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Discussion Starter #1
I'm building a large viv and want some of my waterfalls to have more of a "laminar" or "sheet" look where higher water volume drops horizontally over a wide area (say a foot or so) in place of the usual small streams and drips. To do this the horizontal step of the waterfall needs to be perfectly level so that the entire shelf of rock lets water flow over it.

Anyway, it seems a good material for this is the recent building product "Hardiplank" which is a 3/8" thick cement board that can be cut and drilled with woodworking tools. It's similar to the 1/2" cement board now used on bathroom floors and walls, but thinner and more flexible. It's used a lot as a stucco base in new construction.

I'd like to use hardiplank in a series of steps and risers of the waterfall and use the recycled "trex" decking material for support posts, assembled with stainless steel screws. Then I'd cover it with slate to look natural, although the vertical risers of the "steps" would still be hardiplank to prevent gaps that endanger frogs.

Has anyone done a waterfall like this? It will be a lot lighter and quicker than a stone base and will be a lot easier to keep level for the sheet flow I'd like to see, whereas stone tends to settle over time. It will require a higher volume pump, which is not a problem. I pretty confident that the cement board and trex decking are both inert, without leaching of toxins. Hopefully this will be in place for the Mid Atlantic Dendro club meeting in a couple weeks.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Dave Willmore
 

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My only concern of having a "higher drop waterfall" would be the force of the water coming down. If a frog were to move into the path....ouch! I don't know if that's a realistic worry but.....
Mike
 

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I have seen many pictures of areas where darts are collected with hundred foot high waterfalls. I am sure a dartfrog knows somewhat not to get underneath it. I cant think of a tank that would be tall enough in my opinion to cause that kind of a threat. I have a waterfall with a 15 inch drop that has a lot of water going over it, 300 gph. I have seen my mantella viridis under it many times, without any injuries.

Ed Parker
 

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Any pics ed?
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks Mike and Ed,

I haven't yet figured out a way for frogs to move through these areas, but perhaps caves under the waterfalls and bridges around and in between the falls will aid crossings. I have several pumps up to 1,000 g.p.h. and have yet to decide which to use where.

Also I just realized that a cardboard mock-up in my garage will solve the three dimensional problems before scrunch up inside my tank with a screwgun. I hope to prebuild it in sections and drop them in the tank before I put on the slate and grout. I also need to make some hollow tufa boulders for plants in this area.

Finally, I meant to post this in the Parts forum, but somehow screwed up and put it here.

Dave
 
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Discussion Starter #7
David Martin,

I really am a glutton for punishment. The only thing worse that starting one big project is starting two. Good thing my wife suffers fools.

Dave
 
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Discussion Starter #8
LOL

i know a guy in west virginia who tried to make a taller water feature with a wide stream, and flooded his whole system.

have you thought much about tool and supplies? anything can be done, but planning to do it with the wrong supplies or part could cost you a ton.

how are you going to build the stream, the return for the water and what pump type or brand are you planning to use? how many sources will feed the waterfall? how many gallons per hour do you plan to pump?
 
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Discussion Starter #9
dave willmore said:
Anyway, it seems a good material for this is the recent building product "Hardiplank" which is a 3/8" thick cement board that can be cut and drilled with woodworking tools. Dave Willmore
what will you do about the high pH? how will protect the herps from it?
what do you think it should be sealed with so it doesn't get soaked and such?

planning. not all building materials can be safely used in vivariums.

what kind of pH do you want the water to have? what mineral leaching might occur that is safe or harmful to the herps? are the base materials
low-voc or not?

great idea - flat rocks. but you won't find nature like that. waterfalls have
boulders at the edges, streams have smaller stones on the inside bends, etc.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Deven,

The cement board is fairly pH neutral and the decking material is mostly recycled plastic, unless it has a caustic bonding agent I'm not too worried about leaching. I do worry about the amount of grout and its high pH. However if I find that during the break-in period the pH rises, I'll either change the water or add vinegar to hasten the leaching process and neutralize the hydrated lime.

It is possible that I'll flood the whole system, but with a false bottom there is only so much damage I can do. The bottom plant (orchid) area will be in its own planting tray with its own drain leading to a floor drain that should keep the plants from getting wet feet. As for pump volume, I can only hook several up and tweak them until the flow rate works.

Thanks for the advice to put boulders at the edges of the falls and smaller stones on the inside of bends. I'll have to jostle things around until it looks natural. (Does this mean that I can't use the miniature plastic flamingos?)

Dave Willmore
 

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Man, i can't wait to see some pics of this thing. This will be such an awesome project. More like a mini biosphere than a tank.
 

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ALL OF THEM!!!!!
 
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Discussion Starter #14
yikes. good luck, it's getting crazy now.

you'd be better using fiberglass resin.

i wonder what you'll do with the vinegar with a pH of 17.
anyway i'm outa this one.
 
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Discussion Starter #15
You may find that you will want the shelves not to be level, but rather raking slightly down toward the back of the falls. This way you would be pushing the water forward insuring a sheet action.

Just a thought, Water seems to have a mind of its own and doesn't do what we think it will.

Years ago I made some water garden containers with portland cement, turkey grit, Turfface (a high fired clay pellet, like kitty litter) and sifted pine bark mix. To neutralized the portland cement, I used Potassium Permanganate in solution. It worked fine and I kept fish in these stone looking containers (after several flushings with clear fresh water). How safe it would be for frogs, I'm not sure, but if I remember correctly it is used to disinfect plant roots of nemitods, ect.

Potassium Permanganate is a strong oxidant and care would have to be exercised, however in a mild solution, it may be ok. (it has been some years and I would have to research to find any of the old data I had and ratios, ect.)

Thoughts and any knowledge on this is most welcomed.
 

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kinda funny I thought the pH scale only went to 15.
 

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For aqueous systems, the pH scale runs from 0 to 14 with 0 being strongly acidic and 14 being strongly alkaline. As one moves to nonaqueous systems or mixed aqueous systems, one can move outside the 0 to 14 range.

I knew that chemistry degree would be useful for something :lol:

Elmo
 
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Discussion Starter #18
Dave, sound great i cant wait until you get some pics up of these suckas. you should check out this thread http://www.dendroboard.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=3392
thare is a nice waterfall thats bigger than trickling water. there are no "sheets" of water, but you could easily customize this method for anything you wanted.

good luck!

Landon
 
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