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Hello,
I just used a knife and It seems harder than it realy is.
From what i saw there are 2 basic rules, in my opinion:
- don't leave many sharp hedges because usally in nature that doesn't occur.
- try to make a diversity of cracks/fails in the rocks to "promove 3D".

And another importante thing is that when you start to craft there is a side of the styro that is easy to do it. But then resides my problem: how to assemble all the pieces looking naturalistic?
Thank you.
 

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How much weight could these background hold? Thinking of adding branches, but I would like to know if added pvc pipe to the center with drasticly increase the strength.
 

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halogen spots for accent lighting?
tanks looking very good, whats living in it?
I'm under the impression that there are no halogen spots (the 12 volt sort) that produce the right kind of light for plants. The ones that are there, seen in the fts upper edge are just for dawn and dusk.
HQIs run too hot for this tank, since they'd have to be set too close to the plantation on the upper part...
I dunno, I need some sort of PC or T5 lighting with a very tight beam...? I guess I should try bending some reflectors for starters and take my index finger out of my nose for a change.

The front of the airspace is open, so there's only fishies in the 75 gal aquarium-part.

Thanks for your idea.
 

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I have some detail questions. I really like the idea of using a thin darker layer at the end and washing off the parts that are not wanted.

Just for simplicity, say that we use two shades; light and dark. I would have to assume that you have to make the first (light) layers thick enough to stand on its own, without the help of the last (dark) layer, or the washes areas would never get strong enough/thick enough, as they will not get anymore layers?

I was also hoping (I would pray if I wasn't an atheist), that you are from a swedish-speaking part of Finland. That way you could explain to me once and for all what the Swedish equivalent to "grout" is. There ara so many cement based products, the ones with the most colors seem to be "kakelfog" and "klinkerfog". I guess any cement based product would due as I plan to use my own pigments for color.

And... This acrylic polymere additive. If it makes the grout waterproof/water resistant, is it really a good idea to let it dry and cure? Wont that stop you from wetting the grout itself when you want to keep it damp for curing?
I remember using an additive to my mix some 10 years ago, it might have been Sikacim, is that the type of acrylic polymers you talk about? Its kommonly called "cementlim" or "concrete glue"...
 

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Hejsan, Jonas. Hur e läget?

I'm not exactly from "the swedish-speaking part" of Finland, but I do swedish to an extent. Well, sorta.
På färjan till Stockholm börjar jag med "jag talar svenska som det våre mitt modersmål"... med de där vackra flickor. Just in case.

Yes, you got it right. The last, dark, shading layer is just for shading, not adding any dimension. The way I usually do it is
1. I let the final (lighter) layer of grout harden a day or so
2. I do the shading with very watery, dark if not black grout. I brush the mixture to the dented parts and then "wash it away" with brush and plain water.
To ease your mind I want to add that you can multiply this as many times as you wish, to get the result you want...
3. After the shading has dried up I spray some thinned polymer on the finished surface to make the shading stick.
4. I let that dry
5. I start watering the finished product and keep it wet for a month or so.


Now: grout is
1. cement
2. sand
3. color(powder)
4. additives

I'm pretty sure the difference between kagelfog and klinkerfog is the grainsize of sand. Kagelfog being the finer, smoother stuff. 0-0,3 mm or so.
Both make great stony, if a bit different looking texture for fake stone
.
Does anyone sell Mira products in Sweden? I'm surprised if not (they are danish).
I have used all of their grouts: Mastic is the finer grout, Rustic a larger grain grout. Supercolour has polymers added and works as fine as the others. I do add some polymere to Supercolour too.

But if you want to tint it yourself, you can use just plain portland cement and the size of sand you prefer. Grout is just that, after all.

As to the polymer, no, it does not make the grout totally waterproof. It does a good job strengthening the layer and attaching color, but it still lets water suck into (as well as out of) the grout. I always use polymer thinned with water (mixed into the grout with water or spraying a thinned polymer) to make sure it leaves a porous finish.
Water always penetrates the finished layer, well: sucks into it.

Sikacim seems to be a catalyst used to make sure cement cures in subzero (C°) temperatures? I can't see a reason not to use it, but I can't say if it makes the finish any stronger, as the polymer additives do.
Try Thoro Acryl 60. Or Ardex P51. I use both with ok results.

In Sweden I think Sika Topseal 107 is a very popular product for fake stone? Very expensive, I hear. Sikatop107 is: portland cement, silica sand and liquid polymer.

Ha det so bra, tackar och pockar.
 

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Nice to see that Im not the only nattugglan here...


I dont know about the catalytic properties of sikacim, but I know it act as a "glue". It has been quite popular to make "sikacim-backgrounds", just mixing this liquid with peat mulch and sticking it to any background. The peat makes the mixture porous, allowing plants to grow on it, yet the sikacim becomes hard.
I will look up the products you mention though, nothing wrong with using tried and proven products.

As usual, I cant help fixating on new methods, and one thing that Im thinking of trying is to use a type of sponge (found a rubber type of sponge next to the cements) to try to get small imprints for the next shade to fill into. My idea is that you could do this in steps, and hopefully get a more "granite" kind of look as the lighter grout vill stick out of the darker in countless little circles.

I am also quite interested in developing a reusable mold, I have looked up some interesting products (thats what I do, I research stuff on the net for months and only settle for the best...).
Ofcourse, making a polyurethane background from a mold is not good enough, and adding grout to the surface afterwards will take away the whole porpose as all fine details will be lost, and youre back to doing it by hand again.
I do have an idea of applying grout into the mold first, then pouring some kind of molding foam in behind it. The trick here is to get a good stoneish color, and I do have some ideas there too.

I dont know why, but reverse-engineering of "back to nature" backgrounds and such is becoming a fixation for me...
 

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I just found out that there is a whole bunch of additives Sika calls Sikacim.
Surely, there is a dispersion that works, among them. And surely it works as good as any.

They use sponges to fake stone surfaces in the painting trade. Surely, it works with fake stone, too. Make sure you report the results.

Molding stone is done a lot among aquarists. Somewhere in this thread there's a link to a page that explains a molding method that uses Sikatop107 to make the surface...
Jyrkiboy: Artificial stones
Grout with any "cement glue" works as well.

I would switch the latex glue to molding silicon, if I wanted to do molding. Silicon allows a lot more shapes and structure and still comes off the finished work.
But I keep my motivation up better by carving each background individually.
I have thought about taking a mold of some of my carved backgrounds instead of taking molds from the nature, but have never come up with it.



Sounds like you really do your research before getting into it. Can't wait to see what you come up with!
Please do show your work when you get started.
 

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Molds help take out the need for having the extreme skill that HX has shown is needed to get it right. Since I lack much of that skill, I go the other way and build up real rocks, fill in the spaces with clay and cast a silicone mold. Then I use a special mix of epoxy, that makes the colors. No painting needed. Just VERY expensive to make. Here are backgrounds from exo-terra, a local texas/australian company, and mine.



I use almost the same method as Back-to-Nature, however my pieces do not need to be hand painted, and are not capable of being produced in bulk like theirs can. Yet.



 

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Texture comes from the molding. A proper silicone mold will pick up your fingerprints off the rocks/clay.

Color comes from the epoxy. I add colors to the epoxy so that I don't have to paint it after demolding.
 

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Here is a pic of a tank I just finished for my basin.

I had done stuff like this before but find the tile grout easier to work with than GFRC.

Thanks HX.

IMG_0181.jpg
DSC_0038.jpg
 

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I really like the root part, and the general structure and design of the rock is great. It could use som finetuning with colors, it is a bit monotone as for now.

If that is a caninus it is not an optimal environment. I can recommend my friends new site, Corallus caninus he had 3 CBB clutches this year.

You can also see his setups in these videos (swedish, but still...)
YouTube - MrCaninus's Channel

Great work, I might steal that root-design for sure!
 

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If that is a caninus it is not an optimal environment.
What do you mean by that?

I took a look at your friend's video...Saw nothing of the Tanks except bland empty tanks with a stick. I Only saw a Snake on a Stick in A Tank with Nothing else in it. Is that what you consider Optimal?
 

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Look again. Large terrariums with lots of horisontal branches and plants. Thermostats to controll day/nigt temps, automated misting, waterproof lighting, air-switcher to the room for fresher air.

You might miss the nice background, but reptiles like these dont care about those, only the factors that actually affect their lives.

These are arboreal animals, right? It does not matter how much volume or space you have if the animal can't use it. The only real area you can really count as living area for these snakes are their branches. You have two...

You can get all defensive, or you can take advice from prooven keepers of this species.
 
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