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Well, I don't think to this day I have done a formal construction journal. And even this one isn't a total construction journal since I don't have pics of me building the conversion kit for the 20 gal but this is all I gots.... :D

I apologize for the CRAPPY photos in this first post. I took them with my cell phone. Its just easier while in the middle of making messes. I promise the final shots will be with the DSLR though. :eek:

So after seeing so many awesome fake tree threads, I just had to try and build one. I decided to go the Ace Hardware brand Concrete Binder and peat moss method. I think Ace is the only one that makes a concrete binder b/c I couldn't find another brand at Lowes, Home Depot or Menards. Go figure...

Here are the 2 vivs I'm doing currently. The 20 gal is really my "practice" viv. Since its my first time with this method, I wanted to practice on the smaller one and save the big'un for my second try after I discover the hiccups and what not.



So I started out with some 1/2" PVC, cut to size and took the propane torch to them. Torch, twist, stick in front of fan to harden into place. Pretty simple...



Next, I test fit them in various formations and picked one. Used some small bungee cord and twist ties to hold into place while I epoxied them together. I don't have a pic of the epoxy but its the clear stuff that Loctite makes. Basically this... Loctite Epoxy Instant Mix 5 Minute from Loctite Adhesives





After the epoxy hardened, I used various poly rope in two thicknesses and some plastic clothes line wire to make the vines. I did this in stages so that I could attempt to make it look realistic. I dunno if I achieved that but its looks okay. I used hot glue to hold the vines in place on the PVC pipes until they were coated in the binder/peat mixture.





After this, I layed down some plastic and mixed the binder and peat in an old Country Crock butter container. I had to do a LOT of different mixtures b/c at first I couldn't find a mix that was easy to work with. I purchased some some super cheap-o paint brushes to apply the mix with. When the brushes are new, they are pretty soft and the mix has to be a bit thinner for it to spread properly. After I used the brushes, the fibers got hard (even after washing them). This meant that I could mix the binder and peat a little thicker. I basically started with 1:1 binder : peat. From there, I very carefully added small amounts of water. The water goes a LONG way here. It will thin the stuff out pretty easily so be careful. With this method, I had ZERO issues with it drying and curing in to time. I have not experienced the weeks and weeks people have been reporting for this stuff to dry...





This is a shot of the second set of vines I added after the first set dried...



So after all the vines were done and the tree was covered to my liking (or at least to what I figued was a good place to stop, haha) I let the tree dry for a day or two. After that, I soaked the tree with the garden hose. Let it dry for a couple days, then did it again. I did this a handful of times b/c as many of you may know, the binder has a soapyness to it when you first let it cure and you don't want this stuff in your soil or in your viv at all.

Right now this is where the process sits. I have the tree in the viv and used the pond foam around and underneath it to hold it in place. There are additional pieces of rope in the background for more vines. I plan to use the silicone/peat method for the background b/c I don't wish to do the rinsing process in the viv like I did for the tree.



Thats all for now. I will post more once I get more done. :)
 

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to be honest it was looking great until you did the last rope pieces around the tree.
You can tell it is rope and it doesn't look organic at all.
I can still see parts of it as well.
Sorry for the rough criticism but I'm just being honest.
I wouldn't go that far with the rope on the bigger tank.
Maybe a bit more concrete binder would have helped more to conseal the rope look.
Maybe you can make it look better by adding silicone and peat to that second set of ropes.
 

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In fairness, you may be already addressing the above critic, but as it was indicated, the 2nd phase of rope has too many straight lines. I think you could easily fix this using some silicon. run some beads along the long "root" threads to make them bumpy and appear to "bulge". I would do that to the unfinished yellow portion as well. I would not add anymore details after as that will over do the composition. I would use some stalky broad leaf plants in mid/foreground area to give more climbing area for frogs. I dont see any prob w this turning out 5 stars. Great thread so far. Like how you did the "root" on a smaller scale.

again great job

-Scott
 

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Yeah I agree as well.. last piece of rope wasnt needed. Otherwise.. awesome looking tree.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the input. Some of the exposed rope will be trimmed away, the other portions the plants and moss will cover so I am not too worried about that.

I am glad I did this on the small one first. Sometimes I forget that less is more. :) I am hoping mother nature saves my butt on this one by the plants covering most of my mistakes. Haha.
 

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Actually Antone, I chuckled to myself when I saw the word "ATTEMPT" in the title of your thread. Nothing you do is merely "an attempt". I've yet to see one of your tanks that was GORGEOUS. I have no doubts this one will turn out the same. Looking forward to the final result.
 

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i think if you cut a couple of those wrapped ropes and let them hang, it will look superb.
 

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tagging along to see how this goes, the whole tree root idea is pretty sweet IMO!!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
i think if you cut a couple of those wrapped ropes and let them hang, it will look superb.
I actually thought about doing this after the first few comments. I may instead cut those few top ones completely out and maybe just add them to the background.

A little update... Went to start on the background today but the pond foam had started to lift away from the glass in a few spots. I added some more foam around and underneath. Hopefully that does it. I have experienced this a couple times. I always put silicone on the glass and let it cure before laying down foam. Usually helps the foam attach but every now and then I get the lift away symptom.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
have you been able to pin point why this happens?
I have a feeling its from a combination of high heat (this is sitting in my garage) and possibly humidity. It happened a couple times before when I built some outside in Florida.... I can't confirm this though. Its just an idea.
 
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