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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok so after checking out Devanny's viv and a few others on here, I decided to tackle a rock wall myself. For the water fall I cut poly foam used in seat cushions into general rock shapes and hot glued them in place.

I then sprayed GS for Windows and doors (blue can) on either sides of the water fall to hold a few pieces of malysian driftwood and plastic planters. For smaller planters I used small plastic shot cups.

What I aim to accomplish is a corner concrete background overlooking the pool which will cover the majority of the bottom.

This is where I'm at so far so questions, comments and concerons are all welcomed.
full view
front
side
waterfall detail
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
wow looking good so far. I just did my firstrock backing and loving it, Also starting a new rock water fall soon.What type of pump are you using
Thanks Young. As of right now I have an old ZooMed 501 that I'm debating on using. I think I might go with a larger canister filter due to the height of the enclosure and stand when I get one. The tank has been drilled so everything will be external except for the aquarium heater for the water feature.
What are you plnning to keep in this? I assume it's not darts, since there will be no land area..
No darts yet, I looking into a small, colorful species of tree frogs and maybe some vampire crabs and shrimp down below. The pool will also be planted so it may end up being a marsh.
Are you planning to put peat on the great stuff and just concrete in the rocks? I thonk that is a great idea
Beth my original plan was to concrete the GS also, but I have thought about finishing it with peat, coco fiber and jungle moss. I know if I finished it the latter way I would have to finish and cure the waterfall then allow the GS to dry completely. I think for the sake of simplicity I'm going to concrete everything and hope it turns out nice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Judy. I've kept firebellies in the past in a vertical set-up similiar to this one... Needless to say no cricket ever lost its life due to drowning.... FBT's are voracious eaters. What surprised me the most about them is that they climbed the near vertical bg surprising well and they spent a lot of time near the top of the tank. I hope the spill way turns out how I plan I want to plant it with dwarf anubias and maybe java moss.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ok so yesterday I stopped by Home Depot to pick up some concrete but they had the whole concrete isle blocked off. Luckily there is a Lowes five mins up the road so I paid them a visit and picked up a 10lbs page of Quikcrete mortar. So tonite I began applying a extremely runny mix to the poly blocks of the waterfall, and this is how it came out.



I was a lil hesitant about using mortar because I couldn't find many tuts on applying it but from what I have seen from vivs built with concrete it actually looks the same IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You pretty much made my day Judy:)! Now I'm no expert at this at all and its a lil experimenting mixed with a lot of trial and error.

The blue stuff is actually painters tape that I wrapped and covered the driftwood with to keep it from getting covered in concrete.
The foam that I used comes in a 2'x2' block and its about 3" thick. I got mines from Hobby Lobby and it was about $4. I cut the block into many smaller blocks over the course of 2 days while watching tv or whenever I found the time.
Instead of leaving the blocks well blocky, I cut off the sharp edges. I tried to be very random in the sizes and shapes. To build the waterfall I started at the bottom hot gluing the larger pieces directly to the glass and worked my way up. I tried to be random in my placement as well. Some pieces I didn't glue but just jammed them between other pieces to create depth. Now the next time I do a build like this I will actually use the pink styrofoam sheets as a foundation instead of gluing the blocks directly on the glass.

One thing I did notice with the mortar is that it is very gritty and the sand flakes off when you rub it and I really don't like that so I will probably use an acrylic fortifier or floor leveling cement in the next coats to try to get a smoother finish. Of course cement, mortar, grout etc. has a very high PH so I'm going to soak the whole tank in my bathtub with water and vinegar to help cure it.

As far as the plumbing go all equipment will be external and I have already drilled the tank to accomodate this. I have a Zoomed 501 canister filter for turtle tanks but will probably go with something larger to better control water flow and to inject CO2. I used to keep planted aquariums and I believe vivs and palus would benefit from CO2. There are many mods I have planned for this build but I don't want to bore you all at once, but they include modding the stock screen top and a DIY CO2 reactor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Vampire crabs and other Geosesarma prefer having land as well, so they wouldn't be a great choice for this viv.You couldprobably getaway with some cherry shrimp or similar... I'd stay away from CRS though, it's harder to manipulate water quality/parameters with the water feature leaching stuff into the main pond. Either way, you probably won't see much of the shrimp unless you're doing constant water changes due to tannins tinting the water brown.
what is CRS exactly? I plan on getting a stump shaped piece of driftwood to create a land area in the water feature so if I chose land crabs they would have a place to dry their feet. As far as the concrete I'm not worried about it leaching chemicals once its properly cured. Zoos use concrete for their enclosures all the time
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Ahh I'm slow. No I would give CRS their own tank filled with Christmas moss covering every square inch of it, ghost shrimp however I would put in to act as a clean up crew along with MTS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Re: 1st "Rock wall" ZooMed palu.... pic heavy.

It's soft poly foam, somewhat like memory foam. Our local michaels only carry the green fake plant styrofoam So good luck on that. I was kindof worried about the quikrete mortar until last night well early this morning I was searching on an aquarium forum and a lot of aquarium keepers use mortar with their builds and most with no additives, so with that new found info I slopped on another running coat. I didn't take any pics because it looks exactly the same as the first coat but I have notice that most of the rocks are hard while the one next to it might still be crumbly. The "stones" that are hard reminds me of granite and since I live next to the largest piece of granite above ground, I'm just going to stain themwashed out hues of earth tone colors. I want to redo the GS part but I probably shouldn't, but what will be another alternative? Also do you have any pics of your build Judy? Also there was an error in the title of my thread, the tank is actually a Zoomed not exo terra.
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Dang, I thought I was pretty creative, but I love running into new ideas and styles on here! well done!
Thanks Ento! This website actually fueled the idea.

softfoam...ohhh. that's why the "edges"arereallynot hard,sharp edges...interesting that even side-by-side that one would be hard, the other crumbly...The acrylic hardener might help to stiffen thecementious coating...areyou concerned aboutwashing away of any other waterfall area??? From what I've tried, and see...there is no "perfect" way to do it...and with allourefforts to create an authentic appearance...wehopethateventually it will allhavemossand vineson it!!! I don't have a camera...don't have time to read the instructions even on my cell phone or answering machine....am too busy on DB...!!
yes I definitely hope all my hard work gets covered in moss and vines:cool:
I think when I put a thick coat down it would be pretty solid after it completely cures. I was wondering though could I use an acrylic fortifier on the last coat and what would be its effects well besides fortifying?
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 · (Edited)
Thanks Beth! Nope no mortar on the gs. My wife likes the last "mud bank" build I did, so I'm going to titebond it. I kind of did a hybrid method with it. I mixed up organic soil, peat, and jungle moss up with titebond til it was the consistency of cold syrup and the slapped it on thick on top of gs. Right after I slapped some dry organic mix ontop of the glue before it dried. You have to really press down a lot of it but it will stick when it dries but it takes about 2 weeks to completely dry.

As far as the foam soaking up water I don't think it will be a problem as long as the mortar does its job.
This build has taken a few steps away from my original idea as I am a learn as you go type of person.
Also found a very nice stand for it and best of all it was free. Photos on the next major update.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
I used a regular pair of scissors to cut the foam...it was a little difficult cutting blocks off the main sheet but a better pair of scissors would do it easier.

The viv were I used the titebond I mixed the substrate in with the titebond and after I laid it I pressed more substrate in it but with more jungle moss than soil. The moss never sprouted new growth despite daily mistings. There is a pic of it below. It was the exo terra brand that comes in compressed bricks. Besides java I really dont know anthing about moss. I do want some moss growing in this build, what do you recommend?
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Thanks Judy! Well after about 2 thick coats of mortar the waterfall looks more like a hardened mudslide or lava flow....I actually like the way it looks though it has a lot of books and crannies I could place anubias. Also I appreciate the info on the moss, I will try that method even though I'm using titebond. I hope I can get it to grow with the hybrid titebond method. I'm eager to finish this build but I lost my suck @%! job so I have to progress a lil slower than I first intended.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
I think it looks terrific...do you have concerns about the color wearing away?? Javamossalongside the water would look really good...it needs moisture and light...will spread if it likes the environment. Oak leaf creeping fig would be fabulous creeping up on the walls...Black Junglehasit I think...and other places as well...check the sponsor sites. It doesn't "take over" like the other forms of creeping fig...and hasa smaller,more attractiveleaf form. How did you install the pump system?? If you mounted the "rocks" right on the glass, how/where is the hose coming from to empty the water over the rocks?? Sorry about the job...
No I'm not concerned by the time it wears away it should be covered in algae or covered with creeping fig. Unfortunately the gs on the left side seperated from the glass completely in the middle so I decided to just go ahead and extend the waterfall into a rockwall and create more land area at the bottom to make this build more dart friendly.

To answer your question, the waterfall is going to powered by a canister filter. I drilled two holes one at the top of the waterfall and one at the bottom of the pond. Bulkheads will control the flow of water. No pumps and no hoses. There will be a strainer in the pond to get the gunk out. I'll take a pic to show you better what I'm talking.

Oh yes I have Black Jungle bookmarked I also found a pretty good brom site too I think its
Bromiliadsnsuch.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
ya...I'd really liketo seea sketch or something...sounds like the way you're doing it will use less floor space..my tanks are not drilled...but theExoshavea two partlid with a living hingeholding them together...so I can install fans, etc. Three of the others are vertical conversions I made...they really need better air circulation--I just haven't figured out how to do it...the vents have a material that prevents FF from escaping, but they also don't let in enough fresh air...damnit.
I plan on replacing the screen on the zoo-med top with a piece of glass. I have a sheet of glass from an old coffee table that would fit perfectly but its tempered so I might have to order a sheet from somewhere. Basically I want it drilled in the middle to mount a 92mm pc fan and in the front for misting nozzles.

On another note I tore out the GS replaced it with foam blocks and started coating them with mortar. I had to rebuild parts of the waterfall because some of it came out with the GS. I actually like it better now as a full rock wall even though I lost a couple spots for planters.

Side view

Front view. You can see where the tank is drilled in the back in the bottom center of the tank.sorry about the crappy photos I can't find the battery for my camera.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
how did you get the rocks to look less "box like"? In your first pictures they looked just like the styrofoam pieces you cut out but the last pictures showed that the rock seems to be less jagged. Did you just do multiple coats? Great looking tank by the way!
yea I did a series of multiple thick coats. The mortar was the consistency of pudding and I just layered it randomly. My sculpting skills suck so I did it that way to get some variations. It came out pretty good in my opinion and created a lot of nooks and crannies. Thanks for the compliment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Well I could have hotglued them to the glass and then glue the foam around them. The issue for me is that the mesh planters I have take up to much space. There are nooks and crannys where I can shove plant roots and moss in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
**update**

Ok so today I finally went over my best friend's parents' house and picked up this



Yes a sink. A very nice sink. This thing is heavy too. I believe it has a porcelain top but I'm not sure, its definitely not wood. My friend's dad was actually going to sell it at his up coming yard sale but he let me have it for FREE. Forget giving a pet store $100+ for a stand half as nice. So I loaded it in the back of Scarface II (my Pacifica) hauled it home and went to work removing the bowl and water fixture. It was actually pretty easy and took me about 5 mins.



The tank fits it perfectly with about 1/2" space left on the front and the back and completely covers the 2 holes.


As for the tank its self I decided to redo the GS to add more planting pockets and surface. I think I'm going to make some vines to add to this area to give it a more unique look and extra climbing space. But first things first I have to wait for the GS to cure then trim it down. I also picked up a piece of mopani to add to the pond.

Tomorrow I think ill head to my grand mother's house and collect some magnolia leaves. She has three large ones in her yard so free leaf litter. I will be adding it to the pond.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Just a real quick update....

Got around to applying spaghnum peat moss and Titebond III to the rest of the bg. I started off by saturating the peat with water and then mixed in the Titebond until it was the consistency of cake batter. I then spread it over the foam. Unlike the silicone method there is no need to rush this because it takes a long, long time to dry. After I had the foam completely covered I pressed the dry peat in straight out the bag and packed it down. Here are the pics....






 
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