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Discussion Starter #1
I was wondering if anybody else does this or has other simple alterations to the "standard" techniques they use? This can go for clay or the classic GS+silicone backgrounds or anything else really

I use the standard clay background (redart+bentonite+some shredded sphagnum) but instead of applying it directly to the glass or background area, I cut out a "frame" using egg-crate (exactly as I would if I was doing a false-bottom).

I size my egg-crate to the shape of my background (especially helpful on the sides of smaller tanks where I want some areas covered and some visible). I then apply my clay directly to this eggcrate, filling in all the little holes. Along the edges (especially on the sides of tanks) I use small chunks of green moss to cover it up.

This also allows me to plant some of my smaller bulb plants directly into my back wall with good support even on a very thin background (I just slide the bulb right into one of the eggcrate holes).

I know this is commonly used when making GS backgrounds, but I have not seen other members use this technique when making clay backgrounds. I find it is much more resistant to cracking even if it dries out and I can get away with MUCH thinner backgrounds that can still support the weight of my plants. The only problem is on occasion a tiny bit of the outline of the egg-crate will show, but a quick rub of the thumb fixes that problem.


Alternatively, on areas with much thicker walls, I actually use my GS/foam + eggcrate build first, and then I file down the great stuff for a nice porous surface and add a topcoat of clay. It certainly helps with the weight, and I think that it would hold better under long-term humidity but I'm not too positive on that....either way it hasn't crashed on me and I doubt it will :)


I'd love to hear others' "personal styles" of making their backgrounds aside from just different recipes for clay or whatnot.
 

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I just recently put a tank together using the clay method. I guess I made a "hybrid" background, if that's what you want to call it. I pressed the clay directly to the back of the tank, and I added a few pieces of corkbark. All I did was firmly press the pieces of bark into the clay and molded some extra clay for support on the sides of the cork. Its been a few months now and it is holding up strong! I also like to sprinkle some ABG mix on top of the clay. I like how it looks instead of the greyish color of the clay. I used kitty litter for my source of clay.
 

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not sure if it counts, but to make ledges in my leuc viv, i put large chunks of GS down in places, then do the clay...but i dont think you could really call that hybrid...


why eggcrate?! how does it give more support? why not just make the clay thicker?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
@boabab: for exactly that reason!! I can make my clay wall very thin without cracking ....I find if I make my wall that thin without the eggcrate it tends to crack and peel away from the glass very badly....but with the eggcrate it holds its shape much much better.

The GS "ledge" technique was exactly what I was referring to :p I do the same thing now but use sheet foam cut into shape.



Similar to the concept with the false bottom, I find using the "false wall" technique with the egg-crating (esp combined with foam for textures) to give me much more control over the final wall shape


oh and its a bit lighter which always helps :D



I don't get why so many people use kitty litter for their clay though....REAL clay is CHEAPER and easier to use!!
 

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I don't know if I agree with you about all kitty litters not always working the same. I do think there's differences based on what brand you use. I know a lot of people have different results using special kitty for instance. However, I looked into Dr. Elsey's and emailed them about how consistent their product is before I made my background and I do feel confident that it is in fact quite consistent.

Plus my kitty litter background is holding up like a champ.
 

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You are correct that not all cat litter is the same. The 3.00 kind at walmart sucks(imo) after two fails I gave up on it. I know people who used Dr. E's with good results. But once I gave them some real clay to try, they never looked back. The ease of mixing, it's expansion is amazing, the cost difference and the time saved are a big + for me.


Casper
 

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Discussion Starter #11
i dunno i still prefer buying my clay for nothing and knowing exactly what I get. I picked up 10 pounds of red-art and 10 pounds of bentonite the other day for $7.69 total.


last time, i bought 5 pounds of each and with that i made a 10gal, an 18" cube, and a 29 gal (and i accidentally wasted a ton :p) ....i'm pretty sure my 20 lbs will last me forever


and its not nasty grey :p
 

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Casper got me hooked on the clay method. It's easier to do for me and seems to be good for the microfauna. I have a ton of springs after only one flood that seem to be living in the clay. You can always add things to change the color. I use iron oxide to darken it up I've seen people add something to make it redish. I thought that looked awesome. And of course it's clay you can always just mash some abg in it as a top coat. As for the hybrid I've pushed wood in but nothing to advanced. I hope to try a concrete peet moss tree stump on a clay back soon.
 

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I've used Hybrid technique as well...less boring than the grey Kitty Litter clay...and since I only have tree frogs at this point in time (darts seem to intimidate me...)...have found that since the humidity level is lower, the clay really dries out too quickly...and the frogs track clay all over the glass from the exposed areas...suggestions?? Oops, don't mean to hijack...
 
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