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Old 10-25-2019, 05:12 PM
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Default Sculpting Materials: quality & sustainability

Back into the hobby after a decade or so and working on a couple of larger vivaria. One of the reasons I keep darts is the habitats we all approximate or simulate to varying degrees, and I'm taking a look at how to build them better.

Materials not only dictate what you can make but their performance dictates how successful a given design will be.

"Better" in this case means trying to use more sustainable materials -- for example, there are plenty of lianas available through the pet trade and I have 2 questions regarding their use long-term:

1. They inevitably decompose -- rate of decomposition will vary but it's not like they're even a dense hardwood.

2. I'm not sure how they're harvested or where they come from. Maybe they're sustainable -- I haven't been able to get hard information yet -- but it remains an inconvenient question for now.

There are various foams and epoxies available as raw materials to sculpt backgrounds, vines and rocks, but when I tried out some artificial stone from the aquarium hobby recently I was surprised by something I hadn't anticipated; the way water interacts with the material. It beads and sheds on foams and epoxies, which kills the illusion for me.

Real stone has micro-pores that absorb water in a very distinct way, likewise real wood and vines.

I'm also personally not a fan of relying too much on plastics or polyurethane where I can avoid them. I know that Great Stuff has become a standard in this hobby but I didn't like it then and don't like it now.

Does anyone have experience using materials that will read as 'natural' when interacting with water?

Concrete immediately comes to mind but besides maybe being problematic to create certain shapes and structures, I'm guessing its pretty alkaline?

Just diving into this now so I'd appreciate any insight some of you may have.

Last edited by Fahad; 10-25-2019 at 05:27 PM. Reason: *Grammatical error corrected.
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Old 10-25-2019, 05:19 PM
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If you are worried about the alkalinity of concrete, a month of submersion with frequent water changes will bring that into check. Weight is the bigger issue with concrete. Also make sure there are not fiberglass additives to the concrete mixture. These can poke the frogs and cause serious problems further down the line.
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Old 10-25-2019, 05:29 PM
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Default Re: Sculpting Materials: quality & sustainability

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Awesome View Post
If you are worried about the alkalinity of concrete, a month of submersion with frequent water changes will bring that into check. Weight is the bigger issue with concrete. Also make sure there are not fiberglass additives to the concrete mixture. These can poke the frogs and cause serious problems further down the line.
Thanks for that; weight and structural integrity if you're trying for complex shapes. An internal armature will help but the question of what to use for said armature adds a fresh problem to the mix.
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