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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

I've been working on a large free-range build for my chameleons for several months now (real life is such a pain!)....anyway I'm beginning to come to the end of the project and I may have a technical glitch...perhaps you guys can shed some light.


Pics can be seen: https://picasaweb.google.com/110155...nFreeRange3X3X8?authkey=Gv1sRgCJ-1sdnW0KCejAE

I will update the album real soon, but from picture #27 on, you can see the area I am referring to.

Direct link to photo:
https://picasaweb.google.com/110155...key=Gv1sRgCJ-1sdnW0KCejAE#5663488059543166562

As you can see from the picture, I have used foam to secure the plastic piece to the top of my false wall corner unit. If you look at the pictures that come after, although it is quite hard to see, what I have done is put a thick layer of plastic along both the back wall and going into the plastic tub, and then I foamed again over that (securing the log into the foam/tub at this time).

My thought at the time was that some water will be dripping "through" the foam, so I should use the plastic to direct the majority of it into the tub (and I have successfully done so).

PROBLEM:

The foam is essentially a sponge right? Since the foam is touching the "inside" of the tub where water will go, it will begin to soak it up.....and eventually (3,6,9 months?) my entire fall wall unit will be a soaked and far HEAVIER than I designed for....

Is this a major oversight? Do I need to cut out my tub and resecure it to my back wall in some manner so that the foam and "pool" NEVER touch? I plan to paint the foam near the tub with grey drylok (fake "rocks") and my initial thought was that this, combined with the plastic, would suffice. But now...I'm doubting myself....


Any thoughts/suggestions?
 

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i doubt the foam will absorb water like you suggest. GS is a closed cell foam and in my experience sheds water rather than absorbing it. i suspect that the water is only going to drip through in areas where the foam didnt meet during expansion.

james
 

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agreed. if that foam absorbed H2O it would be useless as bg material. It is hydrophobic for sure. Youre in the clear
 

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While weight is definitely a concern the background absorbing water really isn't, I know a lot of people worry about anaerobic areas forming but this isn't that big of a concern unless you make the foam really thick 4-5" and even then it's only a concern if the anaerobic areas are exposed at some point (this is more a concern in the substrate where you may stir it up at some point). I actually had a background custom made for me out of open cell foam because of its water retention properties. I'll be starting a thread on it in the next week and I'm hoping to disprove some of the concerns about its use because it's water retention properties make it very similar to sandstone and makes a great medium for aquatic moss and ferns along with other rheophytic plants.

Len
 

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Discussion Starter #5
excellent! that alleviates the majority of my concerns, thank you. I do still have a few worries though:


concern #1: I have CUT the foam in certain places. In my experiences the OUTSIDE surface of the foam is very water resilient, but once cut it seems to be very spongy, but this is just an observation....I haven't tried it


concern #2: I have a WOOD frame. I have stained the wood with a double solid coat of PATIO WEATHERPROOFER (it says it withstands hail and snowstorms). However, I am still concerned about mold or water leakage over long periods of time since I am assuming that water will be dripping through the back wall (even if its not absorbed). Is this a valid concern? Just incase, I have placed a 6mm plastic lining over the wood as well, attached only at the top and sides (so no holes in it) but no matter what I have to poke at least holes where my false wall attaches to my mounting brackets and I have not been able to find a way around that. I realize we are talking tiny cuts in the plastic....but I'm thinking LONG term and am again concerned about water drops getting through the plastic and then accumulating between the plastic/wood causing mold again...

my only thought on that is to drill tiny "air" holes in the lower back of my frame to allow it to vent sufficiently to evaporate any small amounts that may accumulate.

i'm still not convinced I have done enough though....and to be honest, I can't afford to find out it wasn't enough later!

Thanks all for the posting.


Oh and I was originally looking at clay but both due to weight and bad experiences with it in general I silicone+coco fibered all of my back walls, so I am hoping that further "waterproofs" it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
While weight is definitely a concern the background absorbing water really isn't, I know a lot of people worry about anaerobic areas forming but this isn't that big of a concern unless you make the foam really thick 4-5" and even then it's only a concern if the anaerobic areas are exposed at some point (this is more a concern in the substrate where you may stir it up at some point). I actually had a background custom made for me out of open cell foam because of its water retention properties. I'll be starting a thread on it in the next week and I'm hoping to disprove some of the concerns about its use because it's water retention properties make it very similar to sandstone and makes a great medium for aquatic moss and ferns along with other rheophytic plants.

Len
This was my original thought process when designing the entire thing. I thought since this was an open-air free range my humidity would be much lower and that would make it difficult to grow plants on the back wall.


I have made a smaller build attempt seen here: https://plus.google.com/photos/1101...ms/5647654053080166753?authkey=CKfwp9eWlPK9Jw

I do NOT use a misting system in that build and only have 2x3' T8 6500K bulbs 32W powering it.....I get *NO* growth, in fact my plants are barely alive. I have upped the watering but the only thing that happens is more accumulates in the reservoir underneath, the wall simply won't hold it.

So in this build, my ORIGINAL idea was to SANDPAPER the entire surface of the false wall (which I have done for 2 of the 3 units) to make it as "spongy" as possible, and then hope that the entire thing stays moist....sort of like a giant rooting block if that makes sense....

as i type this....is it possible to get rooting blocks in large sheets rather than tiny individual blocks?! holy crap that sounds like the perfect background!

*off to reserach*

EDIT: I"m thinkign of these: http://www.amazon.com/Rapid-Rooters-Bag-Replacement-Plugs/dp/B0002IU8K2 they come in little blocks, but even those little blocks can be "roughed up" to give a very natural looking piece....I currently use them as a booster to start my plants that are growing in not-so-water happy places (and of course they are wonderful for clones).....a huge sheet that you could just scratch at would look very nice and easy to do i imagine
 

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I know you can buy blocks of rock wool (the green stuff alot of aquarium plants come in) it's used in hydroponics, it may hold too much water though, I originally considered resin or closed cell for the rocks but had the same concern as you about keeping the moisture high, alot of polyurethane foam is actually hydrophobic like stated in the post above, that is really bad if you plan on planting plants on it or have moss growing because it actually repels the water at a molecular level which means it won't get wet. The water will just bead off of it. This is why alot of people put silicone on it and cover itin coco coir or peat. This is so it will stay moist.

Len
 

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Just curious, but those plants do not seem to be compatible with a chameleon? Will there be various size branches throughout the enclosure?
 

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a few things...

the wood, treated with stain WILL mold or rot. you need to get marine grade epoxy and coat the surfaces OR cover them with panes of glass or acrylic.

there are options for growing mediums available in sheets. one such item that is pretty commonly available is cocotek which you can get through your local hydroponics store.
youll still need to seal the wood before siliconing it in place

james
 

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Discussion Starter #10
@james67: i was worried about that....I got the strongest weatherproofer i could find at home depot, but like you said, its not marine grade.

I have also put a piece of plastic behind each of my false wall units so any water that does get through them will hit the plastic and drop down, not touching the wood at all.

However, where I screw my back wall onto my mounting brackets, there will be a screwhole in the plastic obviously....I was going to try and silicone it but I don't know realistically how well that will work...


I was hoping that the plastic coating + weatherproof stain + tiny holes drilled in bottom of wood frame to allow venting would suffice....

I also have a second layer up there right now, but it has a bunch of holes so I was going to take it down...maybe I'll just leave it up. I was originally concerned about water accumulation between the two layers, but the bottom is open and the water would drip down to my drip tray.
 

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For the holes where the screws penetrate the plastic, they make washers that are metal on one side, and a rubber gasket on the other. I have used these to mount handles to my carpet extractors with bolts and a nylon lock nut without any leaks.
 
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