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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I'm starting the build!!!

I'm posting a picture... Its likely to be a corner tank but it might end up being a front view only (that's a little flexible)

Let me know what everyone things about the layout for terrestrial frogs. if it will lend well to planting and everything else.

The pink tree will soon me a custom made buttress background.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Small update:
I've done a few small things.
- I've decided to lower my false bottom to about an inch and a half. I'm planning on using terracotta pots the tiny ones to support the back.

-i've started to great stuff my tree roots and carve it.


- I'm working on a sorta plant shelf to go on the side of the tank across from the roots.

Let me know what you think.
 

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Looks like a good start, I like the layout. How do you plan on covering the tree after you carve the GS to make it look realistic? Paint or clay or something else? I've tried fake trees a couple of times and they were decent but nothing amazing so I will look forward to updates to see how this progresses.
Bryan
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the reply.

I'm thinking of using cement with acrylic fortifer, no water. Since I used that for a previous build. (I feel it reduced the major pH upping that cement with water causes) I have some left over. With cement dye. Them paint in some details and seal it up with the acrylic fortifier.


Any suggestions with that method?

Sent from my ADR6300 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Some new carving done now time for more HS.

Should I thin that middle root some more?

Plant shelf or tadpole well?
Will be done in cocofiber




So I'm thinking i'm leaving a quarter inch strip of the back open and meshed. Is that too much? Too little? Bad idea?



Sent from my ADR6300 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A whole bunch of stuff came in yesterday from josh's frogs now my build can really get moving. I'll be working all day on it!

I have to say that when opening the package it was one of those feel good make me happy sort of feelings to find a simple "happy new year!" note included in there.

sent from my Incredible...mind
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I wish I could delete my previous posts. I've been really terrible at updating this in any coherent manner. So here is the sum of it up until this point.

The Christmas Holiday weekend I'd been all antsy. Having to do the family shuffle, visiting 5 different locations. Even though I got a pretty decent haul( got a kindle! and the first book I bought was a frog book), I'd been itching to get home. Because that Monday, Petco started the Dollar Gallon sale!

I'd been waiting for this for weeks! I had even started to work on the vine groupings and the framework for the tree focal point.



Monday afternoon, we finally loaded up the Christmas haul and the 2 dogs and headed back home. What was supposed to be a 2 hour drive, was much closer to a 3 hour drive because everyone seemed to have found their brakes for Christmas and were testing them out randomly the ENTIRE trip! Think from 80mph-50mph(or less) for NO reason what so ever... really none, not an accident, not a flat tire, nothing!!!

Either way we arrived around 6 o'clock and we unloaded the dogs & haul in 15 mins so I could hop right back into the car and go to petco for my brand new 29G tank! (When it comes to my hobbies I have a very one track mind!) I purchased my tank and a small cork round to accent my build and headed across the parking lot to Home Depot, who must have had the slowest day ever. Everyone was so helpful (which is semi unusual).

One guy cut the PVC pipe in to 3 inch lengths. Another guy really nice was trying to help me hunt down the black pond GS and either black or brown GE silicone I. Neither searches were fruitful. But I did meet someone who wants to join our addiction! :p

So I left there with a smile on my face and most of the supplies I need to do my build (stuff I didn't already have)

Came home and assembled a rough of my set up.
I Clipped the egg crate and laid out the PVC then Played with a few orientations of the extra materials I have that I can use in the build. and came up with this!




After doing that I took my tree skeleton into the garage and cracked open a brand new can of the Red Great Stuff. and sprayed my tree all up. Unfortunantly I forgot the Greatstuff isn't very sturdy when wet, and I left the tree standing up after spraying. Only to find that the whole section on the trunk had slumped off into a big messy puddle. *sigh* leaving the trunk pretty exposed.



but I began carving then carved some more




Yesterday my order from Josh's came in after 7 loooong days (free shipping :p) I was waiting on my coco fiber to arrive amongst the rest of my order... and realised I ordered coco husk :( I guess I'll have to make it work?

Then finally, today, I'm ready to start moving forward with all of this nonsense (you should see the state of the house! Foam bits everywhere branches, eggcrate x-acto knives gloves etc all over the place!)

I read that using egg crate in the bg will help the GS ad hear better. That's a great Idea since I would love to carve, paint, silicon and apply coco fiber(husk) background outside of the aquarium!

So I take 2 pieces of left over Egg crate. hot glue and zip tie them together. I know hot glue does not hold well in moisture(or at least submerged). Its just for holding it straight and it will be supported.




after doing that I placed the sheet and the tree in the tank and glued some spots to hold it in place to make sure I could take it out and put it in with relatively little fuss. i trimmed the root on the left because it was going to cause problems.



Took it out and reinforced with some more hot glue (just pinning it together). Its going to be silicon-ed eventually.

Thennnnn I cut pockets for the roots glued them in and then checked again just for safe measure.




while it was in there I made final decisions on how I was going to put things in there and clipped an opening in the egg crate to be able to silicon the branch in there. My initial plan for that was to have to use more Great Stuff after I silicone everything in but I realized... maybe I don't need to. Could I just stuff whatever hole with moss? Its not going to have any gaps that I foresee.



Also in this picture you can see that I screened & lowered my false bottom. the front and the center are a T-section of egg crate tha support it. the ends will be supported by small terracotta pots. 1.5"? I'm probably going to use some level of support for the center section that I haven't decided on yet. in the image I have some pipes but they aren't tall enough to offer any support.



Any how after tacking it to the egg crate i took it out to the garage and set it on top of these acrylic sheets I had lying around. I'm hoping it will do 2 things. 1 it will keep the GS flat on the back and 2 I hope that it will come off easily from the acrylic. and sprayed it up!





and now I'm sitting in my living room typing this up waiting for the GS to cure and trying to figure out the correct way to 'sterilize' the branch I'm using since it used to be used in my salamander tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Lighting question. I'm planning on using a 2ft T8 zoo med flora bulb. Because that's what I have.

Will this be enough light?
 

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I think it will come off easily once the gs is cured. Im curious to hear HOW easily.
Not too sure about the lights sorry.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
@gardennub - :/ Well I'm going to guess you meant the acrylic coming off... it was actually super easy! But the downside was that it did cause the gs not to fully cure on the "inside" so I have some goofy caves but it should be ok.


On a different note, I have an update!!!!

After letting the GS cure for a few days since it does change what it's doing in more than just 24 hrs. I started carving up my tree some more. I discovered I really do not like the GS in the blue can! for starters it's an especially ugly shade of yellow and really really soft spongyness compared to the red can which is a much more bearable shade of beige or off white and produces a much firmer and easy to carve foam. From my expediences the Red can also has a much more uniform foam without huge holes/bubbles that I found much more prominent in the Blue can.

moving on. I carved up my Tree after it had been cured and let it sit for a few hours in case I had hit some uncured spots in my carving... Something I've learned to do from past experience.




After a few hours of sitting I set up camp in the dining room (garage is freezing!) Tarp, towel and cut open trash bag as my protective layers to the ground. I then gathered my supplies

in addition to that I'm also using the bottom of a 2 liter as my mixing bowl. and a 1 inch paintbrush.


I first mixed a really soupy mix of cement and fortifier I have not used any water in the and brushed it on most of the tree this covered and filled in most of those tiny holes you can do nothing about. I then mixed a much more pasty batch and filled in bigger holes and smoothed really sharp bumpy spots. I then let it dry for a day. I spritzed it once with water after it was mostly dry to help avoid too much cracking.




after letting it sit for almost 22 hours or so I started my second coat.

this time I mixed a very thick, almost mold-able, mousse like batch and roughed out the viney texture on the trunk using a plastic knife. I let that dry out a little while I went through and filled out all sorts of nooks and crannies that I just wasn't feeling. After using that batch of cement, I then mixed a pretty watery batch that I then used with the paintbrush to smooth out the viney shapes and blend them in and also started working on getting rid of those sharp lips that happen when you don't fully smooth out cement. I then mixed different consistencies of cement to do what I needed to do and ended with a soupy batch to smooth everything out. I made sure to pay attention to the direction of the brush stroke as it does leave marks.

and this is where I'm at currently. I'm happy with the results so far.

 

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That's really impressive how you did all that with cement! Looking really good.

Would you explain what you mean by the direction of the brush strokes?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Sure, the brush leaves marks, little grooves in the cement when you brush it. By paying attention to my strokes I meant that I used them to create a bit of a grain to the wood and visual motion. Example no sideways strokes on a vertical plane like the trunk of the tree. Does that make sense?

I'll take pics to clarify more when I go home for lunch.

sent from my incredible...mind
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Another Small update:

Tonight I decided to attack it with paint!

Watered down my colors and did my best to keep it wet while I color washed it.

in dim top lighting with no flash.


and with flash


As you can see with flash there are a bit more obvious color marks I'll have to see how it works out after it's all dry tomorrow morning. If it looks bad I'll just mix a thin batch of cement and start over.

I'm a bit nervous of adding the mossy spots, I might just skip it.



As for the "watching my brush strokes" here are some close up shots that might help make more sense.



the brush moves in the direction you would expect natural growth
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hummm some input would really be appreciated. I'm staring to second guess this root build :/
 

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I am having the same issue with my thread, no input. but it looks good. I think it needs more browns in it to make it more natural, use black to make the root cracks really pop, I think that will help you out. Dont give up!! Also, once you get the vines done and sprawled all over it It will help complete it I think.
 

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Thanks for the info. I'm no expert but I'm watching and enjoying this build. Looks good to me!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks guys! I'll keep working on it!
 

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Hummm some input would really be appreciated. I'm staring to second guess this root build :/
Input's overrated. If you like it, than roll with it.
It's not like there is gonna be a contest or anything... :D
 
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