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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

I need some advice from people who have used various forms of cement to build backgrounds before. I'm building a 29 gallon viv inspired by the movie Avatar. It will mimic the rainforest of Pandora, and will have a rock wall with waterfall. I constructed the background with Polyfoam from Hobby Lobby. A picture is attached. I was planning on using underlayment cement like the guy on here who built the fantastic 60 gallon viv, but underlayment cement is impossible to find. I bought some quickcrete mortar mix and tested it on a different background for another viv I'm building that isn't as special to me as the avatar tank. ;) The quickcrete was a nightmare! It doesn't want to stick to the polyfoam, and I had to apply it so thickly (by hand, impossible to paint on) that the original architecture of the foam was completely lost. Does anyone know what would be best to use that can be applied thinly, so that I will be able to see the shapes I carved out of the foam? I don't mind if I have to cure it with vinegar, I was already planning on that for the cement anyway, and I will be painting it with acrylic paints to seal it. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

-Alyson
 

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If you want to retain much of your original carving you will need to go with an epoxy, or possibly the drylock paint. I've done the epoxy plenty, but I can't personally vouch for the drylock paint. (The high VOC content is partly why I don't mess with it.)

Using grout or cement in thin layers can be done but keep in mind the thinner it is more likely it will chip, crack, or flake off. And of course the whole 4 week+ curing will still be a factor.
 

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If you want to retain much of your original carving you will need to go with an epoxy, or possibly the drylock paint. I've done the epoxy plenty, but I can't personally vouch for the drylock paint. (The high VOC content is partly why I don't mess with it.)
There are multiple Drylok products but the one ZB uses in the Josh'sfrogs video seems to be the latex based product. I must admit that I deduced this solely by freeze framing the video and then comparing pictures of product.

IN GENERAL, latex based products will have amines (stinky chemicals) in them. they do stink but won't jack you up or get you high like an oil based product would with what would normally be called "VOCs" or volatile organic compounds.
So there is a drylok compound that would certainly give you a high "VOC" exposure, but thankfully it seems that ZB used the latex one. I haven't read the labels yet, but would bet that like most latex based products it is stinky amines, which are actually preferable to VOCs as far as health issues. they also disappear pretty quickly when it dries.

Now, if only someone that has actually used the stuff will post instead of me rambling with my suppositions!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
If you want to retain much of your original carving you will need to go with an epoxy, or possibly the drylock paint. I've done the epoxy plenty, but I can't personally vouch for the drylock paint.
Thanks! I like the drylok idea, but could you give me a specific product name for the epoxy so I can look it up? Googling "epoxy" has gotten me nowhere. :eek:
 

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There are multiple Drylok products but the one ZB uses in the Josh'sfrogs video seems to be the latex based product. I must admit that I deduced this solely by freeze framing the video and then comparing pictures of product.

IN GENERAL, latex based products will have amines (stinky chemicals) in them. they do stink but won't jack you up or get you high like an oil based product would with what would normally be called "VOCs" or volatile organic compounds.
So there is a drylok compound that would certainly give you a high "VOC" exposure, but thankfully it seems that ZB used the latex one. I haven't read the labels yet, but would bet that like most latex based products it is stinky amines, which are actually preferable to VOCs as far as health issues. they also disappear pretty quickly when it dries.

Now, if only someone that has actually used the stuff will post instead of me rambling with my suppositions!

Yup, that's what I used. I've had friends use it in aquariums for years with no issues, so I decided to give it a try in vivaria. As long as it is allowed to dry completely (I typically wait a couple/few weeks), it seems to be safe.
 

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I would use the dryloc (latex based) for that if you wanted to use the existing texture. Its thin, like thickish paint and will keep your details.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks everybody! Just bought the drylok, we'll see how it goes! :D
 

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Ive used the drylock on a avatar viv to make floating mountains and quikrete makes a cement dye that you can use in it and works amazingly! Just be sure to pour some of it out and mix a little due till desired color then put a few coats. I then painted it to get depth
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I'm hoping it will be easy to paint with acrylics because I have some pretty intricate paint work in mind.
 

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I hope you know that I blame you for the idea that struck me when I read Avatar-inspired vivarium! It may cost me an arm and a leg, the entire spring and possibly my relationship, but I'm gonna have to try now!!! ARGH! :D
 
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I hope you know that I blame you for the idea that struck me when I read Avatar-inspired vivarium! It may cost me an arm and a leg, the entire spring and possibly my relationship, but I'm gonna have to try now!!! ARGH! :D
Tell me about it! I had set a "No more vivs!" rule when my friend suggested I name my Azureus Jake and Neytiri because they looked like the people from Avatar. That's my favorite movie so when he said that the wheels started turning and I couldn't resist lol. It's not going to have floating mountains but I will be using non-toxic glow-in-the-dark acrylics on a few artificial plants and on the cliff background to emulate the bioluminescence of Pandora's forest at night. It should look awesome! I'll post pics in a couple week when it's done.
 

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The floating mountans is exactly what I was planning...I think I may figured out how to support the weight..but will need some thought/experiments!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Well if it helps, somebody else on here built a floating mountains viv, so you can see how they did it. Just type "floating mountains of pandora" into the search bar.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Hey guys, I finished the tank. Thought I'd post a video for anyone who was interested. I think it turned out great! Not quite what I was envisioning, but I think the tank I had in mind is a lot bigger than what I had in front of me, so not everything could fit:p I do feel like I was able to incorporate a lot of aspects from the movie however, and anyone who has seen Avatar will recognize these things.


Avatar-Inspired Dart Frog Vivarium - YouTube
 
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