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Discussion Starter #1
My first post...
I am looking for advice on an upcoming build regarding the use of Great Stuff Foam. Possible future home for eastern red spotted newts. Tank is 29g (30x12x18), water depth is 3-5”. Drip wall (either continuous or on a timer) on all 3 walls. Egg crate will be glued to glass (back and sides) with gorilla or super glue. Above the water line will be cork bark in a random mosaic pattern.
Finally, my questions. Should I:
A. Fill the back and sides with great stuff, shave/contour it to shape, and then glue the cork bark to that? Gaps will be filled with sphagnum and or ABG type mix using silicone or GS
B. Glue the cork back directly to the egg crate and fill the deeper gaps with black GS? Again, sphagnum/ABG mix in the gaps. To create contour, additional layers of egg crate will be used
Understandably, option A will take much longer using the GS. Other pros and cons with each option? Thanks!
 

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Why the egg crate? Are you intending to make holes and run the plumbing for the drip system up through it?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Why the egg crate? Are you intending to make holes and run the plumbing for the drip system up through it?
Egg crate is to give the great stuff, if i go that route, something more secure to adhere to. Thinking that the plastic matrix would have more surfaces for the foam rather than the glass wall and reduce chances of the wall separating. If I don't use the foam, the the cork would be glued to the egg crate.
In one of the corners there will be a small pump and 1/2” vinyl tubing ascending to a Tee. From there, 1/2” tubing will run along the bottom of the tank rim to over both sides and back. There will be a strip of egg crate about 4-5” wide that will placed in the corner at 45 degrees. The gap behind this strip will provide a chamber for the tubing and electrical cord. Similarly, I could have used a PVC tube as a conduit.
 

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Personal preference really. Though I'll share some of my own pros vs cons.
GS Pros: GS can allow you to make intricate designs if you're half way decent at carving.
GS Cons: It can be time consuming as well as down right messy.
Cork to glass Pros: Cork mosaic is pretty simple and not nearly as time consuming as GS. In my experience, plants tend to root and climb quicker. You can be as creative as the pieces of cork you choose. No real cons IMO.

I wouldn't bother with egg crate under a cork mosaic if it were me. Using silicone and/or GS to adhere it directly to the glass has worked well for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
bssknox - Thanks for the helpful reply. Originally I was going to be hanging driftwood and possibly flat stones and wanted a something “extra” for the foam or other adhesive to hang onto (zip ties were not out of the question). Then cork bark entered the picture. It appears to be a lighter material compared to the others.
I may be using a sheet of egg crate in the lower portion of the back wall to promote some type of sloping; not sure how I feel about a completely flat wall.
I will definitely be using a vertical strip of egg crate in one corner to hide the tubing and electrical cord. It will be covered with some GS to smooth out the surface transitions. Will probably repeat this in the other corner for consistency. I’m going to get a brush to attach to my drill to help shape the GS.
 

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Put the drip walls on timers, for sure. Continuous flow is just too wet, way way way too wet, if you want anything to live let alone grow. Well, if you want options anyway - there are a few plants that would do fine under constant water flow. Not any domestic newts though...maybe some crabs or something, IDK.

More of a "whatever you like" thing - personally I would skip the foam, skip the eggcrate, and just go cracked-cork mosaic. Silicone the cork to the glass, and pack some or all of the gaps with LFS. Unpacked gaps will make nice climbable channels for the newts. Most cork has some curl to it. Decide if you want the curved hollows underneath, to run vertically or horizontally. In the former case these can serve as little planters (more curl = more planter). In the latter, one or two might serve as refugia / hides. Either way you'll want to pack most of them with either LFS or some planting medium (ABG or whatever). I tend to go vertical, which is more water-retentive (more of it soaks in and runs through, before dripping) and less water-shedding (more of it just runs and drips off, and you need to take more care to put the thin pieces up high and the fat pieces lower down, if you don't want a big dry spot below the overhang.).

good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
jgragg - Appreciate the feed back on the drip wall and the cork bark mosaic tips. Yes, areas for planting would be preferable and tapering the cork by thickness are makes sense.
I built a drip wall prototype using 1/2” clear vinyl tubing with Tees and elbows. 1/8” holes drilled about 3” apart; adjustable 160 GPH pump supplied the water. After running some tests, I’ve concluded that I won’t be setting up a drip wall. Hose management, level of control, and aesthetics (of the airline control valves primarily) are factors that weighed in on this. Even on a timer (granular to one minute increments) it may be too much. However, there is a good chance that a water feature of sorts will be in placed in one of the corners. I have some Seiryu stones from an old planted tank that could be used for this. In the opposite corner there may be a land section and any substrate will be ABOVE the water line.
Back to the drawing board.
 

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Just a heads up - if you really like that green, lush, moss wall look, I strongly recommend a drip wall. This coming from someone who doesn’t have a drip wall and struggles to get moss established. If that is not a goal, I think you can accomplish watering for most other plants with a misting system.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks Ariel. Regarding the lush, mossy look, I’m a bit torn because I like that look but I find the cork bark mosaic appealing as well. I would like to achieve a bit of both by incorporating a water feature on one side of the enclosure. Areas subject to dripping and splashing may become favorable for various mosses and certain plants. I will have to experiment with this.

I’ve been watching a few builds on YouTube (links below) and both of these have water features. Each make extensive of slate and stone with minimal driftwood. The first one (waterfall) is what I may be targeting but with a few differences:
  • Cork bark instead of slate (though slate might be used near the water feature). These would be glued directly to the glass. I believe egg crate was used in the attached builds because of the weight of rock being used
  • Internal pump as opposed to a drilled tank and canister filter. A drilled tank would be “cleaner” with less visible plumbing. If I drilled the tank, I would setup a sump rather than a canister. But that would entail a new stand and sump and we’re getting into some scope creep here.

Waterfall Paludarium

Drip wall paludarium
 

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I would strongly recommend a sump rather than an internal pump, that’s the main thing I would change if I had to do mine over again. If you have a waterfall, I don’t think you’ll find the splash zone very conducive to growing moss, moss would really prefer slowly dripping water to constant running and splashing water (ask me how I know). Some liverworts will like the wetter conditions though. But I would still recommend putting the waterfall on a timer, I find that if I run mine 24/7 nothing but algae grows on it. I’m currently running mine for half an hour segments 3x/day.
 
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