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  #41 (permalink)  
Old 05-15-2019, 10:08 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

The crevices one forms by adhering the thick cork bits fairly close to each other should be about as wide as the cork is thick. So, between two pieces of 1" thick cork, would be a gap about 1" wide.

Into those crevices, you just stuff the bejeezus out of that LFS. I like to take a bucket and use that for rehydrating my LFS. Just toss in the dry LFS, add a pint or two of water, and go away for 15-20 minutes. Then pour off the excess water, give the moss a bit of a squeeze (not back into the bucket - elsewhere) to wring out the excess. and chuck the limp wet moss back in the bucket.

I like to grab handfuls of the wet LFS, twist them into "sausages" or "units" or "cigars", and then stuff those bodily into the crevices. Pack it hard. If the crevice depth isn't filled flush, I like to push on the end(s) of the "unit" so as to reduce its length and thicken it up, until the outer surface of the LFS is flush with that of the cork. The next "unit" goes right next to, and butted up against, the last one. Pack them all hard. You want water squeezing out of every push on every "unit", and when you're done emptying your bucket, which may take 20-30 minutes, sore tired fingers.

Continue until all the crevices are full. You'll be amazed how much LFS this consumes. A lot, OK? Ha ha. About 100g dry weight of LFS, to a gallon of cork pieces is my consumption rate, given my crevice width. 100g of dry LFS - which can compress to a little dinky flat-pack, expands to about a gallon of wet LFS.

Now, about establishing moss on this stuff. There's several ways to go about it:
  • if you use the cheap stuff, you'll probably get volunteers
  • if you use the expensive stuff, you'll definitely need to "seed it"
  • to "seed it" you could use a commercial slurry, and just "paint" it right onto the LFS, once you've finished packing
  • however, you (like me) seem interested in harvesting local wild moss - in that case, I think maybe you want to collect some of that first, and chop it up into maybe BB-sized pieces, and stir that into your wrung-out bucket of LFS, before packing it
  • alternatively you can make your own slurry and paint it on, just like you would with a commercially-sourced moss mix
  • finally, you can toothpick pieces of wild moss (maybe your "moss bank"?) onto your LFS; some growth forms readily facilitate such "farming", while others are more prone to falling apart and being a PITA - those forms might be better to chop & mix as described above

Quote:
I have an old "moss bank" I've mostly forgotten about, in completely airtight / watertight Ziploc-brand plastic boxes. They are outside, but they get pretty limited light, being stacked on top of one another. This is where I am confused about the moss / light matter: even with limited light, they EXPLODED in growth. Like, I have never seen moss anywhere in real life that has done as well as these mosses. I'll post a photograph later if that will clarify why this is the case.]
When I collect moss from the wild, I use ziplocs with wet paper towels in them. Grown chunks of moss will tolerate surprising amounts of manhandling and neglect. Establishing new moss is a whole different proposition. As is maintaining long-term survival. And finally, the sun is bright as hell. Even "shade" outside is relatively bright as hell. No matter how intense your indoor light, I doubt you'll be providing what those baggies were getting outside. And, the 100% humidity provided by the bags no doubt has buffered other difficult circumstances like being stacked. All this is a long way to say, don't expect similar performance indoors in your armoire, as outdoors in those baggies. You could get lucky...but I wouldn't plan on it. You're probably going to have to put a little effort into it.

Hopefully this helps!

cheers
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  #42 (permalink)  
Old 05-15-2019, 10:34 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

This is very good and helpful information, and I'll get to work on it. I'm not sure how I'll mount the cork, except by putting the armoire back on all the sides I thought I was done putting it on. (Unless I can somehow safely silicone the cork pieces onto the walls while the armoire is vertical by use of wires and such.)

If every form of moss can be chopped-and-mixed without certain death from the chopping part --- that is to say, if every form of moss can be chopped into bits and still survive and grow --- then I have no opposition to cutting up my many gallons of moss and stirring them into LFS in order to create a mix that grows out of the LFS in the cracks.

I am a wee bit concerned that as complicated a background as mine will be able to support without losing the parts of the design. The driftwood dragon may become hard to discern for a while, what with cork bits between its ribs and arm and wings. I guess I will just have to take it on faith that the moss will grow onto the cork bits and hide it. I suspect it is already difficult for viewers of this thread to distinguish the dragon from the surrounding images and textures.

I meant to post images that would illustrate what my background looks like up close, but I'm a tad fatigued from a dodgeball playoff last night. Besides the driftwood and the clay castle, it's basically just fields of cut-up black GS foam interrupted occasionally by cork flat bits and selenite crystals.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:39 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

Oh yeah, I should have mentioned -

1) WEAR GLOVES. There's a yucky little fungal disease you can get from moss. I forget what they call it. Rose gardener's disease or something. It's rare but you don't want it.

2) Layout. I spend quite a lot of time - say, 20 minutes a gallon of cork pieces - just playing jigsaw puzzle with my pieces. Arrange, and rearrange, and rearrange them, until you've got them laying like you want. There's big pieces and small pieces, long skinny ones and squarish ones, maybe some triangular ones. Plus some are thicker, some are thinner. The thick ones allow for bigger gaps, whereas the thin ones require closer spacing. Also, some pieces don't look good along the margins. Or, a piece will have a clearly superior "outside edge". Some pieces are real flat, others are quite cupped. The cup ones are great at the top, or along the front edge, as planters. My point is, there's a ton of options for how to fit any population of cork bits together. Give it some time. You'll be looking at your work for years. Regrets kind of suck...
  • Part of this is aesthetic - do the ridges and shapes of the bark "flow" harmoniously - maybe even flowing in an arc or curve, or together from 2 streams into a bigger one - like they do on a real tree, or do they look like some demented clown vomited them onto the viv? (Obviously I have an opinion on the right way to do this...ha ha ha. But do as you like!)
  • Part of this is functional - how is water going to flow, or be restricted from flowing, through the LFS? Even something as simple as having the pieces going vertically, or horizontally, or diagonally, will have a big effect on how easy it is to get water to everything rooted into that LFS later. Google some pictures of brick bonds. Think about water flowing through the mortar cracks. Then think about your cork layout. Obviously you're not going to do something as regular and monotonous as a bricklayer. But I find it helps, in imagining the water movement through my LFS, around my cork pieces (mostly around - some water, a minority of the total volume, will ooze out and just drip straight down off or over the cork, hopefully running into the LFS below, maybe falling all the way to the substrate).

It's WAY easiest if you've got your viv laid back so the cork can just lay there. You can tape it up, but that's a damned hassle. For one thing, cork is perversely resistant to masking tape stickiness! It does not stay stuck, it just slips down. You really have to support it from below, not just across, if trying to tape it

Note that the cork pieces may lay there nice and firmly, or they may want to rock around on e.g. 3 points of contact. You can improve (enlarge & flatten) your contact points with judicious trimming. I like an oscillating multitool for this job. (I don't try to eliminate gaps behind the cork, as I can fill these with LFS during packing, or with ABG mix if it's a top-edge piece, and support more roots there.)

Once you've got your layout, leave everything in place. Take your black fish-safe silicone and squirt blobs or lines onto the contact points of one piece. It may or may not matter which piece you start with - figure that out before you begin! I like to whip through this glue-down phase, as I find the fumes pretty nasty. When you're done you can toss some wet paper towels, or some wet LFS, atop the cork to provide curing moisture for the silicone.

Once again, I hope this is more helpful than confusing or annoying. Obviously I love the subject...man I gotta get another build going!
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  #44 (permalink)  
Old 05-16-2019, 03:29 AM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

It looks like most of this silicone-the-cork-mosaic-into-place process is going to have to be done while the armoire is standing up --- I can't within reason continue to ask my friend to come all the way over here to move it. Tomorrow has to be the last move, and that move has to be to a standing position.

My strategy for holding the cork pieces up while the black silicone dries is to use a length of steel wire as a platform. It will be poked into the foam at a diagonal direction that will make it so that the weight of the cork won't push it out from its lodging.

My #1 concern with this is that the black GS foam layer covering the terrarium isn't level at all due to the fact that this is an armoire, not a tank, and it has various contours. Trying to "plane" it with a knife or whatever would result in wood getting exposed, plus it would be a huge amount of work that might not even, well, work.

I imagine, though, that the way water travels down the LFS in the mosaic is that it doesn't really drip straight down, but is, for lack of a better immediate term, sucked into the adjacent LFS. So a part of the LFS that is jutting out a little, will not drip water straight down, but sort of move it into the adjacent LFS that is lower down.

(It is also a concern of mine that LFS that is on the underside of the "jutting out" spot will just plain out fall out if the friction holding it in the crevasses isn't strong enough.)

P.S.: I'm probably going to install my bulkhead, but I'll have to do it above the desired waterline and just let it spill through when it gets too high; I don't have any stopper with this bulkhead and besides, I don't want to risk a malfunction below that desired waterline and never be able to hold enough water to run the waterfall.
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:29 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

Quote:
My strategy for holding the cork pieces up while the black silicone dries is to use a length of steel wire as a platform.
That should work, with some tinkering perhaps. Tinker first, tinker much, silicone later, once you've found and worked out all the kinks. It's important to not have the cork sag or slide while the silicone is curing. Especially if you have multiple pieces curing at once. I have found balled-up pieces of newspaper also serve well as "spacers" to maintain separation. The uncured silicone prevents a cork piece from actually pulling off the wall, but sag is a bitch. So if you start siliconing at the bottom cork pieces, and really wire them up solidly, you can then work upwards, using "spacers", and not have to fight your way through a growing forest of wires. At least one of which you will surely knock out of place, and have the cork piece crash down through your work getting silicone who-knows-where. Besides the wires and the spacers, you can probably get some masking tape action going too. Remember, it doesn't stick to cork, but it sticks great to wood furniture.

Quote:
I imagine, though, that the way water travels down the LFS in the mosaic is that it doesn't really drip straight down, but is, for lack of a better immediate term, sucked into the adjacent LFS.
That's right; it depends somewhat on the application rate however. Also on how much you let the LFS dry out between wettings.
  • If you let it really dry out, it's slower to start absorbing. Water just runs down the face at first, if applied to the surface (mist) and not from above (drip). After a little bit it starts absorbing though.
  • If you apply too much water too fast, the absorbed water does then go straight down.
  • If the LFS isn't too dry, and you don't apply too much water too fast, it will start to absorb right away, and also wick nicely in all directions.

I use both misting and drip hose to wet most of my cork mosaic walls and water the plants. I just run each twice a day (~10 AM & ~3 PM), about a minute for the drips (takes a bit for them to even start dripping) and more like 15-20 seconds for the misting. And I do a little hand-watering maybe 2x/week also. I find it best to use automation to provide most needed water, but not all of it. That way I don't overwater, and I also don't over-ignore. I just add a cycle to the timers for long out-of-town trips. For weekends away, I don't have to do anything. Just top off my reservoirs.

Quote:
(It is also a concern of mine that LFS that is on the underside of the "jutting out" spot will just plain out fall out if the friction holding it in the crevasses isn't strong enough.)
Not if you pack it like I described. No way, no how, huh uh.

Quote:
P.S.: I'm probably going to install my bulkhead, but I'll have to do it above the desired waterline and just let it spill through when it gets too high; I don't have any stopper with this bulkhead and besides, I don't want to risk a malfunction below that desired waterline and never be able to hold enough water to run the waterfall.
Bulkhead placement is a fine way to set your control elevation. You should be fine. Hey, remember this mantra - "water features - what could go wrong?" Ha ha. Seriously though - there's nothing like experience. Nothing.

cheers
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:53 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

You should get a medal for "helping a new guy through the entire process of making a terrarium." Like a forum medal. But I guess a real medal is fine, too.

An update: T9 (which is a code name I give to my large-scale Terraria, in the order I've made them) is standing again!

A couple notes:

The bulkhead looks ... more difficult to place than I thought it would. Check out this photograph:



^This is a view of the left half of the bottom-back wall, but the problem is the same on the right half, too: the part of the back that seems to be exactly the right vertical point to install the bulkhead --- not too low that it accidentally drains too much water but not too high that it doesn't drain water at all --- is two different level-surfaces. Bulkheads, as far as I can tell, need a completely flat surface, at least on the inside of the tank where water is being sucked in.

What do you advise in this regard? I'm not in a rush to solve this problem, because I have to do "watertight testing" right now anyway. Although I suppose I have to do it with the bulkhead, too.

Also of importance: now that T9 is standing, I got to test the lights!



^This is with three Jungle Dawn spotlights in the back (in order to light the back wall's mosses more effectively) and three Cree "100w replacement" floodlights in the front. I know that some Cree bulbs from Home Depot aren't exactly hobbyist-grade choices, and I couldn't find the PAR ratings anywhere for them, but I'll be damned if I was going to spend another ~$250 for those Jungle Dawns that will fizzle out in less than a decade.

[You can also see the rough contours I was referring to, which I guess aren't really that rough after all.]



^This is the Lux at the substrate base level, 12,500, although repositioning it can make it go as low as 9,600 or so. I don't know if that's enough to grow ordinary terrarium plants on the substrate level, but it should be good for the moss higher up, I guess?

Thanks again for the advice about the cork mosaic. While I'm waiting for the watertight test to pass (which should take some ~48 hours to be reasonably certain I guess?) I can test the steel wires and arrange cork bits and, if both work, I can start siliconin'.
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Old 05-16-2019, 11:57 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

By the way, you may have noticed a patch of bare wooden wall by the dragon-skull driftwood piece, untouched by spray foam. This is intentional, but it may not have been a wise idea, now that I'm going the cork mosaic. My intention had been to have a bit of less-raised space to put moss in, because (and this may or may not be evident from pictures of it) the skull is very close to the wall and spray foam might choke it.

[This would be a good time to bring up the "planter" within one of the skull's "horns." It's a cupped area that can hold about a pint's worth of substrate without it spilling out, and even has a little hole for drainage. I intended to put some kind of terrestrial trailing plant in at some point, and I don't want to have too much spray foam for that reason: it would make planting that plant impossible.

EDIT: I do have a pic of it! Here goes:



The "planter" is that shadow-cast area towards the middle of the photo. To its left is a hole (the "eye") and a little further left (and a tad down) is the jaw. All backwards, of course.]

Also, although there is one selenite crystal that is super-prominent up top, and is probably close to impossible to hide attractively --- yet if the other ones look rather ugly and clash with the setting, I am not opposed to covering them with cork or whatever. Just thought I'd air that thought.

EDIT: To save e-trees, I may as well include this other stuff in this post:



^This is (some of) my hand-gathered Magnolia leaf litter, which were frozen for 48 hours and will not be removed from their bags until they need to be put in the terrarium(s).

My understanding of springtails is that they munch on dead leaves, which made me think it might be a good idea to water down my ABG mix with leaves in between so the subterranean springtails can feed on something, instead of just the leaf litter on top.



^This is an example of a 24-hour moss-cleaning process, although this is neither the normal pot used nor the usual amount of moss cleaned at one time. Even if the moss is going to be chopped up to bits, I still am fond of a good cleaning. (I'm basing this practice off of a YT video I saw a long time ago that suggested this.)

Last edited by Kinstrome; 05-17-2019 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 02:13 AM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

Really starting to doubt the possibility of carving up cork in a way that allows as little as a 1" gap for LFS.

My main reason for saying this is that there is already so much crap on the walls that there are a ton of areas that just can't get cork bits in. Take the "ribs" for example. How will I fit cork in there such that LFS can be jammed inside? If I were dealing with a flat surface that had no decorations on it, no driftwood, no castle, no nothing, I could easily start with the cork mosaic.

It's looking like part of the walls will need some other strategy, or perhaps resorting to the "directly siliconing moss to foam" method.

EDIT: I did have an idea, which won't work as well as a cork mosaic under ideal conditions, but might function here.

The foam wall is already pocked with holes from the carving process, a large part of which involved just ripping bits of foam out and leaving what were, at the time, unfortunate holes.

Now, I think I can stuff LFS into them without it being pulled out easily. That won't cover the whole wall surface, but it will grow outward and leave few gaps. And anywhere I just can't fit LFS in, I'll silicone cork bits together as support.

I haven't completely thought this through, just thought that I'd air the thought.

Last edited by Kinstrome; 05-17-2019 at 02:51 AM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 07:06 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

Not to quadruple post, but I think I may have found an answer here:

Do you see the green wire?



No? I can't either, even taking that close-up photo of wire-bound LFS hanging comfortably over the abyss.

It isn't stuffed into a crack; if I take out the wire, it will fall right now.

Now that I'm done with this test piece, I can start dicing up mosses and mixing them into LFS.
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Old 05-20-2019, 05:36 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

Hey, you've been busy! Isn't it fun!!! Ha ha, seriously, I just LOVE working on these things. All of it, even the stuff you'll never see again, like waterproofing wood.

Quote:
the part of the back that seems to be exactly the right vertical point to install the bulkhead --- not too low that it accidentally drains too much water but not too high that it doesn't drain water at all --- is two different level-surfaces. Bulkheads, as far as I can tell, need a completely flat surface, at least on the inside of the tank where water is being sucked in.

What do you advise in this regard?
Yeah I see the issue. You are correct - you need a flat plane for the bulkhead - definitely the wet side, but really, both sides. There are 2 options - add wood (or solid plastic I suppose) to the thin part, or remove wood from the thick part. Adding is simple if you have a table saw or even just a chop saw. Removing might be even easier, with a Forstner bit. Since you need to make a wider excavation than the ultimate full-penetration to pass the neck of the bulkhead through, you can't use a hole saw. You could use a spade bit, but...for good seating of the bulkhead I suggest something tidier. A Forstner bit would be my go-to tool for this job. The spade bit could make a mess of things for you.
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Old 05-20-2019, 05:45 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

Quote:
Now, I think I can stuff LFS into them without it being pulled out easily. That won't cover the whole wall surface, but it will grow outward and leave few gaps. And anywhere I just can't fit LFS in, I'll silicone cork bits together as support.
Great. Honestly I think some gaps look better than full coverage anyway. And, if you really roll up the LFS in your fingers, roll it up tight, and quickly stuff it - like, it barely stuffs in there, it's so big and dense - into cracks and gaps, it will want to puff back up and it'll wedge itself in real good.

Silicone works very well to adhere cork to glass. Probably works fine to adhere cork to cork. I was thinking, if you let the LFS dry back out, you could also use Gorilla glue to adhere it to...anything.

Great progress you're making, well done. There's nothing like just hucking yourself at it. Thinking and planning are essential, but they don't change facts on the ground.
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Old 05-20-2019, 07:23 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

Thanks, although I think I'm just going to drill through the thick part that lies in the "sweet spot" between eggrcate and waterfall pump. The threaded neck of the bulkhead is just long enough to go through the entire thing and still be fastented on the other side --- at least, it looks that way right now.

Another thing that would make this easier is if I understood waterfall pump mechanics better. Mainly, does the the intake part of the waterfall pump have to be completely submerged in order for it not to malfunction? I ask this because I'll have a lot more vertical space to work the bulkhead into, if the water level doesn't have to be quite as high for the waterfall to flow. Like a centimeter lower. I don't care if it slightly affects the speed / volume of the waterfall --- I just don't want the waterfall pump to screw up.
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Old 05-20-2019, 08:09 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

Well, sure, there are liquids pumps that can handle sucking some air, but that's probably not what you paid for. RTFM in any case, but...if it was my pump, I'd figure out a way to get the intake submerged. Even if it means rigging some kind of pipe or hose downward from the intake port (which is where? fully atop the body? upper lateral?).

cheers
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Old 05-20-2019, 11:28 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

Well, I worry with manuals, which are super-conservative about risking things, they're likely going to say something like "Don't let water fall below the line EVER or the pump will explode and kill your family" when the de facto rule might be "meh, you can kind of get by with an inch of water below it once in a while."

BUT I think I have a solution, if my calculations are correct.

So, my bulkhead starts off like this:



But what if I take the filter off and do this?



My thought is, if I can combine a short length of hose (this one or some other) that has a similar O.D. to the bulkhead's I.D., then silicone it up real well, I can run the hose up to the top of the water line, even though the bulkhead is installed well below it! I can just zip-tie or silicone it to the eggcrate, which it's going to need to be almost level with anyway.
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Old 05-20-2019, 11:51 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

Yeah, sure - that would be a standpipe. (Did I not mention standpipes earlier? Huh, maybe not.)

I think I see your inlet side is female pipe-threaded (FPT). Just get a MPT PVC elbow, and (for the vert side) cut a length of PVC pipe however long it needs to be to establish your desired control elevation.

If you don't want to use rigid pipe you could use vinyl hose on a barbed elbow - MPT on one side, then push-fit the hose onto the other side.

For this application, do I recall correctly that leaks through the bulkhead (as opposed to around the bulhead) would not matter? This is a continuous-flow system, so as long as the through-leak is small, enough water will cover the pump so you're all good, right?

If memory fails and minor leaks would be bad, you can just teflon tape the threaded elbow or threaded barb fitting.
  • But if it is a SLIP not a threaded bulkhead, and you're using a SLIP PVC fitting, then be sure to use proper ABS-to-PVC cement (it's kind of a minty green color).
  • In this case I would go with rigid pipe, and cement, over a hose and (submerged) hose clamp.
  • If you must do a hose clamp, get a stainless one.

cheers
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Old Yesterday, 12:07 AM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

Quote:
Yeah, sure - that would be a standpipe. (Did I not mention standpipes earlier? Huh, maybe not.)
You did, I just thought that a standpipe referred only to a straight vertical tower from the floor of the basin, not a flexible bent tube from the wall.

Quote:
For this application, do I recall correctly that leaks through the bulkhead (as opposed to around the bulkhead) would not matter? This is a continuous-flow system, so as long as the through-leak is small, enough water will cover the pump so you're all good, right?
That's correct if I use a system in which the bulkhead is vertically above the waterfall pump, so that no matter how much it leaks, the water level could never fall below the bulkhead or its leaky spot.

But if I were to do this sort-of-a-standpipe method, it would be done with the bulkhead lower down, and that's basically the whole reason I'd do this method: because there are a lot more comfortable spots to drill a bulkhead-hole at or below the water pump's level than above it. Basically, the standpipery would be done in order to compensate for the bulkhead being at or below the water pump's level.

Thanks for the intel about the cement and the rigid pipe --- I would not have thought of it at all. I just ordered them.
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Old Yesterday, 10:35 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

... aaaannnnd I didn't even end up using them.

I wish I had taken more photos, and that would make things comprehensible, but for my own records I'll write down what's happened in the last 24 hours or so:
  • I realized that the vertical distance between the topmost vent of the waterfall pump and the bottom of the eggcrate was borderline-nonexistent. There was no way a bulkhead tube could pull water between those two, which was exactly where it had to pull water from.
  • Fortunately, I had a good fix to this: I just got a full sheet of eggcrate and put it underneath the PVC pillars to raise the whole eggcrate-drainage-layer, and I cut out an area for the pump-chamber in this new sheet of eggcrate so that the waterfall pump wasn't raised up with everything else. (This is where photographs would really help make sense of things.)
  • Sometime during this I finally succeeded in getting the entire water basin completely leak-free. But I hadn't put in the bulkhead yet.
  • A slight elevation in the wood on the sides of the armoire's floor meant that that "extra sheet of eggcrate" supporting the pillars was bent up on those sides, so that the bulkhead had even more room over there to get water above the pump but below the eggcrate that delineates substrate and false bottom. So I chose there.
  • The 1" hole saw didn't really work that well ... I ended up having to kind of fool around with a drill bit. The threaded part of the bulkhead just barely didn't fit through, so I used a piece of scrap wood and a mallet to hammer it through. This turned out to be not such a bad thing, as the hole was so long that the threaded ended only stucked out barely --- and the screw-on ring that tightens it doesn't have enough thread to stay on. It just falls off, no matter how much it's turned. It is fortunate that there is incredible friction holding it in place.
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Old Yesterday, 11:28 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

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The threaded part of the bulkhead just barely didn't fit through
Yeah, I always do a one and one eighths inch (9/8") hole for them, whether it's glass or wood. Sometimes you have to search for that size hole saw or whatever you use.

- Alternatively, there's also a rasp bit you can put in a drill, that you can use to ream out a hole in wood. It makes for a slightly messier-finish job, but in a case like this, once you've bored a hole through and you no longer have any holding wood to get another hole-saw job started, it's your best bet. And besides, the slightly janky-looking wood is hidden by the bulkhead. These rasp bits cost like $5-10 at Home Depot or wherever, and come in a variety of diameters. You would use a 5/8" or 3/4" for that 1" hole.

Quote:
as the hole was so long that the threaded ended only stucked out barely --- and the screw-on ring that tightens it doesn't have enough thread to stay on. It just falls off, no matter how much it's turned. It is fortunate that there is incredible friction holding it in place.
Hmm, I personally am more of a belt & suspenders kind of guy, than a believer in good fortune. As in, you wear the belt, AND you wear the suspenders. "Redundancy will cover your ass, cowboy!" Ha ha ha. Jesus, my wife and her love of awful puns is starting to rub off. Only took 20 years. Heh heh heh.

Also, consider this - friction tight ain't likely water tight. Do you think the grommet is well-enough seated, and will stay there? What if the freshly-daylighted wood dries and shrinks a little, releasing the bulkhead from its iron grip?

In all seriousness, right here is an example of where a Forstner bit is the best thing since indoor plumbing. To avoid having to do more waterproofing, I'd use it on the dry side of the armoire, to accommodate the nut so you can get it all the way onto the threads. I strongly encourage the use of the threads the manufacturer has so kindly provided! If you need to, glue back in the plug you cut out with the hole saw, and then re-cut it (through the glue) with the hole saw, after you do the Forstner job.

But hey, it's your floor (or your landlord's), and maybe your neighbor's ceiling! Ha ha ha.

Good luck, man! You too may learn why the phrase "water feature" is a cussword with viv lovers.
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Old Today, 01:32 AM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

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Also, consider this - friction tight ain't likely water tight. Do you think the grommet is well-enough seated, and will stay there? What if the freshly-daylighted wood dries and shrinks a little, releasing the bulkhead from its iron grip?
Well, I didn't mention this in the last post out of fear of chastisement, but ... I did actually seal the various bulkhead parts and possible cracks. Just, well, not with ABS-to-PVC cement. More like "good ole black silicone and West System epoxy resin to top it off."

Trust me, though, I know the danger of thinking something is waterproof, hastily finishing the terrarium, then discovering a leak, and living through years of self-reproach. I will be testing this setup repeatedly.

In the meantime, I can get back to moss-staplin'.

Quote:
In all seriousness, right here is an example of where a Forstner bit is the best thing since indoor plumbing. To avoid having to do more waterproofing, I'd use it on the dry side of the armoire, to accommodate the nut so you can get it all the way onto the threads. I strongly encourage the use of the threads the manufacturer has so kindly provided! If you need to, glue back in the plug you cut out with the hole saw, and then re-cut it (through the glue) with the hole saw, after you do the Forstner job.
The problem with the threads is that the thickness of the wall is almost the same as the length of the threaded part --- only about half a centimeter shorter. It's not that the bulkhead didn't go all the way in (hell, it probably dented into the wood, as hard as I hit it). It's that I miscalculated how much exposed thread was going to be needed to tighten the nut onto it.

I'm afraid I don't see the value of a forstner bit unless I get one BIGGER than the diamater of the bulkhead-hole --- approximately the diameter of the nut, instead --- then use that bit to drill out wood from the armoire such that the nut has more thread to screw up into. (Or is that what you were suggesting? I may have misunderstood.)
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Old Today, 04:21 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

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The problem with the threads is that the thickness of the wall is almost the same as the length of the threaded part --- only about half a centimeter shorter. It's not that the bulkhead didn't go all the way in (hell, it probably dented into the wood, as hard as I hit it). It's that I miscalculated how much exposed thread was going to be needed to tighten the nut onto it.
Yeah, I get that. The purpose of the FB would be to reduce the thickness of the wall, so that there's room to screw the nut onto the threads.

Quote:
I'm afraid I don't see the value of a forstner bit unless I get one BIGGER than the diamater of the bulkhead-hole --- approximately the diameter of the nut, instead --- then use that bit to drill out wood from the armoire such that the nut has more thread to screw up into. (Or is that what you were suggesting? I may have misunderstood.)
Yeah, exactly. You'd need to size the FB so you can get the nut onto the threads, and also turn the nut. The FB would need to be about an inch wider than the diameter of the nut, for your fingers to squeeze in there and grip the nut. You could use an adjustable ("crescent") wrench, which could permit a smaller FB to be used, but easy does it - no need to crank (and crack) it.

Quote:
Well, I didn't mention this in the last post out of fear of chastisement, but ... I did actually seal the various bulkhead parts and possible cracks. Just, well, not with ABS-to-PVC cement. More like "good ole black silicone and West System epoxy resin to top it off."
Aw hell, is that how I'm coming across? Sorry man. I will offer that, uh, silicone and epoxy ain't buddy-buddy. Not like there's a bad reaction or anything, they just don't adhere to each other. In fact, molds for casting with epoxy are made of silicone. Because, you know, it's easy to pull the mold off your cast once the resin cures. Anyway - I think I mentioned this before, and you probably already found that out yourself and took steps to not get screwed over by this factor - but I mention it for readers who may not have realized it yet.

Sounds like you're getting closer and closer. Good on ya!
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Old Today, 08:54 PM
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Default Re: ~330 gallon terrarium setup. (+ some questions)

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Anyway - I think I mentioned this before, and you probably already found that out yourself and took steps to not get screwed over by this factor - but I mention it for readers who may not have realized it yet.
Yeah, I have no problem with you clarifying or correcting things I do so that this post can safely be read by future hobbyists. Part of the reason I'm writing all of this out --- some of it very boring to current readers --- is so future readers will have a better idea of what works and doesn't work.

For me, although I knew already that cured silicone and cured epoxy don't like to stick (although I put the epoxy on before the silicone had entirely cured), mostly it was just insurance / peace of mind. I had a pretty good feeling that I had stuffed silicone all the way into the hole(s) as far as it would go, but I just wanted to get some other substance, less viscous, into the holes that might exist between the wall and the silicone itself. Filling the cracks of the thing that filled the cracks, so to speak.

Quote:
Yeah, exactly. You'd need to size the FB so you can get the nut onto the threads, and also turn the nut. The FB would need to be about an inch wider than the diameter of the nut, for your fingers to squeeze in there and grip the nut. You could use an adjustable ("crescent") wrench, which could permit a smaller FB to be used, but easy does it - no need to crank (and crack) it.
This may be a decision that bites me in the ass later, but because the bulkhead is already fixed in place and sealed, and because it's held water for about 24 hours so far, I may just ride with it.

My other concern is that, just getting the bulkhead OUT of the hole to use the forstner bit and try again, may be disastrous. It's so solidly in there that an attempt to hammer it back out may result in it breaking on the inside or tearing up the wood.

Also, because I'd have to hammer it out, and because the only thing I'd have as a surface area to hammer is the barely-exposed end of the threaded pipe --- I may hammer it once, get it slightly moved in the direction I want it to move, and then be forever unable to dislodge it, because there's hardly anything for the hammer to hit.

But the bigger reason is simply that, at this point, I'm superstitiously afraid of leakage, and I fear I may never get the bulkhead as watertight as I somehow managed to make it.

[P.S.: This armoire is extremely brittle, especially after sawing out the shelves. I didn't mention this earlier, but once when my father and I were lifting it, one of us lifted too quickly on one side and we heard a "CREAK." Then, the next time I tested water idly, it was leaking out of a new crack. So my fear is that, as hard as I'd have to strike a hammer to get it out, I might open another crack that doesn't become evident immediately. It may not actually happen, but it's a worry.]

EDIT: Would it be wise to include Turface or some other substance above the eggcrate / false bottom but below the ABG mix soil? I had read on it and thought it might have some usefulness in what I am doing, but I'm far from certain.

Last edited by Kinstrome; Today at 09:16 PM.
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