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Old 03-28-2013, 04:39 AM
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Default Trickishleaf's Arboreal Canopy

I've been building this 55 gallon vert for months. It used to be pretty nondescript and the hardscape drove me nuts! I rushed the build and it showed.
Here's a link to the old build if you wanna see what it used to look like.
http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/mem...29g-verts.html

I really like the view from the side panel of this tank. The oak rim makes a nice frame and i'm far more partial to tall tanks, they just seem so much more visually appealing.
Anyway, I stripped the tank down to the bare tank again...

Getting that much silicone off was quite an ordeal! Need the right tools for the job.

Almost clean!

Finally, a clean canvas to begin. At first I couldn't decide how to proceed. I spent several weeks determining how to hardscape the tank. I knew from the previous build that getting light to penetrate almost 48" was very difficult, so I decided to make a hardscape that would require minimal planting down low, but would leave a good array of plants in the middle/top of the tank.
Around the same time, I read Kkaegebein's Faux Tree thread. See
http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/par...faux-tree.html

A fake tree was perfect! It would allow me to use the full height of the tank, and provide a great centerpiece for this shape of tank.
So, i started fabricating the tree trunk. I wanted to make the best tree possible and leave the surrounding hardscape pretty basic. To accomplish this, i put a layer of pink insulation foam on each wall and then built up thin strips of foam with gorilla glue to get the basic shape.

Last edited by Trickishleaf; 03-28-2013 at 04:41 AM. Reason: Title.
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:52 AM
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I did a bit of carving to rough up the edges of the foam and allow for better adhesion of Great Stuff. Next I filled in the general shape of the trunk with Great Stuff. This was pretty arduous, as i had to spray the foam In thin strips and then carve the foam each time to prepare for the next coat.





Then, i started adding the roots and other irregularities to make the trunk more interesting.



Now you can see the basic shape!


This was the first time during the build that i could physically see what i had been envisioning. I was super excited to continue!
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Old 03-28-2013, 05:23 AM
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From reading through tons of build threads, I saw all of Pumilo's warnings about using styrofoam in builds. I was extra careful to cover all of the styrofoam, first with several coats of tinted drylok, and then with a thin layer of Titebond III and peat moss. This should prevent any possibility of endocrine disruption, as the styrofoam is completely covered.

Sorry for the reflection. The green is the tinted Drylok.

Next, I began forming the bark for the tree. For details on this process, see the link to KKaegebein's thread in my previous post.
Let me just say that the process is quite labor intensive. Especially layering long strips of TB3 and peat in the tight confines of a 55 gallon tank on a convex surface. I had to do the bark in sections, because it wouldn't keep its shape if rotated while wet. As anyone who has worked with this mix knows, the thicker the mix, the longer it takes to dry. Each section took at least a week to cure enough to allow me to rotate the tank and work on the next section.

The majority of the bark was completed in the first section, as you can see here.

Here are some closeups of the texture.



I'll leave you with some images I used for inspiration on the bark.


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Old 03-28-2013, 04:53 PM
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Nice detail, how long did it take?
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Old 03-28-2013, 05:25 PM
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Well it's mostly done now, need a few more posts to cover the rest of the process.
I probably have about 15 hours into the hardscape, 40 hours overall messing with positioning and plants and staring at it trying to decide what to do next.
Here's a sneak peak at some of the broms I got from Jason at TropicalPlantz.
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Old 03-28-2013, 05:27 PM
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The actual process of laying all of the bark down was probably about 5 hours, spread out over 3 weeks.
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Old 03-28-2013, 06:02 PM
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Default Re: Trickishleaf's Arboreal Canopy

what the name of those broms? nice, i like the way its coming out
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Old 03-28-2013, 06:42 PM
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Night Sky is the the bottom, Madrid is the top.
The 2 in the background are Grenada x Royal Flush and Blueberry Tart.
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Old 05-11-2013, 07:23 AM
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Time for an update!


Here is the bare bark.

This is the trunk highlighted with clay and acrylic paint.


Root structure!


Drain for siphoning that will be hidden under the leaf litter.


Initial planting and substrate/leaf litter added.

Stay tuned!
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Old 05-11-2013, 07:30 AM
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The tank is getting to where i envisioned, but still not there yet.
I added a moss mix to the walls.



Picked up some orchids at a local orchid swap. Here's a large division of a bulbophyllum.


A Tolumnea. It is drier in this spot, so it should do well.


Planting thus far!
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Old 05-11-2013, 07:38 AM
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Got my bromeliads from Jason at TropicalPlantz


Neo "Blueberry Tart"


Neo "Grenada x Royal Flush"


Neo "Night Sky"


Neo "Madrid"
This one is too big and throws off the scale of the other plants. Oh well, it'll just give me an excuse for another build!


All the broms mounted!


Sorry for the glare.


Last one for now!
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Old 05-11-2013, 08:10 AM
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Default Re: Trickishleaf's Arboreal Canopy

That tree looks absolutely great! I love the "bark". Very nice setup and you're hard work paid off! I'm afraid I don't have the artistic talent to do that from scratch.

Thanks for sharing!

-Chris
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Old 05-11-2013, 11:05 AM
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Default Re: Trickishleaf's Arboreal Canopy

Very nice, It certainly has come to life and looks fantastic! Amazing work you have done.

Duff
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Old 05-11-2013, 12:16 PM
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Default Re: Trickishleaf's Arboreal Canopy

That is amazing! I like how it appears to be a small snapshot of forest.
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Old 05-11-2013, 01:30 PM
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Default Re: Trickishleaf's Arboreal Canopy

Nice job on the tree.What are you going to have live in there?
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Old 05-11-2013, 02:32 PM
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Default Re: Trickishleaf's Arboreal Canopy

That looks pretty good, your hard work paid off!
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Old 05-11-2013, 02:44 PM
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Default Re: Trickishleaf's Arboreal Canopy

That is amazing looking. I wish I had that kind of patience and vision to build something like that.
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Old 05-11-2013, 04:21 PM
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Default Re: Trickishleaf's Arboreal Canopy

Wow that looks great! Do you plan on adding any more plants to fill it in some more? Some vining/shingling species would be cool going up the tree trunk.
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Old 05-11-2013, 04:39 PM
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Thanks for all the kind words!
I have 0.0.2 Highland Variabilis in QT waiting for me to finish the sliding doors on the tank.

The lower broms weren't getting enough light, so I rearranged them just a little, and added an LED bulb for extra light.
Currently I'm running 2 23watt cfl's and a 1000 lumen led bulb from Cree. There still isn't enough light down on the floor, so i added another CFL spotlight on the side for now. I plan to switch to jungle dawns in the future for more penetration.
As it stands though, all the plants in the upper 1/2 of the tank are growing quite fast.
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Old 05-11-2013, 04:48 PM
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Since the last picture, I took out the orchid in the top left, added numerous cuttings of Pep. Prostrata, some live moss to a few areas, some oak leaf ficus, and a Marcgravia Rectifolia.

Also, I added a Scindapsus Pictus, some regular Ficus Pumila and a variegated Ficus Pumila on the base of the tree. I would add more exotic vines and shinglers to the base, but with the current PAR levels they would just die. =(

I'll add more pics soon.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:02 PM
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Default Re: Trickishleaf's Arboreal Canopy

Wow, that tree looks amazing. Well done sir. I think a few added vines going down it would be a nice finishing touch.
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:55 AM
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So I finished the sliding glass track and had the doors cut to fit. Just need to drill vents in the doors and this tank will be ready for frogs! Can't wait!

It's seeded with iso's and springs too.

In the meantime, here's some plant growth pics. Ever since I put the doors on, the plants are growing much faster and my moss mix is turning green, and my broms are finally putting out some massive roots.

I planted this cutting less than a month ago. It was at the toothpicks then.


Moss turning green!


Some crazy Prostrata growth.

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Old 06-03-2013, 12:58 AM
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Planted this the middle of April. It has dropped 2 leaves and done nothing else. It's about 8 inches from the lights. Am I doing something wrong?


Quite a bit of Tolumnia growth lately. I hand mist, so i let it dry out between waterings.


A shot of the forest floor.


A shot of the canopy!
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Last edited by Trickishleaf; 06-03-2013 at 01:01 AM.
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Old 06-03-2013, 01:19 AM
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Default Re: Trickishleaf's Arboreal Canopy

Just a gorgeous piece of work! Well done! This is by far and away the most convincing fake tree/bark I have seen. It's going to be spectacular when it grows in more and you get all the little bits of green between the cracks and climbers up that trunk. As others have said, very nice work
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:26 PM
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Great work. Excellent work on the bark. Looks very realistic

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Old 06-03-2013, 05:36 PM
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the marcgravia always takes forever to start a new growth
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Old 06-03-2013, 07:01 PM
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Live what you did. Look amazing. Your frogs will love it in there.
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Old 06-03-2013, 07:34 PM
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Great! Build! Cant wait too see the happy frogs
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Old 06-16-2013, 07:58 AM
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The colors on these guys is insane!
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Old 06-16-2013, 08:14 AM
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http://youtu.be/NwBiu4sfR3Q
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Old 06-16-2013, 05:00 PM
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Great looking frogs there. Even the close up shots of the bark look realistic. Nice video too. Can we Get another full tank shot
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Last edited by zachxbass; 06-16-2013 at 05:03 PM.
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Old 06-17-2013, 08:12 PM
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Here's the requested FTS.

And some of the vines growing.

And a canopy shot
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Old 06-17-2013, 08:39 PM
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Some more random shots of the tank!

Here are the sliding glass doors. I bought plastic bushings that snap in, but had to cut them on the left door, otherwise the doors caught on the back of the vent and wouldn't open.


Looking in from the side.



My Oak Leaf Ficus is finally putting off new growth!


These 2 have officially claimed the Neo. "Night Sky" as their home.

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Old 06-17-2013, 09:16 PM
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That's one cool tank, where'd you get the bushings? I suppose I could google it. I'm glad your frogs are happy already. Didn't take them long to adjust.

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Old 06-17-2013, 09:27 PM
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Thanks! I'll see if I can find the link for the bushings
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:27 AM
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Default Re: Trickishleaf's Arboreal Canopy

That tree looks awesome. I can't imagine trying to light a tank that tall. I'm having trouble with my 40 breeder vert and it's a foot shorter than yours. Haha.
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Old 06-21-2013, 01:16 AM
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Tree still looks freakin' awesome!

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Old 06-21-2013, 07:37 AM
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I've really gotta get my dad to come over with his dslr so I can take some good Full tank shots. My Iphone just cannot capture the overall effect.

Glad you guys like it too! I'll keep updating as I get new growth. I'm thinking of adding another orchid to the middle of the trunk, but i'm not sure yet.
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Old 06-21-2013, 02:55 PM
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It looks so natural (although it is artificial.) Your frogs will thrive happy, I think ...
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Old 06-23-2013, 12:22 AM
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1 came down for a dinner snack!


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