Is there any particular reason not to use Turface as (part of) a drainage layer? - Dendroboard
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Old 07-20-2019, 05:30 AM
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Default Is there any particular reason not to use Turface as (part of) a drainage layer?

Context: I'm building a setup in another thread, and I want the dominant part of the drainage layer to be an eggcrate-based false bottom platform. But I don't particularly like the way it looks from the side of the tank (this is an Exo Terra), and I don't want to spray paint the interior to hide it because I don't think it will look the way I want it to look.

So I was thinking of creating an impromptu "veneer" of turface pebbles around the eggcrate platform, which platform would, on all sides except the back (for draining the water), be solid and not allow turface to slip inside of it. This veneer would be about an inch into the three visible sides of the tank, then the eggcrate part would begin. So the majority of the water would be inside the hollow of the eggcrate false bottom, but it would look to the viewer like the whole thing was turface.

Why turface? Well, it's inexpensive, it's a nice color when wet, and I have a crapload of it because it's like ~$13.55 for a little over 10 gallons of it.

What I'm wondering is, if I treat it like the rocks of a drainage layer, is there any reason not to use it that way? I won't be using it as a substrate; when the drainage layer ends, the turface ends, and above it will be ABG mix.

I'm basing my concern about turface on some comment I read a while ago about not mixing it into the drainage layer, a comment I may very well have misunderstood.
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Old 07-20-2019, 04:31 PM
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Default Re: Is there any particular reason not to use Turface as (part of) a drainage layer?

You ideally want the false bottom to be more on the 'clean' side. Turface and rocks will always move and shift with the water. Sometimes they create a real sloppy mess and are very hard to adjust or even remove. Then there's the added weight.

I don't know of anyone spraying or painting the inside of a viv. Painting on the outside is very uncommonly done.

Use 'contact paper' or black shelf paper on the OUTside of the viv. It will hide everything, easy to cut and shape, is cheap and looks great and easy to remove.
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Old 07-20-2019, 05:30 PM
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Default Re: Is there any particular reason not to use Turface as (part of) a drainage layer?

I do a very similar thing except I use these really small river pebbles that I found at Home Depot or Lowes for just a couple bucks. I think it looks better than turface in my opinion. There is nothing to worry about with turface unless you're pumping false bottom water back up to a drip wall or something. Even then, I don't know what the issue would be.
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Old 07-20-2019, 06:18 PM
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Default Re: Is there any particular reason not to use Turface as (part of) a drainage layer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philsuma View Post
You ideally want the false bottom to be more on the 'clean' side. Turface and rocks will always move and shift with the water. Sometimes they create a real sloppy mess and are very hard to adjust or even remove. Then there's the added weight.

I don't know of anyone spraying or painting the inside of a viv. Painting on the outside is very uncommonly done.

Use 'contact paper' or black shelf paper on the OUTside of the viv. It will hide everything, easy to cut and shape, is cheap and looks great and easy to remove.
I've gone the paper route before, although I didn't use anything like a decal that is meant to adhere to the side (if that is what contact paper is). The paper I used doesn't look so good, but I could try something else.

Yeah I probably misread the whole "spray paint using masking tape" as "spray paint the inside using masking tape and use some kind of sealant."

I can see the problem of sticky, messy turface, but I plan to probably never move it after it's done. I also already have the eggcrate platform I described made, which was rather a hasty decision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinc Tank View Post
I do a very similar thing except I use these really small river pebbles that I found at Home Depot or Lowes for just a couple bucks. I think it looks better than turface in my opinion. There is nothing to worry about with turface unless you're pumping false bottom water back up to a drip wall or something. Even then, I don't know what the issue would be.
I used those, too, but they cost more than turface at the volume I'm able to get turface. At least where I live.

But yeah, all the water that passes through them will be drained out of the tank.

...which would all be good if I hadn't cracked the tank trying to drill a drainage hole in the back of it. Really, it wasn't the drilling, but the drill slamming into the glass the instant that the the drill bit went through.

It may be salvageable --- it hasn't shown a sign of leaking yet --- but I don't know what it will mean for the future.
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Old 07-20-2019, 06:33 PM
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Default Re: Is there any particular reason not to use Turface as (part of) a drainage layer?

Pick any inert substrate that you want and put it down there.

Here is an example of a build I did where I hid the false bottom and the substrate layer with a type of light landscaping rock.

However always keep in mind the weight, if you will ever move the vivarium that could be a factor.

https://www.dendroboard.com/forum/pa...-exoterra.html


The most popular options tend to be leca, hydroton, growstones whatever the latest flavor of the month brand names are for those products because they are cheap and light and look somewhat natural.
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Old 07-20-2019, 10:54 PM
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Default Re: Is there any particular reason not to use Turface as (part of) a drainage layer?

Not to derail, but I have another question, and I thought I'd spare the forum some space:

What usually happens with cracks of this kind, and what should I look out for in the long run? I already cut a glass top / screen vent, built an eggcrate false bottom, and most importantly, bought an expensive Spectral Designs LED light that is specifically made for the size of tank I have. I really don't want to lose this tank if I can avoid it; I got it at a good deal and I doubt another one will pop up anytime soon.

I put some Lexel on the cracks and around the bulkhead I installed, and it doesn't appear that water is getting through by any crack. BUT I don't know what cracks usually do. I don't know what are the conditions for cracks to spread --- somebody told me it was related to temperature changes that minutely changed the size of the glass and spread the crack.

Returning to the topic, I'll probably end up using turface, just because I have it and I need something with very fine particles. The reason I need very fine particles is that the gap between the glass and the eggcrate platform is less than 1" wide. Larger particles --- even LECA / hydroton --- might have gaps that allow the eggcrate to show through.
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Old 07-21-2019, 02:26 AM
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Default Re: Is there any particular reason not to use Turface as (part of) a drainage layer?

I personally would expect the crack to spread. But there are some things you can do...

1) You can replace that panel. Find out what thickness glass you need, what dimensions, and take them to a glass shop. Then all you have to do is remove the old silicone with a razor scraper and reseal the tank with the new panel in place. A replacement panel should be quite cheap.

2) The next recommendation I have depends on if the tank has a rim or not. You should put down a half inch thick piece of foam insulation. If it has a rim, do not put foam under it. The foam just absorbs any imperfections in the stand that could cause the crack to get worse. You also must be 100% certain that the stand or table is perfectly level (no exceptions - regardless if you use foam). Any kind of unevenness will cause the glass to twist and will inevitably lead to the crack just finishing all the way across the panel. Following that suggestion, you might be fine. But walking into the room to find all your false bottom water leaked every where might be a disaster depending on your circumstances.
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Old 07-21-2019, 04:50 AM
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Default Re: Is there any particular reason not to use Turface as (part of) a drainage layer?

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Originally Posted by Tinc Tank View Post
I personally would expect the crack to spread. But there are some things you can do...

1) You can replace that panel. Find out what thickness glass you need, what dimensions, and take them to a glass shop. Then all you have to do is remove the old silicone with a razor scraper and reseal the tank with the new panel in place. A replacement panel should be quite cheap.

2) The next recommendation I have depends on if the tank has a rim or not. You should put down a half inch thick piece of foam insulation. If it has a rim, do not put foam under it. The foam just absorbs any imperfections in the stand that could cause the crack to get worse. You also must be 100% certain that the stand or table is perfectly level (no exceptions - regardless if you use foam). Any kind of unevenness will cause the glass to twist and will inevitably lead to the crack just finishing all the way across the panel. Following that suggestion, you might be fine. But walking into the room to find all your false bottom water leaked every where might be a disaster depending on your circumstances.
Thanks. I'm having trouble with #1, though. I can cut into the joints between glass sides and between the back side and the two plastic borders on the top and bottom, but I can't see any way to actually pull it out from inside those two plastic borders. Not, at least, without very likely snapping the plastic and truly putting the tank in a bad way. It seems the folks at Exo Terra were really, really good at putting their product together.
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Old 07-21-2019, 04:49 PM
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Default Re: Is there any particular reason not to use Turface as (part of) a drainage layer?

Is the crack in the bottom of the tank or the back? Sorry if I missed that detail.
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Old 07-21-2019, 05:03 PM
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Default Re: Is there any particular reason not to use Turface as (part of) a drainage layer?

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Is the crack in the bottom of the tank or the back? Sorry if I missed that detail.
It's in the back. I have a not-terribly great photo of it, but it's hard to get a good photo:



^The visible part of it is sort of on the left side. It basically starts in an arc from the drilled hole, disappears for a couple of inches, then resumes for another couple of inches. A small fragment of glass broke off next to the hole, too, but it's still watertight, apparently.

By the way, your build inspired me. I have long wanted to make a "hanging gardens of Babylon" using real plants, and I think I could do that with some inexpensive tile or alabaster.
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Old 07-21-2019, 05:55 PM
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Default Re: Is there any particular reason not to use Turface as (part of) a drainage layer?

Ya that sucks the back is a mess in the exo terras I have worked with. It does drop entirely down into the plastic and is often hard to remove.

The crack will typically keep spreading till it hits an edge.

If you have not constructed the tank yet or all the stuff is removable I would just get a new one, I doubt its worth it for you to take a risk and end up with water all over the floor. Especially when it looks like this tank is not set up yet.

BTW IMHO you cut that hole too close to the edge of the glass. I would have gone up another inch higher. This is probably why it cracked especially if you have successfully cut other holes.
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Old 07-21-2019, 08:17 PM
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Default Re: Is there any particular reason not to use Turface as (part of) a drainage layer?

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Originally Posted by Pubfiction View Post
Ya that sucks the back is a mess in the exo terras I have worked with. It does drop entirely down into the plastic and is often hard to remove.

The crack will typically keep spreading till it hits an edge.
I will probably keep this tank around and either experiment with it, or make it a grow tank in which very little water ever even reaches the drainage layer.

Quote:
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If you have not constructed the tank yet or all the stuff is removable I would just get a new one, I doubt its worth it for you to take a risk and end up with water all over the floor. Especially when it looks like this tank is not set up yet.
The tank had had a good bit of things invested in it, including a tank-specific false bottom, a glass panel with a hole in it, and a Spectral Designs light specifically for that tank size. The false bottom isn't too hard to re-make and the Spectral Designs light will work with another tank this size (if I buy one), but I had thought until recently the glass top was sealed to the top via epoxy clay. (This was because it was slightly not wide enough, and I basically made the lips it rested on wider with the clay.) I managed recently, however, to tear it off of the lip without breaking either one.

Quote:
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BTW IMHO you cut that hole too close to the edge of the glass. I would have gone up another inch higher. This is probably why it cracked especially if you have successfully cut other holes.
Yeah, I had a feeling that if I had hit the middle of the glass with the drill, instead of near the edge, it would not have cracked. I had a reason for placing it so low, though, and that was that I needed a lot of vertical space to faithfully preserve the proportions of the stump I was trying to make. I wanted it to sort of fill out the inside, and for it to quite wide it needed to be quite tall. So I needed as small of a water layer as reasonable.

I have recently, however, begun to doubt whether the stump prop is even going to look like a stump, and whether it's what I want to pursue. So it may be moot anyway.
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