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Old 10-12-2019, 04:45 PM
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Default Building a BG outside for an upright tank?

Alright, so a query. I got a tank from a coworker who was moving and needed to downsize. It's a 36x18x36 exoterra (my second one now), so I could not pass up on the deal! Only problem was that I was working on other projects when I got it and my apartment floor was a landmine field, so we went ahead and put it straight on the stand.

Fast forward a few weeks later, and I now realize what a dumb mistake that was. I need to do the background, and I don't have anyone who can help me lift the tank off the stand and then place it back on when I'm finished. My coworker and I had no troubles carrying the thing around, but all my friends have tiny baby noodle arms, and I do not trust them to be able to help me especially when it comes time to lift the tank back up.

I did a little searching around and it seems like building the background out of the tank and placing it in may be a solution. Pink XPS foam is a decent option, but how would I attach cork and branches to the XPS? Silicone? GS on top and squish the pieces in once it's partially expanded? How stable would it this method be for attaching heavier branches that extend outwards? And how do I attach the BG pieces to the tank? I saw some people have used silicone, but how would that work if the tank is upright?

The stability of doing a BG this way is my primary concern. Tank is going to be built for a Mt. Koghis leachie pair, which can reach 300+ grams. When they jump, they're going to be throwing some weight around. My current leachie (180ish grams) loves leaping around from branch to branch in her tank with no issue, but those suckers are siliconed directly to the glass itself.

TLDR: What's the best way to build a BG with cork and branches outside a tank? Inhabitants can get to 300+ grams, so it needs to be stable.
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Old 10-14-2019, 10:22 AM
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Hi there,

36x18x36 builder here. I had same problem as you have now month ago. My advice is dont build it outside of the tank! That was my first mistake I did in my build process. You are never going to fit it perfectly inside through the glass frame. Just do it the regular way.
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Old 10-14-2019, 01:27 PM
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Default Re: Building a BG outside for an upright tank?

Yeah ... the trim on Exo-Terras ó both in front and on top ó makes fitting anything tightly to the interior problematic if you want to build it ex situ.

I would go to trouble of recruiting help to move it safely.

I have one and donít find it very heavy; but between the doors and relatively thin glass and flimsy top trim (front) I would never trust myself to move it alone; it would almost certainly twist and break.



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Old 10-17-2019, 06:47 PM
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Default Re: Building a BG outside for an upright tank?

It's easy to fit your externally-built background into the tank. Just leave some room.
  • If you want a full-dimensions background don't build it snug-tight. (Trying to pull that off is exactly how you wind up with a background you can't squeeze into the tank. Oops.) Leave an inch to left and right, and also decide what you want to do along the top. E.g., might the lizards appreciate a nice ledge up there to lay on? If you don't want to leave those side gaps open, just pack them with moss.
  • Also realize you don't need the background to literally cover the entire background. You can build several "stick-on" background pieces, that leave some see-through areas of "window" on the back. Depends on your situation if that would be nice or that would be janky. Just don't assume it's always gonna look janky, no matter what. That simply isn't true. Also, you can build the pieces like a jigsaw puzzle but with gaps again about an inch. You can pack those with moss. And leave no windows.
  • I have lots of vivs with branches that either go full-width, side to side, or that attach to a side and also to the back. My basic rule is, 1 attachment point is dead to me, 2 attachments points are OK but not ideal, and 3 attachment points are rock-solid so "Do it like that if I can". I have some long branches that are attached on e.g. the back and one side, but which also have a separate vertical piece of branch with a fork on the upper end, that the longer branch is laying on. That forms my 3rd point of attachment.
  • Anything I want stuck to glass, I stick it with silicone. Unless silicone won't stick to it - then I find something else. But silicone is the go-to adhesive for "almost anything to glass".


Good luck!
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Old 10-17-2019, 11:43 PM
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Default Re: Building a BG outside for an upright tank?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgragg View Post
It's easy to fit your externally-built background into the tank. Just leave some room.
The one time I was trying to build something into an Exo Terra, I did nothing of the sort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jgragg View Post
[LIST][*]If you want a full-dimensions background don't build it snug-tight. (Trying to pull that off is exactly how you wind up with a background you can't squeeze into the tank. Oops.)
Yeah, that was me. LOL

I didn't like the idea of trying to shore up gaps after-the-fact, but sometimes that's the only way given how Exo Terras are designed -- depends on what you're doing.
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Old 10-18-2019, 02:05 PM
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Default Re: Building a BG outside for an upright tank?

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Originally Posted by jgragg View Post
Anything I want stuck to glass, I stick it with silicone. Unless silicone won't stick to it - then I find something else. But silicone is the go-to adhesive for "almost anything to glass".
Yeah, that's where I'm stumped though. I don't understand how to silicon a BG panel to the glass while keeping it upright. I'm worried it will tip away from the glass. Would cutting up a few dowels and shoving them in there to prop the panels up while curing be enough? All the siliconing I've done has had gravity doing most of the work for me.
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Old 10-18-2019, 07:36 PM
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Default Re: Building a BG outside for an upright tank?

Wedging it, or clamping it, is a possibility. If you're building something heavy (branches stuck to it, etc.) using sheet foam as a backing, it may bow, or break, while building it or gluing it in. Just something to consider.

I'm with those who advocate trying to find some help. You'll need 2 minutes of help, twice. Neighbor? Random person off the street? Slip the pizza guy an extra ten? Tinder date? FedEx guy? Even if you have to make someone dinner to compensate them for their trouble, it may be worth it (if I had to scrape off a siliconed background on a viv that size, I'd smash the thing with a hammer and buy a new one), and you'll have a new friend that can lift, what, 30 pounds?
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Old Yesterday, 12:58 AM
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Default Re: Building a BG outside for an upright tank?

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Originally Posted by Socratic Monologue View Post
[...](if I had to scrape off a siliconed background on a viv that size, I'd smash the thing with a hammer and buy a new one)[...]
LOL...same.
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Old Today, 06:52 PM
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Default Re: Building a BG outside for an upright tank?

Quote:
Yeah, that's where I'm stumped though. I don't understand how to silicon a BG panel to the glass while keeping it upright. I'm worried it will tip away from the glass. Would cutting up a few dowels and shoving them in there to prop the panels up while curing be enough? All the siliconing I've done has had gravity doing most of the work for me.
Yeah tipping the viv onto its back is the easiest way to get gravity working for and not against you. But, if you're stuck with it upright, just think about how to control movement in all directions:
  • I like balled-up newspaper. I stick the balls of newspaper below, beside, and even on the face of the background item.
  • Wedging can work. Especially if you can use something to keep the wedge in there tight. I like the blue painter's tape for that.
  • Blue painter's tape also sticks very well to glass, without leaving a sticky mess. It doesn't stick to epoxy, or cork, for shit though. This is a place those newspaper balls can be great - tape sticks to those, and - if taped down tightly enough - the paper balls have enough friction to keep the background piece from slipping down.
  • Tape works especially well if you use separate lengths of it to tie down your piece in opposite directions. Imagine you're strapping a motorcycle into the bed of a pickup. Don't let that little bastard move!
  • Clamping can also work well. If your clamp's jaws aren't deep enough to bear directly on your piece, sometimes you can rig up something with e.g. paint stir sticks (they come in 2 sizes - one for gallons, another for 5-g paint buckets - the bigger ones are especially useful for crafting chores)
  • With silicone, take some care. 1) Clean the glass with some glass-cleaning solution. 2) Use fresh silicone. 3) When applying it, work quickly - it starts skinning up fast, and when that begins, you need to be completely finished messing with it. 4) Give it a full 24 hours to cure. Just walk away, leave it be. 5) Disposable gloves and good ventilation are your friends!

Good luck!
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