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Discussion Starter #1
I am pretty disappointed with the "Great Stuff and silicone" method,... for my tank, that is. It looks pretty cool, but my mantella cage has plenty of yellow still showing and I notice my tank has an odd smell to it that I don't like. I have bothered Kyle and several others over and over again about it, but I really don't trust it in the long run. I also want to move my tinctorius in that cage, as its more vertical and he loves to climb, unlike the ground dwelling mantellas. It is very difficult to sterilize a Great Stuff and silicone peat background without rubbing it off in the cleaning process.

I want to take the background idea a step further. Jhupp recommended me to cichlid-forum.com and I was nearly blown away by the beautiful backgrounds. I thought about using epoxy paint, but it is so expensive and I still think the enamel look is pretty artificial. Plus, concrete is relatively cheap, easily molded, no fumes, naturalistic rock, etc. It can be dyed in beautiful tones, and I have seen many folks make artificial rocks and caves out of them. But there is one main problem with this somewhat ideal look.

I know cichlid people use it, I know koi and goldfish people use it. I also believe some reef people use it. But the question is, is LIME actually toxic, or is it the pH of the lime that is harmful? I am so confused.

I've done a lot of internet searching on concrete ponds, and I get about 50% saying they coat it with some sort of material, or they just leach it with muriatic, vinegar, or phosphoric acid. Some just use lots of water changes. According to many, the bacteria's acidic compounds that they produce from an aged pond will counteract and balance the pH after a while. Once again, is it the LIME itself, or the PH OF THE LIME that is bad? Personally, coating it with some kind of paint will just ruin its naturalistic appearance.

I really would love to use it on all of my tanks in some form, as long as it doesn't leach anything that will maek them sick....especially on my 100 gallon for my Xenopus tank. Somebody also said on the cichlid forum that people have used salt to make it cure much faster. I've also heard that concrete is safe once it is aged enough. I am thinking of even doing a saltwater tank and mount some coral to it, if its not harmful.

FCA, you're a fish guy, could you help enlighten me?
 

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I am probably not the awnser you are looking for, but lime is dissolved by acid. So, I am sure if you did a really good soak of the stuff in acid, maybe for a few days, or longer, that it would PROBABLY dissolve the majority of the lime. Other than really testing it, I can't tell ya, sorry. Perhaps, you should set up an experiment. Just use small amounts of fully cured stuff, maybe golf ball sized. Soak one of them in vinegar, or some other acid for a few days, rinse it off good, and then let both of them sit in a separate container of water. Do ph checks, and stuff, and see if there is a difference between the two. I would do these tests, but I am unsure of what product you are using exactly. Anyway, good luck with your betsileo, penny and (can't remember the other names). See ya,

Ed Parker
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That's what I was thinking about doing. I have a ten gallon that I will use to test it. It will be my mantella's future home, but it will be set up and tested, cycled, monitored, etc. for a few weeks.

I went through ALL THIS TROUBLE when I just should of kept them in my ten gallon. The only reason why I never did was because if I had too many males, they could get too aggressive. Now that I've had my mantellas for nearly 5 months, and have watched them grow (None were adults), I have determined their behaviors and personalities. More often than not, I find them clustered together behind the Ivy, despite they got a whole 20 gallon cubicle to themselves!

Also, its ironic that, if the one mantella didn't die five days after I purchased them (i originally had four), I would of had THREE females and only one male.

Also, my basement gets cooler in the winter, and will never rise above 75 in the summer, good spot to keep mantellas and breed them.

Honestly I think the lime is only toxic because of alkalinosis, but somebody once said other things need to be leached.
 
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background

why not just build it out of concrete or mortar etc. then just seal it up with concrete pond sealer. they sell it at dobbies garden worls near me.
 

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That has been a major consideration. The only reason why I haven't implemented it into my strategy is because I don't know what the coating looks like. If its hard enamel or something like epoxy, it may ruin the "natural look" and defeat the purpose of using concrete. Therefore, I might as well just use Great Stuff. Plus, pond sealer I have no idea how expensive it is, and what colors it comes in. I don't want white, black is better, but brown is nicest.
 

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This is one of those times where vivaria and aquaria are quite different. The lime leaching from green concrete jacks the pH way up which could be lethal if it is jacking the pH in water where fish are trying to live. In vivaria, it is going to affect the plants more than the frogs. It will tend to raise the pH of the soil substate and how much it raises that pH will depend on the make-up of the mix and the water that is used, whether it is an open system with an overflow drain with lots of flushing, etc. Personally I wouldn't put green untreated concrete in a viv but soaking or scrubbing with vinegar or muriatic acid is a tried and true method that has worked to "season" fish ponds for years. I figure if goldfish can live in a concrete pond after it has been treated with acid, then it is safe for frogs who would only hop on the surface. Concrete is such a versatile material that I would like to see us stop being afraid of it and start experimenting. I have plans to try my hand at concrete trees myself.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That's what I think too. I just came across that fish can live in unsealed ponds only recently, just up until Jhupp told me about a concrete background in the cichlid forum. I always thought they were treated, but I was wrong.

That gave me a wild idea to use concrete. Like I said, the real reason why I'm avoiding epoxy is number one, the cost, and number two, which is probably the real reason why, one could obviously tell its fake. AND THERE IS NO BROWN EPOXY. This is more than just for my vivariums, but also my 100 gallon clawed frog tank I'm building were its necessary to keep pH down.

Plus, concrete can be dyed in reds, browns, blacks, and grays, and I know many cichlid people and some reef people make their fake rocks this way, cheaply and even better, realistic, almost fool proof compared to fiberglass resin.
 
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pond sealer

you can buy clear pond sealer for not too much but i have no idea how naturalistic it may or may not look once finished. might be worth giving it a go. i have a cracked tank that i might try this in as an experiment.
 

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Epoxy can be died any color you want...
With practice, you can make effects with epoxy that you would never be able to do with concrete. Also weight becomes an issue when building with concrete - epoxy is extremely light weight.
 

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You can buy the dye, as well as the appropriate epoxy, at a boating supply store. Check your phone-book for local boating stores. You will find the three primary colors which you can blend to custom colors before you mix in with epoxy.
 
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