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Discussion Starter #21
Yep, it doesn't seem too hard to trim, just maybe hard to trim so I like how it looks..... XD
 

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That as well as trimming it while fighting angles from hardscape in the way. I had been dealing with that for a week haha. I've gotten away from trimming with a blade and just peeling it back. Takes off more, but I prefer the texture it leaves behind, seems more natural.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
What do you mean by peeling it back - like with your fingers, or? The hardscape issue is the biggest reason the last big piece of cork isn't in there yet! I don't think I'll escape trimming around it completely, but, maybe I can keep it to a minimum.
 

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Yeah, I grab a nub of the foam and pull it back and peel off chunks. It provides a nice texture and randomizes the finish so that it doesn't look carved.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
I'll try that where the exact final shape isn't too important to my plans! Hopefully I'll get back out there today.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
FYI - the third can of GS foam I picked up at Home Depot the other day had a new design of spray nozzle on it, supposedly restartable (although "restart is not guaranteed"), we'll see about that. But even if the restart fails, it is SO MUCH EASIER to control and work with - it only sprays as long as you're spraying and doesn't continue to foam out of the end of the nozzle, and has a narrower, more precise tip. Trade off is it's easier to accidentally put down a really narrow line, not always very desirable.

Halfway through today, gives a good idea of the overall shape of the waterfall area:

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You can see a few places where my carving revealed the egg crate, and the gaps around the lower plant pot. Can also somewhat see how I piled a bunch of carved off bits under the right side of the fall to fill it in some. Was originally thinking of just spraying foam into the whole space, but realized that would be a big waste of foam and take forever to cure properly, so I piled up some pieces, braced them with a bit of egg crate, and foamed them into place. (would have been easier if they didn't fiercely static to everything!)

Overall view from today's work:

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I peeled and pried a lot more foam than I cut. My thumbnails are soorreee haha. Worth it though!! XD

The groove around the small piece of cork above the waterfall is where I intend to install the water hose. Will probably adhere it with black silicone after painting the GS with drylock.

A bit more carving and I can install the central cork piece; after I install the central cork piece and carve up the foam from that I can (let everything cure thoroughly and) start painting!

Also realized it's going to be a bear to get my false bottom in. Might have to cut it into more pieces than I planned to and zip tie it all in place. I guess that'd be one advantage of leca....
 

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One thing that would help when it comes to peeling is to slice into it slightly so you can get past the thicker 'smooth' layer. Once there is the initial slice you can peel everything back, just don't cut deep or the slice will guide the direction of how it breaks when you peel it.
 

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You can use pliers as well to trim. Save your fingernails.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Yep, tons of slicing and peeling and using a variety of tools.

One problem I'm encountering is not being able to get it smooth in certain areas, notably where I can't shave it further down because it's in the egg crate supports, I have tried respraying and carving more but each layer just makes it patchier. Any suggestions? Maybe a filler that I can apply safely on top of the GS and under drylock? Ultimately most of these areas are probably going to have a coat of silicone, possibly with a bit of fluval worked into it, so it may not matter too much but it's awfully rough to get a solid coat of drylock so far.

Back later with pics!
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Whoops, didn't make it back with the photos. And I thought I put some DSLR pictures on flickr of the setup with all the pieces installed? apparently not. Oh well, tablet photos will have to be good enough.

This happens to be my favorite cork feature in the whole tank. It's in the center of the big piece of cork on the back wall:
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The backside is thoroughly siliconed, even though you can see light through it. :)

Last DSLR shot I have of the tank:
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And a couple shots from today (tablet camera):

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This is the piece I've been having trouble with the texture. Hopefully enough coats of drylock will be good enough, if not I guess I will have to look for something else:
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I also have a few pieces of ghost wood that I haven't thought of anything good to do with yet. Any place I try placing them just looks busy :/

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Open to suggestions though.

Tomorrow hopefully I clean up, vacuum, and start painting!
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Got the first coat on, didn't end up getting to the second one tonight, we'll see when I have time again next. As I mentioned in the other thread the drylock is way thicker than I thought it would be! More like a barely paintable paste, less like a paint. Not the easiest thing to work with. Excited to see how it changed things though!

pics are with it freshly wet:

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Wish I'd done more for those ventilation outlets to darken them, but not much I can do now, especially since the (white) plastic canvas is behind no-see-um mesh. Whoops :/
 

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Interesting that your Drylock was so thick? You did stir the bucket before using/pouring it into your painting container right? The stuff I got after a thorough mixing was thin enough that I could use craft brushes to get into the small nooks with a couple dabs of the brush.
 

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I'm basing my information off of a bunch of research as well as after talking to a handful of hobbyist breeders as well as personally seeing D. Auratus in the wild, specifically the Hawaiian variant. One of those key sources I've spoken to that made the information public would be Josh's Frogs. I've spoken to Zach and Thomas from JF's and they had mentioned that in their experience Auratus appreciate small water features. Personally, I've seen Auratus inhabit areas around small streams and a few feet away from a small waterfall. Seeing this in person leads me to believe that they have no issues with a water feature as long as there is drainage and other areas that allow them to dry out.

One thing that a lot of people seem to overlook is what the presence of water brings. It brings life. Based on that you're going to have larger animals providing waste, which in turn draws in some insects, insects are then food. Yes there are other species of prey that inhabit other places that are not as damp, but being around water also means the ambient humidity is higher. With a Viv, as long as there is venting (passive or active) I believe that some species are capable of living within the presence of a water feature without issues.

On top of all of this I've seen Froggers who keep darts within their green houses. Besides Epipedobates anythonyi I've stumbled upon handfuls of articles over the past 10 years showing free range darts within greenhouses that contain much larger water features. I wouldn't condone keeping darts in something too deep or being around a water feature with current, but as long as the scaling is right to the enclosure I'm confident it can be done without harm. The issues in regards to this are making sure we compensate for the loss of floor space with scaling up the enclosure to accommodate and again, keeping an eye on ventilation and working to make sure that it's managed.
Sorry, I missed this when you wrote it the first time. Thanks for taking my request for information seriously. I am glad that you are doing some research.

My biggest issue with the line of reasoning you are adopting is that of scale (sorry, I am a geographer, I can't help it ;-). You are saying that you saw Auratus within three feet of a waterfall and that you have read accounts of people keeping darts in a greenhouse with a water feature in it. I have no doubt that these are true accounts and that these situations are perfectly healthy environments for dart frogs long term. However, these are not scalable to the size vivarium most of us keep our frogs in. The environment 3 feet from a water feature in the wild is much closer to a vivarium that has no water feature than it is to one that has a water feature in it. Likewise, in an area the size of greenhouse, the water feature is something where the frog has a choice whether or not interact with it. This is not the case in most vivaria. If you were to scale nature down to what the conditions are like in a tank with a water feature, you would only be talking about the bank of a stream. That's it. The frogs would be forced to stay in that exact microniche for their entire lives. If you came to me with stories of Auratus being found only on the banks of streams, I would say, yeah, that species should have a water feature in their tanks.

My understanding of most species of dart frogs, however, is that this is not the case. So, that's why I think that seeing a frog 3 feet from water in the wild (this may be as close as he ever gets to a water body) or frogs that live in a greenhouse (there is plenty of space to "escape" the water feature and its neighboring conditions). In our tanks, we are forcing an extremely specific set of circumstances onto our frogs by having large water features. They can't escape it because there just isn't the space to do so. I choose to design my tanks based on the vast majority of in situ reports and pictures I see where the frogs are directly interacting with trees, plants, and leaf litter rather than the relatively few reports of dart interacting with large water bodies in the wild. That is my decision, though, and other opinions may vary.

I could live my whole life in the room with the indoor pool in a motel, but I wouldn't enjoy it. It smells like chlorine all the time and I would never stop sweating :) I want to make my tanks as close to what the frogs would experience in nature as I can. They aren't smelling chlorine all the time (hopefully!) and they don't sweat, but what other factors are making them just as uncomfortable as I would be in the pool room? I am sure I don't get it right all the time, but I try.

Anyway, that's my $0.02. I wish the OP and anyone else that wants a water feature in their tank the best of luck in their builds.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Interesting that your Drylock was so thick? You did stir the bucket before using/pouring it into your painting container right? The stuff I got after a thorough mixing was thin enough that I could use craft brushes to get into the small nooks with a couple dabs of the brush.
Maybe I wasn't super clear with my descriptions (trying to describe viscosity is always, hm, interesting). I was able to use a craft brush to get into nooks, but it was definitely more like a goopy paste than a liquid paint. Maybe like a runny, gritty frosting? ;)

@Encyclia , I respect your opinion on this and similar lines of thinking are why I chose to make it not output into a pool in the substrate (although I may have ended up with a bit deeper pool on the 'landing' than I had intended, might have to adjust that) but instead just drain into the false bottom below. If running it constantly or even consistently doesn't seem like a good idea, I can run it once in a while as more of a "rainstorm rinse" situation - maybe just for a few minutes at a time.

I keep wanting to get back out and work on it but have been so tired the past couple days I haven't got any farther than getting the top half of the second coat on (the parts accessible with it laying on it's back). Frustrating but I guess I shouldn't be too worried about how soon I finish something I'm building for pleasure and not for work ;)
 

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Understood, Anna. I am looking forward to seeing how the tank looks when you are done. I don't have a good feel for it based on the skeleton I am seeing so far. I completely understand not being able to muster the energy to work on a project every day. Sometimes that's a good thing because you come back with fresh insight :) Just take your time and it will all come together in the end.

Mark
 

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Yes, my friend @Encyclia is absolutely right.

I think we have all gone through the phase where the hobby becomes something that must be ended as soon as possible. And here comes the problems. "It has not been as I had imagined", design errors, etc.
I think that this is the time to take a few days off (even if your head tells you otherwise) and come back with renewed strength and you can even see things from another perspective and detect things that you had overlooked.

Sorry, far be it from me to interfere , it's not advice, just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
Hey all.

Progress was a bit slow for a few days, and then when there was progress, I didn't end up updating the thread! Looks like my last pictures were from the first coat of drylock or so, let's see....

This has got to be one of my favorite views through the tank. I am weirdly obsessed over it. Hopefully some frog thinks it's as cool as I do .... might be a bit large for most of them to treat as a hide, though, since it's big enough for me to stick my arm down. (fortunately, or the glass would have been rekt...)

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From the outside, different day. there's a bit of smudging from the black silicone that I'm not sure if I'll be able to clean up, but I intend to leave the glass open here so I can see down it. (The non-open glass will be getting a black vinyl wrap)

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It's a bit hard to tell which photos are from which stage in dry brushing now that I just grabbed a handful out of the flickr gallery and they aren't sorted by date anymore, but I think these should show it pretty well:

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Then the water test:

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Water output is basically exactly what I hoped for, so on to silicone....
 

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Discussion Starter #38
I'm not super happy with how the silicone on the falls turned out, to be honest, but it's too late to do anything about it now. The coco fiber parts elsewhere I'm pleased with, I varied between the rock texture and the coco fiber texture to try to give a "rocks emerging from the earth" feel to it.

Waterfall:
On its back before I vacuumed it up (you can see the toothpicks I used to keep the water passages clear, hopefully):
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The water output, still on its back, after vacuuming (and removing toothpicks). The fluval didn't attach very well to the silicone in some places, I think it was too dusty. If I do this again I'll be sure to rinse it and let it dry ahead of time. Hopefully I can get some moss coverage or something to hide it ...

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overall upright shot (also includes some silicone on the edges that's still drying):

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Fan hole round 1 (40 mm Noctua fan). The fan itself is wrapped in wax paper and I made a cradle for it with silicone. Didn't 100% work but I think it's enough to keep it centered. Might have to do more to attach it later if it's noisy or something.

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After that dried and I cleaned up the loose coco/peat, I made a seal for the cap by wrapping that in plastic wrap and siliconing around it:
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As of this writing that's still drying and I haven't tested it yet. Hopefully I can even get it out of that corner 😅

Pics of other parts of the tank during the silicone/coco process:
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Getting so close!!!

In the next couple days I'll vacuum up the loose coco/etc, check for anything I missed, and then on to installing bulkheads, putting the egg crate in for the false bottom, and getting the glass top ready.... after that I think it's just waiting til silicone cures and then I can plant!
 

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Discussion Starter #39
Tank is getting pretty "done" minus substrate:
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So I figured it was a good time to work on the lid.

Didn't go so well :(

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Practiced a bunch on what was left, but apparently I really am bad at cutting glass (it was either following a straight edge OR a good score that broke clean.... Never both......) so I'm seriously considering whether I want to risk a second piece of glass or if I should call around and find somewhere to have it made. :/
 
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