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Has anyone used the greatstuff, black silicone, and co-co bedding method of making a background in an acrylic tank? I'm a little worried that I won't get a good seal between the sides and the silicone, letting water contact the foam. Will greatstuff dissolve under longterm exposure to water?

Thanks,
Joe
 

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I haven't used that method in an acrylic tank yet, but I have put backgrounds into 2 different acrylic tanks using silicone. Silicone takes forever to fully cure on the acrylic. I let our tanks sit for over a month before I added any frogs.


A customer of ours made a combo acrylic - glass cage and used greatstuff for the background. The tank litterly came apart at the seams.

Good luck,

Melis


hicksonj said:
Has anyone used the greatstuff, black silicone, and co-co bedding method of making a background in an acrylic tank? I'm a little worried that I won't get a good seal between the sides and the silicone, letting water contact the foam. Will greatstuff dissolve under longterm exposure to water?

Thanks,
Joe
 
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We have used greatstuff/silicone on acrylic tanks with excellent results. Greatstuff has never broken down on us and we sculpt most of our waterfalls out of it.
 
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Melis,

Wow! One month? What kind of silicone were you using? I always thought that silicone cures under a chemical reaction unrelated to its surroundings. It makes sense that the glass acrylic tank fell apart. It really difficult to connect glass to acylic. I have been told that you need to scratch up the acrylic, with sandpaper or something, to make anything think about sticking to it.

Dr. Frye,

How long does it take your silicone to cure? What kind do you use? Do you find that it breaks down or shrinks under constant spraying?

Thanks for your input.

~Joe
 

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Joe, I have used great stuff/coco on a couple of my acrylic enclosures. I like the way that it looks and seems to work out fine. I bought some of that waterproof expanding foam and will try that on the next one that I set up. I'll offer you two cautions: Mine took a LOT longer to cure than when I do the same thing in a vertical 15 gallon tank. I cannot explain why, but they had a "plastic" smell for about 8x as long as a glass tank does. I concur with Melissa's observation, in fact based on my experience, she gave a conservative estimate. The second thing is: you have to be a lot more careful with the silicone in one of these enclosures because you cannot use a razor to scrape off the extra. I tried using a plastic putty knife and that does not work either, it takes of the majority of it but a thin layer remains. Even after extensive rubbing of the area with a dry and wet cloth, it seems that silicon leaves a slight haze where it cured on the acrylic. I can attach a picture of one of my enclosures, unfortunately I cannot seem to get a really good picture of them.

Since you have asked this question, does that mean that you have received the enclosures from Mark Pepper? His designs look great.

Ed
 
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Joe,
Each tank at our site is constructed with Great Stuff and silicone. The one pic you posted is of acrylic. The one exception is the O. terribils tank. We have had them running from about three months to over a year. Anytime you are going to attach something to the tank you must sand it.
The silicone will take longer to cure. Our tank made for our breeding Casti's took about 10 days with circulation. We have found that the GreatStuff silicone combo is the best bang for the buck. One tip, if you can find/order bronze silicone it is THE way to go.

Rich
 

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Ed,

Ya, I had many of the same issues that you did.

The silicone is really tough to get off the acrylic. I think for my next tank I will cover all exposed areas of the tank to prevent this issue.

The tank drying took a lot longer than I thought it would. On the first acrylic tank, I used a tree fern panel while the 2nd one I used coco panels. In both tanks, it took forever to cure. Did you sand the surfaces of your acrylic prior to siliconing everything down?

What size pump, hoses and how many openings are people putting into the backgrounds to make the waterfalls?

Also, do you think it is necessary to apply the coat of silicone to the back of the cage prior to using 'great stuff'?

Ed Martin said:
Joe, I have used great stuff/coco on a couple of my acrylic enclosures. I like the way that it looks and seems to work out fine. I bought some of that waterproof expanding foam and will try that on the next one that I set up. I'll offer you two cautions: Mine took a LOT longer to cure than when I do the same thing in a vertical 15 gallon tank. I cannot explain why, but they had a "plastic" smell for about 8x as long as a glass tank does. I concur with Melissa's observation, in fact based on my experience, she gave a conservative estimate. The second thing is: you have to be a lot more careful with the silicone in one of these enclosures because you cannot use a razor to scrape off the extra. I tried using a plastic putty knife and that does not work either, it takes of the majority of it but a thin layer remains. Even after extensive rubbing of the area with a dry and wet cloth, it seems that silicon leaves a slight haze where it cured on the acrylic. I can attach a picture of one of my enclosures, unfortunately I cannot seem to get a really good picture of them.

Since you have asked this question, does that mean that you have received the enclosures from Mark Pepper? His designs look great.

Ed
 

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Melissa, I did not sand the acrylic before applying the silicone. I did sand the great stuff when applying the silicone and coco but that is standard. None of the acrylic enclosures I have utilize a moving water feature. I am planning to get 3 more in september and might put some in them. I really want to see how this waterproof expanding foam works. I put some on a piece of scrap acrylic and plan to let it cure for 2 weeks, then put it under water for a month or so. It is supposed to hold up..... i want to check it first. I do have all the enclosures drilled for a misting system and drains.

Rich, thanks. That enclosure looks much bigger.

Ed
 

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I have not had a issue with silicone drying, but have always used it on glass. I use weldbond and water and ecoearth to cover the backgrounds. Here are examples, and most are stryfoam, and or greatstuff. I do let these dry for at least 7 days if not longer. Even the weldbond takes a good time to dry.

Rough construction pics here:
http://www.kylesphotos.com/album21

Rough final picture, I will have to take one now after it has grown in, it looks much better:


Also all of these have the same background:
http://www.kylesphotos.com/photos/album23/aam.jpg

I have tested the silicon ecoearth method while I think it would work fine it seemed to peel off the foam very easy. I'm sure both are great solutions, and will look great in the right hands.
 

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I have used the great stuff/silicone method on both glass and acrylic tanks with no problems. You don't need to sand the acrylic to get the silicone to stick. I didn't notice the silicone taking a long time to dry, but I was only working on it on the weekends, so it had a full week to dry before I came back to it. I actually embedded coco husk chips in the silicone over the Great Stuff rather than peat or coir dust. Everything has held up to daily misting for the past 9 months.
 
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Now here is the thing with greatstuff and acrylic. The highly expanding greatstuff creates a lot of force when it expands, which could cause a joint to blow, but makes great looking features. The reduced expansion greatstuff won't blow out the joints, but will take forever to form anything. Scott and Mark clued me in on a double layer approach using both products to carefully sculpt.
 

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You can get the same effect without using the low expanding type just by slowly buiding up the base and not adding too much at once. Wait 24 hours (for full expansion of your base layer), and add your buildup layer.
 
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In one of our rooms we have 40 plumbed vivs. Our tank builder drilled our drain holes a little oversized so our fittings no longer fit. No problem , silicone them in place, right? Trust me when I tell you that anything, of any importance, that needs to have a true seal on acrylic, should be sanded first. I had to learn from my own mistake.

Rich
 

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My experience with silicone and acrylic is also sand first.

Almost lost a nice frog from a falling piece of wood.

That *is* a bit different than foaming... but why chance it?

s
 

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Yeah, Rich, my acrylic tank was made by the same guy that made yours. I had to make some silicone seals, too. Mine work fine without sanding. The trick is to make sure you have a perfectly clean surface--no dirt, no moisture, etc. I used rubbing alcohol to clean and dry. No leaks.
 
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Homer,
I can tell you that if I took a perfectly clean, brand new, acrylic tank, emptied the entire contents of a tube of silicone on top of it, and then let it cure, I would be able to peel it off in one action. I know that I am on your ignore list , but if you ignore this one Homer, you are in for a structural failure.

Rich
 
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