around. I cant post pictures of my last update until tomorrow when I go back and get my camera. Most likely I will be able to update once tomorrow and then give you my final update with everything planted on thursday or friday. Also dont have the waterfall feature running yet, but I figure I have some time to figure that out.
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Old 01-08-2012, 03:46 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Actually let me get your opinion on my idea for setting up the waterfall. I am thinking of ordering some magnets that are flat but strong. Then sealing the magnets in silicone on both the base of the waterfall and the top part that closes it. In the process I would be completely covering the magnet with silicone so it would not be exposed, and also using the silicone to fill gaps and create a frog proof seal between the two pieces of the waterfall. Then the lid/top would be removable for maintenance but safe for the frogs.

I was also thinking of using magnets between the top piece and the outside of the glass to hold it tight up against the glass.
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Old 01-08-2012, 04:46 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

I think people put epoxy over the acrylic that is in direct contact with water...

I am gonna leave this alone cause I don't have any experience with it

Contact this guy http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/mem...struction.html
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Old 01-08-2012, 03:51 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

OK well what I did was use acrylic paint everywhere on the water feature, then on the parts that will be in direct contact with water I used the epoxy for the integrity of the thing. Since the epoxy is white though I used paint on it just for color. Since the paint isn't toxic I dont think it should be a problem. I know this may be a kind of "ghetto" way of handling things, but if it works it seems much better to me then spending $60 on more epoxy then I will need at this point. Probably later on when I get into building more (Which i most definitely will) I will buy a large amount of it.
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Old 01-08-2012, 06:09 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

OK, so unfortunately there isnt a lot I can update before planting, but here is how I did the previous steps that I did not have pictures of. After the GS was curing for a full 24 hours I used sandpaper to roughen it up. A small shop vac was very helpful in keeping it clean.



Then I got my silicone and coco coir



I did it in sections for 2 reasons.
1. It was easier to make sure I worked quick enough. I could put silicone in one place and then cover it with the coco coir. Afterwards I had to work on a different part because the coir was all around the part I was just working on.
2. I read in another thread somewhere that doing it all at once can create a skin like effect rather than it all sticking very well.



Then after that was all dry, I tipped it up to knock off a lot of the excess and used the shop vac to suck up the rest. Then I went back and siliconed the rest of the background. That is how I got to this picture I posted before.

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Old 01-08-2012, 06:34 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

looks good....much anticipating the finished product
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:42 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Seems to be coming out great! Cant wait to see the result
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Old 01-09-2012, 03:20 AM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

you should have carved the smooth outer layer off the great stuff before applying the silicone and coco coir...
Hopefully it sticks but if you get bare spots, it's cause you didn't cut that out layer off...

Can't wait to see it finished
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Old 01-09-2012, 02:54 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

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you should have carved the smooth outer layer off the great stuff before applying the silicone and coco coir...
Hopefully it sticks but if you get bare spots, it's cause you didn't cut that out layer off...

Can't wait to see it finished
I sanded the GS before applying the silicone. Some parts I missed and it took a little work to get it all stuck on there, but it looks pretty good as of now.
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Old 01-09-2012, 10:04 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

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Originally Posted by gardennub View Post
I sanded the GS before applying the silicone. Some parts I missed and it took a little work to get it all stuck on there, but it looks pretty good as of now.
I've never heard of the sanding method I will have to experiment with it.
Probably won't use that method tho but it would be cool to mess around with.
I pick at the foam and make it have a more organic look instead of it looking like GS covered with coco coir.
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Old 01-10-2012, 12:51 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

It helps the silicone / coco fiber to stick if you remove the slick outer edge of dried GS. Some people carve it, some people sand it, but in the end all that matters is that you like the way it turns out. FWIW I think it's looking great so far! Can't wait to see it finished =)
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Old 01-13-2012, 08:27 PM
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Default Re: First Build: 40 gal build log. Lots of pics and details

Ok so I started planting my tank using ABG mix.



I ran into a little problem along the way...I accidentally made the drainage tubes for the pots on the top instead of the bottom. big beginner mistake. So i drilled holes through the pots, gs, silicone, coco coir so that they drain right into the main part of the terrarium. No big deal right??

Heres how it looks ATM







The lighting is a T5, 4 bulb(25 watt each), 24" long. Right now it is sitting on books so some of the light is blocked. Do you think this will be good enough?
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