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clay background help

1169 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  tweetygirl1683
This past weekend I worked on my first clay background in my new 40gal breeder. I used the kitty litter method and everything looked amazing until I came home from work yesterday...cracks are appearing everywhere. I fixed them and made sure to spray the background a little to keep it damp. I came home today only to find even more cracks! I am terrified I'll come home only to find my entire background in the tank! Helps someone please I really want to fix this before I have frogs in there.
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did you cover the tank with the front lid after you did the background?
What do you mean? As of right now I don't have a lid I was waiting for this weekend to get it. Could it be lack of humidity?
What do you mean? As of right now I don't have a lid I was waiting for this weekend to get it. Could it be lack of humidity?
Yes. Cracking is due to drying out. Bentonite (the primary ingredient in kitty litter) swells a TON when it's wet. So as it dries, it shrinks. I would put some plastic wrap over it till you get the top and do a light misting daily. You may still have to fill some cracks as the moisture shifts around, but it will definitely help.
Parzanz pretty much covered it but yes viv's are around 90-100% humidity which keeps the backgrounds from cracking and drying out, since theres no lid the background dries out leading to cracking.
Pretty much what Mitch said... once you try the redart mix, you'll never go back. I got enough supplies for a whole lot of backgrounds for $21, and the stuffs SO much easier to work with than kitty litter once it's on the glass.

No more broms falling out, no more cracks, NUTHIN. Plus, if you throw a light layer of peat or coco down on it, it looks as good as GS without all of the work and cashola, but your frogs still benefit from the clay.
I have had the same problem with kitty litter. Keeping the humidity up is very important! One thing to remember is that the wetter you initially start out the clay, the more it will be expanded during application, and therefore the more it has potential to shrink. The second kitty litter viv I did with a more dry mixture, thicker walls, and less organics mixed in is holding up better so far. That being said, I won't ever do a 3rd one. If I ever do clay again, it will be with a higher quality bentonite and redart mixture.

One thing you should probably NOT do to attempt a fix is just shove some more clay onto the cracking areas. At least, it didn't help me any :eek: Probably a better idea is to remove the offending areas, re-apply, and follow the tips you've gotten so far in this thread.
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Agreed. Kitty litter is a recipe for disaster. The bentonite will usually eventually collapse.
Thank you all so much! I have done 2 foam backgrounds and I just couldn't do it again. I did some research found the clay and didn't think it was so bad until it started falling apart on me. I'm going to do some more research on the redart mix and try that out. Again thank you all for the advice I will use it!
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