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Old 01-28-2008, 03:31 PM
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Default Vivarium Construction Rock Wall attempt (dial-up warning)

This is a repost from GeckosUnlimited, but I thought I'd cross post it here.


I had a new tank that I was building so I thought I'd try to build a fake rock wall structure as a background. Just for the record, I have zero art abilities and am not the art type.

In the past I've used a variety of different backgrounds and methods, I decided to try something different this time. Instead of tree fern panels, I used the Eco-friendly EpiWeb, through First Rays Orchids. Main idea was that I wanted uniform pieces to work with and no breakdown over time.



The tank that I'm working with is acrylic made by First Class Aquatics. It's hard to attach things to acrylic, because over time it tends to release. In my other tanks, I had to badly score the acrylic in order to get a decent adhesion. Bonding with methylene chloride to acrylic lasts forever, so I figured I'll try to bond my background to acrylic via a piece of plexi.



I then attached the plexi to epiweb with stainless steel pegs. Epiweb is very tough, so I wasn't worried that it won't hold. I put the pegs on both sides.




Once the pegs are in, the plexi holds well and is ready for bonding.



I poured some methylene chloride in between the sheets with a needle applicator and applied some pressure with heavy books.



That was done for all 3 sides.



Now a bit of a time lapse...I didn't snap photos of poly urethane foam layer, but I sprayed some strange shapes onto the background with the poly foam and then I applied the HabaCrete Vivarium concrete (purchased from HerpInvert).



Concrete dries rather fast, so make small batches and wear gloves.



I forgot to add that I've attached some roots into the background. I got few fake realistic roots/limbs from PetSmart. Expensive, but they do look good and once they get a bit of dirt, growth and algae they look very realistic. :blushing: Ok, I don't normally go to PetSmart.



Background i secure, concrete is applied, it's time to paint it.



Did I say, I have not art abilities??? I used some non toxic acrylic paints for this, but left them way to thick...the whole things turned out horrible!



Since it really looked bad, I put another very thin, very watered down layer of concrete on top to regain some creative control over the tank. Trick was to use a 'wash', very diluted paint. 2nd time around it came out a bit better, although the camera flash tends to wash out all the highlights.



Here's the side with the PetSmart root, embedded into the foam and concrete.



I also wanted to make some type of a center piece. I made a giant blob with the poly foam



Idea was to carve out 'something' that would stay in the middle of the tank...I tried a hack saw blade, but it didn't go too well and it was hard...Fortunately I had the Ronco Rotisserie, which came with a long carving knife. I knew the purchase was justified! :biggrin:



I carved out a piece that looked like this



on goes a layer of concrete.



Then a dark wash. I also dry brushed some light highlights onto the rock, to make it a bit more realistic.



For the substrate of the tank, I've purchased some more epiweb. I used the leca clay pebbles before, but this seemed like a light wight alternative.



Layer of landscaping fabric to cover the epiweb.



Some coco fiber dirt on top and few plants are in. Now I have to add a bit more plants and let everything grow for a few months to fill in.



Bromeliad attached with some fishing line



Few more broms.



That's the center piece in the middle of the tank.

I still need to fix few things in the tank...as I do them, I'll try to post some more photos. My rock wall attempt I'm sure could be done much better if someone actually knew what they were doing and how to scape and mold it, but once things get overgrown, I'm sure it will look half decent.
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Old 01-28-2008, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
I have zero art abilities and am not the art type
Looks like you have some pretty good art abilities to me Marty!
Great job! Awesome!
Now are you going to start dressing all artsy fartsy? :lol:
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Old 01-28-2008, 06:09 PM
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no art abiblity my ass.. that looks really good :shock:
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:49 PM
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Curious what purpose the epiweb serves in the background since you covered it with foam?

Also I'm assuming the Habacrete mortar doesn't need to be neutralized like other thinset mortars?

Looks good.
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Old 01-28-2008, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmelancon
Curious what purpose the epiweb serves in the background since you covered it with foam?

Also I'm assuming the Habacrete mortar doesn't need to be neutralized like other thinset mortars?

Looks good.
I know what you mean Rob...I was initially thnking of making only sections with the cement, but then I went on a cement rampage and covered everything. Sections looked pretty funny and flat. I used tree fern before in other tanks, but it wasn't as nice and uniform as the EpiWeb, plus there were always broken pieces in the tank, edges didn't line up, plus EW is more ecologically sound...of course if I would have covered TFP with concrete I would have the same effect...

The concrete is supposed to be pretty neutral and non leaching. I'll let this system run for a few months then I'll put something into it... Although, I'm not sure why I built it since I have 5 other empty vivs that are waiting a fix and occupamnts.

The nice thing is that the concrete is very thin, I can drill a hole and go right into the epiweb to hang anything, so that's not too bad.
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Old 01-29-2008, 12:03 AM
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Cool project dude! 8) I reccommend sading down those rough and sharp edges to prevent your progs from getting scraped up.

Cheers
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Old 02-17-2008, 04:24 PM
 
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Default Re: Vivarium Construction Rock Wall attempt (dial-up warning)

Can you approximate how much surface area you covered and how much "habacrete" you used? It would be nice to approximate how much I would need for a similar project.

Thanks!

Matt
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Old 02-17-2008, 05:06 PM
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Default Re: Vivarium Construction Rock Wall attempt (dial-up warning)

It's probably 5 square feet, I used probably about 12lbs
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Old 02-09-2009, 01:32 AM
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Default Re: Vivarium Construction Rock Wall attempt (dial-up warning)

I ripped this tank apart and put some miniature orchids into it. If you guys are into orchids, you may want to take a look at the Andy's Orchids thread at OrchidBoard.

Few updated pics







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Old 02-09-2009, 01:43 AM
 
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Default Re: Vivarium Construction Rock Wall attempt (dial-up warning)

Sweet! Marty, I've got your 50Lb shipping tomorrow! finally huh. we'll that's the bartering hassle. you should have it Thursday and i'll post to you the tracking numbers...oh, sorry OT. Nice build BTW.
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Old 02-09-2009, 01:02 PM
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Default Re: Vivarium Construction Rock Wall attempt (dial-up warning)

Marty, I posted a relpy on OB as well but this tank and your orchids deserve two big WOWS!
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Old 02-09-2009, 01:45 PM
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Default Re: Vivarium Construction Rock Wall attempt (dial-up warning)

Thanks, glad you like the setup. It should look nice when it all fills in a bit more.
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